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– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004

The Outcome of the Iran Talks and the Next Steps



Wednesday, December 3, 2014
9:30 - 11:00 a.m.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Negotiators from the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran are racing toward a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program by the Nov. 24 deadline. Many issues, such as establishing a formula that limits Iran's uranium-enrichment capacity, are still to be solved, but both sides of the negotiating table have stressed the need to reach an agreement.

The Arms Control Association and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace host a briefing on the outcome of the negotiations and next steps.

Speakers include:  
  • George Perkovich, Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association;
  • Elizabeth Rosenberg, Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Environment, and Security Program, Center for New American Security; and
  • Moderated by Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association.


The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

KELSEY DAVENPORT:  We’re about to get started, so if I could ask everybody to take their seats.

Thank you all so much for joining us today, and thanks of course to the Carnegie Endowment for co-sponsoring this event with the Arms Control Association.  I think it’s a very timely discussion, and I’m certainly looking forward to the remarks from each of our panelists.

Originally, I had hoped that we would be gathered here today to discuss a comprehensive nuclear agreement that was reached.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  And as many of you know, on November 24th, Iran, the United States and its P5+1 partners announced that they were going to extend nuclear talks for a second time.

Under the terms of this second extension, the parties will try and reach a political agreement within four months and then wrap up the technical annexes for the – to complete the comprehensive agreement by June 30th.

However, the length of this extension I think opens the space for critics, particularly in Washington and Tehran, to derail some of the significant progress that has already been made.

However, a good deal certainly still is possible.  The negotiators made progress on some of the most intractable issues in Vienna.  And if both sides are willing to be flexible, they can still get to a good agreement.

So speaking first today about the progress that has been made and the obstacles that remain to be overcome is Daryl Kimball.  Daryl is the executive director of the Arms Control Association.  Previously he served as the executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers.

Then we will have Karim Sadjadpour.  Karim is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He previously was an analyst with the International Crisis Group based in both Tehran and Washington, and he’ll be looking more closely at the domestic scene sort of on the Iranian side.

He’ll be followed by Elizabeth Rosenberg.  She is the senior fellow and director of the Energy, Environment and Security Program at the Center of a New American Security. She previously served as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Treasury, where one of her key initiatives was to help oversee the tightening of global sanctions on Iran.  And if you missed Liz’s New York Times op-ed from last month, I would suggest you go back and read it.  It was highly relevant to both today’s discussion and the talks and an excellent piece.

And then finally, to close out our panel today, we will have George Perkovich.  George is the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where his research focuses on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation with a concentration on South Asia, Iran and the problem of international justice in the international political economy.  And he will be looking at some of the issues that still remain to be overcome and providing some ideas for how to move forward during the time of the extension.

So Daryl, I’ll turn it over to you.

DARYL KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Kelsey.  Thanks, everybody, for being here.  Good morning.

It is certainly disappointing that the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators did not conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement last month because they appear to have been very close to concluding an agreement.  According to diplomatic sources that we’ve talked to on both sides of the negotiating table, a historic, comprehensive, long-term verifiable agreement is within sight if the two sides act with determination and a bit more flexibility on two or three of the key remaining issues where there are gaps.  If Congress does not, as secretary – as Susan Rice, national security adviser, said last night, if Congress does not blow up the negotiations with a new set of sanctions, I believe it’s a matter of when, not if, Iran and the six powers will conclude this agreement.

Now, the decisions that the two sides still need to make in order to get to yes don’t become easier with time.  A number of us were a bit surprised that they did not use the final day of their period, the 24th, to try to work through the remaining issues, but they decided to spend that time talking about the terms of the extension of the Joint Plan of Action.

The conditions for the negotiations could deteriorate over time, and some of my colleagues will talk about that and how to deal with that.

So I would just say that both sides need to continue to work, not take a long holiday break.  They need to act decisively and with all due speed because the conditions right now are best for resolving these issues.

Now, just a word about what this is about.  OK, what is a good agreement?  We often forget what a good agreement is from a nuclear nonproliferation perspective.  This has to block all of Iran’s potential pathways to nuclear weapons.  As the Obama administration describes it, and I think it’s a good frame, that means the uranium enrichment path has to be blocked, the plutonium route and the clandestine route.  And that means that there need to be sufficient limits on Iran’s capabilities to give the United States and our other international partners sufficient time to detect and disrupt any potential future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons.

So let me, as Kelsey said, in the few minutes I have, review some of the key issues, highlight some of the areas of progress, talk about some of the remaining differences that are out there.

So since last year, since the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action was agreed to, the two sides have worked out solutions on several of the key issues, including some that appeared to be ridiculously difficult a year ago.  For instance, they agree in principle that the design of and the fuel for Iran’s heavy water reactor project at Arak can and should be modified in ways that drastically cut the plutonium production potential of that reactor.  It could – is currently designed to produce enough fuel for about two nuclear bombs a year, if it were fully operational and the fuel were removed and reprocessed, but the modifications and the approaches they’re looking at could reduce that amount by some 95 percent.  They also agree that under a comprehensive deal, Iran would not build the reprocessing facility that you would need to separate the plutonium, the weapons-grade plutonium from that spent fuel.  So there is a solution on the plutonium path that is within sight.  Details need to be worked out.  But they appear to have agreement in principle on the solution.

To guard against the clandestine nuclear weapons path, it’s clear that the two sides agree that Iran can and should implement and ratify additional authorities for the International Atomic Energy Agency, particularly the additional protocol, which would give the agency the authority for short notice inspections of undeclared sites, military, nuclear, whatever the IAEA would deem to be of interest.  The other thing that they both agree to is that Iran should adopt something called Code 3.1 of their safeguards arrangements of the agency, which requires that Iran provides earlier notification about any new projects.  And all of this gives – would give the agency and the international community to ability to promptly detect and disrupt any clandestine effort that Iran might pursue.

On the issue of possible military dimensions, both sides understand that the ongoing IAEA investigation of past Iranian activities with possible and, I would say, probably military dimensions will continue after a comprehensive nuclear deal is reached.  At the same time it’s clear to both sides that major sanctions relief, including many of the UN Security Council-mandated measures tied to that issue, will not be removed until and unless the investigation is concluded.  And the agency has said that that could take some 12 to 18 months, so sometime in 2015, maybe sometime in 2016, if there is sufficient Iranian cooperation.

Now, this is a side note.  You know, there are some members of Congress who are now arguing that without a, quote, unquote, “full explanation” of Iran’s past weaponization efforts, it’s impossible to fully understand its nuclear capability.  It’s always better to understand more about Iran’s past, but it is incorrect to say that without all of the knowledge about the past, we cannot effectively verify what Iran is doing with its nuclear program in the future.  It’s already well-understood, Iran’s nuclear capabilities.  Its past activities are also well-understood by the United States and other Western governments.  It should be assumed that Iran’s scientists have acquired some information, important information for building nuclear weapons.  An admission from Iran that scientists once engaged in working to help build nuclear weapons is not going to erase that knowledge, and such admission is not going to happen.  It’s naïve to think, and I think it’s silly to suggest that Iran issue a mea culpa before the comprehensive nuclear agreement is concluded.  So, you know, realists and all members of the P5+1 understand and agree that the goal is not to extract such admission from Iran about their country engaging in nuclear weapons – work intended for nuclear weapons in the past but to ensure that the IAEA has sufficient information that no such efforts are taking place now or in the future.  And getting to that point is far more likely with a comprehensive agreement than without one.

Now, on uranium enrichment, the two sides have – understand that there is going to be a combination of measures that are necessary, a combination of limits that are necessary to establish verifiable, long-term limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity.  It’s been very difficult for the two sides to come up with the right formula because it has to be sufficient and irreversible enough so as to block Iran from quickly amassing enough fissile material for weapons while at the same time providing Iran with a politically and technically acceptable enrichment capability consistent with its practical needs.

Now, as we’ve said before, I think everyone here in Washington understands Iran’s nuclear fuel supplies needs today are very limited but theoretically could grow in future years.  Its current uranium enrichment capacity involving the 20,000 total centrifuges and the 10,200 operating machines exceeds its practical needs.  And theoretically, they could use the stocks that they have and the machines that they have to amass enough weapons-grade uranium gas sufficient for one nuclear bomb, 25 kilograms, in about two or three months if not detected first.  So the P5+1 have been up until the 24th of November and I think will continue to press Iran to significantly reduce its uranium enrichment capacity for a period of several years.  And that involves a number of different steps, not simply limits on centrifuge numbers.  Those are extremely important, but effective long-term limits on Iran’s overall enrichment capacity will involve several complementary measures.

So for instance, if you were to reduce the number of operating IR1 centrifuges by half, if you were to verifiably disable the centrifuge machines that are installed but not yet operating, if this agreement were to reduce the size of the country’s low-enriched uranium stocks to 200 kilograms and convert it to outside form or remove those stocks entirely to a third country, like Russia, the time it would take Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium ex-fluoride gas for one nuclear device would increase from where it is today to about nine to 12 months or more, which is certainly enough time to detect and disrupt any effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

So the two sides are, according to our conversations with people on both sides, in agreement on some of these uranium enrichment-limiting measures but not all of them.  And in particular the uranium enrichment – I should say the centrifuge number is one of the issues that the two sides still remain divided on.  We understand that in the days leading up to November 24th, Iran proposed lowering the number of its operating IR1 machines to at least 8,000 – not sure for how long, and how long matters here, but it – I think it will – it must and can reduce that number even further for a significant number of years in order for the two sides to get to yes.

It is not clear exactly what number the P5+1 are looking for.  And I would urge you all to be very cautious about believing that there is some specific number – you know, 5,557 – that they’ve got to hit because as I’ve said, there are a number of variables that go into this complicated equation to determine how much uranium enrichment capacity Iran has and several different ways to combine these different measures.

Now, what does – what does the P5+1 have to do to get yes and to be flexible?  I think in exchange for a significant additional reduction in the number of operating IR1s, the P5+1 is going to have to be more flexible with respect to the issue of advanced centrifuge machine research.  It is unrealistic to expect that Iran is going to stick with its IR1 centrifuge, a very bulky, unreliable type of machine, for the indefinite future.  This agreement can and should in place verifiable restrictions that block Iran from manufacturing large numbers of advanced centrifuges for production-scale enrichment but would allow Iran, could allow Iran to test and research those machines for the duration of the agreement.

Now, another key issue of – that has divided the two sides has been the scale and the pace of sanctions relief.  You’ve heard and seen the reports from the Iranian side arguing for an immediate lifting of all sanctions in exchange for the very significant nonproliferation measures that Iran is being asked to take on.

Well, some of those measures cannot be immediately lifted because many of them are tied to the UN Security Council sanctions tied to a resolution of the investigation on the possible military dimensions issue.  But there are some things that I think the P5+1 could do to be more persuasive with the Iranians to encourage them to take the steps to limit their enrichment program that are necessary and to get to a win-win solution.

For instance, the EU sanctions that are in place now could be lifted much more quickly, certainly than the United States sanctions.  Maybe Liz can tell us more about that and other issues.  And then after the – after the agreement is concluded, it’s also possible for the P5+1 to lift some of the sanctions that apply to investments in non-nuclear items in Iran, which was part of UN Security Council 1737.  That could be viewed by Iran as a significant win.  It would be something that President Rouhani could pocket.  But it would still give the P5+1 a great deal of leverage to ensure that Iran follows through on its commitments.

So they are close, but there are issues that they still need to bridge.  Its’ going to require that both sides are a bit more courageous than they have been and take some risks.  And in the final analysis, I think this deal, if agreed to along the broad outlines that I described, would be a very good one in the sense that it is going to effectively prevent Iran from pursuing the nuclear weapons path.  We could easily detect any effort to try to break out.  And this agreement would remove a huge security risk from the Middle East for many years to come.

So with that, let me turn it over to Karim for the view from Tehran, so to speak, so –

MS. DAVENPORT:  Thank you, Daryl.

KARIM SADJADPOUR:  Thank you all for coming.  I preface my comments by saying I forgot my eyeglasses, so I can’t see beyond the second row.  And I also preface my comments by saying that I have a much less optimistic perspective than Daryl that we were close to a deal or that we are near a deal, and I really hope that he’s right and I’m wrong.  And I’m giving the view from Tehran, but I think one of the important rules about Iranian politics is that those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know, and by definition, I’m up here on stage, so I’m in the latter category.  (Laughter.)

I – my cliff notes for following Iranian politics is to pay very close attention to what the supreme leader says and pay less close attention to what the foreign minister and the president say.  I think everyone in this room would probably agree that if it were only up to the foreign minister and the president, we would probably would’ve reached a nuclear deal a long time ago, but there’s a reason why we haven’t reached it.

So let me focus on what I would describe as the supreme leader’s three-part strategy for the nuclear talks, and I’ll give them to you upfront and then I’ll go over each one of them.  But part one of the strategy is to support negotiations; part two of the strategy is to undermine the negotiations with impossible red lines; and part three of the strategy is to prepare for unsuccessful negotiations.  So let me start with part one, which is to support the negotiations.

As we’ve seen, there’s been universal support of not only the negotiations, but there’s been universal support of the extensions – the extension of negotiations as well.  I haven’t seen anyone, even amongst the hardliners, come out and oppose the extension of negotiations.  So why would they support the negotiations if they’re not interested in resolving this issue?  I think for two reasons.

Number one is that there is – there is I think a recognition on the part of the leadership, on the part of the leader that Iran’s society overwhelmingly wants to see this deal.  This is a population which is suffering under tremendous economic pressure, and the society – this is one important reason why Rouhani won the presidency, to resolve this issue.  So he doesn’t want to appear to be, in the eyes of the Iranian public, the obstacle to reaching this deal.  So I think it makes very good political sense for him to continue to support negotiations.

The second reason:  I think they learned that during the Ahmadinejad years they gratuitously united the international community against Iran, and this time around, I think, if you continue to support the negotiations, to support diplomacy, the hope is that you split the P5+1 if things fail.  

So let me move on.  My presentation is – has the merit of being brief, although it’s pessimistic.  So I’m going to move on to number two, which is undermine the negotiations with impossible red lines.

The newspaper of note which is, I think, the one many who follow Iran pay close attention to is Kayhan newspaper.  The editor is Hassan Shariatmadari – Hossein Shariatmadari, who was – is someone who was appointed by the leader.  He came out with an editorial shortly after the extensions, calling for – saying Iran’s red line was the immediate lifting of all sanctions.

And this is an interesting twist, in contrast to the previous two decades, when the supreme leader and hard-line officials in Tehran used to praise sanctions.  They would – they will praise sanctions and say, we welcome sanctions because it forces us to become self-sufficient.

And so now they say the red line is the immediate lifting of all sanctions.  And I think the leader is smart enough to know that that’s not within the realm of possibilities, an immediate lifting of all sanctions.

We saw prior to the first extension last July that he came out shortly before the July 24th deadline, I believe it was, and said that Iran’s practical needs are 190,000 centrifuges.  That also, I think, came as a surprise to Iran’s negotiating team and undermined the negotiations.  It’s true he didn’t say that we – that Iran needs that overnight, but he said that – you know, in the next five to 10 years.

The other things I would say is that if you’re the supreme leader and you’re really interested in reaching an accommodation with the United States, you would probably refrain from tweeting that Israel should be annihilated shortly before these negotiations are to conclude, and you would probably avoid saying that ISIS was created by the CIA and the Mossad, if you’re really interested in reaching these – in concluding these negotiations.  And I thought it was quite interesting, as an aside, that the leader’s comments about ISIS we know now, in retrospect, came after President Obama’s letter to Khamenei saying that we a mutual adversary in ISIS, and his response has been to say that ISIS was created by the United States.

So why the opposition to a deal?  I have – I teach a class at Georgetown University, and I have a brilliant young guy from Argentina, who’s an engineering student, who is kind of tabulating the costs and benefits of Iran’s nuclear program, and he’s just totally perplexed that – why are they doing this?  You know, why do you cannibalize your main source of income, which is oil and gas, to pursue a nuclear program, which can at best provide 2 percent of your energy needs?  It doesn’t make much economic sense.

But I would argue, from the perspective of the leader, looking at it from a more macro perspective, not just the nuclear deal, but that the political risks of a deal with America outweigh the economic risks of no deal with America.  So if you’re the leader, you’ve risen to the top and you’ve sustained your room, you’ve sustained your authority, in this kind of somewhat closed status quo environment, maintaining this antagonism with the United States, I would argue it’s potentially more unsettling to you to reach an accommodation with the United States than it would be to significantly change course and do an economic deal, even though an economic deal certainly would be in the national interests of the population.  

But you know, I’ve always thought that the – kind of the ideological prerogatives of the Islamic Republic and the more parochial interests of the Islamic Republic have always come before the national interests of Iran.  This was the case of the hostage crisis.  The hostage crisis did tremendous damage to Iran’s international standing, to Iran’s economy, but it helped the Khomeinis consolidate power.  The Iran-Iraq War did tremendous damage to Iran’s economy, to Iran’s international standing, but it allowed the revolution to consolidate as well.  So I would argue that they’ve long put kind of their more parochial interests before national interests, and I would put the nuclear issue into that context as well.

And I think this is a fundamental contradiction in much of – much of the analysis of Iran, which is – I would argue, suffers from what we call motivation biases, motivated biases, and that I think most people would agree that if we can resolve this issue diplomatically, it’s in the interests of the United States, it’s in the interests of Iran, it’s in the interests of the region.  

But we make the argument that a deal concluding this nuclear issue, resolving it diplomatically, is going to weaken the hard-liners in Tehran and strengthen the moderates.  Well, it’s the hard-liners in Tehran who have to sign off on a deal.  So why are they going to agree to something which is going to strengthen the domestic adversaries and weaken themselves?  That’s something I think we haven’t managed to really reconcile.

So let me move on to point number three, which is if there is no negotiation, if there is no conclusion, what is the strategy to prepare for unsuccessful negotiations, to prepare for failure?

One of the themes you hear in every single speech from the leader, not just recently but going back the last several years, is this concept of resistance economy. Whereas the Rouhani government is talking about increased oil investment, increased foreign investment, reintegrating with the international economy, the leader is constantly talking about the notion of resistance economy, being self-sufficient, resisting international pressure.  He doesn’t talk about wanting Iran to become part of the G-20.  His argument is that we’re going to prevent the colonial powers from making us buckle, from bringing us to our knees.  That’s a common theme.  And he’s also said – he said in a speech afterwards that is there is no deal, that it’s going to be America which loses the most, not Iran.

Now I think the – a big X factor in these – in these negotiations and a reason why a lot of people are hopeful now is the drop in oil prices and the belief that maybe this precipitous drop in oil prices is going to force Iran to recalibrate its nuclear – its nuclear intentions.  

I would argue that when I first joined Carnegie I tried to do a study which looked at the correlation between – because when I first joined Carnegie in 2007, oil prices were, I believe, over a hundred dollars a barrel.  In 2006 I think they peaked at $147 a barrel.  So if you just look at two data points, you see that when Iran decided to swallow the poison chalice, to end the Iran-Iraq War, oil prices were around $10 a barrel, and Ahmadinejad started to deny the Holocaust and be very, you know, belligerent, oil was well over a hundred dollars a barrel.  So if you just look at these two data points, you say there’s a correlation between the two, because when oil prices are very high, Iran is very kind of hubristic and bombastic, and when oil prices are very low, Iran is keen on compromising.

But the reality is there’s not a great correlation between the two.  I haven’t seen a great correlation between the two.  The reality is that oil prices are not going – no one’s predicting oil’s going to drop to $20 a barrel, and no one is predicting that it’s going to go back up to 140 (dollars).  As long as it stays somewhere in this range between, I would say, you know, 30 (dollars) and 110 (dollars), I haven’t seen a real huge distinction in Iranian behavior.  

And looking at it from the vantage point of the leader, who’s been in power since 1989, oil prices at $70 are still pretty high.  That’s still historic highs for him.

So I think that – let me – let me actually – I’ll just end there and hand it over to George and happy to go until more questions.  Thank you.

MS. DAVENPORT:  OK.  I think we’re actually going to go to Liz next, to talk about sanctions now.  Thank you.


Thanks to the – our sponsors and hosts for having me here.

I’m going to talk about three things – can you hear me in the back?  Yeah.  OK.  I’m going to talk about three things in my remarks:  the first, Iran’s economic situation, picking up – that was a great segue; thank you for that – second, what the interim deal, this extension, provides for sanctions, so what happened new last week; and third, what new sanctions now –imposed by the U.S. Congress, for example – would look like and do to nuclear diplomacy.  

So on the first, Iran’s economy, as you all know, there have been sanctions on Iran for decades.  However, the sanctions of the last several years, since 2012, which have been which have been most punishing and imposed not just by the United States but of course also by the EU and a variety of other countries, they have caused major economic pain for Iran.  They have slashed oil revenues.  Iran has forgone perhaps 110 billion, 135 billion, more than that, even, in income because of these sanctions.  They’re rather – since 2012 highly correlated with the period of most intensive sanctions.  Oil revenue fell by more than half from 2012 to this year.  And also with this – what is as of yesterday a 37 percent slide in oil prices from highs in June, that adds a lot of additional pressure, budgetary pressure, on Iran, because it depends on two things:  one, a lot of oil revenue in its – for its economic planning, its revenue basis, and also a relatively high price for oil, and many analysts agree that it – that breakout – break-even price for Iran is about 140 dollars, which is well above 70-ish dollars, which it is at right now.

Unemployment is high, of course.  In Iran official rates may be around 10 percent.  Unofficial are at least double.  Inflation has been above 20 percent since this past summer.  The value of the currency has plummeted roughly 50 percent, over 50 percent drop, since January 2012.  Foreign investment has dwindled.  It’s very difficult to make payments into Iran or receive payments.  There was a massive GDP contraction in 2012 and 2013.  Estimates for this year are positive, slightly.  We’ll see what happens, based on the oil price slide.  And of course Iran’s foreign exchange reserves of over a hundred billion are primarily locked up abroad, inaccessible to Iran.  

So the poor economic performance in Iran is not only due to sanctions; also corruption and profound domestic economic mismanagement, particularly under President Ahmadinejad, were contributors.  But many people agree – and I certainly subscribe to this theory – that sanctions had a significant role in bringing Iran to the nuclear negotiating table.

So in these nuclear negotiations, what’s the relief that’s been given to Iran?  A number of areas of relief that extend from the beginning in January and will now extend, per the agreement last week.  They include rolling back of various auto industry, petrochemical, precious metals sanctions in both the U.S. and the EU.  The P5+1 committed to no new nuclear sanctions, though they can enforce, and have, existing nuclear sanctions.  

Iran has had access to about $7 billion of its foreign exchange reserves abroad and repatriated those, so far, and about another $700 million per month, going forward, through the remainder of this extension period.  

It’s able to sell oil at roughly a million barrels per day, a bit more if you’re including light quality – light API gravity, so high-quality crude, referred to as condensate.  It can stay steady at that level and doesn’t have to decrease, which would otherwise be required by statute.  

And there’s opportunities for greater facilitation of humanitarian transactions and ability to access replacement airplane parts.  

So recall, of course, that the entire framework for sanctions in the U.S., in the EU, as imposed by a variety of the other countries, is still in place, and the UN sanctions, of course, remain in place during this period.  

This economic relief that’s been granted to Iran, that I just went through isn’t enough to create structural economic reform for Iran, and even while GDP is projected to be slightly positive this year, I think we should compare this more to a confidence-building measure rather than a significant economic reform package.  And so it’s for this reason that Iran still would like to see very significant economic relief and is of course proceeding with negotiations to exact significant sanctions relief, including, of course, as was mentioned by Daryl at the beginning, would like to see a lot of relief up front in in a deal, and for reasons he mentioned, that’s pretty unrealistic.  Of course there needs to be a track record of Iranian concessions and participation – successful participation in a framework agreement and deal before major sanctions relief is offered.  That will take months and years and perhaps until the P5+1 have parallel normalization of diplomatic relations.  

And in any case, UN sanctions relief won’t come immediately.  The concerns that are laid out in the Security Council resolutions that set forth those sanctions won’t be addressed immediately, and also removing those is ceding too much leverage too fast.  I think it’s a total nonstarter.  

So new sanctions.  There’s a lot of momentum on Capitol Hill for new Iran sanctions now.  For some, this is out of a desire to urge Iran to move quickly towards a deal in the framework of nuclear diplomacy.  For some, it appears that this is – the motivation may be more to compel an Iranian capitulation, basically, on its – concession in its enrichment ambitions.  

This has always been a bipartisan effort for new sanctions, and it’s one of the few areas over the last several years where there’s been tremendous, even unanimous agreement about policy.  So it’s – there’s an awful lot of precedent here, and the framework is in place to do new legislation.  It’s possible that we could see something this December and even more likely in January.

So there’s two main areas I would characterize of the legislative efforts for new sanctions that we’re looking at right now on the Hill.  And one is on creating tougher sanctions on Iran, including forcing Iranian oil exports out of the market.  And that’s really the heart of the Kirk-Menendez bill.  That may include triggers to impose the sanctions tied to the deadlines that have now been announced in this most recent extension, so March and June.

This effort, I would say, has legs.  There’s even a majority of support for it, and I think it stands a pretty good chance of being passed.  

The second focus area for legislative efforts now is one more tied to the U.S. administration, specifically interested in tying its hands, in its use of discretion, its waivers that are written into statute, and measures also that could require congressional approval of a deal.  

So I think that it’s less likely that those kind of measures will make it into statute, and it’s certainly not as much of a priority for as many lawmakers as the first focus area I was just describing.

So the administration and those members of Congress opposed to more sanctions now were successful a year ago and in July in opposing new sanction – the imposition of new sanctions.  I think that will be much harder now and certainly in January.  But if that opposition effort is not successful and there are new sanctions, imposed by Congress, what’s the effect on nuclear diplomacy?

I have said publicly – as Kelsey mentioned, in that op-ed that I had last month – that new sanctions may very well be self-defeating, even fatal for talks, notwithstanding the positive intent of some of the backers of them to try and advance nuclear diplomacy and success of a potential deal.

There are three main effects I think that passing new sanctions will have now.  First, it will be seen as an act of bad faith in Iran on the part of the U.S. and a sign that the U.S. negotiating team will not be able to deliver what it promises and that it won’t be able to successfully coordinate with Congress.  That will elicit a response from hard-liners in Iran, a kind of reciprocal action, which could look like violation of the interim agreement, violation of sanctions.  It will escalate tensions.  It could cause the talks to stall or end.  

Secondly, as a unilateral act, I think it will frustrate deeply other members of the P5+1, who placed quite a great deal of emphasis, as has the U.S., of course, on multilateral coordinated approaches to nuclear diplomacy with Iran.  And because these new sanctions will come down quite hard on the countries that still engage in permitted trade with Iran, which includes most of the members of the P5+1, the European partners and China most significantly, of course, it’ll have an economic sting for them, and that will make them less willing to continue to participate in sanctions, and that could seriously jeopardize the effectiveness of sanctions on Iran, which are – that effectiveness is significantly due to the multilateral nature of them.

A third effect is that it – new sanctions won’t stop nuclear enrichment activities, and because of the ill will it could generate, that I’ve just described, there could be less insight into the Iranian nuclear program, much more confusion about the sanctions and how to follow sanctions, more cheating and a much difficult effort of enforcement of them.

So even if there is a trigger in new sanctions and they don’t kick in or ramp up until Iran misses a deadline or violates the terms of the interim negotiations, they can still backfire and cause Iran and other P5+1 members to walk away from these negotiations.  And the message of these sanctions will be seen as punitive and escalatory.  

And of great concern, the hurdle to turn them off and to certify that Iran has met deadlines could be too high.  Iranians may not believe that Congress won’t change the goal posts again, you know, coming up to the period at which these sanctions are supposed to be triggered, even if they do comply with the sanctions – or rather with the terms set out in an interim agreement.

And if these sanctions are mandatory, and they will be, the administration – and the administration therefore can’t create or control an off-ramp for the sanctions, then there is quite a diminished incentive for Iran to show good behavior with the P5+1 if the P5+1 don’t actually control the mechanisms for an off-ramp or for de-escalating these sanctions.  

So to summarize, more tough sanctions now may very well be self-defeating and fatal for negotiations.  They could make Iran and the other P5+1 members leave negotiations and fail to accomplish the meaningful achievements in halting Iran’s ability to create a nuclear weapon that of course these negotiations are designed to pursue.  I’ll stop there.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Great.  Thank so you much, Liz.  


GEORGE PERKOVICH:  Great.  Thanks.  And again, thanks, Daryl and Kelsey and the Arms Control Association.  And thank all of you for coming.  I’ll be brief.  I just want to say a few prefatory things, picking up on what my colleagues said, and then just make one proposal as a possible way forward.  

The first point was I think – I think when Karim said that, you know, the leader, Khamenei, is smart enough to know that the immediate relief of all sanctions is impossible, yeah, but then I’m listening thinking, U.S. leaders should be smart enough to know that Iran won’t accept several of the terms in proposed new legislation too.  So I start thinking that intelligence or IQ doesn’t actually equal comprehension and wisdom.  (Laughter.)  And it’s not limited to one place.

So while I could agree with almost everything Karim said about describing the leader, I could import that description to key actors in Washington as well.  And I think that’s part of the dynamic that we’re dealing with.  So maybe the answer is to have Forrest Gump and Chauncey Gardinar go out and negotiate – (laughter) – and we could get a deal.

I think a second point – and this is something that was alluded to in several of the other comments – is that for a long time I felt that as much as we worry about Iran fulfilling a deal, if there is a deal, and about bringing Iran to a deal, there has always been at least as great a worry on the leader’s side that the U.S. would ever fulfill a deal.  And there’s lots of examples that they can point to, that once you get a deal the actual implementation on the U.S. side has lagged, often because of Congress; that to fulfill longer-term deals it required the expenditure of money and Congress has to authorize it, whether it was North Korea or other instances.

And so if you were – if you were – I would ask anybody here, if you’re advising the Iranian leader and he calls you in and says, all right, we’re going to make this deal and it’s got phases – three years, seven years, 10 years, 12 years – and it requires cooperation by Congress over this time, are you telling me I should sign this deal because you’re confident that Congress is going to cooperate in lifting these sanctions and everything else?  Francois is going to raise a question and I can’t wait for it.  (Laughter.)  

Q:  (off-mic) Just that proving that there’s a bigger doubt on that.

MR. PERKOVICH:  Right, but there – so there’s this issue about delivery here.  And Liz just pointed to some of the reasons why this could come up again.  So you say, well, there’s waivers, but you can write new legislation to remove waiver clauses.  And so it is a problem of confidence building that has to work both ways.

Third is the issue of pressure.  And again, that lies behind some of the proposed new legislation.  I am among those also who have no doubt that we wouldn’t be in this negotiation were it not for Iran’s being isolated and sanctioned and so on.  So pressure is absolutely vital.  But you have to look at it in the fullness of the issue, which is pressure works both ways, because the higher the cost and the more pressure that you’ve experienced, also you may demand more in a deal to reach compromise.  

So you don’t entirely cave in, but in fact it raises your costs.  And we’ve seen this with the Iranians, that as we’ve put pressure on, each time we’ve added sanctions, they’ve increased the level of enrichment, the number of centrifuges, or whatever, to kind of change the term and try to maintain some parity in the costs that we’re imposing and the alarm that they’re causing in us.

And so one of the ways – I was in Iran in June talking to one of the chief negotiators, and he said, you know, why they won’t come down in numbers of centrifuges.  He said, look, we’ve paid for them:  hundreds of billions in sanctions, the martyred of our assassinated scientists and engineers.  We’ve paid in blood.  We’ve paid in treasure for these centrifuges.  We’re not giving them – we’re not giving them away.  So it works both ways, and I think we have to be mindful of that.  

And finally, on a prefatory note of optimism, while I agree with Karim’s kind of analysis and cautions about the leader, I think it’s also possible that the leader actually doesn’t have to sign off on a deal.  And in fact, his past habits would suggest there are ways he can have it both ways.  He can say the government has made this deal – namely the president and Zarif – and I’m not going to block it.  

And that way he gets it both ways.  If it goes badly he says, I told you, I – you know, this was the government.  It’s their fault.  If it goes well he says, well, you know, I didn’t – I didn’t block it.  And he’s done that so far in every step on the negotiations.  He says, well, I think you’re fools, I don’t think it will work, but I won’t stop you.  Go ahead and negotiate.  And so it’s not quite the same as having to sign off.  

All right, with that as background, I want to turn to the sanctions issue and kind of the next moves in Washington.  And I entirely agree with Liz that it will be better off if there were no injection or interjection of legislative action at this point.  And I tend to be on that side when there are Republican administrations as well.  And even when I worked in the Senate 25 years, I’d say, why don’t we just let them do their job?  But anyway – and that was when the first Bush administration was.

I’m a realist also, and so I sense that there is a move to do something, and so then I would suggest that if there is new legislation, at least it should serve a strategic purpose.  And it seems to me that the current proposals don’t serve a strategic purpose but that it wouldn’t be hard to structure legislation that would serve a strategic purpose.  And Karim has testified about this and others of our colleagues are working on this.  

It seems to me those purposes are, first of all, you – we want – we have an interest in locking in what’s Iranian conduct under the Joint Plan of Action with its, now, revision after November 24th, where they’ve agreed, we understand, to further turn material into fuel plates, where they’ve agreed, we understand, on basically protocols for doing R&D on future centrifuges.  

So the situation we’ve been living under since November of 2013, with Iranian kind of negotiated restraint, is much more positive than the situation between 2006 and 2013.  It’s in a lot of countries’ interests, including Israel’s – and we see this from statements by the Israeli government – after Netanyahu said this was the worst deal in the century they started amending it.  So now we were wrong, actually.  It’s positive.  So lock in that, at least don’t mess up that, should be one of the strategic objectives.  

Number two would be to deter Iran from undoing the restraint in the Joint Plan of Action, and certainly to deter Iran from now making moves that hasten the time in which it could make nuclear weapons, right?  So you want to deter that.  And what’s really missing is it seems you would want to give them incentives to actually take additional steps that would lengthen the time it would take them to make nuclear weapons.  You want them to take additional steps that reassure the international community that they don’t seek nuclear weapons.

And then the last strategic purpose is – again, Liz pointed at this – the U.S. shouldn’t want to weaken the international coalition that has pressed and isolated Iran and imposed the sanctions.

I would argue that you could design legislation that would do all of that but that we haven’t – that – none of the proposals do.  So you would have legislation that says you welcome the positive steps of the Joint Plan of Action, and then you say, you know, if Iran takes steps to increase its capabilities, you know, in dangerous ways, then these sanctions would kick in; if Iran takes further steps to reassure, then there would be – further sanctions relief would already be authorized.  And you would do this in a way where it’s not the U.S. Congress or the U.S. being to provocateur, the first actor that breaks up the process, but you let Iran be the one to change the dynamic in a negative way, and then you react to that rather than the other way around.  It seems to me this is strategically kind of self-evident that one would want to do that if the purpose was to be strategic.  And their – people on the Hill would have to explain, you know, what their purposes are.  But I think there is a way to do – to express themselves and to serve a positive purpose.

Let me stop there.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Well, I’m sure after such excellent presentations, we have a lot of questions, so I would ask that you please introduce yourself, wait for the microphone and be brief.

Yes.  Barbara.

Q:  Thank you very much.  Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council.  That was a great summary.

We had an event yesterday at the Atlantic Council where Cliff Kupchan suggested that where we’re headed is what we called JPOA forever.  And frankly, George, with your description of your legislation, it sounds like it is basically JPOA for at least a very, very long time, possibly improved over time but somehow never getting to the comprehensive deal.  Do all of you think that’s a realistic possibility, or is that bound to break down one way or the other?  Is that something that would allow people not – on both sides not to have the make the hard choices of a comprehensive deal?  Thanks.

George, would you like to start?

MR. PERKOVICH:  I think that would be – I mean, personally, I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep with JPOA forever.  But I – but I think, you know, things happen and would make it hard to sustain forever.  But the issue to me, it seems like it’s – the alternatives are either worse or harder.  In other words, the alternative of a final resolution is just super-hard in Iran and is super-hard in Washington.

And by the way, I think it’s super-hard for friends in the Gulf – and Israel in a different way.  I mean, I think a diplomatic resolution for Israel, they would – they would want it if it’s a good deal, but something people haven’t thought about there is then a lot of tension would shift to Israel’s nuclear weapons because the international community would say, OK, fine, we saw the Iran problem and everything else diplomatically; now what about you?

Whereas right now, when the issue is confused as it is and stuff, there is not this pressure on Israeli weapons.  The Gulf Arabs don’t have to deal with their nightmare of rapprochement with Iran.  But Iran doesn’t have the bomb either.  The Iranians don’t have to make the hard decision, but, you know, we can live with it because they don’t have the bomb.  So there is a lot in the current situation that actually works better for many actors than either the alternative of a final deal or a war.  And so I – so I think that’s one of the reasons why we kind of landed here for now.

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, what I would say, you know, Cliff’s a smart guy.  Yes, it is a true observation that policymakers often take the easiest path rather than the hardest path.  In this particular moment, the easier path was to extend by another seven months because they didn't make the hard decision necessarily to get a comprehensive deal.

But I think to say that we’re going to have a series of extensions assumes a lot.  It assumes that the current political conditions in the United States are generally stable, that the political conditions in Iran are stable, that the price of oil doesn’t go to $140 a barrel or drop or whatever.

So I would also just point out that from a nonproliferation perspective, there is a big problem, OK, which is that right now the international community does not have the ability to inspect undeclared sites.  The clandestine path is theoretically still there for Iran.  It would be extremely difficult, I think very unlikely, but it’s theoretically still there, and it’s the one that the intelligence community has said for many years is the more likely path if Iran were to pursue the bomb.  So for all those who are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, including me, I think, you know, they should look at the JPOA as an interim measure and not a permanent solution.

The other thing is that Iran still has 20,000 installed centrifuges, OK, and those are theoretically capable of producing, you know, X amount at Y pace leading to a theoretical breakout capability that is shorter than I think we would like it to be.  And only with a comprehensive agreement are we going to get the better inspections we want and a verifiable, you know, limits on the overall enrichment capacity that lengthens the theoretical breakout time.

So that’s what I would just add to that that we have to keep in mind on that question.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Karim, you wanted to add anything?

MR. SADJADPOUR:  Well, I just say it’s unfortunately becoming like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in that people say, well, once – a two-state solution is no longer tenable, but a one-state solution is impossible.  So where does that really leave you?

We always thought there is three potential outcomes here:  There is the comprehensive resolution, there is conflict, and there is managed resolution – what Cliff said, JPOA forever.

I would say maybe better-case scenario is JPOA-plus.  The – I know the philosophy on both sides has been that nothing is resolved until everything is resolved.  I’m not sure if that is necessarily the wisest approach, if you can kind of make forward progress by isolating one issue and keep that momentum going.  I think reaching an enduring, comprehensive deal, I don’t see how that happens.  So why not try to isolate certain aspects of the deal, improve on it to keep the momentum going?

MS. ROSENBERG:  Yeah.  I come down in roughly the same place as what you were just saying.  And, you know, are we headed to JPOA forever, JPOA-plus?  Perhaps.  But will that work?  Well, the question is, let’s look significantly at the external variables here.  And so one of those very significant external determinants will be what Congress does.  So Congress will do something.  It is of course technically possible to write reasonable legislation.  That we could brainstorm right here and figure that out.  But the question is can – will it be possible to match the political desire for sending a strong message with a version of legislation that does not sabotage, either intentionally or unintentionally, this JPOA-plus managed situation for the long haul?

MS. DAVENPORT:  I’m going to start taking I think two questions at once given that there are a lot of hands.  So if we could have Rachel and then this gentleman here in the front in the – in the red shirt, please.

Q:  Hi.  This question is for George and also Elizabeth.  George, could you – well, could both of you kind of expound on the specific components of a sensible legislation a little bit more?  And Elizabeth, could you talk a little bit about how U.S. sanctions are also wound up with Iran’s ballistic missile activities and support of terrorism and what that would mean for unwinding them if Iran doesn’t also make progress on those two fronts?

MS. DAVENPORT:  And then Rachel, if you could just hand it to the gentleman in front of you there.  Thank you.

Q:  Thank you very much.  I am Dr. Nisar Chaudhry with the Pakistan-American League.  As Karim mentioned also, lifting of sanctions is an impossibility at one time because if – once they are lifted, you will never be able to clamp them again because of veto power by other countries in the Security Council.  So that is understandable.  But at the same time, as George mentioned, both sides have to come up with a dignified, pragmatic and a realistic way to resolve the issue where both sides have to demonstrate flexibility, not only one side, both sides.  And still, as you mentioned, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, Israel, none of them are really happy with this kind of negotiation.

And how would you bridge the gap in this case?  My question is Netanyahu says there should be zero uranium, and the parties are working out and deciding and negotiating and playing with 3 – between 3 to 4 percent.  So how would you bridge this gap, and how would you really conclude with the idea of resolving the issue instead of putting more pressure on Iran and you don’t push anybody against the wall and putting up – coming up with more legislations that will frustrate the negotiators, who are already putting so much of resources to resolve this issue.  Thank you.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Thank you.  

Liz, would you like to start with the elements of Rachel’s question?

MS. ROSENBERG:  Sure.  So what is sensible legislation?  We could – we could talk a long time about that, but I liked George’s principles.  I’ll get on board with those.  But the devil is always in the details, and let me make two smaller technical points.

I think that what will matter a tremendous amount is how you write into them the mandatory nature of them, what is mandatory and how, and when they kick in.  And so, wrapped up in mandatory is the kind of flexibility and implementation and the use of waivers or discretion.  So that’s one, is one of those devilish details.  

And the other one I want to call out is the certification clause.  So who has the authority to say whether Iran has missed a deadline or has violated it?  Is it the IAEA?  Is it the Congress?  Is it an independent body?  Is it the administration?  That matters so much.  And flipping the presumption is one way to try and foster a reasonable political – politically viable set of language that you could use there, but mandatory – the mandatory nature and also the certification clause.

So to your second question about how do you deal with sanctions that are tied up with – if I got this correctly – both nuclear concerns and also terrorism and other weapons proliferation concerns – ballistic missiles and others weapons proliferation issues?  So in the sanctions regime for the U.S., there’s a lot of interplay and interlocking nature of these authorities, and it’s politically infeasible to roll back terrorism-related sanctions or particular designations tied to terrorism authorities or human rights violation or regional destabilization concerns.  That’s not going to happen.

And so I think if you’re trying to create a sanctions relief scheme, both based on precedent – say Libya and Burma, for example – and also given the constraints here, what you’re looking at, realistically, is creating bands of commercial activity that you can license into availability for Iran.  And that avoids the problem of removing sanctions on persons or entities designated for their support for terrorism or regional destabilization or commitment to and participation of proliferation financing for ballistic missiles, that sort of thing.

So for people who think that sanctions relief may constitute removal of whole lists of SDNs off the U.S. sanctions list, that’s not what it will look like, and because of the reasons that you point out, for example, that they’re tied – the Iran sanctions in the United States are in fact – they exist under a variety of different legal authorities and they tie to a variety of different concerns related to Iran.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Will you add, George?

MR. PERKOVICH:  Just really quickly, and all of that complexity is another reason why, you know, the legislative branch ought to let the executive have more discretion in foreign policy in both parties.  

And I guess that would be part of my answer to Rachel is, you know, write it like you would want to write it if your party had the presidency, is one thing, because these things do create precedents and things get layered in sediment over time, and then it just totally impairs the conduct of foreign policy in general and then the reputation of the United States in the international community, and the conduct of business and so on.  So it’s not just like a game.  

More specifically, it seems to me you could acknowledge the benefits of the JPOA, which, again, are acknowledged in a lot of other places, and that would be – that would reinforce the negotiations, and I think the parties to the negotiations.

And then you can talk about, you know, steps to build international confidence, which, if taken by Iran, you know, would lead the Congress to welcome, you know, proportionate sanctions relief.  Those would be in the areas of greater transparency, access to, you know, nuclear sites and individuals, lower numbers of installed centrifuges, you know, designs – you know, new plans or modification of the Iraq reactor stuff that’s already been alluded to, that if Iran actually agreed to that, that would be welcome.

And then in terms of the steps that would trigger, again, it seems to me it would be, you know, clearly a – you know, violating the terms of the JPOA.  But then with Liz’s important point about how you certify that and everything else, it seems to me it’s very important to have the executive have the discretion, but with reporting requirements to Congress.  So you show them your work in classified fora, or whatever, saying, we certified it and here’s why.

So Congress gets to look at it, and if they totally disagree they can go out and erupt, but rather than making it something where the Congress or the IAEA – because this isn’t the IAEA’s job – would have to certify.  Those are just initial ideas.

MR. KIMBALL:  If I could just – a thought about what Congress ought not try to do, which some people are thinking about, and Liz alluded to this as one of the possibilities that’s in the works, which is to pass legislation that says that certain sanctions will go into effect if the negotiations do not produce a comprehensive agreement, or if the comprehensive agreement does not produce specific outcomes on specific issues, OK?  

And here’s just one example:  Today, at 2:00, there will be a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The title is dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, or something like that.  This is a line that’s been in many letters written by members of the Senate to the – in the House to the president, calling for a dismantling of Iran’s illicit infrastructure.  

Well, if you’re going to be a serious legislator and you’re going to put together serious legislation that has a serious effect on U.S. international policy, you need to try to understand and explain what that exactly means.  For some people that means, like Mark Kirk, you’re going to take apart every centrifuge the Iranians have and put it in a trash bin.  For some people it means eliminating those centrifuges that the two sides don’t agree the Iranians are allowed to keep and continue to operate.

So, I mean, I think my point here is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what it’s actually going to take to stop short – stop Iran short of pursuing nuclear weapons.  And there’s a lot of political posturing going on about the language that’s used.  And I’m afraid that Congress, at this point, at this juncture, is just not capable of making the fine distinctions that would be necessary to put together the very good legislation that George would outline.  I would be happy if you would sit down and write it all – (laughter) – and put it together.  But unfortunately George is not working up there at the moment.

So that’s one caveat I would just remind everybody about.  And I would remind the folks in the Hill that, you know, this is a point at which you need to start paying attention to the nitty-gritty details and understand the consequences of some of the words and provisions that you’re contemplating.

MS. DAVENPORT:  OK, let’s go to the back, please.  There are two gentlemen here along the center aisle, by it.  Thank you.

Q:  My name is Evan Lewis.  I work with the Program on Public Consultation.  My question sort of leads into George’s proposition of what if you were an Iranian negotiator and you had the ability to go and suggest a strategy.  What if one of – one possible strategy is to say, resist as much as possible but eventually come to a deal that – knowing that the United States is going to reject the deal in the Senate?  

And if that’s the case, you could then use that as leverage to break apart the multilateral sanctions as a means of getting the kind of economic relief that you need, because as several people have mentioned, it’s the multilateral sanctions that have had the greatest effect on Iran in getting them to come to the table.  So if you can break the P5 cooperation, then you can just blame the United States for not being able to affirm the deal and move on from there.

Q:  Good morning.  Erich Ferrari, Ferrari & Associates.  We talked about the sanctions relieve under the JPOA, and it falls into three categories.  We have waivers used on some of the secondary sanctions authorities.  Liz talked about the auto industry and so forth.  We have the financial channel that’s been set up for humanitarian transactions, and we have the licensing policy for aviation parts and services.  

Now, the financial channel is set up for transactions which are already exempted or otherwise authorized.  The licensing policy is merely an expansion of 31 CFR 560.528, which was an existing licensing policy in favor of licensing aircraft part exports to Iran.  And then the secondary sanctions authority is allowing foreign companies to engage in those transactions in those particular sectors.

However, if you look at it, we’ve had to set up a financial channel just so foreign banks would be willing to process transactions related to exempted activity.  And everything we’re hearing is that if foreign financial institutions are not interested in facilitating any funds transfers related to the type of activity for which waivers were granted.  So this all raises the question, one, did Iran get a bad deal; two, if so, is that bad deal a result of being outmatched from a technical expertise perspective; and three, how will the future negotiations be impacted by the kind of sanctions brain drain that’s going on with a number of key officials leaving both State and Treasury?  Thank you.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Thank you.

George, would you like to start with the first question?

MR. PERKOVICH:  Yeah, I’ll – I think that the possibility of, you know, the Iranians agreeing to a deal that they count on the U.S. to then break, and so I – that’s a little farther than I’d go, but I think the basic strategy is there.  And this is what Rouhani and Zarif did in 2003 and 2004, and they’ve come back to do it – see this as a contest of isolation.  Who can – you know, can the U.S. isolate Iran or can Iran isolate the U.S. in the international system.  And so I think that is part of their logic.  It will be kind of the blame game if the process breaks down.  (Inaudible) – said, they will publish whatever the kind of the last offer was if the talks break down.  They’ll publish and let the world see who is prepared, you know, to make the accommodations, and it’s precisely to then try to unravel the sanctions process in other ways.  And so one concern would be, depending on what the U.S. Congress does, that process could already start without a deal – without a deal that Iran had accepted.  If you get unilateral action here, you can start using that to break the isolation.  So I think that is a viable concern, and that’s what these guys are thinking.

MS. DAVENPORT:  And on the question of relief?

MS. ROSENBERG:  Right.  So I love technical questions like that, so thanks.  But to keep this for a general audience, let me just say, so did Iran get a bad deal from a technical perspective?  I think the real question here is, let’s look at what’s have – what they got on paper versus in practice.  So you’re right, that’s right, that in fact some of the relief that’s called out here is basically facilitation measures to try and make happen in practice what is permitted on paper.  So is it relief on paper?  Well, some of it, you might think that’s a little redundant, because these channels do exist.  But in practice, is it having that effect?  And I agree that in practice it hasn’t had as much effect as it could because, in fact, many financial institutions and companies still aren’t interested in doing this kind of business.  It’s not lucrative enough to pay for the compliance costs and to wade into the reputational risk.

You didn’t also mention the repatriation of money, so the $7 billion that Iran gets.  So that’s real.  It’s only $7 billion for a whole country, but the premise of this, I think we were coming from is, I think of this as relatively modest relief, but confidence building nonetheless.  

Is the – who’s outmatched here technically?  There are very few people in the world who – in this country, in this town, in this government who weighed in all the way and understand what these sanctions are, so it is very difficult for anyone else to have true technical mastery of this and furthermore be able to think creatively about opportunities for their modification and, and that’s a huge challenge, as is this brain drain.  So it’s not a deep bench in the administration.  It’s not a deep bench in Congress, of the staff who work on this and the members who do too, and there is attrition here.  That’s concerning.  But this is not impossible, and smart, careful people, oftentimes lawyers – though I am not, and spend a lot of time doing this myself – can develop this mastery and apply creativity to try and get to yes if there is a political will to do it.  But I think, actually, the political will is so much harder than the technical mastery.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Great, thank you.

Carolyn, let’s take this – a question from this gentleman here in the second row.

Q:  Thank you.  I’m – (inaudible) – representing the European Union, and the former negotiator with Iran, the first phase in 2005 – till 2005.  My question – just a small comment, if you’ll allow me, to George Perkovich on sanctions.  There is a fourth element for having sensible sanctions.  They have to be coordinated with the EU.  We are the one way.  You know, this has been mentioned by Elizabeth.  We have – (inaudible) – working with Congress recently.  It’s not impossible.  But this a real important prerequisite.

My question is mostly to Karim.  I am in the happy situation of agreeing with what has been said, which shows the main difficulty today is a – (inaudible) – political will in Iran and particularly with Khamenei and the hardliners.  So do you think that the present strategic situation, original situation, particularly with Iraq, where Iran feels, in a way, reintegrated in a way in the international society because the stability in Iraq and maybe also in Syria is partly dependent of Iran goodwill – flexibilize (sic) the guide and the hardliners, or the contrary, makes them feeling more empowered and then more radical?  And is it – are there measures that we could take in respect to our principles which could “flexibilizing” these hardliners and making them more interested in the deal?

MR. PERKOVICH:  What’s the French verb for “flexibilize”?  

Q:  “Flexibize” (ph).  (Laughter.)  (Off mic.)

MR. PERKOVICH:  Oh, is it really?  Oh, that’s great.  Oh, no, that’s good.  

MS. DAVENPORT:  And then, Paul, did you have – yes.

Q:  A couple of questions for Karim.  Karim, I wonder, what are your thoughts about how Iran would react if Congress does impose tough new sanctions?  And secondly, if you don’t think the supreme leader is willing to budge too much, what’s your – what’s your hunch – I’m just asking for a hunch – about how this will all come apart?  I mean, in other words, do you think that we’ll get up to the end of June, there will be no movement, the talks will collapse, or what would be your best guess?

MS. DAVENPORT:  Karim, if you would just address all of those questions please.

MR. SADJADPOUR:  Second question, which is hypnotically, if Congress were to sanction which would, let’s argue hypothetically, they’d take effect immediately, they wouldn’t just be deterrent in nature, but Congress passes new legislation, how does Iran react to that?  I think there’s – I would say there’s two possibilities.  Possibility number one is that Iran says, well, you’ve abrogated your end of the deal, so we’re going to leave negotiations.  There’s no point in negotiating.  But we’re not going to recommence our activities.  

Possibility number two, which I think is the more likely one, is they say you’ve abrogated your end of the deal, so we’re going to recommence our activities, but we’re going to remain in the negotiations.  I think that’s the more likely option.  I just mentioned possibility number one because we did a simulation with my Georgetown students and a young woman from Germany took option number one, which was she said, OK, we’re going to leave negotiations but we’re not going to – we’re not going to move forward.  And everyone was incredibly confused.  The other countries on the simulation – you know, China, Europe, the United States, you didn’t know what to really do aside from really try to get Iran back to the negotiating table.  But again, if I’m the leader, I think that if you – you know, you can argue well, you’ve – you are the ones who reneged on the deal, so we’re going to do what we were doing in the past.  And my sense is that going back to something that George has been talking about and maybe others in the audience have argued as well, is that they are confident that the world is going to blame the United States for the failure, not blame Iran, because it will say that it was Congress that exploded this deal.  

With regards to, you know, how Iran is feeling on a regional level, I was just reading a quote this morning from Khamenei’s adviser in the Revolutionary Guards, and he says – this is a quote – he says:  “No regional developments can take place contrary to the will of Iran.  The developments in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, must go through Iran.”  So I’d argue they’re feeling very confident at the moment.

ISIS doesn’t – it constitutes a nuisance to Iran.  It doesn’t constitute an existential threat to Iran.  And, you know, as always, whether it’s a correct calculation or a miscalculation, they feel that America needs their help in fighting ISIS more than – more than vice versa.  So, you know – so how could we perhaps change their regional calculations and, you know, is there a risk that they’re going to even, you know, further radicalize the regional policies?  My sense is that there’s been tremendous continuity and tremendous consistency in Iran’s regional policies for the last few decades.  If you remember during the time of the Khatami presidency, despite the fact you had a president who was calling for a dialogue of civilizations and a more constructive relationship with the United States, Iran was continuing to support Assad, continuing to support Hezbollah, continuing to support groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  So whether or not there’s a nuclear deal, I don’t see Iran’s regional policies really changing dramatically.  

Now, you could make two arguments.  One is that if we try to work together with them and we engage them on regional issues, that could potentially moderate their behavior.  The most recent data point we have, as I mentioned earlier, is President Obama writing a letter to the Supreme Leader saying we have a common adversary in ISIS, let’s work together.  And Khamenei’s response was to say that ISIS has been created by the CIA.  What was interesting is when Foreign Minister Zarif was visiting the United Nations in September, he gave a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in which he mocked conspiracy theorists who said that ISIS was created by the CIA.  And just a few weeks ago, his deputy, someone who works under Zarif, Abdollahian, came out and said that ISIS was created by the Mossad.  And the – you know, it’s a conspiracy theory, but there’s a logic to it in which they believe that, you know, the uprisings in the Middle East, which they call the Islamic Awakening, not the Arab Spring – the Islamic Awakening was movement against the United States to unite the ummah, and the United States and the Mossad have created ISIS in order to divide the ummah.  

So I could – so my argument, I guess, implicitly I’m trying to make is that I haven’t seen any signs that a more conciliatory rhetoric toward Iran changes the regional policies.  I think perhaps when things potentially start to change is when they feel that Assad is really facing existential threat; that he’s potentially on the verge of collapse.  Maybe then they start to engage more seriously in thinking about an alternative in Syria.  But, you know, I tell people, if you’re sitting in Tehran and you’re reading op-eds and you read in the New York Times that Ryan Crocker, who’s one of the most eminent U.S. diplomats of modern times, argues that as bad as Assad is, the alternative is worse, why would you feel that you have to – you compromise on Assad?  You feel that the world, the West, the United States, is gradually coming around to your point of view, which is that the alternative to Assad is worse.  I don’t think they feel that they’re in a position that they have to compromise on the regional policies.

MS. DAVENPORT:  We’re going to take two questions just very quickly here at the end.  If I could have this gentleman here in the middle, and then in the back, please.  And please make your questions very, very brief.

Q:  (Off mic.)  Hello.  I’d like to go back to a kind of macro question and long term, because I’ve got a feeling this is going to go on – this negotiation and these issues are going to go on for a while.  The basic element, it seems to me, is that – to ask the question:  Does Iran as a whole – not just the leader, but Iran as a whole – really want nuclear weapons, and what it thinks its risks are and what it thinks its benefits might be?  As against the other alternative, which is integrating Iran into a larger economic security structure that’s at work as process and whether that debate – I guess Karim might be a good person to do – look at that – is this debate possible and useful over the long term?  And what would be – given America’s interests?  Because the other alternative for Iran, by the way, seems to be war, which I don’t think would be good, or being isolated.  On the American side, the – ask the question is what do we want, and are we willing to do piece meal?  What is it – what is it that we are going to do?  What will either destroy the possibility of their looking rationally at it, or whether or not we have a strategy that works?  Thank you.

MS. DAVENPORT:  OK.  And then the final question, please.

Q:  A lot of talk here about what would be a good – some good legislation that could come out of Congress that would lead to a – you know, wouldn’t scuttle a deal.  But don’t you think a lot of the congressmen and senators really want to scuttle a deal, that they don’t think any deal would be a good one and that the – no matter what you get, the Iranians will always cheat and so on, so that the real approach is essentially to try and scuttle it?

MS. DAVENPORT:  All right.  Thank you.  Karim, would you like to address the first question about Iran’s intentions?

MR. SADJADPOUR:  Yeah.  So I would never deign to speak on behalf of 18 million Iranians to say, you know, what is Iran’s intentions as a whole.  I’d just make a couple points.  One is that the lessons they’ve drawn, which are obvious lessons that all of us can see, is that when Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program, made himself vulnerable to NATO intervention.  Ukraine’s abdication of its nuclear program made it vulnerable to outside intervention.  Iraq’s not having a nuclear weapon made it vulnerable to outside intervention.  So that’s not an argument to say that they are in pursuit of nuclear weapons – I’ve always thought their end game is more to have the capability – but it is an argument that they – they’ve seen – and the leaders said this publicly that, you know, when those countries – particularly Libya, I think, was a compelling case, from when they – when they abdicated the nuclear program, they made themselves vulnerable to outside intervention.  

I’d just say one thing about the popular discussion on this:  The last time I was in Iran, until I can no longer go there or stay – go there and stay out of prison, was 2005.  And I was based there between 2003 and 2005, and I can tell you even that time – we’re talking about almost 10 years ago – people were really tired of the nuclear issue.  They were really tired of reading about enriched uranium and centrifuges.  I don’t think people really cared that much about it.  This notion that it’s a source of national pride and dignity for all Iranians I think has always been exaggerated.  Remember, this is a population which experienced an eight year war with Iraq, so I don’t think people really romanticize about the prospect of further militarization.  And I think if you were to present to the Iranian people – this is outside – this is – I’m just talking about a hypothetical, which will never happen, but if you were to present to the people even this nuclear deal which was discussed last week in Vienna, and say, OK, either you can make a few compromises on the number of centrifuges and, you know, transparency in exchange for potentially billions – tens of billions of dollars of sanctions relief and increased foreign investment, which would – which would really bolster your economy, or you can forego those incentives in order to have a couple thousand more centrifuges, I think it would be a no-brainer for the Iranian people.  But the economic welfare of the Iranian public has never been the motivating factor of this nuclear program.  

And I just will make one point in conclusion, which is I’ve always thought one of the challenges of concluding this deal is that we’re trying to find a technical resolution to a political conflict and the – I think if President Obama and Secretary Kerry could push a button and normalize relations with Iran, they would and – but the opposite is not true, in that, you know, I think that the leadership in Tehran has made clear that this is only about the nuclear negotiations; we’re not interested in rapprochement.  Araghchi, one of the nuclear negotiators, said that, you know, America’s still the great Satan for us; the leader said this as well.  So that’s why I’m not terribly optimistic we’re going to conclude this deal, but I think, you know, containing the program where it’s at now, until there is, you know, leadership with different calculations and Tehran, is not – is not a terrible option.

MS. DAVENPORT:  All right.  Thank you.  Regarding the second question -- (inaudible) -- address that briefly?

MR. PERKOVICH:  I just have just a quick comment on the second question about – you know, look, in life, you run it – we all have an experience of having contradictory views at the same time.  My experience in talking with members of Congress about this is they have contradictory views and have the luxury of not having to reconcile them.  So they say no, no, of course I want diplomacy to succeed, of course I want diplomacy to succeed, but I want a really good deal and the Iranians will never agree to a good deal.  And then you say well, but your legislation would do X, and they go well no, it won’t – it won’t do that, and they just kind of leave it there as this kind of contradictory mess that the executive ultimately has to take responsibility for.  And then Congress will bash it, so –

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, I think one thing that we need to remember is that yes, there may be some people who don’t want a diplomatic solution, or they may be taking actions that undermine a diplomatic solution without realizing it, but – and we don’t know exactly what the Iranian leadership will – wants or will do 5, 10 years from now, but what we do have is despite all the difficulties, despite the history between the United States and Iran, there is a comprehensive, long term, verifiable deal that is within sight – it is, because the negotiators have been working extremely hard.  There are technical solutions to some of the problems.  Ultimately, political choices are going to have to be made about what appear to be technical issues, but they are there within close reach.  And so what I would say is, before Congress has a chance to either get things right, as George suggested, or get things wrong, as some people are suggesting, finish the job.  The choice for the Iranians, if you’re looking at it rationally, should be clear, also.  So we’ve got, I think, a short amount of time to get an agreement that is effective and is a win-win for both sides.

MS. DAVENPORT:  OK.  Well, we have to end on that optimistic note.  Thank you so much for coming and please join me in thanking our panelists.  (Applause.)



The Arms Control Association and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace invite you to attend a briefing on the outcome of the negotiations and next steps, on Dec. 3 in Washington D.C.

Country Resources:

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US-Iranian Religious Leaders’ Dialogue: The Relevance of Moral Questions Related to Nuclear Weapons



The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Choate Room
Washington, DC 20036
October 29, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
A light breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m.

A delegation of religious leaders from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) traveled to Iran earlier this year to engage in a religious and moral dialogue hosted by the Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom, the preeminent center of religious scholarship in Iran. The religious leaders discussed nuclear weapons and Iran's nuclear program, among other issues.

The dialogue sought to promote greater understanding and peace between Americans and Iranians. In a joint declaration issued after the meetings, they explored foundational moral values and fundamental moral questions regarding weapons of mass destruction.

On October 29, the participants from the USCCB delegation will share reflections on their engagement with Shia religious leaders and scholars in Iran. They will discuss the moral questions both faith traditions raise related to nuclear weapons and the role religious actors can play in helping to create political space for further U.S.-Iranian engagement.


Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Panelists include:

  • Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and
  • Ebrahim Mohseni, Research Associate, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland;
  • Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Transcript by

Federal News Service

Washington, D.C. 

DARYL KIMBALL:  All right.  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome.  I’m Daryl Kimball.  I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association, and we’re an independent, nonpartisan membership organization.  We’re committed to raising awareness about and advancing solutions to deal with the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons, particularly nuclear weapons.  And we’re very honored to be co-sponsoring today this briefing on an important U.S.-Iranian religious leaders dialogue exploring the relevance of moral questions related to nuclear weapons, which was led by a delegation of religious leaders from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who we’re partnering with on this event today.  They traveled to Iran earlier this year, and they met with Iranian religious leaders at the Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom, which is the preeminent center of religious scholarship in Iran, and they discussed nuclear weapons and Iran’s nuclear program, among other important issues.  And we’re going to be hearing from some of the key participants in this important religious and moral dialogue this morning.  And I should just note that their initiative and this morning’s briefing comes at a pivotal time in relations between Iran and the United States and between Iran and the rest of the international community.  After extending talks on Iran’s nuclear program beyond the original July 20, 2014 target date, Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany are right now closing in, we hope, on a long-term verifiable, comprehensive deal to address concerns about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.  And such an agreement could – should – block Iran’s potential uranium and plutonium paths to nuclear weapons and remove a major threat to regional and international security for many years to come.  This briefing is not specifically about those negotiations, though we can discuss them in the Q&A session, but it is about the religious and moral context within which Iranian leaders and the Iranian people will be making decisions about their nuclear program and their future role in international affairs. 

And so we have a great lineup of speakers this morning who were part of this delegation from earlier this year, and we’re going to be starting in just a few minutes with Bishop Richard E. Pates, who’s chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  He’s also the bishop of Des Moines, Iowa.  He tells me the corn is growing very well in Iowa right now.  He’s the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace.  He was elected to that position by the full body of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2011, and he previously served as the secretary at the Apostolic Delegation of the Vatican Embassy in Washington from 1975 to 1981 and currently serves on the board of directors of the North American College of Rome and on other key boards.  So he’s been involved in these issues for many, many years. 

We’ll also hear from Ebrahim Mohseni, who’s research associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland and a senior analyst at the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion and Research.  He is filling in this morning for his colleague John Steinbruner, who is the Arm Control Association’s chairman of the board of directors, and John is the director of the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Maryland, who can’t be with us here this morning.  Ebrahim has played an instrumental role – played an instrumental role in coordinating the trip to Iran that we’ll hear about in just a few minutes. 

 And we’re also very pleased to have Dr. Stephen Colecchi, who’s the director of the Office of International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Steve for many years, and he has been specializing in peace issues in the Middle East, among other topics. 

So with that introduction, I want to turn it over to Bishop Pates.  And after each of the panelists speakers, we’re going to take your questions and get into a discussion of these important issues.  So, Bishop Pates, it’s an honor to have you.  Thank you for collaborating with us on this event.

BISHOP RICHARD PATES:  Well, thank you, and delighted to be able to be with you, Daryl, and very grateful to you and to the Arms Control Association for hosting today’s event, and also to Kelly and Ploughshares for its generous support to today’s gathering.  So we’re very grateful for Ploughshares and tremendous interest that they take in this topic. 

I also bring the greetings from the heartland that – came in from Des Moines last night.  And as Daryl said, that despite the global warming, we’re going to have an all-time high corn and soybean crop in Iowa this year.  So China’s very happy about that since they import a great deal of our corn and makes them – feeds them well throughout the course of this year.

But anyway, the Catholic Church has been engaged in interreligious dialogue in earnest since the Second Vatican Council.  In 1965, the council declared, the Church regards with esteem the Muslim community.  They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the creator of heaven and earth.  So we have a very close relationship theologically, the understanding of one God who is the creator of all.

Secondly, in addition to its emphasis on dialogue since 1963, the Church has committed itself to seek a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons, with an effective system of mutual control, and that was spoken about by St. John XXIII in his landmark encyclical Pacem in Terris as, again, in 1963.

Our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took up this call in earnest in 1983 and again in 1993 with pastoral letters on peace and on nuclear weapons.  Since this time, we have been vigorous champions for nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and a world without nuclear weapons. 

Just last April, I led a group of bishops and Catholic scholars at a colloquium “Revitalizing Catholic Engagement on Nuclear Disarmament,” held at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.  There we met with former Secretaries George Shultz and William Perry, who have made it their – (inaudible) – life concern to again enable the world to live without nuclear weapons.

Next month I will speak at a seminar on less nuclear stockpiles and more development, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome.  And that particular paper, it will be guided by the fact that if the United States kind of diverted its spending for nuclear weapons, that there would be $35 billion a year available for assistance with other countries, perhaps really leading to peace, as opposed to the utilization of nuclear weapons and the spending that’s going to occur there.

It is no secret that Iran and the United States have had a troubled recent history and continue to have a contentious government relationship, although I think our government is trying to move in a different direction in that regard.  And the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program is especially prominent this time as a negotiated solution is being sought. 

As the Conference of Catholic Bishops, we’ve been looking for ways to build bridges of understanding between the American people and the Iranian people.  To that end, I led a delegation of bishops to Iran for religious and moral dialogue with Iranian religious leaders.  Our committee on International Justice and Peace hopes to contribute to a climate in which the P-5 plus one negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program can succeed.  But I should emphasize that our dialogue with our Iranian counterparts was purely religious and moral in nature.  And in terms of receiving an invitation from the religious leaders of Iran, it was their understanding that since from a religious perspective we coincide an understanding of truth, justice and peace, that we speak the same message, both Iranian and the Catholic community throughout the world.  And it was their idea to join together in a discussion, in a conversation, in order that perhaps by our own dialogue, by our own conversation, we might be able to have some influence on the political leaders of our countries – in other words, to establish a foundation that could be used for discussion among our political leaders in terms of achieving common ground.

And this initiative flows from our Church’s commitment to dialogue in international affairs.  As Pope Francis has said on many occasions, dialogue is the key.  In his words:  The way to resolve open questions must be that of diplomacy and dialogue.  This is the royal road. 

And as we have heard Pope Francis time and again emphasizes that process:  encounter.  We must meet each other.  Secondly, we must have dialogue.  And thirdly, hopefully, what will evolve from there is relationship – relationship which leads to human resolution of conflict. 

And so he wants to open that door and to say that it’s really possible if we proceed down that path.

The bishops’ international committee had discussed this project for over a year, that is, going to Iran, and consulted with Church and policy experts in shaping it, including informing U.S. public officials.  Dr. John Steinbruner, a consultant to the Bishops Committee, secured funding for the school – from the school of Public Policy at the University of Maryland for our trip.  Our delegation traveled to Iran last March from 11th to the 17th of March to meet with members of the Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom, the preeminent center of religious scholarship in Iran.  Our delegation consisted of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is well known in this community for his leadership and dialogue and statesmanship; Bishop Denis Madden of Baltimore, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.  So his responsibility is to oversee the dialogues between our ecumenical partners and our interreligious affairs.  Dr. John Steinbruner, a professor of public policy, University of Maryland, who has contributed very much over the years to a peaceful understanding of moving forward in relationships with other nations.  Dr. Stephen Colecchi, who is with us today, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace, and Mr. Ebrahim Mohseni, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland and also you have citizenship both in Iran and the United States.  So he is a bridge that enables us to have better understanding, and delighted that he is able to be with us.  And then I was the sixth member of the party.

We are very warmly welcomed by our Iranian guests.  Over a four-day period, we met with prominent ayatollahs and scholars in Qom, including Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadaei, vice president of the Supreme Council of the Seminary Teachers of Qom; Grand Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli; Ayatollah Jawad Shahrestani and Ayatollah Ali-Reza Arafi.

It’s worth noting that Ayatollah Moghtadaei serves on the Assembly of Experts, the body that elects the supreme leader in Iran, oversees the supreme leader’s work and periodically reconfirms him.  So the grand – or the supreme leader has not been anointed for life at this point in time, but also, as you see, has some accountability to render to a broader group.

Iranians feel profoundly misunderstood by America and the West.  They admit that many Iranians misunderstand America as well, and that the periodic slogan that we see on TV, “death to America” and chants by students, while aimed at government policies, clearly widen the gulf and the misunderstanding, unfortunately, that is portrayed on our screens.  Some think that the Iranians, the young Iranians perhaps need a new slogan.

But I have to tell you that our experience with the Iranians themselves was very positive from a human perspective.  We met some young students, probably teenagers, 14, 18 years old, who were on a tour.  And while we were visiting there, they came right up to us, took all kinds of pictures, and they wanted to be extremely friendly and just were totally taken interaction with ourselves like any of our U.S. students might do on a similar occasion.

And the service personnel could not have been kinder, could not have been nicer.  We were dressed in our black robes, obviously very Catholic.  We were chauffeured by three foreign officer individuals who are their chauffeurs, and the foreign service provided for us three Mercedes.  And the drivers were very friendly, and we felt very comfortable.  They put us up in a first-class hotel that was just completely – was just recently finished.  They were very warm, very kind, could not have done more for us.  We felt very much at ease with them, even friendly as we came to the end of it, that we felt that we had made friends and established good relationships.  This was quite contrary to the apprehension that I experienced before leaving.  People say aren’t you nervous, aren’t you scared, aren’t you aware?  And so that kind of highlights, I think, some of the perceptions that we have today that we need to the barriers that break – that really inhibit good understanding and moving forward, because the opposite is what we truly experienced.

It’s also a highly developed nation.  I’d say – suggest that next to Israel, it’s probably the most developed nation in the Middle East.  They have a 90 percent literacy rate, and the women outpace the men in terms of that literacy rate.  And we found also in our discussions, our social experience with the women, they’re extraordinarily warm, conversant and friendly with us, and enable us to have a good experience in feeling with them.

Of course, our own political media discourse in the United States often demonizes Iran and its leaders.  The Axis of Evil is part of our national lexicon, and the respected religious title of ayatollah has taken on a dark, almost sinister tone in our country.  So – and that their concern raised was, do we receive some of our interpretation through the lens of Israel?  Are we obtaining it directly, or do we have an intermediary lens that perhaps does not always provide the greatest accuracy of the people themselves?

The religious leaders and scholars with whom we met noted that terrorist attacks are more linked to Sunni extremists than to Shia Muslims.  They wondered why America and the West were closer to Arab governments that support many of these extremists.  And one concern that continues in terms of the relationship is an awareness of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1990s, and Iran suffered 130,000 casualties in that war.  And so they still have memory of U.S. support of Iraq during that time, and the utilization of chemical weapons, which were treated in that particular war, which were used by Iraq.  And so with that many casualties, you can just begin to imagine that the feelings of the families of people who lost individuals in that particular war.  So that continues to shadow from the popular perspective the relationship with the United States.

Nonetheless, we had productive religious and moral discussions, starting with general moral principles and moving towards specific applications to nuclear weapons when we were with the ayatollahs.  We have some general similarities between Shia Islam and Catholicism, including an emphasis on faith and reason – we found a very great similarity there – a devotion to saints, and a structure of teaching authority – some ways, ayatollahs have the roles that are similar to those who – those of us who serve as bishops in the Catholic Church.

What the Catholics and the Shia Muslim leaders in our dialogue repeatedly referred to the belief in that one God that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims and calls us all to work for the common good of the whole human family.  There is a real emphasis on Christianity, Islam cherishing a common heritage that cherishes above all love and respect for the life, dignity and welfare of all members of the human community.  Both traditions reject as reprehensible all forms of transgression and injustice.  We oppose any action that endangers the life, death, dignity or welfare of others.  Catholicism and Shia Islam hold a common commitment to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect no matter what the – what other boundaries there may be.

We then exported them how these foundational moral principles unite us in raising fundamental moral questions regarding the utilization of weapons of mass destruction.  We were told in the clearest terms that Shia Islam opposes and forbids the production, stockpiling, use and threat to use chemicals of mass destruction.  And this might be taken into consideration, that even though Iraq used chemical weapons in the war in the 1990s, Iran did not respond with the same use of similar weapons.  And so they shared stories of their own tradition that forbade indiscriminate weapons and the destruction of innocent people. 

We noted that the Catholic Church is also working for a world without weapons of mass destruction and has called on all nations to rid themselves of these indiscriminate weapons.  We specifically noted our support for both nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and it has been a consistent policy stance of ours since Vatican II.

We pushed our Iranian dialogue partners in the status of the fatwa issued by Ayatolla Ala Khomeini.  They confirmed that it is a matter of public record and is highly respected among Shia scholars and Iranians generally.

And we heard from them, our understanding, a very simple rendition of this and that it – if there are any Jesuit-educated individuals here, it follows kind of the prescription of two propositions and a conclusion.  And the simple kind of explanation of it is that the Shia Islam, because all humanity is created by the divine, each of the human persons so created has a dignity, has a irreversible attribute of the divine within her or within him.  And because of that reality, that created reality, that we – that individual deserves respect.  That individual deserves kindness no matter what their religion, no matter what their situation.  So from the very beginning, there’s this utter respect that is attributed to the human being because of its divine creation and the relationship to the divine.

So how does this play out in reality?  Well, then you have the second proposition saying that there are two forces that are opposing one another, one lives upstream from the other and the other is downstream, and they are at war with one another.  So would it be moral for the upstream to poison the river so that when that water arrives downstream to the enemy, then it would be wiped out?  And the answer:  No, it is immoral because of the fact that it would be the indiscriminate killing of innocent persons who are made in the divine, who require our respect and our understanding.  And so this is immoral and cannot be used.

So then the question comes up, how about nuclear weapons?  Are nuclear weapons a moral force that could be used for the purpose – the same sort of purpose as described above, and the answer again is no, that they are immoral because of their indiscriminate nature and their powerful force of destroying all types of innocent community, so that from the religious moral perspective of Shia Islam and the fatwa, the teaching of the supreme leader, that these – which they affirmed as really being in existence, that it is immoral for them – for the utilization of nuclear arms and teaching.

So they argued that the fatwa could not be reversed so as to contradict itself, even if Iran’s strategic calculations changed.  This would undermine the authority of the supreme leader, which guides in a general way Iran’s political class so that the – Iran is based on a political class which runs the everyday government, that the ayatollah and the grand ayatollah and the supreme leader provide the moral direction for the community and that that is – the moral direction influences the political determination and in this case that they would continue to say that from a religious perspective that the utilization of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, utilization of them, is immoral and could not be sustained.

So both our Iranian interlocutors and our Bishops Conference have committed themselves to continued and deeper discussions in the future – and perhaps this will be spoken about a little later – that we anticipate a visit to the United States from our friends in Iran if it all can be arranged in the not-too-distant future, to carry on our dialogue, and also to hopefully make more public these stands that we have taken, at least disperse this news in a way that truly gets out of the religious leaders’ stance on these issues and trying to take away some of the – you know, the shadows that exist in the relationships and to get to the heart of the matter of what we truly believe.  So thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Bishop Pates.  And now, for more on these issues, Ebrahim Mohsensi, you have the floor.

Ebrahim Mohsensi:  I’ll be short so that we would have more time for the Q&A.

I was involved in coordinating, basically, this trip.  And the first thing I had to do was convince the ayatollahs in Tehran that this was a worthwhile endeavor, and that itself took, I would say, about a year of going back and forth between – you know, between Washington to Tehran and between Tehran to Qom.  And it was – it was an enlightening experience in the sense that a lot of the concerns – I’m sorry – a lot of the concerns that they initially would voice about such a trip were themselves rooted in the deep mistrust that exists between the two countries.  Some of these concerns were that – is this going to be, basically, used as a propaganda scheme by the U.S. government, that even the Iranian ayatollahs want to have dialogue with the Americans, you know?  These sort of concerns required a lot of negotiating back and forth and emphasis on the strict religious nature of this – of this delegation.

The Iranians – I think that the most important factor that really convinced them that this was a worthwhile endeavor was their concern that a lot of people outside of Iran judge them or talk about them without having any real information about them.  So on the issue of fatwa, they were really concerned that a lot of articles and, you know, opinion pieces have been written without any ayatollah ever being consulted on the matter.  And that itself was enough for them to – you know, to agree that perhaps this could be the beginning of injecting some truth into the debate that is occurring not only in Iran, but also – not only in Washington, but also other countries around the world. 

During the discussions, as Bishop Pates noted, I and Professor Steinbruner really pushed them as to the nature of the fatwa, as to how categorical is the fatwa?  Could it be changed?  Under what circumstances could it be changed?  And the responses we got, not only in our discussions with – you know, with the several ayatollahs that we met but also with the Shia scholars, were quite unequivocal, categorical, and without any qualifications.  And what is interesting is that their emphasis was that this is not something new, this is not something that Ayatollah Khamenei has come up with, you know, when they – you know, that this has deep roots in Shia jurisprudence, and that – and in our discussions with other grand ayatollahs, we basically heard the same kind of categorical opposition to weapons of mass destruction.  And as you know, grand ayatollahs are independent of each other.  Basically, one of the differences between the Shia school of thought and Catholicism is that they have several popes.  So each of these grand ayatollahs are – basically act as a pope; they could issue decrees.  So they are basically independent of each other.  And all these different grand ayatollahs that we met, they voiced the same opinion, religious opinion.  And the emphasis was that this is not something that, if even Ayatollah Khamenei would decide to – one day would, perhaps, change his opinion, it would be really tough for him to convince all these other ayatollahs that a new way of thinking is required on the issue of weapons of mass destruction.

One of the things that I do professionally is that I collect public opinion data from Iran and from other countries.  And one of the issues that we have investigated is, in fact, the – you know, the public attitudes from a moral perspective in regards to nuclear weapons.  And the results we get is quite similar to what you heard in Qom.  I’m just going to go through some of the numbers really quickly.

Back in 2008, we asked whether nuclear weapons was against Islam or not.  In 2008, 58 percent said that it was against Islam to produce nuclear weapons.  We asked the same question last week, and the data now stands at 65 percent of people who say producing nuclear weapons is against Islam.

Last week, we asked a question about Iran’s decision not to use chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War.  We basically said that, as you know, Saddam used chemical weapons during that war; Iran decided not to retaliate in kind.  Do you think that was the right decision, or should have – should Iran have retaliated in kind?  And the response we got to that, 19 percent said that we should have retaliated in kind as compared to 78 percent who say that it was the right decision for Iran not to have retaliated in kind.

And the views regarding the fatwa, there is overwhelming knowledge of the fatwa.  In fact, more people know about the fatwa than they know about the NPT.  Sixty-three percent have heard of the NPT, have some knowledge of the NPT, as compared to 71 percent who accurately identify what Ayatollah Khamenei’s opinion is in regards to nuclear weapons.  By the way, the 63 percent is quite a high number, I mean, on the NPT; in the U.S., it’s about 28 percent. 

So taking that into mind, I think it’s important – and I think one of the things we should try to do in this town is to try to safeguard as best as we can these perceptions in Tehran by giving weight to it.  You know, if we would dismiss these out of hand and would say these are not important, whatnot, we do not create the – not that our incentives really matter, but our incentives could help the Iranians and Iranian scholars in Iran try to reinforce these opinions, both among the public and among the religious community, because I think at the end of the day it is not the technical capability that really matters, it is that decision.

We know from literature on nuclear weapons and development that if a country really decides to create nuclear weapons, to develop it, they will eventually, you know, do it.  It is that decision which is, I think, the most important element, not the capabilities.  And I think what prevents that decision from happening is precisely these public opinions in opposition to nuclear weapons and those religious guidelines that prohibit the production of nuclear weapons.  With that, I will pass it.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much.

Steve.  (Applause.)

STEPHEN COLECCHI:  Well, I’m sort of the clean-up batter here, and I will also be brief.

To some people, it might seem naïve to take religion seriously regarding such a major geopolitical issue, which has life-and-death ramifications, but I would argue that we ignore the influence of religion as a motivator and a validator at our own peril.  Religion is a powerful motivator of people, of cultures, of societies, including our own, and it affects political activity.

For many years, religious leaders in the United States have been talking to the State Department, trying to help the State Department to “get” religion.  And by “get” religion, we don’t mean become religious but rather to understand religion, to understand the role it plays in cultures, to understand the role – the influence it has in political systems.  And the U.S. State Department, to its credit, is working on that.  I think, to its great credit now, you know, Shaun Casey has been appointed special adviser to Secretary of State Kerry for faith-based and community initiatives.  The White House also gets this, and for some time has had an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, currently headed by Melissa Rogers.

But I don’t think the impact of religion as a factor in political decisions has permeated either the State Department or, for that matter, our own culture.  We don’t – we have a caricature of what religion looks like in Iran, rather than a real grasp of what that looks like. 

I just want to recount one experience.  When we first arrived in Qom, their holy city, the place of their major seminary study, to meet with the Supreme Council, the very first place we were taken was to the shrine of Fatima – major figure in their – in Shia history and in the Shia faith.  A saint, as it were in Catholic lexicon. 

And entering that place – that was one of the places where the bishops were mobbed by young people wanting to get selfies with them.  They were obvious.  They had crosses on.  I mean, they looked even more bishopy than the bishop looks today.  (Laughter.)

BISHOP PATES:  Thank you, Steve.  (Laughter.)

MR. COLECCHI:  You’re welcome.  And – but when we went in there, the quietness of the place, the crowds moving through, the candles that were lit, the people praying and signs of reverence as they moved past her gravesite and so forth, I felt like I was in a Catholic cathedral.  This faith is real.  It’s palpable.  It was like being in a Catholic dedicated to the memory of a saint.  Iran is a very, very religious culture.  It’s also a very modern culture.  And it is not at all like the caricature of the sort of fanatic religion that we see depicted too often or used in political speeches.

And I think it’s this – that’s – in that light – the fatwa needs to be looked at in that light, in light of their whole culture and religious system.  You know, you’ve heard about the fatwa.  There’s not only the fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei but also Khomeini.  I mean, both have – both issued fatwas.  One in relation to chemical but also nuclear, one specifically on nuclear.  I won’t – I won’t go over all those.  And they’re in several public places and you can get a sense of them.

Gareth Porter has just recently done an article that was really excellent, an interview with an individual who in several meetings with Ayatollah Khomeini – the founder of the Islamic Republic, the first supreme leader – you know, when the chemical weapons were being used, you know, they started actually developing the components of chemical weapons.  And the Ayatollah said – the supreme leader said no.  It’s forbidden.  It’s haraam.  One hundred and thirty thousand deaths later, they still did not employ those weapons.  I think we need to take that kind of evidence very, very seriously.

And I don’t think our State Department quite does yet, to be honest.  I don’t think our country does yet, to be quite honest.  On October 16th, a senior State Department official said – had this to say in Vienna:  Iran has said they don’t want a nuclear weapon, have never wanted a nuclear weapon, never will have a nuclear weapon, including a fatwa by the supreme leader.  What these negotiations are about is whether Iran is willing to take verifiable actions to show the world that their program is indeed for peaceful purposes.

So they mention the fatwa in an almost off-handed way and basically dismiss it, as if it has no relevance.  Now, I’m not saying it has every relevance, but it has some relevance.  The fatwa is clearly pervasively taught and defended within Iran.  It’s known by its people.  And we’ve got to understand their governmental system.  They have – they’re on an unprecedented kind of venture.  They are – at one point we – I made this mistake of referring to a theocracy.  And, boy, they jumped down my throat in several different – actually, it only happened once.  I’m a slow learning, but I’m not that slow. 

They said, no, we are democracy that is guided by moral principle.  So the role of the supreme leader is to articulate the moral principles within which government must operate.  And it cannot be contravened and so forth.  So they have this very interesting blending of authoritative moral guidance with representative government.  That’s kind of their – and it’s different.  It’s different than anyplace else in the world, really.  And they have, in Qom, 120,000 scholars and ayatollahs and students and seminarians studying to learn this rich, rich Shia tradition so that they can help be the interlocutors throughout Iran to help maintain the religious foundation of this state, which is representative government but guided by moral principles.

So the possibility of changing the fatwa overnight is nonexistent.  This should be part of a – what needs to be taken into account by diplomats.  You know, what it would take, not only – to change the decision, as it were, because it can’t be done like that.  That would undermine the whole teaching authority of their system.  It would be inconceivable to a Catholic that a pope would do that like that.  It’s inconceivable to them that an ayatollah or a supreme leader would do that as well.

Now, I’m not saying that every Iranian agrees with this, even at the time of the founding supreme leader, you know, there were those in the military who were preparing chemical weapons, right, or preparing the components for them.  But they did finally abide by the decision of the supreme leader.  It has a serious effect.  So maybe not every Iranian official in Iran today agrees with the direction that the Islamic Republic has taken, but they certainly have to take it into account.  It is serious.  It is very serious.

And I think that’s what the bottom line is, based on this religious dialogue, anyway.  We’re simply asking our people, our government and others – at least take this into account.  It is a factor and it might make the space for negotiations easier, to really understand this – about this – the nature of Iran the nature of the fatwa and how deeply embedded it is within their culture. Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, thanks to all of you for your incredible work with this initiative, which is truly ground breaking, and fascinating, from my perspective, working on these issues for many years, to focus on the moral dimensions.  So thank you very much.  It’s now time for our audience to offer their questions.  And let’s start with some of the journalists in the audience, if we could.  Barbara and then we’ll go to our friend here.  So if you could bring the mic – yeah, bring the mic up so our transcriber can hear you.  Thank you.

Q:  Thank you.  I’m Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council and also the Al-Monitor website.  Couple questions, if I may, to Steve Colecchi.  You talk about the fatwa, but there’s also something called maslahat, or expediency.  Things can change in Iran if it’s expedient and necessary to keep the system going.  So I wondered if you discussed that with your interlocutors. 

To Mr. Mohsensi, if you could tell us a little bit more about this poll?  Is this the first time you’re releasing these results?  And can we see the full poll?  Where can we find that?  And to Bishop Pates, you said you talked about moral dimensions.  Yes, Iran has a fatwa against WMD, but they executed 900 people last year.  And their human rights record is not good.  Did you talk about capital punishment?  Is this a subject for the future?  How do they explain, you know, the way in which they execute people for offenses that we would, even in this country, probably, not execute people?  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Why don’t we take those questions and then we’ll go to the next person.

MR. COLECCHI:  Sure.  That’s a trifecta, wow.  (Laughter.)

Q:  I’m glad you liked it.

MR. COLECCHI:  We did talk considerably about the fatwa and whether there was any condition, any expediency, any anything that could change it.  And the answer we got was categorically no.  That it was too clean. 

In fact they used an example, which I thought was rather interesting.  There used to be a fatwa against chess.  Chess was haraam, forbidden.  And the reason why there was a fatwa against chess is because people gambled on chess.  That was – that was the purpose of the game.  When chess became a game of the mind and no longer a game of gambling, then the fatwa was changed to be only against gambling, but not against chess.  I don’t know the details of it, I’m so sorry.

But they use this as an illustration of explaining that a fatwa can change and develop, but not by way of contradiction.  It just – it cannot by way of contradiction.  And so my answer to you would be no, I don’t think – I know the answer we got was expediency would not override the fatwa.

MR. MOHSENI:  Now, about the polling data – some of the data that I indicated, knowledge of the fatwa and the 2008 data on whether nuclear – production of nuclear weapons is prohibited or not – is on University of Maryland website.  So you can go to the worldpublicopinion.org website.  And the data on those would be available.  The data that I referred to about what they conducted basically last week is not yet up online, but it will be.  And if you want – I mean, if you give me your contact information, once it’s up I can – I can share the data with you. 

MS.     :  (Inaudible.)

MR. MOHSENI:  These are all probability sample – 1,000, margin of error, 3 percent. 

BISHOP PATES:  The invaluable situation with regard to dialogue is that we learn, and sometimes, they had presented in our discussions – I can’t think of any immediate examples – situations that really don’t exist, or misinterpretations of the activity of the United States, which we are able to clarify.  Unfortunately, we did not get to, I think, capital punishment, so it’s not – but it can be, certainly, put on the agenda for future discussion, and I think that’s an extraordinarily important point.  And – but we’d also have to consider our own position on capital punishment so it would be a true dialogue.

And then, secondly, I think that the Catholic Church has experienced a revolution in its understanding of capital punishment, too, so that we’re at the point that you know, we do not abide by it basically.  So I’ll – I think cultures are moving in a direction of – and so it would be a very interesting point, and thank you for suggesting it.

MR. KIMBALL:  Yes, ma’am.  And if you could wait for the microphone, I’m sorry.  Yes.

If you can just identify yourself.

Q:  Pat Zapor from Catholic News Service.  Bishop Pates, you talked a little bit about some of the fears in Iran before you came that it might be used for propaganda purposes.  What have any of you heard back about how news of this delegation – this meeting was received?  Was there pushback?  Was it – was the information well-received?  And I realize, in this country, I wrote a story, but there weren’t a lot of us doing that, and there really isn’t – hasn’t been a lot of information out.  But what feedback have you received from either side?

BISHOP PATES:  Well, two-fold.  One from our – we did briefings with our American government, both the Congress, State Department and the executive branch, and it was all well-received, I think, that they were appreciative of the dialogue and information from a religious perspective.  So I would say the bottom line there was positive and helpful to understanding of peoples moving forward, working together, coming at it from a different perspective. And then, secondly, just in my own conversations back home in Des Moines, that – after explaining it all, that they always said thank you – thank you for doing this; somebody must be about these issues and questions.  And I think that it reflects the real hearts of the Americans, that they want to have peace, they want to have dialogue, they want to have people working toward these goals.

And oftentimes, you know, our political portrayal, you know, does the opposite – (chuckles) – and creates an enemy so they can take action, when, in fact, it’s more of a creation, perhaps, than a reality.  So I think, on the local scene, that it was very well-received, and I think, among our bishops and others, that as a representative of the international justice that they’ve all thanked me and thanked our committee, to all of those who went for doing this in appreciation – very much appreciative of the work that we’re undertaking in this regard.

MR. COLECCHI:  If I could just add another comment, because at the conference of bishops – at the office, as opposed to in Des Moines, we actually receive any feedback that comes off of our website, or, you know, commentary on activities of the bishops and so forth, and I can – I can say that we did not receive any appreciable negative commentary on either of the two press releases that we made available to you – the joint statement that the bishops and the Shia scholars issued, or the initial press release about the trip itself.  We received – I don’t know if people weren’t paying attention; I don’t want to invite negative commentary necessarily – (laughter) – since that means drafting lots of responses, but there was not a lot of – there wasn’t any.

MR. MOHSENI:  And on the Iranian side, interestingly – and it was totally out of coincidence that our trip to Iran coincided with a series of religious delegations, going to Iran.  I know for a fact that that was not coordinated.  The press coverage that it got in Iran happened at two different levels.  One was the press relating to the religious communities of Qom, which primarily focused on the dialogue and what was exchanged between the Catholic bishops and the Ayatollahs, and it was – the tone of it was totally positive.

The more mainstream press saw this whole activity as one package.  And there were different types of commentaries on it.  Mostly it was positive – mostly, that this will encourage mutual understanding between the two nations, and hopefully, that would trickle up to the – to the politicians.  But then, there were some other negative commentaries as well, in the mainstream press, portraying these sort of trips as an agenda to undermine Iran’s resistance toward the United States, and the – you know, that whole narrative.  So – but in general, I have to say, in general both the local press and the national press in Iran – the coverage was quite positive.

Q:  (Inaudible) – official from the government – (inaudible) –

MR. MOHSENI:  There was only one official – not about our – as far as I know, not about our delegation, but about another religious delegation, when there was a question of whether that delegation was carrying a message from Obama or not, and the public statement was that – no, that this was a purely religious interaction.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Yes, and if you could bring the microphone over here.  Thank you.

Q:  Jo Biddle from AFP, Agence France-Presse – I wonder if I could ask the panel.  Given the fact that they were so insistent that this fatwa couldn’t be changed, whether you probed them on why, so far, the nuclear program has been so secretive, and why, up until the JPOA was agreed – the interim agreement – there had been no inspections, and they basically kicked the IAEA inspectors out of the country, and why they were, you know, pursuing their nuclear program?  And I wanted to ask Daryl – I know we’re not really talking about the nuclear talks about the moment, but what is your sense about whether there might be an extension beyond the deadline of November 24th?

MR. KIMBALL:  Do you all want to answer the first part of the question?

MR. COLECCHI:  I could offer some tentative thing.  The – I think the Iranian perception is different than the U.S. perception regarding transparency to some degree, first of all.  And Gareth, in a couple of recent articles, has talked about that, and I would refer you to Gareth Porter.  The other thing I would say is that there is – one thing to understand that I came to appreciate it – let me just put it this way – about the Iranians is, they are heirs of a very, very proud tradition.  And I mean, that Persian tradition – that Persian national identity, in addition to their Shia religious identity – you know, their – they don’t particularly like having their internal affairs dealt with differently than other countries’ might be dealt with.

And so that might be part of it, but I think they would argue that they are really working very hard to be as transparent as possible, and I believe the interim agreement has shown that.  But I don’t think they would quite agree with your characterization.

MR. KIMBALL:  Yeah, so regarding the talks – and just to clarify one of the things you said in your question – I mean, the Iranian program has been under inspection – IAEA inspection – they are a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  In the 2005-2006 periods, the last major time when there were international negotiations on Iran’s program, Iran had been allowing more extensive inspections under something called the IAEA additional protocol.  When those talks broke down, they no longer – decided no longer to implement that.  But there have been inspections at the – all the major Iranian nuclear facilities on an ongoing, regular basis.

With the joint plan of action that was struck a little less than a year ago, there were additional inspections that were agreed to at certain sites, like some of the centrifuge production sites.  So just as a matter of fact and the record on that.  But as I said at the opening, the two sides are working hard, very intensively to try to meet the November 24th deadline – a new deadline.  It is clear from our conversations with people involved in negotiations on both sides of the table that they’ve made progress in a number of areas.  But they are still trying to close the gaps on a couple of key areas.

And as you might have heard from Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman last Thursday, you know, the U.S. and the P-5 believe they have put forward solutions on those issues.  They’re waiting for the Iranians to respond.  It is not clear whether they’re going to be able to reach a political agreement on all of the major issues.  I think the main issue that they still need to reach relates to defining the overall capacity of Iran to enrich uranium, and uranium can be enriched to fuel grade or weapons grade over the course of this multi-year agreement.

So that is one of the main issues that they still need to deal with, and for the P-5 plus one, it’s definitely – what they’re aiming for is to reduce the capability while confidence is restored about the nature of the program.  And I don’t think that they’re going to be extending the joint plan of action.  That is not their first choice.  I think the P-5 plus one believe, and I think the Iranians believe that if there is going to be a comprehensive, multi-year agreement, the decisions necessary to reach that agreement can and should be made now, and extending the JPOA – the interim agreement doesn’t help them resolve those issues.

That said, they could very well announce in the next few weeks that they’ve achieved substantial progress on some of the remaining issues of disagreement, but they need more time to work out the technical details about how to implement those decisions.  So they may decide jointly to take more time to negotiate those additional technical details.  We saw this a little bit a year ago when the two sides reached the broad agreement on the interim agreement, and then they took several weeks to negotiate the detailed technical annexes defining terms and how to measure things and how to verify things.

So I think that’s what we’re looking at.  So, you know, bottom line is, a conference agreement is still within reach.  There is an agreement that is out there if the two sides can find the right formula that meets the bottom-line requirements of each side, and for Iran that means, I think, preserving their dignity and preserving a uranium enrichment program that can provide for a future larger nuclear energy program.  Their current needs for uranium enrichment are relatively low.  And for the P-5 plus one, it’s to reduce the capacity so that they have confidence that Iran could not make a fast break for producing weapons-grade material and to make nuclear weapons, which would require overcoming a number of hurdles.  And not just technical, but political, moral, religious – not just the fatwa, but the nuclear nonproliferation treaty itself.

So that’s how I see things playing out.  We’ve got several other questions here.  Let’s go to the gentleman in the second row, and then we’ll go to the third, and then we’ll come back over here.  Thank you, sure.  Right here, yep.

Q:  Alex Patico with the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.  You put an emphasis on the nature of the delegation and the discussions as moral and religious.  You obviously did get into the nuclear issue.  What – were there other substantive conversations on other topical issues such as the justification for or impact of Western-imposed sanctions or in Israel-Palestine?

MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  And why don’t we just take another question here, and we can take a couple at a time with Mr. Levine right there.  Thank you.

Q:  Edward Levine, retired staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  I was very interested in your discussion of the Iran-Iraq War, because back in the days when I was active, an Iranian professor came and gave a briefing at which he said that it was the Iran-Iraq war that led Iran to start its nuclear weapons program, and he went into some detail about the decisions that were made and how that crucible of decision made it very unlikely that Iran would ever agree to completely give up its uranium enrichment.  So I’m wondering, to what extent your interlocutors discussed the period before 2003 and what they made of that?

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Who would like to take those two questions?  Bishop Pates?

BISHOP PATES:  Well, I might just make reference to the sanctions, et cetera.  While they were discussed just as an aside, they were more discussed informally with individuals as we moved around and were with the ayatollahs, et cetera.  And one ayatollah just said to me that, you know, it’s had an impact on the society, and the impact has basically been he had two sisters-in-law, both of whom had serious cancer which could have been addressed through medicines, but because the banks will not finance, you know, medicines – they’re off the sanctioned list, so to speak – but because they could not get financing to bring the medicines in, both of these women died. 

And he – of course, that’s a very touching issue for himself.  You know, we were conversing there and, I think, in a friendly way, but there have been, you know, repercussions, and of course, that – on a personal level that really has impact on them.  So I think that they would say basically that they’re surviving, et cetera.  The other thing he said that it really has kind of an opposite reaction than we might anticipate because it’s a call for the people themselves to come together, you know, maybe like in the course of the Second World War, where people came together in the restrictions as being a part of a country’s, you know, objective to obtain the war so that they’re willing to give up certain things for an objective of achievement. 

And so they made some reference to that too, that it, in a certain sense, has brought the people closer together in their loyalty to Iran.  But also, you know, just the individual ad hoc situations and conversations with the individuals that they really did say that perhaps it’s portrayed – you know, the medicines are reaching, at least that’s the public knowledge, but their own personal experience is quite the contrary. 

MR. COLECCHI:  No.  And I would agree with that.  They just can’t get it through the financial system, and I know that they’ve been working on that a little bit. 

Let me talk about the – it would be consistent with what we learned that Iran is trying to develop enrichment capacity and has been for some time.  I mean, they were quite upfront about that.  I would have to put together what we learned on the trip together with what I recently learned – again, I’m sort of citing the source a lot – Gareth Porter in his research piece – or investigative reporting piece October 19th, so not too long ago, when the Ayatollah said no to nukes. 

And it was clear from with inside the military establishment that during the Iran-Iraq war, the military moved – gathered researchers for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capabilities, and they began to do that.  When that was brought to the attention of the supreme leader before they had weaponized anything, before they got anywhere close to that, he said no, no, no. 

And so yes, there probably are early antecedents of a nuclear program – I think Iran would be – would admit that.  I think it did grow out of the experience of the war.  I don’t think it went anywhere because it ran into the opposition of the religious leadership. 

MR. KIMBALL:  Right.  A couple of other questions.  Why don’t we try over here and then we’ll come back to Nancy. 

Q:  Teresa Welsh with U.S. News and World Report.  Bishop Pates, I was wondering if you could speak a little bit more about the conversations you said you had upon returning from the trip with White House, members of Congress and the State Department, and a little bit more about their reaction to what you found out.

BISHOP PATES:  Well, I think we had the discussion with those individuals.  I think Deputy Secretary Burns has been working on this for quite some time, and that they’re wanting to reach, you know, an agreement because it would be in the best interests of everybody.  And so he was very interested to learn about the religious factors and the religious leadership and how they’re addressing it from a moral perspective.  So I think it fed into the information that they wanted to receive in order to be able to, you know, move forward with their objective of – and the relationship with Iran.

So I think from that perspective, that they just received the information not necessarily from political, but it’s another sort of angle.  That’s all we were interested in, was sharing the religious outcome and moral perspective. 

So I think it gave them another perspective as Dr. Colecchi spoke a little bit earlier, that oftentimes this is not even part of the equation.  The religious and moral perspective that we do not even take that into consideration, but indeed, it’s a considerable factor in terms of the popular kind of support and development of these sorts of things and the way a nation goes, if they say they’re representative in the sense that their government is elected, and Rouhani, I think, is a different sort of individual than his predecessor.  And so that they are working in that direction. 

So I would say this, is that it can – we did not do it for a political reason, but just so that they have another information source, and so they were grateful for that information that – and our experience. 

MR. KIMBALL:  Steve, did you want to –

MR. COLECCHI:  The only thing I would add is we also had meetings at the White House with – and the experience was very similar.  In fact, I – we met at very high levels in the White House and also at the National Security Council with their whole team working on this, at the White House’s request.  So – the second – the second meeting.

And so I think there – they were very interested.  I mean, they asked all the tough questions, tougher questions than we’re getting here in many ways.  But they also appreciated the information.  I mean, it’s – you know, it’s – it’s a significant factor that they need to fold into all the other considerations they have as they are trying to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.

BISHOP PATES:  I would add just one important point.  We are not agents of our government, and we went very independently apart from any – we would – we would have gone regardless if we had the discussions, but it was information to – and the theme that the, you know, the Iranians themselves has that were truth, peace and justice, and that’s our basic bottom line of what we’re about and how we try to – how we try to, you know, influence the common good for everybody. 

So we are – and we don’t want to say to the Iranians that we’re agents of our government; no way we were that.  But as a courtesy to our government, we brought that information.  But it was independent and basically a moral and religious undertaking. 

MR. COLECCHI:  Right.  And Bishop Pates has met with a number of members on the – on the Hill, with key staffers on the Hill, to also share this information.  In fact, we have another meeting scheduled this afternoon.

And – but, you know, there – the idea is we have something that we’ve learned and we need to share this as widely as possible.  And today is part of that effort.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Nancy and then Greg? 

Q:  Hi, I'm Nancy Gallagher from the University of Maryland, and I’m going to quickly remind Ibrahim about his poll that’s up on the CISSM website that actually has a lot of the data that he referred to on Iranian attitudes towards the nuclear negotiations. 

So for example, on the fatwa and the NPT, also a lot of information about perceptions of sanctions and whether or not the sanctions are changing attitudes towards nuclear policy.  That’s very consistent with what Bishop Pates said. 

I wanted to ask you about whether you talked to your interlocutors about the concept of forgiveness and how they think about that, how you think about that and how that applies specifically to how we handle the issue of possible military dimensions, of nuclear research that was done, but also the larger issue of how we handle the, you know, sort of legacy of mistrust and grievances that both sides have towards each other. 

BISHOP PATES:  I would think from a religious perspective, we didn’t get into that in great detail, but I think, you know, both of us want to move forward, and that would necessarily entail forgiveness for whatever activity that has been undertaken or perceived to have been undertaken.  And that’s the purpose of dialogue, and I think is – you know, Pope John Paul II and also Francis especially have emphasized the necessity of, you know, forgiveness and healing and moving forward.  And so I think that was a unspoken kind of reality, but again, thank you for bringing it up because it could be a part of our future discussions and our dialogue. 

MR. KIMBALL:  All right –

MR. MOHSENI:  Let me just add something to that.  One of the things that I have heard a lot, both on this trip and in my discussions with both Iranian policymakers and academics, the reference to the Iran-Iraq war is something that, you know, we have forgotten in this town, but they haven’t forgotten back in Iran. 

I mean, anyone who travels to Iran would immediately face the reality that that event, that episode is not dead, you know, in that country.  And the question of why – why were we attacked, why the international community turned a blind eye to Saddam’s aggression, why they turned a blind eye even as Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons.  You know, there’s a lot of reference to the U.N. Security Council resolutions that, you know, even though Saddam – it was well known that it was Saddam who was using chemical weapons, the U.N. Security Council resolutions demanded both Iran and Iraq to stop using chemical weapons. 

And the fact that we haven’t on this side come to terms with – you know, with that episode and our responsibility in that – you know, in that conflict is something that they are observing quite – you know, quite vigorously and they’re looking for signs of us being, you know, somehow, in some way, apologetic about our activities and our support during that period.  And they don’t see any. 

Q:  Madeleine Albright in – (off mic) –

MR. MOHSENI: Right.  You know, they are waiting for – from their point of view, our engagement in that conflict was – you know, in some ways, some say that the crime of the U.S. in that war was greater than the crime of Saddam Hussein, and – you know, and there are ways of – we need to understand at least – whether it’s right or not, we need to understand where they are coming from and the fact that that conflict and our involvement in that effort is still alive in Iran. 

MR. COLECCHI: Actually, I’d like to add one thing.  We didn’t use the term forgiveness that I can recall in the dialogue, but I remember a very poignant moment in our – in our dialogue.  This was with the Shi’a scholars where we sort of identified for each other the wounds in the relationship.  So I remember them talking about not only the Iran-Iraq war, but the overthrow of their first – of their democratically elected government and the installation of the shah.  They also talked about the sanctions as a wound. 

And then from our side, we talked about the hostage crisis, you know, which they interpreted for us a little bit being a defensive move.  They actually considered taking over the Russian embassy, but they decided once we took the shah in we might be trying to restore the dynasty, so then they switched to the U.S. embassy. 

They were quick to point out that none of the hostages were harmed, but – so both sides in a rather poignant moment acknowledged that our societies have wounded each other and we have deep-seeded reasons to be suspicious of the other and that we need to move beyond that history through some acknowledgment on both sides. 

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We’ve got a couple more questions.  Greg Thielmann and then Pierce Corden please, and then –

Q: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association.  It is hard for us Americans to understand the role of religion and how it’s balanced with the realpolitik in Iran.  I imagine it’s hard for the Iranian clerics to understand the role of religion in the U.S, and how it’s balanced with realpolitik. 

So I just wondered if – could you tell us how you would answer questions about what a predominantly Christian nation, a nation of churchgoers in comparison to the Europeans, how that nation could then have a nuclear policy of threatening the use of nuclear weapons, maintaining an enormous arsenal, and in the case of Iran, actually withholding a no first use pledge in Iranian contingencies. 

MR. KIMBALL:  Why don't we take the second question before we address them?  Thanks.

Q:  Pierce Corden with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  In your discussions about nuclear weapons, was there any specificity beyond the use of that term in the context of materials, in the context of ways of delivering a nuclear explosive to a distance – by that, I mean, ballistic missiles primarily – and of the involvement of other states in the Iranian nuclear industry?  You hear about the possible collaboration with the DPRK as an example. 

BISHOP PATES:  All right.  I’ll try to answer a little bit of the religious issue and then leave to our scientific experts some question. 

But the – I think for the religious question, you have the Bell Curve in the American religious experience – all the extraordinarily conservative extremes, I would say, on both sides of the spectrum and then you have a middle course.  And I think the middle course is perhaps what – the balance – the middle course is what we would advocate or try to advocate from the perspective of the U.S. American bishops and our relationships with other countries. 

But we are very definitely against – and so we could only speak from our perspective – and what I outlined a little bit before, you know, that the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII and then, I think, since then, our popes have emphasized that we are opposed to nuclear weapons, first of all, you know, that we may have been OK with them morally from a deterrence viewpoint, but we feel that that, now, also has been taken off the table and so that – our history is very clear developing and so, in that sense, it would coincide with the – you know, the Iranian or, I would say, the Shia position today. 

Now, we represent about – in the Church today, you know, at least in terms of identified Catholics – we don’t – I can’t say that they’re a solid force but, you know, 24 percent of the population – but that is our particular position and which, you know, going to Rome next week and, I think, speak directly about this and, you know, really looking at the U.S. utilization of nuclear arms and saying, would a much better investment be in development?  With – are we going to really have a much stronger defense of our values, our country, et cetera, if these dollars were invested in development as opposed to nuclear weapons?

So, from the position of the Church – the Catholic Church – it’s very clear, you know, where we stand and I think that there are many others who follow us but that religions have different viewpoints and that’s all we could share with our interlocutors – (inaudible). 

MR. COLECCHI:  No, I think that’s absolutely right, Bishop, and we have to – we had an – it was really interesting, when we arrived at the airport in Tehran, they wanted to welcome us and so they didn’t – they put us into the VIP lounge and the – and our guide from the – Qom would not allow us to be fingerprinted by the security – that’s a normal procedure, you get fingerprinted when you arrive, and it took about two hours of struggling back and forth, but the religion people won and we were not fingerprinted.  We enjoyed the VIP lounge, we were sipping on tea and then we finally got to our hotel room at an ungodly hour but – and I was just reflecting on how the influence of religion in our culture is so different, like, the likelihood that we can get them to bypass, in security, getting fingerprinted – rather unlikely. 

But let me just take on a little bit that thing about the specificity, Pierce.  Your question is a very good one and it has a very simple answer.  We’ve a – really a religious and moral dialogue, we did not get in to those kinds of technical questions.  The closest we got to technical questions was Dr. John Steinbruner really was able to push a couple of the Shia scholars on, so, here’s your religious teaching, what’s your strategic assessment?  And the two scholars that he was able to push on that, that were more in the political realm and so forth as scholars, as well as being religious scholars, they said, our strategic assessment is a nuclear weapon is not in Iran’s interest – that a weapon, first of all, was not a deterrent and it will simply invite attack – and so that they believe that there was a congruence between their religious teaching, which – the other thing to say about that is, Shia Islam is all about defense.  I mean, their whole history is one of persecution by a Sunni majority and – so their interpretation is that armed force is principally for defense, not for offense, and that’s why nuclear weapons are, you know – like, when the ayatollah was told, should we develop chemical weapons?  He says, no, we should be developing really good gas masks.  That was the answer. 

So no, we didn’t get into those – that kind of detail because it was a religious and moral dialogue, although we did have that sidebar conversation confirming that the strategic calculation matched the religious calculation. 

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  I think we’ve got time for a couple more questions.  Let’s go to this gentleman in the purple tie in the middle and then Mr. Culp.

Q:  I’m Eric Arnett from the State Department.  Bishop Pates, when you summarized the fatwa, you gave the usual canonical ban on production, possession and use, but the logic you gave only supports a ban on use.  I’m wondering what logic – two part question – I wonder what the logic they gave for opposing production and possession?  And the second part of the question is, although that’s the canonical way of phrasing the – what the fatwa covers, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif often also say that the fatwa prohibits development of nuclear weapons.  Did anybody discuss, mention the word development or discuss reasons why development would also be prohibited?

BISHOP PATES:  I think the answer to some of this might be that they are developing it for the utilization of fuel et cetera, and so that would – envision the production of a weapon.  That Rouhani – I’m sorry, he said –

Q:  (Off mic) – often when Rouhani and Zarif summarize the fatwa, they say that it also bans development, not just production, possession and use.  But they’re the only two that I’m aware of who have ever said development.  So the question is whether that’s a policy of theirs or that’s an overlooked part of the fatwa, that other people aren’t so focused on – (inaudible) –

BISHOP PATES:  Well, I think the – yeah, the – excuse me – thank you.  So Rouhani would say development is involved with the – their fatwa and that the policy of the country is – if I’m understanding you correctly –

Q:  (Off mic) just – when he said what’s covered by the – (inaudible) – he said development of nuclear weapons was also banned – (inaudible) –

BISHOP PATES:  Well, I think that there are the three characteristics:  development, stockpiling and utilization, that they would say is immoral.  That’s what we have been told and the fatwa, that’s what it covers, so he is representing the teaching as it stands today.  So perhaps it means that they’re – they are democratically elected, these are elected representative, really, and so the government is not just strictly the supreme leader exercising total political control, but it’s – you know, somewhat of a – they’re working together and so perhaps what their position, you know, their – that this would have the moral influence is actually being, you know, exemplified now by the – Rouhani and what he’s trying to do and I think move forward in the political arena.

So it’s not a simplistic sort of an idea of the government that there’s three factors, there’s the supreme leader from a moral perspective.  There’s also the government and then the Revolutionary Guard, which are involved in this, also, which place the supreme leader in the position that he has.  So all of these factors have to be gradually integrated to understand fully the complexities of their government, you know.  So we’re learning more about that all the time and I think this dialogue helps us just like it helps them understand who we are and, you know, how we function and operate.

MR. KIMBALL:  Steve, do you want to provide some more insights on this?

MR. COLECCHI:  The only thing I would add is that production, stockpiling and use were clearly identified.  Development was also talked about and, clearly, is included because the – what makes it morally problematic is the actual killing, of course, of innocent people, right, but you also cannot intend to do that.  And that’s what deterrence requires; that’s why deterrence doesn’t have a moral standing – a permanent moral standing in the – in the Catholic Church, that we have to move beyond deterrence, we have to use deterrence as only a step toward disarmament because the intent to inflict massive casualties on civilian populations is inherently evil.  In the – in the Catholic tradition we would say intrinsically evil; under no circumstances can it be justified.  So that’s the use, but the intent to do it is also problematic, morally.  So the development of nuclear weapons technology, which would then precede production stockpiling – I just think we’re – I think, actually, at that point, we’re just splitting hairs.  That, clearly, is – would not be within the understanding that the Shia scholars or the ayatollahs would have regarding the fatwa.  They are insistent, repeatedly, that the only development that they are interested in is for peaceful nuclear uses.

MR. MOHSENI:  And it’s also important to – I don’t know if you guys have seen the joint declaration – you know, part of that – it, you know, emphasizes – and I would want to actually read it, and it says – yeah – that – it says –

MR. :  This is the joint declaration, dated –

MR. MOHSENI:  Yeah, this is a joint declaration, dated June 14th, between the Catholic bishops and the Shia scholars and says that, “Shia Islam opposes and forbids the production, stockpiling, use and threat to use weapons of mass destruction.”  So it basically covers the whole – the whole range of the activities. 


MR. COLECCHI:  Well – but – I mean, I – to be honest, I have to – I’ll just be honest with you, that is precisely the – that brushes aside a whole religious tradition and trajectory.  It’s looking for the loophole and I don’t think that they’re looking for a loophole, that – I do not believe that is the case because to develop the capability of having such weapons would be the threat to use because the only reason why you would develop them is so – but then you can threaten that we could get one and then we could use one.  And all of that is haram.  It’s forbidden. 

MR. KIMBALL:  OK, I think we’ve got time for a couple more questions.  Mr. Culp in the middle, please.

Q:  David Culp with the Quakers.  Bishop Pates, I want to thank you and the Catholic bishops for longtime leadership on these issues, and in particular Steve Colecchi. 

When you go to Rome next week, I would encourage you to urge the pope to think about issuing a statement – which the rumor mill is that he’s working on a statement on nuclear weapons – and encourage them to go bold.  I think there’s a lot of support way beyond the Catholic Church for new leadership, way beyond 24 percent. 

And a lot of high hopes in this country and also, I hear, from Europe.  There’s lots of people waiting for this statement from the pope on nuclear weapons.  So encourage them to go bold, go big.  And I think there’s still a lot of support way beyond the Catholic Church for that kind of a statement. 

MR. KIMBALL:  OK, why don’t we take these last two questions here and then we’ll close things out.

Q:  Another quick question.  You keep talking about how the ayatollahs believe very firmly in the fatwa that was issued and that nuclear development, stockpiling weapons, all of it is forbidden.  So what explains the disconnect between those very firmly held beliefs and the policy that the country is showing the rest of the world in these negotiations?  If they believe that so firmly, why are they having such a hard time conveying it to the rest of the world?

MR. COLECCHI:  Or maybe the rest of the world is having a hard time understanding where they’re at.  There is – the shadow is that earlier on, during the Iran-Iraq War, there was a move to develop – there were research put in place for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  That was very much earlier on in their history before the fatwa was issued.  And when the fatwa was issued, then those programs were phased out. 

And so I think the world, when they see other enrichment activity and the development of a peaceful nuclear program, have some evidence that there was this other trajectory earlier on.  And I think that’s what the real disconnect is.  I mean, you know, they’ve been compliant during the interim agreement with transparency measures and so forth.  They submit to transparency measures that are – I mean, I don’t want to be an apologist for the Iranian regime.  It’s appropriate for the world to ask tough questions and to expect a transparency that is required under the NPT. 

That’s really important, but I think the reason why they’re having a difficult time convincing the rest of the world is based on historical reasons and based on a caricature both that they have of us and we have of them that gets in the way of – that undermines the trust that’s needed to reach a resolution.

BISHOP PATES:  I think there’s perhaps a growing understanding too – it’s evolutionary in nature – that if Rouhani is saying some of these things directly as a political leader, which necessarily we haven’t heard before, that there seems to be a confluence of both religious moral perspectives taking shape at this point in time. 

It’s our own evolutionary understanding how we explain that, you know, the church accepted deterrence as an explanation for nuclear development.  Today we don’t accept that.  It’s a moving kind of evolutionary understanding,  And I think that it’s through dialogue, understanding, and reaching hard conclusions that this is where they’re at that will really achieve what we want to achieve.  So I think that’s what the pope is trying to say. 

We have to have encounter.  We can’t say this is forever, you know, that the encounter dialogue and hopefully relationship will lead forth.  I think that only, within that bilateral relationship, would have a great deal to do with the Middle East, because that’s problematic, you know, with all – Iran’s position, Hamas, all those other situations that we’re talking about.  Perhaps we can begin to unpack those two and have Middle East, and see if we can move in a direction.  So it has implications, I think, for the direct nuclear issues, but I think it goes beyond that in terms of relationship in the whole Middle East and how we deal with that. 

We just returned from a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine with 18 bishops.  So we see the relationship there too.  It’s all kind of interconnected.  So, you know, to say that they – is that a firm stand forever?  Perhaps it’s been portrayed that way but we did not get the feeling that we – that we can now move forward, and so we have to be open and continue the discussions. 

MR. KIMBALL:  Just one other additional perspective in response to your question about why it’s difficult for Iran to convince the world that they’re not pursing nuclear weapons.  I mean, technically speaking the same technologies necessary to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors is the same basic technology necessary to enrich uranium to weapons-grade for weapons.  And so, I mean, Iran is at the point where they can – with their 10,200 operating centrifuges, they could theoretically produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium within a matter of a few months. 

So given – and I think given where Iran is in the region, given the history, there is – there is distrust and there is the accusation that – and I think credible evidence – that experiments were conducted over a decade ago that have nuclear weapons applications.  How that fits into this fatwa I don’t think anyone on this panel can answer.  You know, how every individual in the Iranian program acted in connection with the fatwa is impossible to answer. 

Let me just also say that I don’t think that Iran is going to – Iran’s leaders are going to admit that they – their scientists were engaged in work relating to the development of nuclear weapons or the production of nuclear weapons certainly.  And even if they were to do so, I don’t think that would achieve too much, because if they did – if they were involved in those experiments they still have the knowledge.  Admitting it isn’t going to necessarily erase it.

What matters is building around this framework that the fatwa I think helps to reinforce, that Iran will not be pursuing nuclear weapons in the future, building a system of monitoring and verification that ensures that they don’t violate the restrictions that could very well be negotiated in the next few weeks to limit their nuclear program to something that is commensurate with their nuclear energy needs.

So, you know, that’s a long explanation but I think, you know, there are a lot of reasons why there is this distrust, but there is – the important thing is that there is a way to overcome it with time and partly with this dialogue that we’ve heard about today, with the teachings that Shia Islam has on this subject.  And I think what you all are doing is very important and I think it’s cast – it’s provided some information on another aspect of this issue that has not been explored very much over the course of the last few years as we deal with the relations between the U.S. and Iran. 

So we are out of time for today.  I want to thank each of our speakers.  And I want to thank the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for cooperating with us.  And we look forward to further discussions on this in the future.  Thanks.  (Applause.) 


Country Resources:

October 20 Annual Meeting "Preventing Proliferation and Advancing Nuclear Disarmament"

Preventing Proliferation and Advancing Nuclear Disarmament

Annual Meeting on October 20

Monday, October 20, 2014 
9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
*Informal Evening Reception 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (details below)

Special Sept. 15 Event: Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges




The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, D.C. and Partners Hosted a Special Event to Mark International Day Against Nuclear Tests

"Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges"  

DATE: Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, 12:30-5:00pm

LOCATION: United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC

The Embassy of Kazakhstan, the Embassy of Canada, Green Cross International, the Atom Project, and the Arms Control Association hosted a mini-conference examining the human and security dimensions of nuclear testing, as well as the progress achieved to bring an end to nuclear weapons test explosions.

1:00-1:05 Welcome

Paul Hughes
Senior Advisor, United States Institute of Peace

1:05-1:10 Opening

Yerkin Akhinzhanov
Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan


Dr. Ernest Moniz
United States Secretary of Energy (Moniz Prepared Remarks)


Panel 1

The Security and Human Dimensions of Nuclear Testing
Moderated by Dr. Paul Walker, Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International

Andrew C. Weber, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs
Dr. Togzhan Kassenova, Associate, Nuclear Policy Pprogram, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz, Co-founder of the Marshallese Educational Initiative


Denis Stevens
Deputy Head of Mission, Canada's Embassy to the United States of America

Panel 2

Verification and Entry into Force of the CTBT
Moderated by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security (Gottemoeller Prepared Remarks)
Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz, USAF (Ret.), Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator

Dr. Lassina Zerbo
Executive Secretary, CTBTO
Final Remarks 
Yerkin Akhinzhanov
Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Click here to view the photo album from this event on the Arms Control Association's Flickr account.


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

PAUL HUGHES:  Ladies and gentlemen, if I could ask you to take your seats, please.  I’m Paul Hughes, the senior advisor for international security and peacebuilding here at the Institute of Peace, and it’s my distinct privilege and honor to welcome all of you to the United States Institute of Peace, America’s center for the prevention of international violent conflict, the mitigation of such conflict and the work to promote the stabilization following such conflicts.  The Institute is celebrating its 30th year of existence and hard work around the world in some of the toughest spots you can imagine.

We are honored to have been selected as the site for this very important event on the important issue of the testing of nuclear weapons and we would like to welcome Secretary Moniz, Undersecretary Gottemoeller, Ambassador Akhinzhanov and the many other guests who will provide their thoughts about this issue.  USIP was proud to have facilitated the work of the strategic posture review commission that was chaired by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and vice-chaired by former Secretary of Energy Jim Schlesinger, a Congressional commission that examined this issue as well as the many other issues related to nuclear arms nonproliferation and arms control. 

As many of these – several of the panelists and members who will be speaking to you today were members of that commission, either as experts or as specialists advising the panelists.  I would like to now introduce to you Deputy Ambassador Akhinzhanov, the chargé d'affaires of the Kazakhstan Embassy, who will welcome Secretary Moniz.

 Thank you, again, for coming to the Institute of Peace and feel free to visit us at our website or any other time. Sir.

YERKIN AKHINZHANOV:  Thank you, Paul for your kind introduction.  Dear ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, in the outset I would like to note that it is very unfortunate that Ambassador Kairat Umarov could not be with us – cannot be with us – today.  He was traveling to Washington after trip to Kazakhstan but, unfortunately, in the middle of his trip, his wife was hospitalized and had to undergo a very urgent, unscheduled surgery.  And Ambassador Umarov was planning – still planning – to travel to Washington this morning, but the conditions of his wife didn’t allow him to do so and he sends his sincere apologies and his greetings to all of you.  And our hope is that his wife will be recovering very soon. 

So, thank you very much for your – for coming today.  It is a pleasure to welcome all of you on this important occasion to commemorate the United Nations International Day against Nuclear Tests and discuss the importance of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.  As you may well know, the International Day against Nuclear Testing was first proposed by Kazakhstan and endorsed – adopted -- unanimously adopted – by the UN General Assembly in 2009.  The date marks the day in 1991, when this infamous Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site was closed, where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests, many of them in the air and on surface. 

Ironically, this is also the day when the first explosion on that test site was made and many of my colleagues – elder colleagues, our parents, our grandparents, remember those days.  My father, personally, was telling me stories when – as a kid, he was evacuated from that place.  He lived – he stayed there, and it was terrible.  And it is quite symbolic that this year marks the 25th anniversary since the establishment of a grassroots anti-nuclear movement, Nevada Semipalatinsk.  It brought people of Kazakhstan and United States together in their desire to eliminate the nuclear threat not only in our own countries, but all around the world.

More than one and a half million people in Kazakhstan have suffered early death, horrific birth defects and lifelong physical difficulties as a result of those tests.  That stark reality led Kazakhstan to unilaterally give up the fourth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world shortly after we achieved independence.  Since then, Kazakhstan has convincingly demonstrated to the international community (that a ?) peaceful foreign policy, openness and cooperation, known possession of weapons of mass destructions, or a threat to use it, is the main prerequisite for prosperity and security. 

Due to the grave consequences brought upon us by nuclear testing, my president, Nursultan Nazarbayev and people of Kazakhstan are the steadfast advocates for the strengthening of global nuclear security and promoting a permanent end to all nuclear weapons testing.  Having a comprehensive worldwide verification system in place, the time is right and conditions are right to make it happen.

So we are called – we call upon the remaining nuclear technology states, including the United States, to ratify and allow the entering into force of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.  Kazakhstan’s commitment to the – to the CTBT is strong and rests on the firm verification grounds.  We were among the first to sign the treaty back in 1996 and presently, five international monitoring stations, part of the worldwide global alarm system to detect nuclear explosions, are located on our soil, in Kazakhstan.  We welcome the decision of the five nuclear weapons states, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to sign the protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear and Weapon Free – Weapons Free Zone.  It is a major positive development in the global nonproliferation efforts and we urge the United States and other nuclear arms states to ratify the treaty and -- in order for the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone to take effect.

Dear friends, together with our partners from the Arms Control Association, Green Cross International and the government of Canada, we sincerely hope that this conference will help us in educating the international community on the security benefits of the treaty, as well as the dangers to the health and environment posed by nuclear tests.

As President Nazarbayev stressed, a nuclear-free world isn’t achievable overnight, but we should proceed towards it and encourage all nations to support the cause.  Almost four years ago, speaking here in Washington, my president called for a unique approach to security focused on what unites us, and he proposed adoption of a universal declaration of a nuclear weapons-free world.  President Nazarbayev sees the case for such a declaration as both moral and political; nuclear disarmament is both the right thing to do and it is the most reliable means to prevent the use of such weapons.

In the interim, Kazakhstan calls for ending nuclear weapons testing through the CTBT, establishing and recognizing nuclear weapons-free zones, including in Central Asia, including in Middle East and elsewhere, and strengthening security assurances for countries like Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, which have renounced nuclear weapons.  Ladies and gentleman, supporting President Obama’s initiative, Kazakhstan has endorsed all nuclear security summit goals, including promoting the safe use of nuclear energy, augmenting the IAEA’s role and authority in nuclear safety and security, adopting stronger measures to secure radiological sources and encouraging commercial nuclear power producers to stop using highly-enriched uranium.  We are, indeed, strong partners with the United States on making world a safer place.

With this, we are privileged and honored to introduce Dr. Ernest Moniz, the United States secretary of energy, as the keynote speaker.  As all of you know, Dr. Moniz has held his current post since May 2013.  Immediately before his appointment, Dr. Moniz was professor of physics and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative.  Before that, Dr. Moniz was undersecretary of the Department of Energy, and he was responsible for overseeing the department’s science and energy programs.

His impressive resume includes serving as an associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.  Dr. Moniz’s outstanding qualifications as a brilliant scientist and engineer are well-known and universally respected.  With regard to nuclear security, Dr. Moniz and – is unquestionably in a leading position in spearheading multilateral nonproliferation efforts and in bolstering peace and security on our planet.

And allow me to be egotistic, to know that the only thing that has not yet accomplished in his distinguished career is a visit to Kazakhstan.  So – but we hope that Secretary Moniz can do this to resolve this issue, as it is much easier as others we are going to discuss today.  And, without further ado, please join me in welcoming United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz.  (Applause.)


SECRETARY EARNEST MONIZ:  Well, thank you.  I wish my challenges and shortcomings could be as easily corrected as – and as pleasantly corrected as by going to Kazakhstan.  And certainly you are fair to point out the shortcoming, and we will try to rectify that.

I also want to extend my thanks to Ambassador Umarov for the invitation to be here, and to extend our best wishes, especially for his wife’s recovery in this unfortunate turn of events, but hopefully that will be resolved soon in a very positive way.

I also want to thank the Institute for Peace and – of Peace, and Paul, the Embassy of Kazakhstan, and other partners for hosting this conference.  Later on I’ll come back and talk a bit more about the important leadership that Kazakhstan has shown in support of banning nuclear testing.  I’ll do that towards the end of my remarks.

I’ll just note – and my public affairs people are going to be very angry with this, but since Paul mentioned Jim Schlesinger, who, as you know, was the first energy secretary, established the department in – on October the 1st – the birthday is coming up – 1977.  And Jim, of course, is a major figure and – as I think everyone here knows, he passed away in the – in this last year – and a major figure in both energy and security issues.  So I’ll just say not quite all the details, but we will be soon announcing a new award in honor of Jim’s major contributions, and that will be – that will be coming up soon.

This conference is focused on the issue of nuclear weapons testing and the road forward for the CTBT.  And let me just start out with two very simple messages.  First, the United States continues to observe, of course, its nuclear test explosion moratorium, in place since 1992.  Maintaining the moratorium is made possible by the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which in turn has allowed the United States to transform our nuclear security enterprise.  And I’ll be coming back to describe where we are with that Stockpile Stewardship Program and its important implications for the subject of this meeting.  Second, the United States remains committed to ratifying and entering into force the CTBT, which will lay the groundwork for a world with diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.

To underscore the importance of our Stockpile Stewardship Program and this administration’s commitment to global nuclear security, I want to begin my remarks by highlighting the priority that President Obama has placed and continues to place on nonproliferation, disarmament and security.  So the president has made eliminating and securing nuclear material, reducing nuclear stockpiles and increasing global cooperation a pillar of his foreign policy.  Last summer in Berlin, the president echoed the vision he first put forward in his 2009 Prague speech, calling on the global community to secure vulnerable materials, decrease the number of nuclear weapons, and build a sustainable and secure nuclear energy industry.

Over the last five years we have seen some remarkable progress – lots to do but we also should note the progress.  A few examples:  Working with Russia under the New START treaty, we are reducing the number of deployed strategic warheads to the lowest level since the 1950s.  Since 2009, America has partnered with 26 countries in Taiwan to eliminate more than 3,000 kilograms of HEU and plutonium, enough material for well over a hundred nuclear weapons, and has eliminated all HEU from 12 countries.

Last December we reached a major milestone in the Megatons to Megawatts Program, the final delivery to the United States of low-enriched uranium derived from 500 metric tons of HEU from Russian nuclear weapons.  And this “Swords to Plowshares” partnership provided about 10 percent of American electricity over two decades.  President Obama also launched the Nuclear Security Summit process, the first in D.C., in 2010, and 47 delegations, including 38 heads of state or government, the largest number of national leaders convened by a U.S. president since the 1945 U.N. Conference on International Organization – I think indicative of the importance attached to this.

In 2012 that was followed in Seoul, focusing on the progress made on the – on the initial agreements, and then in 2014, the third in The Hague, March of this year, really centering on results achieved and some future opportunities such as the agreement we were able to announce between the United States and Japan.  And the president has announced, as I’m sure you know, that he will host a fourth summit here in the United States in 2016.

So the United States is committed to continuing to reduce the size of its active deployed stockpile while maintaining a credible and effective deterrent.  And as the president said in Berlin, and I quote, “After a comprehensive review, I have determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third."

The president made clear at that time our readiness to negotiate further nuclear reductions with Russia, but Russia indicated no interest.  Now, given current challenges with Russia, this is not a focus of our bilateral dialogue.  Nonetheless, whether at New START levels or potentially lower levels in the future, we must maintain confidence in our remaining nuclear weapons without testing.  And that’s where the Department of Energy’s science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program has allowed us to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of our nuclear arsenal in the absence of testing.

During my first tour at DOE as undersecretary of energy in the Clinton administration, the Stockpile Stewardship Program was in its early years and its future and successes were still unknown.  Many of the new facilities were in the design phase.  We had not fully established the role of large-scale numerical simulation and modeling, which works together with a new generation of high-performance computers that were developed with industry and our National Laboratories as an integrator of historical data with new non-nuclear experiments.

At the time, I served on the DOE-DOD Nuclear Weapons Council, and there was, frankly justifiably, a “show me” attitude about whether we could maintain the U.S. stockpile for an extended period with high confidence without nuclear testing.  And I might say that was true in Congress as well.  Today we can say with even greater certainty that we can meet the challenges of maintaining our stockpile with continued scientific leadership, not nuclear testing.

Next week will mark 22 years since the last United States nuclear explosive test, and because of the Stockpile Stewardship Program, the directors of the department’s National Security Laboratories have been able to certify the diminishing stockpile annually.  Our lab directors believe that they actually understand more about how nuclear weapons work now than during the period of nuclear testing.

Nuclear testing provided confidence through end-to-end tests of the weapon systems.  By contrast, our science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program has approached the problem by breaking down the operations of a weapon into a sequence of individual steps.  We are then able to step back and analyze each of these mechanisms at a level of detail that was never available during the era of nuclear testing.

With suitable continuing investment in the science base and the manufacturing complex, we can continue with confidence into the future.  The Stockpile Stewardship investments in supercomputing in the 1990s drove high performance computing to the 100 petaflops level.  Applications to scientific discovery followed closely behind.  Now there is a bit of a reversal.  The drive to exascale in high-performance computing put forward in our latest budget request to Congress is now driven principally by scientific discovery and energy technology, with Stockpile Stewardship benefitting from those investments.  This is a different type of swords-to-plowshares story.

The Department of Energy is committed to transforming the entire nuclear security enterprise to address a broad set of national and global security issues.  At the former Nevada Test Site, which is now called the Nevada National Security Site, we have moved well beyond the 928 nuclear explosive tests conducted there.  The site still hosts key Stockpile Stewardship work, but is also an experimental test bed and training ground for other missions, most notably nuclear nonproliferation and arms control, homeland security, and emergency operations.

Also last month, I was able to dedicate – to dedicate, with my colleague General Klotz, the new Kansas City Plant that is responsible for manufacturing non-nuclear components for the stockpile.  The plant footprint has been reduced by 50 percent and provides an example of our need to modernize the complex, but also to size it appropriately to our expectations of a smaller stockpile.

While it is necessary for some details of sensitive Stockpile Stewardship work to remain classified, we will continue to release a significant amount of material to the public to explain the rationale, plans, challenges and successes of Stockpile Stewardship.  So this – you know, 15 years beyond the CTBT hearing, Stockpile Stewardship really provides a very, very strong basis for going forward, reducing the stockpile and doing so with confidence without testing.

So again, I repeat that the United States remains committed to ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, along with the monitoring and verification regime.  And this administration will continue making the case for U.S. CTBT ratification to build bipartisan support.

I came to the Department of Energy in my previous role in 1997, soon after the United States was the first to sign the treaty.  I was also at the Department when the Senate considered the treaty for ratification in 1999 and remember sitting – not entirely happily – alongside Secretary Richardson at the Senate hearing on the treaty.

Clearly, we were disappointed that the ratification effort did not succeed at that time, but I believe we have a stronger case to make now due to two major developments:  first what I already described, the robust Stockpile Stewardship Program that I just described, but second, also the advancements in international monitoring and verification over the past 17 years, to which the United States has made a number of significant contributions.

I visited – I visited the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna last year, and of course will be returning to Vienna the end of this week for the General Assembly.  But in last year’s visit I was – I was impressed with the team of international experts in nuclear explosion monitoring and verification, supported by experts from the 183 state signatories.

The treaty’s verification regime, which was simply a concept, really, two decades ago, is now close to being a complete International Monitoring System, supported by the International Data Center.  This system has demonstrated its capabilities, detecting and helping states identify the three declared nuclear explosive tests conducted by North Korea over the past several years.  The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis proved also how the International Monitoring System can serve important non-verification-related purposes, such as tsunami warnings and tracking radioactivity from nuclear accidents.

I’m pleased that nearly 90 percent of the planned International Monitoring System stations are already certified or installed, with plans for additional stations.  A total of 89 countries spanning the globe will be part of the system.  Thirty-five of the planned 37 United States International Monitoring System stations, along with a certified radionuclide laboratory, are fully operational and certified by the CTBTO.

A great deal of the technology used by the stations and in the radionuclide laboratory originated from Department of Energy experts in seismology, infrasound analysis, hydroacoustics and radiation detection.  And recently I had the pleasure of giving one of the department’s highest honors, the E.O. Lawrence Award, to Dr. Stephen Myers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Dr. Myers, and a team drawn from other laboratories, developed a computer model to greatly improve location accuracy for seismic events detected by the International Monitoring System.  And that’s just one of the many examples of technological advances that Department of Energy scientists have provided.

So again, on both the non-testing certification of our stockpile and on the global verification system, the two major issues which came up in the 1999 hearing, I believe we have seen now enormous progress in these 15 years.  As I said, I believe we have a stronger case to make today than we had at that time.

In moving towards conclusion, I do want to say a little of Kazakhstan’s leadership in nuclear security, and today’s conference is just the latest example in a long line of important successes, as described earlier.  So I may repeat a little bit, but this will provide, you know, verification.

On Kazakhstan's, again, first day of independence, August 29, 1991, the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was shut down by a unilateral presidential decree.  And in the 20 years since President Nazarbaev’s dramatic decision, the United States and the Republic of Kazakhstan have worked together closely to achieve our shared nuclear security goals.

This collaboration, achieved with the support of many international partners, has helped eliminate or remove Kazakhstan’s nuclear stockpile of more than 1,400 nuclear warheads inherited after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and has led to the removal of hundreds of additional missiles and bombers.  Kazakhstan has been the driving force behind the annual United Nations Day Against Nuclear Testing held on August 29th, and in 2011, Kazakhstan hosted the International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the closure of Semipalatinsk.

Kazakhstan has also been one of our strongest partners in nuclear nonproliferation.  Our collaborations have resulted in major accomplishments such as Project Sapphire, under which 600 metric tons of highly enriched uranium was removed from Kazakhstan, and the safe shutdown of Kazakhstan’s plutonium production reactor at Aktau was accomplished.

The Department of Energy is currently working with Kazakhstan to minimize the use of HEU in civilian application, cooperating to establish a Nuclear Security Training Center, and conducting ongoing work to enhance Kazakhstan's ability to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials.  Moreover, Kazakhstan helped lead the effort to create the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.  The United States was pleased to join with the other NPT nuclear weapons states and sign the protocol to the treaty this past May in New York.

The United States looks forward to continuing to partner with Kazakhstan to strengthen nuclear security around the world and pursue our shared vision for a world without nuclear weapons.  But I might add that Kazakhstan is taking a leadership role in other important security areas as well.  The Central Reference Laboratory near Almaty, funded by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, will offer high security-security, high-tech lab space for studying dangerous pathogens.  So again, we look forward to our ongoing collaboration.

So to conclude, the world will – I think everyone in this room agrees the world will be a safer and more secure place if nuclear testing is relegated to the pages of history.  There was a time when an active and robust U.S. nuclear explosive testing program was necessary, but that time is more than 20 years in the past.  Global nuclear security is of utmost importance to the United States.  To achieve this goal, we need to advance arms control initiatives such as the CTBT, and to ensure that we continue to develop the science and technology that allow us to monitor arms control implementation.

So thank you again to the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Embassy of Kazakhstan and all the partners who are hosting this conference.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PAUL WALKER:  Good afternoon, everybody.  My name is Paul Walker.  I’m with Green Cross, International, I think as a lot of you know – colleagues and friends here in the audience know already.  What we’ll do next is we’ll have our first panel discussion with three presentations of experts we have here, but first we’re going to show a short video, I think which will be quite interesting and help to introduce the subject matter of the first panel, which is on humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons testing.

So if that’s ready to go, this will be, I think, 10 to 15 minutes, maybe, if I’m correct?  Oh, just five minutes.  OK, great.  And then I’ll – write after that shows, I’ll call up my panelists and we’ll get rolling on the first panel.  So if we’re ready in the back with audio/visual, we can roll the video. 


PAUL WALKER:  Good afternoon, everybody.  My name is Paul Walker.  I’m with Green Cross International, I think as a lot of you know, colleagues and friends here in the audience know already.  What we’ll do next is we’ll have our first panel discussion with three presentations of experts we have here.  But first, we’re going to show a short video, I think which will be quite interesting and help to introduce the subject matter of the first panel, which is on humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons testing.  So if that’s ready to go, this will be I think 10 to 15 minutes maybe, if I’m correct.  Five?  Oh, just five minutes.  OK, great, and then I’ll – right after that shows, I’ll call up my panelists and we’ll get rolling on the first panel.  So if we’re ready in the back with audiovisual, we can roll the video. 

(Video plays.)

After that very moving introduction, I’d ask my panelists to come up.  Togzhan and Jessica and Andy, yeah, take any of the four seats, musical chairs here.  Let me first actually just express our appreciation for everyone who’s participated in pulling this conference together, particularly the Embassy of Kazakhstan, Ambassador Kairat Umarov, who we heard today is unable to make it and we wish his wife, you know, the best, best wishes really for a quick and speedy – speedy and full recovery.  And particularly, our colleagues Dana and Talgat, who worked with us at some length to pull this together for the last few months, and also of course the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimball and Shervin Taheran there and also the U.S. Institute of Peace here, Paul Hughes has been very, very good to work with.

We have three expert – we are very fortunate to have three expert panelists today.  On my immediate left here is Andy Weber, who is the assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs at Department of Defense.  On the far left is Togzhan Kassenova, who’s an associate with the nuclear policy program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In the middle, in the black suit there, is Jessica Schwartz, who’s the assistant professor of musicology at UCLA and cofounder of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, along with her colleague, April Brown, who’s here in the second row in the audience.  We’re very pleased to have them all there.  I won’t read – I won’t read bios because I know they’re all in the program.  Urge you to look through the program at everyone’s bio here, and let me just say a few words in introducing this panel.

The Cold War, the two World Wars and the many regional wars of the last century have left enduring, dangerous, toxic legacies, which will haunt humankind for decades and possibly centuries to come.  We can cite the thousands of sites with unexploded ordnances, what we call UXOs in the field, which continue to take lives even today across Europe and elsewhere.

We can cite the hundreds of thousands of tons of sea-dumped conventional and chemical weapons in every ocean of the world, possibly entering our food chain, the thousands of training and firing ranges around the world which continue to pollute the soil and groundwater, the thousands of military bases and formerly used defense sites, what we call FUDS, as you all know, with all sorts of pollution from motor pools, weapon burn sites, buried weapons, the practice of open burn and open detonation, what we call OBOD, of toxic materials including rocket propellant, explosives and other highly poisonous military substances and even our own “spring valley,” quote, unquote, here in Northwest Washington, D.C., where the Army – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been surveying and excavating old chemical weapons and agents from World War I for the last 20 years.

But the most toxic and longest lasting of all military pollutants has been radioactive waste and fallout, especially from nuclear testing and nuclear weapons development.  These dangerous and toxic legacies will continue to haunt and position us for generations to come.  There have been about 2,055 nuclear tests since the first Trinity test in New Mexico on July 16th, 1945.  The U.S. has conducted over 50 percent of these and the Soviet Union another 715, about 35 percent, and the remaining 15 percent or so, about 300 nuclear tests, were conducted by France, Britain, India, Pakistan, likely Israel and North Korea.  That’s the bad news.

Now, for some good news.  The good news is that Russia stopped nuclear testing in 1990, Britain in 1991, the United States in 1992 – and I was on the armed services committee in the House of Representatives at the time and I can tell you that was not an easy thing to do from the Washington politics here – China in 1996, Pakistan and India in 1998.  The only recent nuclear tests have been by North Korea in 2006, 2009 and 2013.  So there’s been a de facto global moratorium on nuclear testing, as Secretary Moniz said earlier, for over 15 years now, with only three nuclear tests by North Korea since 2006.  In the United States, this moratorium has now endured for 22 years and in Russia for 24 years, and this is really a major step forward as we all I think can agree, the good news.

The other good news is that a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, sponsored by Australia and 127 other countries was presented in the United Nations General Assembly on September 9th, 1996, 33 years after the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which drove testing underground.  The CTBT, as it’s called, was passed by the General Assembly the following day, September 10th, 1996, with the support of 158 countries, about three-quarters of the world or more.  And two weeks later, September 24th, 1996, it was signed by the P-5 and 66 other countries and we’re very fortunate to have later today the executive secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, from Burkina Faso and the CTBTO in Vienna with us here.

So today, the CTBT counts 163 ratifications.  That’s pretty good, 40-some-odd countries missing, 183 signatory states, a major step forward to permanently banning nuclear weapons tests globally.  It also has a global verification system that Secretary Moniz noted earlier of 278 certified stations.  I remember when I was dealing with this directly in the ’90s, we were talking about a few dozen stations back then.

Now, we’re up to 278 globally with another 59 on the way with seismic, hydroacoustic and radionuclide monitors which have shown their high value and capability, most recently with the three North Korean underground nuclear tests and the earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown about three years ago.  CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, as I noted, will talk more – much more about this later today.

The legacy of nuclear testing has left serious public health and environmental impacts, as we’ve just seen in this video here from Kazakhstan, around the globe, especially downwind of the testing sites in Utah and Nevada, in Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan, in Lop Nur, in China, in North Africa, in the South Pacific islands and beyond.  Radioactive fallout from these nuclear blasts has impacted so-called atomic veterans, downwinders and many other innocent victims over the past half century and has left vast stretches of land uninhabitable.

We will hear from our three expert panelists this afternoon about the victims in the South Pacific, specifically the Marshall Islands, from Jessica Schwartz and in Semipalatinsk from Togzhan Kassenova, and about what has been done to address some of these challenges from Andrew Weber.  So with that as a short introduction, I will turn the panel over to Andy Weber first and you’re welcome to speak from here, Andy, or at the – we’re all miked up as well.  So we can speak from there too, whatever you prefer.  Thank you very much.

ANDREW WEBER:  OK, thanks.  Thank you, Paul, and thank you to the sponsors of this event, the government of Kazakhstan, the government of Canada, the Arms Control Association, Daryl, Global Green, Paul and the ATOM Project, which we just saw that very moving, powerful video, and especially I’d like to thank Ambassador Kairat Umarov and wish his wife a speedy recovery.  I’ve known Kairat Umarov since we were both much younger men and he was one of the members of the Semipalatinsk – Nevada Semipalatinsk movement, very involved as the Soviet Union was collapsing and that effort.  Also, Paul and USIP, thank you for hosting this event.

The 20-plus years since Kazakhstan’s independence and President Nazarbayev’s decision to seek prosperity and security by the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, it’s been an honor to have worked with that country in support of those efforts to implement that early vision for eliminating WMD test sites, closing the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site, the Vozrozhdeniya Island biological weapons test site in the Aral Sea, which is on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and many, many other projects related to nonproliferation.

I was on hand in Almaty and – on December 13th, 1993, when President Nazarbayev and Vice President Gore noted that day that the Kazakhstan had ratified the NPT as a non-nuclear state, and also they signed the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement that day, and I’ve had the privilege of working on that program much of my professional life.

I’m going to talk about a couple of specific projects, one that Secretary Moniz mentioned called Project Sapphire.  When the Soviet Union broke up in a small factory in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, in East Kazakhstan, we learned of the existence of just under 600 kilograms of 90 percent enriched HEU that had been left there. 

It was, as I found out during a visit that was arranged based on a meeting here in Washington, down in Blair House down the street, in January of 1994, I went up with an expert from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in March of 1994 to visit the facility to take an inventory.  There’s a photograph here of some of the fuel rods, and that began a quiet partnership that led to the removal of nearly 600 kilograms of HEU for down-blending, and it was all at that time protected by a good padlock and a woman with a 9-mm Makarov pistol.

We had a major effort to package and transport this enormous amount of material in 448 of these barrel-sized containers in C-5 aircraft with no stops, aerial refueling.  It was the longest C-5 flight ever, 20 hours to Dover, Delaware, and then a ground shipment to the Oak Ridge facility Y-12 where it was down-blended into low-enriched uranium for the power industry.  And this was an incredible quiet success that was announced after its completion but for security reasons had been kept secret until then.

And after we finished, we were celebrating the success with one of the heroes of Kazakhstan’s nonproliferation effort, Vladimir Shkolnik.  He pulled me aside and said, Andy, this was – that was just a test.  He said, we have much more material.  And he led us to the BN-350 breeder reactor in Aktau, on the Caspian Sea where Kazakhstan had three tons of weapons-grade plutonium and 300 tons of spent fuel there.

And that launched a project led by the Department of Energy on our side to decommission the BN-350 reactor so it would stop producing plutonium and to move the spent fuel 2,000 miles by train across Kazakhstan in 60 of these large casks where it is stored under IAEA safeguards in Eastern Kazakhstan at the moment.  But it was enough material, according to the Department of Energy announcement, for over 775 nuclear weapons. 

Kazakhstan closed, upon independence, the nuclear weapons test site, which is a very large area.  It’s the size of Belgium, if you can imagine.  And within that site, there was an area called the Degelen Mountain massif, about 300 square kilometers, where the tunnels – the test tunnels were located.  And we launched a project in the mid-1990s to seal up those tunnels so they couldn’t be used for further nuclear weapons tests.  And then, we became concerned after – especially after 9/11, that metal scavengers were going into the tunnels to recover copper wire and nonferrous metal.

But we learned from the Russian nuclear weapons testers that they had done a series of experiments in the ’70s and ’80s, and even right up until independence, of no-yield or low-yield tests that did not burn up the plutonium.  So we launched a very quiet trilateral effort with the Russian experts who had done the experiments in the ’70s and ’80s and with the government of Kazakhstan to secure in place and remove to Russia several hundred kilograms of at-risk plutonium in the Degelen area. 

And it was a quiet effort until it was announced at the Seoul nuclear security summit by Presidents Nazarbayev, Medvedev and Obama.  They made a public announcement about this project.  And at the site – that’s one of the trenches, by the way, that the metal scavengers had dug to retriever copper wire.  So this was not just a couple of guys with shovels.  This was a major operation to retrieve metal from all over the site.  And we, of course, were worried of the potential that terrorists could hire some of these metal scavengers and direct them to recover fissile material.  There is a monument now at that site with three sides that says 1996 to 2012, the world has become safer. 

I’d also like to reinforce Secretary Moniz’s comments about how much progress has been made in the last 15 years in strengthening and in preparing the world for entry into force of the CTBT.  In 1999, there were zero certified monitoring stations in the international monitoring system.  Today, we have 278 of a planned 337 stations are certified.  It is a global network that’s extremely sensitive and would make it very, very difficult for any country to conduct even small-scale nuclear tests without being found out.  It’s an incredible capability to detect illegal testing.

The U.S. Department of Defense has contributed to this.  We provide, as our national commitment, so far we have provided 35 certified stations and we plan two more.  As well, we’re supporting the onsite inspection exercise this November in Jordan.  So with the international detection and monitoring network combined with the stockpile stewardship program that Secretary Moniz described, the United States has absolutely no need to conduct nuclear weapons tests.

The body that I’m the staff director of, which is between the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, is called the Nuclear Weapons Council.  Secretary Moniz mentioned he was serving on that in the late 1990s and Frank Klotz, who you’ll hear from, is a current member of it.

I’ve been attending Nuclear Weapons Council meetings for nearly five-and-a-half years as the staff director, and not once has there been a conversation about the resumption of nuclear weapons testing.  So we’re not even considering it.  The laboratory directors say there’s no need because of the science-based stockpile stewardship program and with our policy from the nuclear posture review of no new nuclear weapons or military capabilities, there is absolutely no need for the United States of America to conduct nuclear weapons tests. 

Finally, I’d just like to conclude by noting some of the global efforts to eliminate and reduce threats of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.  Recently we completed our support of an international operation led by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to destroy Syria’s 1,300 tons of declared chemical weapons.  This was a huge global effort involving 30 countries.  And the Kerry-Lavrov agreement was signed a year ago yesterday and already that removal and destruction of Syria’s stockpile has been completed.

Later this month, the White House will host the global health security agenda meeting on the 26th of September, and that’s a global effort to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, no matter what their cause, natural outbreaks, as we’ve seen in West Africa with the Ebola crisis, bioterrorist attacks or accidental releases.  The capacities that we need to detect and contain infectious disease outbreaks are common to all three of those, and we need to do more as a world, together with the World Health Organization and others, to put in place the capacities to prevent a situation like the one that we are seeing in Ebola.

As President Obama told Senators Nunn and Lugar when he honored them, we simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century.  And that takes an unwavering commitment from leaders like President Obama but also it takes partners around the world.  All of these are global challenges and no single country can deal with them alone.  And countries like Kazakhstan have been just incredible leaders in this global effort to eliminate threats from weapons of mass destruction.  And it also takes people, dedicated, hardworking people like you, who I’m humbled to be with today, to make these efforts successful.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. WALKER:  Thank you very much, Andy.  And I congratulate you for staying right on time.  So good example to follow.  So next is Togzhan Kassenova, who will talk to us about Semipalatinsk.  And we’ll – and we’ll break for Q&A after all three speakers. 

TOGZHAN KASSENOVA:  Could I ask for my presentation to be brought up?  Thank you.

MR. WALKER:  There we go.

MS. KASSENOVA:  In a horrific scene of incineration, animals disappeared, buildings, cars and bridges evaporated.  It was a rainy, windy early morning of August 29th, 1949, and the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test in Eastern Kazakhstan at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site.  That test was called the first lightning.  Soviet scientists, and especially military, were eager to understand the potency of the bomb, and for that reason, they built a whole mini-city around the testing area.

They constructed buildings, parts of railroad, even a part of a highway with a concrete-reinforced bridge.  They even built an electric power station, complete with diesel generators.  They dug a metro tunnel and brought in military equipment.  Animals, dogs, pigs, rats, mice and camels, oblivious to what was waiting for them, were also brought to the testing site. 

All of that disappeared in an instant when the bomb went off.  The Soviet Union officially became the nuclear power and the Kazakh Steppe became the first victim of this newly acquired might.  The first nuclear test that ripped through the Kazakh Steppe was the first of hundreds to follow.  The Soviet Union, determined not to be left behind by its enemy, the United States, threw its might into developing the nuclear arsenal and Kazakhstan was brought into this effort.  The land and nature Kazakhs relied on for survival for centuries were now exploited for the sake of the ultimate weapon. 

I work with quite a few archives because I’m trying to write a book on Kazakhstan’s experience and Kazakhstan’s nuclear history.  And it’s really painful to read about the rationale behind the choice of Eastern Kazakhstan as the testing site.  It’s all very scientific and of course non-emotional, ideal conditions, ideal geography.  It’s an uninhabited area but actually, as you saw from the documentary and if you go to Kazakhstan and talk to people, you would realize that quite a few people were living there.  There was a major city not that far away, but also several rural settlements.

And I know that every nation loves its land and has an affinity for it.  I just want to spend a couple of minutes to explain why Kazakhs have such a strong affinity for the land, and that’s because the ancestors of Kazakhs worshiped their land and nature.  They roamed the endless steppes in search of pastures for their cattle, the only source of their livelihood.  They worshiped the god of sky, Tengri, and believed that life should be lived in harmony with nature.  Centuries passed, religions changed and the nomads were gradually becoming a settled nation.  But even though Kazakhs became settled, they kept a special affection for the land and nature.

As was referenced a couple of times today, almost 500 nuclear tests took place at Semipalatinsk.  There were among them more than 80 atmospheric tests, around 30 ground and more than 300 underground tests.  On the slide, you see the three tests that were especially harmful for the population, the very first test on August 29th, in 1949, and also several others but especially the one from September, 1951, as well as the one from August, 1953, the Soviet Union’s first hydrogen device was tested on that day.

The first test was considered to be too important for military and political reasons and that’s why everybody was in a rush.  Nobody wanted to wait, even though it was clear that the weather would not be favorable.  Rain and winds were expected and, you know, it did happen that way.  Local people were completely unprotected and severe exposure happened on that day.  In one village engulfed by a radioactive cloud after the first nuclear test, 90 percent of its inhabitants received an external effective dose of up to 1,400 millisieverts.  And to put it in perspective, an average American is exposed to about 3 millisieverts of background radiation per year.  So it’s 1,400 compared to three. 

On August 12th, 1953, when the first hydrogen bomb was tested, some residents were evacuated because, you know, you can see from the potency, 400 kilotons.  So some destruction was expected.  But the local doctors, they now say what was tragic, that even though some of the settlements were evacuated, the residents were brought back, in some instances, nine days after the test took place.  It was too quickly.  During the first phase of testing, which is considered to be between 1949 and 1951, there were practically no public radiation safety measures.

The first official radiation safety standards which governed allowable outdoor and indoor doses of exposure were adopted only in 1969.  That is not to say that, you know, some measures were not taken before that.  But there were no official documents.  In 1957, the Soviet military established a clinic.  They called it dispensary number four and the name was the anti-brucellosis clinic, which was a disguised name for a clinic to study the effects of radiation on people.  And while the Soviet-era documents and, you know, some of the narratives that are coming out now outside of Kazakhstan would say that the clinic was there to protect people and to care about their health, some of the people who lived in that area during that time would say we saw it as though we were just as guinea pigs for that clinic. 

There was local expedition or a local effort on behalf of Kazakh doctors to study the effects of radiation, which took place for three years from 1957 to 1960 and the doctors actually found that there were definitely harmful effects that they were noticing in people who were living in this area such as hemorrhage of respiratory tracts, mouths and so on, blood diseases.

But when they sent their findings to Moscow, it was 12 tomes of information, clinical studies.  The findings were classified and they only became available after the Soviet collapse.  And it’s really painful to read how the Soviet military would say, oh, you know, all these people are sick because Kazakhs have poor hygiene.  They have vitamin C deficiency and, yeah, they’re just not eating well.  And while that might have been one of the factors, the complete denial that there was a harmful effect of radiation is really disturbing.

And I just wanted to give a couple of eyewitness accounts.  I recently went to Astana where the International Physicians against Nuclear War held their congress.  And for example, one of them, a lady, who was a girl, she was growing up at the railway station near the testing site, she recalls:  I remember the test vividly, how our windows would shake and how we ran outside to watch.  Every summer, I visited residents at grasslands, a place where my uncle looked after the cattle.  The road to the pastures was directly on the way to the test site five kilometers away.  With my own eyes, I saw a newborn lamb with two conjoined heads.  A lot of newborn cattle were born without limbs or different pathologies or deformities of the skull.  During that time, it was interesting and strange to me.  Only when I grew up I understood the reason for such pathologies.

Scientists from Kazakhstan, and very often they would be – they would receive help form Japan.  They conducted now numerous studies and they linked higher rates of different types of cancer to post-irradiation effects.  They found correlation between radiation exposure and thyroid abnormalities.  And they also noticed that people who used to live in those areas, they also suffered from mental – from mental diseases.  There is a very high rate of suicide.  They would have nightmares and very often the symptoms would be very similar to those experienced by Japanese hibakusha.

And I just wanted to make a point that the harmful effects didn’t stop, you know, with the past.  Again, as I’ve recently heard from the local doctors who are conducting studies with now – with the third generation of kids whose parents or grandparents were exposed, we are still suffering from the effects of all the testing that happened there.

I’m extremely proud of my nation and of the people, you know, the local people who actually rose up and organized themselves into a public movement and I think the tribute really should be paid to people who participated in that movement.  Well, before that, I recently went to this formerly closed city of Kurchatov.  This is where all the Soviet military and scientists lived during the testing program.  And it’s a very – it’s a very interesting experience because you drive for a very long time in the steppe.  It’s very remote.  Then you enter the city and you can see that formerly it was such a developed town and at the height of the Soviet testing program, the population of the town was 50,000 people.

When the Soviet Union broke up and when the testing finished, all the military, all the scientists left and the population went down to 5,000.  And now, the city is trying to find its new purpose.  You know, they work on peaceful application of nuclear energy.  But you can still see the leftovers of that humongous program.  And just this question of whether it was all worth it, all this talent and resources that were thrown into that program.  And when I asked this question of a local doctor from Semipalatinsk, I basically said, do you think the sacrifice was worth it.  And she said:  there is nothing more valuable than human life.  But back then, there was a mass psychosis, an arms race and now we will be dealing with the consequences of nuclear testing for decades.

And I guess I just wanted to conclude on the point that I just hope this psychosis doesn’t have to go on for too long, all the nuclear weapons program.  Just yeah, but not to leave you on a grim note, I find it very symbolic that the former nuclear testing site is now contributing to the noble goal of the CTBTO and it hosted several exercises, and in 2008, there was one of the larger onsite exercises.

And again, this is a very good audience to talk to because you just assume that we are all on the same page.  But when in force, the CTBT will provide the international community with the tools to detect and deter nuclear testing and it will act as the only appropriate tribute to communities in Semipalatinsk, Nevada, Marshallese Islands and other places throughout the world that endured nuclear testing.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

MR. WALKER:  Thank you, Togzhan, very much.  And now, we’ll hear from Jessica Schwartz, and I’m told that this will be somewhat different I think from a lot of what we’re used to in this sort of high-tech, bombs and bullets environment.  And Jessica is actually a professor, as I noted, of musicology and will talk a lot about I think the problems of the Marshallese through song and culture.  So hopefully we’ll hear some good music.

JESSICA SCHWARTZ:  Yes, definitely.  So and thank you very much.  I’d like to first thank the organizers of this very important conference.  Thank you to the Embassy of Kazakhstan, the Arms Control Association and Dr. Paul Walker, with Green Cross International.  You know, nuclear testing, as we’ve heard, is kind of, as a weapon of mass destruction, the great leveler, right?  And we have to unite in this global cause.  But of course, part of the great leveling is the leveling of unique cultures that have their own solutions and their own ways of encountering the damages and the consequences of this nuclear legacy. 

So today, while there are many, many resonances with the previous talks, I want to share the Marshallese voices, which, as the Kazakh and other voices around the world, must be heard.  So on March 1st, 1954, the United States detonated its most powerful thermonuclear weapon, code-named Castle Bravo, at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  Just 90 miles southeast, the population of Rongelap Atoll watched in confusion as the sun seemingly rose in the west.  A shockwave and resonant boom prompted screams from frightened children.

Later that day, irradiated coal dust from Bikini Atoll’s vaporized land made its way east and covered Rongelap.  Children played in the fallout because they thought that it was snow.  Men, women and children became violently ill and ran into the lagoon for respite, yet they could not sense that it was dangerously radioactive.  Forty-eight hours later, after much fear and confusion, the United States military came to Rongelap.  They ordered the Rongelapese onto a naval ship.  The Rongelapese were scared.  They were ill.  And they were humiliated after being told to remove their irradiated clothing.

Today, Rongelap remains contaminated and the Rongelapese remain in exile, displaced and disenfranchised, living on Majuro, which is the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mejato, an island in Kwajalein Atoll, the largest atoll in the Pacific, where the United States continues to have an active military base, and various locations in the United States, such as Costa Mesa, California, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Springdale, Arkansas, where one-tenth of the entire Marshallese population lives and also which is home to the RMI consulate.

On March 1st, 1954, Lijon was staying on Ailingane Atoll, just next to Rongelap.  It was her eighth birthday.  She experienced firsthand the consequences of the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program, of which she said:  having suffered multiple losses when bearing children, having uncontrolled weight fluctuations, having memory loss and tight curling fingers, having nearly lost my voice, I can say that nothing is more important than having my health and my voice to sing. 

I met Lijon in the Marshall Islands while I was conducting fieldwork from 2008 through 2010.  Lijon would meet with me week after week and share food, conversation and her life stories and song.  She would often ask if the U.S. thought that her people were like animals, like guinea pigs to be tested on.  Since she traveled the world to spread her message, nonproliferation, give a face and fight for the justice of her people and the global population.  She kept a Puerto Rican flag in her room, given to her by women from Viejas.

Two years ago, while I was visiting friends in Northwest Arkansas, I learned that Lijon had passed away.  From Facebook posts to international media, the outpouring from the Marshallese and global community attests to the importance of her antinuclear activism, of which music was a central part.  Today, I want to honor her voice, her voice to sing, along with the voices of others who inscribed their nuclear experiences in song, songs that sound their great challenges, cultural, social, political, physiological and psychological, of which we’ve heard about, and give us the opportunity to listen, perhaps differently, to an often forgotten component of our nuclear legacy. 

So here are some of the figures that we’ve heard and I just want to give this relative to the adult intake solely from Bravo.  It was estimated at 2,000 to 300,000 rads, exposing the Rongelapese to about a thousand times as much radiation as most Americans receive in a year and that was just from the Bravo shot.  And the Marshall – in the Marshall Islands, there were 67 nuclear weapons tested between 1946 and 1958 by the United States.

So documents declassified during the Clinton administration exposed how Marshallese were used as long-term human subjects by the Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy, to derive pertinent information on the human effects of exposure to radiation.  This boy, Magistrate John Anjain’s son, Lekoj, was in a coconut tree when the fallout from Bravo rained down on Rongelap.  He died from leukemia a few years after the picture was taken.  Under project 4.1, Marshallese from Rongelap and individuals from other atolls in the Marshall Islands, uninformed of their participation, were numbered and studied at laboratories both in the Marshall Islands and in the United States. 

The throat in Marshallese culture is the seat of one’s emotions, akin to the Western metaphorical version of the heart.  And singing is a central part of Marshallese culture, and it is crucial as an activity in intergenerational transmission of a rich oral tradition.  Women, being more susceptible to thyroid cancer and disease than men, had operations on and to remove their thyroids, which affected their voices.  Many of these women refrained from singing for fear of hearing their own altered, lowered voices and hearing themselves as ribaam, or bombed people. 

As Norio (ph) explained, oh, this is a nuclear-centered language that they came up with as they heard doctors speaking about these terms and these are some of the words that you’ll hear incorporated into the songs.  Going back to the comments about the voice, as Norio (ph) explained:  we used to love singing.  Personally, I don’t sing in public anymore because people stare at me.  And Ellen says:  at the time they cut my throat, well, I really can’t sing anymore but I want to sing again.  My voice won’t go high anymore.  Is that not from the contamination?

These are just two of many personal stories that expose the voice as a barometer of communal health or social balance and gender complementarity, which is central to social organization.  Marshallese social organization was also disrupted by the forcible displacement from their customary lands and thus subsistence way of life.  We must also acknowledge the severe impact of radiation on the reproductive capacity of women.  After the 1954 test, many Rongelapese women had multiple miscarriages, gave birth to severely deformed babies, often known as jellyfish babies that would die shortly after their birth, and had to undergo hysterectomies.

Never told that these birth abnormalities were a result of the radiation exposure, the women felt that they were being punished.  They felt ashamed, humiliated and feared additional stigmatization, often silencing themselves from sharing these problems.  So Nuclear Victims and Survivor Remembrance Day gives voice to some of these problems that were once silenced and concealed.  And Marshallese honor their nuclear victims and survivors every year on March 1st, the anniversary of the Bravo shot.  And Rongelapese women often perform at these ceremonies where they share their emotions by sharing their damaged throats from the thyroid surgeries.

I’ll share two songs.  The first song is called “177”.  On March 1st, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the Bravo explosion, 20 Rongelapese, mostly elderly women, donned maroon or black shirts that read in bold white, “Project 4.1,” and they performed the song “177,” irradiated sick and homeless.  “177” refers to a section of the compact of free association in which the United States categorizes people from Enewetak, Bikini, Rongelap and Utrik as eligible for nuclear compensation, even though the entire population of the Marshall Islands, in reality the entire world, was exposed to radiation from these tests and deals with their legacy.

The verses describe the suffering of being irradiated and sick, abandoned and homeless, unable to live on their customary lands due to contamination.  There is also an appeal for help and understanding in the pursuit of a peaceful life.  The words at the end of the refrain, “nomba en 177,” underscore the dehumanization of being identified as part of a number.  So I’m going to play a video now and this is the remainder of the chorus, as sung by Rongelapese woman, at Nuclear Remembrance Day in Arkansas, 10 years later, on the 60th anniversary of Bravo.  This should be playing and I’m not quite sure why it’s not.

MR. WALKER:  There’s no audio?  I think the audio’s coming.

MS. SCHWARTZ:  Or video actually.  (Off mic exchange.)  I was wondering OK, but it says it’s not available so I guess we’re not going to get to hear the music which is the central part of –

MR. WALKER:  Yeah. 

MS. SCHWARTZ:  Well anyways, these women sang this song and what I would like to do as I’m speaking about the concluding song is I’m actually going to get my computer and, you know, I’d like to at least play a song and discuss it.  So April, if you can please bring this up, because I would like to conclude with a song composed by Lijon, the woman I started with.  And the song is “Kajjitok in aō ñan kwe kiō,” (“These are my questions for you now”).  Kiō means still and now. 

And this was written in 2008 to archive the many health complications of and urgent health questions posed by Lijon and her community.  The Rongelapese first performed the song for their intended audience, which was the Department of Energy, when the Department of Energy visited the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  For Lijon, this song shares a responsibility to give voice to those who passed away and did not have the opportunity to share their suffering or receive answers from the United States.

So I would like to – I was going to play a recording of Lijon in the first verse where she details her health questions as open-ended – her health concerns as open-ended questions.  But I feel and I imagine that you cannot see so it doesn’t even matter.  I guess we can go to – I’ll go to the next slide if I’m able.  Those are the words that led up to that.  OK, so what I will be playing is a video.  All right, I think it’s important to see.  All right, is this even possible?  (Off mic exchange.)

Well, it’s the video of them singing.  So I’m going to describe this.  Basically the women are performing and this is – all right – about three minutes into the performance.  The volume of the song drops quickly.  The vocal timbres become thin and some voices stop sounding altogether.  The audience begins to applaud but Betty, who’s standing in front, she’s the conductor, she stops, turns to the audience, shakes her head and points to her throat – ah, thyroid, she says, and she turns back to the women, so.  (Video playback.)

So some of you might have seen her pointing and saying, ah, thyroid, as the volume drops and this is not the metaphorical voice of suffering or even strictly the political silencing of the voice.  It is the actual voicelessness (sic) of suffering where the throat, the seat of the emotions, is literally arrested in its social and political process.  As they summon their voices to sing, once again, the Rongelapese women communicate but the time for redress, to acknowledge the devastating consequences of nuclear testing across the globe and on their culture and their voices and to visit our nuclear legacy, as heard through their singing voices, is now and still kiō.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. WALKER:  Thank you very much, Jessica.  And I apologize that we had a few, you know, audio issues there.  But I think everyone gets the message regardless.  So with three very interesting, I think, and very diverse presentations here, we have about 25 minutes before coffee break and I’m sure, given the size of the audience, there are many, many questions in the audience.  So I’d like to just open it.  I will recognize people as I can pick you up.  So don’t jump up and ask a question unless I recognize you, all right?  And I see a hand up here on the left.  So why don’t we start right here?

Sure, and there are mikes on both sides.  So please wait for the microphone so people can hear you.  We’re being – we’re being broadcast live, webcast live and we will be – we’re taped.  We’re also being transcribed.  So this will be available on tape, on the Web later on and the full transcription of the day’s proceedings will also be available from the Arms Control Association, the Embassy of Kazakhstan and Green Cross International.  So please, go ahead.

Q:  My name in Winsome Packer, and my question is directed to Mr. Weber.  I wonder if you might – would you rate on the scale of 1 to 10 the strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Kazakhstan on nuclear nonproliferation.  Thank you.

MR. WEBER:  Well, that’s a good – that’s a good question.  Did everyone hear that, understand it?  Yeah?  The question was how would I rate on a scale of one to 10 the strategic partnership on nonproliferation between the United States and Kazakhstan.  And from the United States government perspective, it’s definitely a 10.  But what’s more important than our partnership is Kazakhstan’s leadership in this area, the moral authority that their experiences bring to this field and the actions and achievements since independence to show that it’s not just words. 

It’s results:  the work that was done to remove weapons-grade uranium, to get rid of the nuclear arsenal that was left on its territory at independence, to safely destroy the world’s largest anthrax factory, anthrax weapons factory in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan, to close the Vozrozhdeniya Island test site.

There are just so many examples of Kazakhstan’s leadership in nonproliferation.  And I think it’s very compelling when President Nazarbayev cites his own country’s experience and example to other countries in the region.  For example, Iran, that the world community is concerned that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.  And he can cite the example of Kazakhstan and their decision to forego weapons of mass destruction.  That has truly made Kazakhstan more secure and prosperous.  So it’s a good example backed by actions, by leadership and by moral authority.

MR. WALKER:  Thank you, Andy.  Other hands?  Other questions at all?  Yeah, Tom?  And everyone please introduce yourself briefly when you stand up and ask a question.  Wait – here’s the microphone, Tom.

Q:  Tom Cochran, NRDC.  Andy, does the U.S. and Russia have the same definition of what constitutes a nuclear test?  And separately, has there been any effort to jointly monitor one another’s sites where experiments are conducted, namely the Nevada site.

MR. WEBER:  That’s a good question.  I think in general we share the same definition.  There may be some slight ambiguities at the margins that we should work on together.  We had the joint verification experiment in 1989 and that was something that was very successful in getting our testers to work together, to know each other.  We do a lot of work together in support of the CTBT preparations, the international monitoring system.  We’ve had visits.  The Department of Energy hosted a visit together with the Department of State just either earlier this year or last year to the Nevada test site.  Earlier than that, there were exchanges between our nuclear weapons laboratories.

So there’s definitely more we can do in that area.  But from my experience, the technical people, politics aside, want to do more and see the value in working together.  That was the magic of the Degelen project, was that combination of – and the confidence that was built among the scientific communities, the people who had real experience.  And this is a pretty small group in the world, real experience testing nuclear weapons.  They knew the destructive capacity and they saw the importance and recognized the importance and acted together to make sure that the residual plutonium that was left behind would never fall into the wrong hands.

MR. WALKER:  OK, I saw a few more hands here.  Did I miss – did I miss somebody?  I’ll take the prerogative of the chair, even better.  I want to – so Jessica, I wanted to pose a question to you about the Marshallese.  I mean, how did you first get involved with the Marshallese?  It seems such – you know, from the United States perspective, anyway, the South Pacific islands are very remote.  I don’t think many people know about the horrors that have happened because of atmospheric nuclear testing there, both French as well as American.  And what brought you to study them and their song and culture?

MS. SCHWARTZ:  It was while researching the American atomic age actually for my dissertation project when I was working on my dissertation a while back.  I was planning on looking at music from the 1950s and looking at the generation gap.  And having been involved in the punk scene, I was privy to a lot of the discourses around nuclear disarmament and the activistic (sic) productions around that.  And so, I became very intrigued when I found the song “Sh-Boom” by The Chords that apparently was written after The Chords had witnessed this amazing spectacle from Bikini Atoll. 

And I thought, well, if Americans are writing about something that’s happening over in the Marshall Islands, well, first off, what are the Marshall Islands?  What’s Bikini Atoll?  Who are these people, and are they writing songs as well, being a music scholar.  And so, I called – I found Jack Niedenthal, the liaison for the Bikinians and I asked if there were more songs than the Bikinian anthem, which was on the website, a song of mourning, about the nuclear testing.  And he said, yes, people sing about these issues all the time.  They’re still present.  They’re still dealing with them and nobody has really researched this.  So you should come out.  So I went out there for two years.

MR. WALKER:  Spent two years in the Marshall Islands?

MS. SCHWARTZ:  Spent two years in the Marshall Islands. 

MR. WALKER:  Wow. 

MS. SCHWARTZ:  And not enough. 

MR. WALKER:  Were you in any of these pictures we saw on the –


MR. WALKER:  Were you in any of these pictures that we saw?

MS. SCHWARTZ:  I was behind the scenes.

MR. WALKER:  You were?  Oh, OK.


MR. WALKER:  All right.  Very good.  And Togzhan, I want to ask about Semipalatinsk. I mean, I was very fortunate to go to Semipalatinsk the last couple of years, at the invitation of President Nazarbayev.  I think you were there too, Andy, and a few others of us.  And I was really struck.  I mean, I’d been to the Nevada test site and I’d been to Las Vegas and the Atomic Testing Museum.  In fact, this necktie is from the Atomic Testing Museum, several people have commented on today.  But going to Semey and Semey is the town, you know, in the Semipalatinsk test range, I was really struck by, you know, going through the hospitals and the medical school there and the like, the enormous number of deformities and, you know, really serious, long-term health issues.

But one of the things that interested me is whether that in fact there was good data, good statistics.  It’s one thing to see all this and some of what you saw in the video.  But it’s another thing to try to, you know, scientifically relate the radiation and the fallout reported with in fact health data.  And one of the things that the director of the medical clinic in Semey told me, I posed this same question to him because he pulled out these enormously large handwritten books of personal health data of men and women and children that were done by the Soviets over the years.

But he said to me at the time that most of this data is missing.  And when Semipalatinsk was turned over from the Soviet Union over to Kazakhstan in 1991 – is that correct – most of that data was destroyed by the Soviets and their whole library of longitudinal health data.  He described it as a bonfire in front of the clinic at the time before they officially turned the clinic over to the Kazakhs.  And I’m wondering is there good health data do you think or is this still a challenge because of the reported destruction of health data in Semipalatinsk.

MS. KASSENOVA:  It’s definitely true that when the military were moving out, they were not leaving any useful data behind.  And it’s not only on nuclear but also on bio.  I know that doctors struggled quite a bit, those working on anti-plague mission and so on.  I think it’s still difficult, for example, for me as a scholar, especially as a non-scientist scholar.  You know, it’s difficult to judge and there is no one source that you can just take and everything will be laid down very neatly and clearly.

But I think over the last few years, there was a very good effort on behalf of the local doctors and very often working with Japanese scientists.  Japan both helps with funding but also with expertise.  And I now see very good publications coming out from the medical institutions around the area.  And it’s good that it’s coming out.  And also, in the past, something that I didn’t mention, even if they would have left behind all the –

MR. WALKER:  Handwritten data.

MS. KASSENOVA:  All the data, very often this data would be half lies because when I spoke to local doctors just, you know, two weeks ago, and some of them were very young internists at the time, they were not allowed to write down – for example, lung cancer.  They would switch the word.  They would be obligated to use the word illness instead of cancer.  So they would – you know, even if they – whatever cold have been left would be useful but I think there are so many black holes and some of that will never be filled. 

MR. WALKER:  Yeah.

MS. KASSENOVA:  But there is definitely now an effort to reconstruct. 

MR. WALKER:  Great.  Excellent.  Other questions at all or concerns?  Yes, please, right here.

Q:  Actually it’s a question.  My name is Bill Aiken.  I’m with the SGI Buddhist Association.  A question for Ms. Schwartz and then for Ms. Kassenova.  I’m wondering when these songs started appearing, “Sh-Boom” was out I think sometime in the ’50s.  I’m wondering when – number one, when the songs started appearing within Marshallese culture and have – did you find songs that were rooted in the ’50s that persisted?  It seems like – I don’t know when the songs that you were looking at were dated from. 

And a question I have for Ms. Kassenova is that – or did you see any similar kind of folk either stories that come from people?  How did people talk about this in other ways aside from the official ways that this is being transmitted or being shared?  So, thank you.

MR. WALKER:  Thank you. 

MS. SCHWARTZ:  Well, that’s a very important question because obviously I want to relate these songs to concrete movements, right, and events.  And “Sh-Boom” was written, I mean, became a hit in 1954.  Now, the songs you heard – well, both songs you would have heard – but the songs that I spoke about and the one song that you did hear were actually composed in the 2000s, around – the first one around the I believe signing of the second Compact of Free Association, or Compact 2.  And the one that was written in 2008 for the Department of Energy was written in 2008 because of the Department of Energy’s visit.

In terms of songs from the ’50s, there’s one song that circulates talking about the taboo nature of the doctors’ visits that would put, you know, men and women together and what the doctors would do.  But that is actually not circulated as much because women don’t want to sing that one in front of the men because it speaks of body parts and vice-versa.  It apparently was written by the men.  Many, many of the songs were written around also 1985, when the Rongelapese were moved from – were relocated from Rongelap after having been there since 1957 and then having increasing illnesses, and after Japanese scientists came, discovered the high contamination based on what the Rongelapese were saying of all these illnesses, the United States would not help with the relocation.

Greenpeace offered the Rainbow Warrior, which then helped the Rongelapese relocate and many songs came up during this time.  And so, this is around the time that the Compact of Free Association is being voted on, which is then signed off in 1986.  And so, you have a lot of political songs coming to the fore then.

MS. KASSENOVA:  Thank you for your question.  Kazakhs are quite musical by nature.  They love singing and they also are very into narratives and telling stories.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a member of any punk scene.  So maybe I’m less exposed to the musical heritage.  I don’t think it was as maybe organized as in examples that Jessica gave us.

But, for example, there is an anthem that – there is an anthem of the antinuclear Nevada Semipalatinsk movement that was written 25 years ago.  It’s a very beautiful melody and the lyrics are in Kazakh.  And you know, it’s hard for me to judge because I’m Kazakh and, you know, I have a very strong emotional response to the song.  But there is definitely an anthem.  I think some of the images are coming out in paintings but maybe the scene is not as developed as in Marshallese Islands.  But in terms of how people tell their stories and, you know, whether they’re ready to tell them or not, people are definitely open and I think very often it’s very important for them not to be forgotten or for their story not to be forgotten.

But at the same time, I’ve noticed that with the people from the region, they don’t want to be defined just by that.  so they don’t want this history to be erased but they also I think are ready to kind of move forward and not have this tragic past to be their only thing that describes them, that defines them.

MR. WALKER:  Yeah, great.  OK, Daryl, up in the back, and there’s another – OK, next.  First, Daryl here.

Q:  Daryl Kimball, with the Arms Control Association.  Thank you each for your presentations, great presentations.  And I think this may be the first time in Washington we’ve had an ethnomusicologist and a Department of Defense official on the same panel. 

MR. WALKER:  Right. 

Q:  And it’s very interesting.  I have a question for Andy Weber and perhaps also for Togzhan, going to the question of the challenges that the people in the Marshall Islands and Kazakhstan and other former test sites face into the future.  There’s been a tremendous amount of international cooperation on nuclear security, on trying to bring the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty into force.  The Kazakh government has provided a great deal of leadership in bringing International Day against Nuclear Tests into being, to helping focus attention on this aspect of the problem.

But it seems to me that there is a deficit when it comes to the governments who are trying to handle the aftermath of the nuclear testing experience cooperating with one another and sharing some of this information, even across the nongovernmental sector.  There’s not as much communication as possible.

So my question for you, Andy, is given your wide-ranging experience with cooperative threat reduction program and dealing with a wide range of chem, bio, nuclear threats, has there been any discussion, might there be, regarding the governments that are dealing with the aftereffects of the test site environmental and health legacies to share on a scientific level some of the information, some of the best practices and lessons learned going forward in the future because it’s clear from this set of presentations that the people around the test sites are still suffering, still need a great deal of support and understanding.

MR. WEBER:  That’s a good question, Daryl.  Through the International Science and Technology Center that was established to provide peaceful pursuits for the weapons scientists after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were many international projects to look at the health effects of especially the nuclear weapons testing at the Semipalatinsk test site.  There is a community connected through the scientific field as well as through NGOs between the different affected communities around the world that experience nuclear weapons testing, including our own residents of Nevada who were exposed to some of the radiation effects.

And we do – we do share data.  I think Togzhan pointed out that one of the real challenges for Kazakhstan after independence was the return of all of the classified data to Moscow.  And this applies to the work that was done on the test site.  This applies to the bioweapons testing on Vozrozhdeniya Island, some of the chemical weapons testing that was conducted on the Ustyurt Plateau in Uzbekistan.  Much of that remains classified and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have made many, many requests to the Russian Federation over the years and received very, very little data in response.

MR. WALKER:  OK, and I saw another – another hand up here.  Yes, right here?

Q:  Thank you.  Finn Longinotto.  I’m with Global Green Cross.  I work with Paul Walker.  I’m just wondering if – two things – the difference between the effect radiation on surface and underground testing and, secondly, even without data, but with our science today we’re able to say what North Korea has been doing.  That seems to be more recent at least in the underground area.  Are we able to extrapolate from what has happened in Kazakhstan to what the likely effects are on the people in North Korea now that we have an idea of the size of their testing? 

MR. WALKER:  That’s more to you.

MR. WEBER:  I’ll let you take that.

MR. WALKER:  More to me?  Anyone want to – Finn, I think – I mean, to me the big difference between what we’ve talked about today and the video and the pictures you’ve seen is Semipalatinsk, the South Pacific and obviously other areas like Lop Nur, in China, and North Africa, have all experienced atmospheric testing.  And the atmospheric testing, of course, in the late ’40s and right up through the ’50s were some enormous blasts.

I think you all – Togzhan talked about that, you know, I don’t know, a hundred times the size of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, you know, raised all sorts of very serious fallout downwind that circled the Earth, probably still does to some extent, whereas in North Korea, you know, the three tests they’ve done have all been very small.  They’ve all been a few kilotons, you know, or sub-kiloton, even what we call a fissile test.  And the three of them have been underground as well.  There have been radionuclides that have leaked out and that’s I think maybe Dr. Zerbo later on will talk about that a bit.

But fortunately, because of the monitoring system of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, what we call the IMS, the international monitoring system, those radionuclides have actually been picked up in the atmosphere as well as the seismic signals too.  So I would expect in North Korea, from the three recent tests – 2006, ’09 and ’13 – that the fallout was very, very minor and negligible, more or less, but remember still whereas when we talk about Semipalatinsk and the Nevada Test Site, there was enormous fallout.  I mean, I remember seeing the pictures of the soldiers, what we now call atomic veterans, sitting there, you know, watching the blast going up thousands of feet in the air and all the fallout just drifting downwind and probably for hundreds and thousands of miles.

So there’s a big difference I think between the radiation and the long-term health impact from those atmospheric tests and the much smaller, almost fissile test, that the North Koreans have undertaken in recent years.  But I must say, an underground test doesn’t guarantee there won’t be fallout.  I mean, if you go back and look at the underground tests, which I’ve looked at over the years, there are some very famous ones which have actually leaked fallout.  You know, they’ve punched through the surface of the Earth and do have in fact to some extent a mushroom cloud and some fallout as well.

So I think that’s kind of the point you were getting at.  The one point – one of the points I take from this discussion, that many of you I think are well aware of, is that the long-term impacts are to some extent unknown still.  And I think there’s a lot of denial amongst scientists and health officials that in fact – or politicians – that in act these victims have been badly hurt or killed over the years by the nuclear testing that goes on.  But I think, you know, if you think back 20 or 30 years before – long before the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty came, was opened for signature, people were really in denial about all of this.  Today, we see in Semipalatinsk and Nevada Test Site and Utah and Nevada downwinders, atomic veterans, even though many of them have died now because of the long period of time, we actually see that there have been very, very serious health impacts. 

And the best studies I’ve seen have been, of course, of the hibakusha and the Japanese from 1945 when we – the only times we’ve used nuclear weapons directly on civilian, human populations.  And I think the long-term studies by the Japanese in particular and the international community have been quite good on that, even though those weren’t in fact the worst – the worst fallout because of the height of the blast over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The fallout was actually much less there than it was in a whole range of testing – particularly the American, British, Soviet and French and Chinese with atmospheric tests.  Other questions?  Yeah, right here? 

Q:  David Culp with Quakers.  I have a question for Andy.  After watching all of this, I just wonder why we are still maintaining the Nevada Test Site.  Yes, I understand that parts of the test site have been repurposed for other things.  But we are still spending a lot of money maintaining the test site for the possibility of resuming testing.  And yet, you made some very strong statements, which I appreciate, that the U.S. government has no intention of ever testing again.  So why do we maintain the test site?  Why don’t we close it like Kazakhstan did? 

MR. WEBER:  Well, there’s a lot that goes on at the Nevada nuclear – or national security site and other areas related – unrelated to nuclear weapons that’s important to our national security.  So in terms of the actual capability to test, I would expect that if we can get ratification and entry into force, that those facilities would be closed.  But there is a desire to keep at least a limited readiness until the treaty enters into force.

And so, let’s hope we can – we can get it ratified and educating publics and our representatives about the progress that has been made since it was defeated in the Senate in 1999 in terms of the monitoring capability and the stockpile stewardship.  But the bottom line, and I agree with you, there’s no reason currently to even consider a resumption of nuclear testing.

MR. WALKER:  And with that as a really optimistic, I think, final note, I know there are some other hands in the audience but we’re only two minutes over time.  So that’s pretty good.  And we’ll break now for coffee break.  Be back here by 3:30 for the next panel and thank you all for being so attentive and to our speakers too.  (Applause.)


DARYL KIMBALL:  All right.  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome back from our halftime break in our conference on Nuclear Arms Testing:  History, Progress and Challenges.  My name is Daryl Kimball.  I’m the executive director of the independent Arms Control Association, based here in Washington.

And we’re extremely pleased and honored to be working with our partners on this event to mark International Day against Nuclear Tests:  the government and Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan; my friend and our Arms Control Association board member Paul Walker, with Green Cross International; our friends with the Atom Project, as well as the Embassy of Canada.  And without their strong support and the work of a number of behind-the-scenes staff persons at the embassy and in my organization and Paul’s organization, this event would not have been possible.

And just before we begin our second panel with Undersecretaries Klotz and Gottemoeller on the security value of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and issues relating to the United States’ efforts to maintain our moratorium, it’s my privilege and honor to introduce Mr. Denis Stevens, the deputy head of mission at the Canadian Embassy here in Washington, D.C., who’s going to briefly outline some of Canada’s perspectives on this very important issue.

If you could come up here, please, I would appreciate it, and I would just add that though I’m an American citizen, I’m very proud to have been born in Kingston, Ontario, and have lived there for six wonderful months of my early life.  (Laughter.)  And so it’s – it was especially good to see that our friends from Canada were interested in helping make this event possible. 

Mr. Stevens.  (Applause.)

DENIS STEVENS:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  And I have to point out that the architect for this building is also Canadian.  So Canada’s quietly all around you.  (Laughter.)

Distinguished guests, it’s a real pleasure to join you here today as part of this conference commemorating the August 29th International Day against Nuclear Testing.  And I want to say thank you to Kazakhstan for organizing this event and for leading the effort in 2009 to adopt the General Assembly resolution to establish this day. 

Canada is pleased that its Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan came into force last month.  This is an agreement that’ll allow us to conduct trade on nuclear-related items for peaceful purposes in a manner consistent with our shared nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

I’d also like to thank the co-sponsors of today’s event, the Arms Control Association, Green Cross International and the Atom Project.

I want to highlight in my very brief remarks to you the fact that Canada remains a strong proponent of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, most importantly, the completion of its verification system and its entry into force.  The CTBTO’s network of stations has already paid dividends in terms of successfully detecting nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, and Canada continues to fully support further development of its verification activities.

Indeed Canada was pleased to make a voluntary contribution in September last year of equipment and training to strengthen the treaty’s on-site inspection capabilities. 

With regard to promoting the treaty’s entry into force, I also want to take this opportunity to encourage all states to attend the ministerial meeting that Canada is co-hosting on September 26th and to sign the Joint Ministerial Statement to be issued at that meeting.  We’re striving to increase the number of endorsements of the statement beyond the record 101 that were garnered two years ago.

Canadians in general embrace realism and pragmatism.  We tend to focus on the practical work that’s needed to achieve near-term objectives that make progress towards an ultimate goal.  This ethos applies to our support for the progressive step-by-step process to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, cap existing stockpiles and irreversibly and verifiably eliminate them.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, CTBT and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty are key components of this process.  Our pragmatic approach also underlines our unwavering support for the full and universal implementation of U.N. Security Resolution 1540, which marked its 10 anniversary earlier this year.

The U.N. remains best equipped to lead the effort to strengthen nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament through its universal membership facilities and expertise within the secretariat, as well as within organizations such as the IAEA and CTBTO.  We must roll up our sleeves and use the tools provided by the U.N. to undertake the difficult work needed to make that vision a reality.

Thank you all for coming today and for letting me interrupt these interesting proceedings for just a few minutes.

All the best.  Thank you.  (Applause)

MR, KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Mr. Stevens, and to your – you and your colleagues in Ottawa, who really have been long-standing supporters of the test ban and practical nonproliferation and disarmament efforts – (end of audio).


DARYL KIMBALL:  And so we are – we’ve come to part two of our program, our second panel on verification and entry into force of the CTBT, though I’m sure we’re going to be talking about much more than that.  And for this discussion, we’re very, very happy to have with us here today Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller and Lieutenant General Frank Klotz, who is the undersecretary for nuclear security and the National Nuclear Security Administration here.

And as you can see from the short biographies in the conference program, both of these individuals have a tremendous amount of experience, depth of knowledge and commitment to reducing the nuclear threats facing the United States and the world.  And I would just note that Rose Gottemoeller earlier this year made the very long trip to the Marshall Islands to mark the anniversary of the Bravo Test – a very long trip, very important symbolically, I think, that she made that visit.

So with the two of them I think we have a critical mass of expertise and insight regarding the Obama administration’s perspectives on our ability to maintain the U.S. nuclear test moratorium into the future, our ability to monitor and verify and deter violations of the moratorium in the years ahead and the path forward to the formal entry into force of the CTBT, which of course requires ratification by eight more states listed in Annex 2 of the treaty. 

And I would just highlight, before I turn over the podium to General Klotz, one of the things that Secretary of Energy Moniz said earlier this afternoon, which is that it has been about 15 years since the Senate last formally considered the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  October 13, 1999 was the date of the vote.  And since then, as he suggested, much has changed.  The case for the treaty is much stronger today.

Many of the current concerns expressed by senators who voted no, in my view, have been addressed, but we’ve not yet had a chance for the kind of conversation that’s necessary to bring the treaty forward again for a debate and a vote.  And that’s, as I’m sure we’ll hear in a few minutes, a very serious enterprise that takes a lot of preparation and work.

But as Ambassador Umarov, Paul Walker and I wrote in an op-ed published over the weekend, we hope that this event today will help open the way for that conversation, help open the way for our friends in the Senate to take a fresh look at the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and how it helps U.S. and international security. 

So both of you, thank you for being here.  Frank, could I invite you up to the podium, where I think it’s a lot easier for folks to focus their attention on your remarks?  (Applause.)

FRANK KLOTZ:  Well, thank you very much.  Absolutely delighted to be here.  I see a lot of former colleagues and friends – not former friends – in the audience, so it’s great to be here.  And I’d like to join in my boss’s expression of appreciation to the government and Embassy of Kazakhstan and all the other partners for putting on this very, very important and timely conference.

And I’m delighted to join colleagues from the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller, and from the Department of Defense.  Andy Weber was here earlier.  I think our appearance at the same conference on the same afternoon clearly illustrates that the development of American nuclear weapon and arms control policy is truly a multiagency responsibility.  Each of our respective organizations brings unique experience, expertise and perspectives to the task of maintaining our deterrent and supporting a range of nuclear nonproliferation and arms control activities, including verification.

For its part, the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which I represent, we, through our laboratories, have a core competency in applying science, technology and engineering to solve a diverse array of national security challenges.  And one of these challenges, and one that has immense importance to our topic today, is the ability to guarantee the safety, security and effectiveness of America’s remaining nuclear stockpile, all without nuclear explosive testing.

A second challenge is to continue to refine the tools used by the U.S. government, as well as the international community, to detect clandestine nuclear explosive testing, which is an essential element of any test moratorium or any test ban regime, including that envisioned under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

So for my part this afternoon, let me briefly summarize the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s contributions to each of these efforts.  I realize that I’m going to be covering much the same ground that Secretary Moniz did earlier this afternoon, but I must tell you, at my advanced age repetition is an essential pedagogical method, and I hope it will be of some use to you as well.  (Laughter.)

Let’s start with stockpile stewardship.  As many of you know, since I served with you during the Cold War, the United States continuously developed new nuclear weapon design, each of which incorporated the latest safety, security and reliability features.  And the final step, as Secretary Moniz said this morning – or earlier this afternoon – the final step in ensuring these new designs would actually work was to conduct nuclear explosive tests.

And as you all know, between 1945 and 1992, the United States conducted 1,054 nuclear explosive tests, the majority of which tested design concepts, physics and engineering detail such as safety and radiation effects.  They also tested the competence of the designers, the engineers, manufacturing plants and, indeed, the entire nuclear infrastructure.

Well, in 1992, as you all know, the United States government voluntarily imposed a moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, a moratorium that has been observed ever since by four presidential administrations – four presidential administrations, both Democrat and Republican.

At the same time, no nuclear weapons have been developed since the end of the Cold War.  As the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review stated, the United States will not develop new nuclear weapons.  Life extension programs will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.

Now, in practical terms, this means that most nuclear weapons in the current U.S. nuclear stockpile were originally produced, on average, anywhere from 25 to 30 years ago.  The challenge then is how to maintain confidence in the safety, security and effectiveness of nuclear weapons in the stockpile without producing new nuclear weapons and without nuclear explosive testing.

The solution has been to field a suite of innovative, experimental platforms, diagnostic equipment, and supercomputers to model and to better understand the effects of aging, as well as the effects of replacing individual components, as we extend the service life of the weapons that remain in the nuclear stockpile.

This is an enormously complex scientific and engineering challenge.  And when the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program was first proposed a few years after the 1992 test moratorium went into effect, there were many skeptics – many skeptics in policy circles here in Washington, D.C., many skeptics indeed in the scientific and technical community who thought it might not be possible or we might not have the will to expend the types of resources necessary to bring it into effect.  But it was, and remains, successful, thanks to the vision and determination of its proponents and to a significant investment in the necessary tools, facilities and human capital.

To perform this mission, the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration laboratories have developed a culture that allows for the rapid integration of multiple disciplines to solve highly complex technical problems, oftentimes with no previous known solution.  Through this framework, our laboratories have developed new techniques for understanding the dynamic behavior of materials with experimental and computational capabilities that have provided a wealth of data.  This innovation has allowed us to resolve long-standing technical issues that provide greater confidence in the existing stockpile. 

On the simulation side, we have supercomputing capabilities, as the secretary noted earlier this afternoon, at most of our DOE laboratories that not only ensure U.S. competitiveness in high-performance computing, but which also support a host of other national security missions and validate the experimental data on weapons performance in lieu of testing.

Thanks to this effort, today we have a greater understanding of how nuclear weapons actually work than we did when we were carrying out nuclear explosive testing.  This is a remarkable achievement in innovation for our national security, and it is foundational to an effective no-test regime.

Now, another critical part of an effective test ban is a robust monitoring and verification network that will deter regimes from conducting nuclear explosive tests and detect those who do.  The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration develop, demonstrate and deliver advanced technologies that help monitoring systems detect nuclear explosions.  These technologies distinguish nuclear blasts from non-nuclear events by identifying and analyzing signatures such as seismic waves and sounds. 

One example of how our work helps to fine-tune many of these instruments is through an ongoing series of underground, conventional, high-explosive seismic experiments at the Nevada National Security Site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site.  The experiments’ findings are advancing the United States’ ability to detect and to discriminate low-yield nuclear explosions amid the clutter of conventional explosions and small-earthquake signals.  Data from the first test shots are publicly available and future data sets will also be made available as they are completed and as they are validated.

The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration also support the development of a model of the Earth’s crust which enhances the ability to locate the epicenter of seismic events.  This model integrates regional and teleseismic data to produce seismic information with greatly improved location accuracy.  Regional partners use it to achieve real-time computations with commonly available computers that exist at any seismic analytic center.  With this research, our department has successfully enhanced the accuracy of finding the epicenter of a seismic event and has stimulated increased cooperation in data exchange.

Related to the mission of improved understanding of seismic events, DOE and NNSA are also supporting research and development to advance the United States’ ability to monitor other key dynamic signatures, such as subsurface gas emissions and topographical changes.  These changes in capability will provide significantly useful information during an on-site inspection and for improving the effectiveness of the international monitoring system.  We have demonstrated this capability at the Nevada National Security Site and during numerous field tests with our international partner.  Two of these systems will be deployed this fall during the CBTO Integrated Field Exercise 2014, which simulates an on-site inspection involving an international team of inspectors. 

These examples demonstrate the research and development, technical leadership and essential expertise resident at the Department of Energy and at the NNSA labs that will continue to be an essential part of the United States’ monitoring, verifications and detection capabilities.

So let me conclude my brief opening and then turn it over to Rose Gottemoeller by saying that the Department of Energy and NNSA stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions lay the foundation for a world without nuclear explosive tests, a world under the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, while maintaining – while maintaining our deterrent in a safe and secure and effective manner.  And our science and research and development work is an essential pillar in that endeavor.

So many thanks for letting me speak to you today, and I’m happy to turn the floor over and look forward to any questions you may have after Rose’s presentation.  (Applause.) 

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a real pleasure to be here again to see so many friends and colleagues in the audience and so many friends and colleagues from around the world.  So it’s a special pleasure to see Lassina Zerbo here today, the head of the CTBTO.  We’ll be hearing from him really shortly, but Lassina, always wonderful to see you in Washington.

I had a good chance to talk with Frank before these remarks.  We kind of planned the choreography, so I’m going to talk to you about some of the diplomacy and the policy efforts that we are pursuing here in the United States as well.  And so I invite you, during the question period, to stick him with all the technical questions and I’ll talk about the more – well, as we say, the more policy-oriented questions.

But it is truly a pleasure to be here today.  I want also to thank the Embassy of Kazakhstan.  Mr. Akhinzhanov, it’s really good to be here, and please extend my best wishes to the ambassador and hope for his wife’s speedy, speedy recovery.

I also work quite a bit with Daryl Kimball at the Arms Control Association, have for many years.  Paul Walker of Global Green.  Also work very much with our Canadian colleagues, and I want to say what giants of the multilateral diplomacy arena the Canadians are.  I worked very closely with your team, working on the fissile material cutoff treaty at the GGE in Geneva.  So it’s really wonderful to have you also involved in sponsoring this important meeting.

You know, Secretary Kerry was actually right here just a year ago to talk about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, as well as our nuclear security agenda overall.  He quoted a line from President Kennedy’s American University speech that talked about a total ban on nuclear explosive testing, “So near and yet so far.”  This was at the time the limited test ban treaty was completed in the early 1960s.

We remain in this place somewhat today, 50 years later, so near and yet so far.  We know that the goal remains a worthy one, and we know that it is still the right one for American national security.  The difference today is that we know we have the tools to make this important goal a reality.

Frank has just covered some stockpile and verification issues, and I’m going to focus first of all on the national security benefits of the treaty, and then move to the process of moving the United States toward entry into force.  I will also give you a little readout on how I’ve been using my time over the last year to advance the case for the treaty here in the United States.

First and foremost, it is clear that CTBT is a key part of leading nuclear weapon states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition and eventual nuclear disarmament.  As an in-force CTBT will hinder states that do not have nuclear weapons from developing advanced nuclear weapons capability, it will place, as I like to think about it, speed bumps in the way of acquiring advanced nuclear weapons capabilities.  States interested in pursuing or advancing a nuclear weapons program would have to either risk deploying weapons without the confidence that they would work properly, or accept the international condemnation and reprisals that would follow a nuclear explosive test.

An in-force treaty would also impede states with more established nuclear weapon capabilities from confirming the performance of advanced nuclear weapon designs that they have not tested successfully in the past.  Because of this, an in-force CTBT will also constrain regional arms races.  These constraints will be particularly important in Asia, where states are building up and modernizing their nuclear forces.

For our part, ratification will help to enhance our leadership role in nonproliferation and strengthen our hand in pursuing tough actions against suspected proliferators.  That is more important than ever in our current global environment. 

And by the way, I thought it was very impressive, the documentary film that was shown at the outset.  But that message was squarely there that it is only by reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons and fissile material that eventually you get to the point of confidence that nuclear weapons will never fall into the hands of terrorists, and that is a pre-eminent goal for President Obama and this administration.

All told, it is in our interest to close the door on nuclear explosive testing forever.  Daryl already mentioned that I was invited to speak in the Marshall Islands on the 60th anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test.  It was quite an honor, and while there, I was able to meet with government and community leaders as well as the displaced communities.  I told them that it is the United States’ deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons, including the devastating health effects, that has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most hazardous of weapons.

About a month after visiting the Marshall Islands, I also traveled to Hiroshima.  Upon arriving, I visited the Cenotaph and the Peace Museum, and spoke with an atomic survivor.  The day was a somber but critically important reminder that all nations should avoid the horrors of nuclear war.

We have made great strides over the past 40 years, achieving an 85 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear stockpile since 1967 and creating agreements such as the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, START, New START and more.  But we still have far to go. 

It was President Reagan who, speaking before the Japanese Diet, pronounced clearly and with conviction that there can be only one policy for preserving our precious civilization in this modern age – a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.

These words had great resonance for the students that I spoke with at Hiroshima University last April.  My conversation with them focused on the CTBT and how it could contribute to reducing global nuclear threats.  Bright, engaged and motivated – it was early on a Saturday morning; I was astonished that they had such good turnout, because no students I know of will get up early on a Saturday morning.  But these kids did, so it was really good to see.

The students were eager to know what they could do to help push toward entry into to force.  I told them, as I tell all students with whom I meet, that the most important thing that supporters of the treaty can do is to educate their friends, their families and their communities.  That is something I will be continuing to do throughout the coming year with trips to various U.S. states to speak with students, church and community groups and expert audiences.  In fact, I will be at Stanford on Wednesday this week in California to do just that.

Now I will pivot to the question that is asked by each and every person I meet with when the treaty is discussed – what is the plan for Senate ratification?  The answer is simple.  First comes education, then comes discussion, and last and very importantly, debate.  It is only through that process that you get to a place where a vote can happen. 

We are reintroducing this treaty again to the American public after many years.  It’s been quite some time since it has been discussed outside the Capital Beltway.  We are and will continue to outline the clear and convincing facts about our ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile without explosive testing, and our ability to effectively monitor and verify treaty compliance.  Both Secretary Moniz and General Klotz have spoken clearly about these two issues this afternoon and they are strong allies in this effort.

We are and will continue to make it clear that a global ban on nuclear explosive testing will hinder an arms race in Asia and impede advancements in nuclear stockpiles around the world.  With an emphasis on a healthy, open dialogue rather than a timeline, we are working with the Senate to re-familiarize the members with this treaty. 

A lot of CTBT-related issues have changed since 1999, but the Senate has changed a lot since then too.  It is up to us as policymakers and experts before the American people to practice due diligence in consideration of this treaty.  That means briefings, hearings at the appropriate time, more briefings, trips to the lab, trips to Vienna and the CTBTO – Lassina, you should expect some visitors – and questions, questions, questions.

Do you know we answered over 1,000 questions for the record before the New START treaty was ratified?  And I think we ended to think about New START as our touchstone, going into this process.  The senators should have every opportunity to ask questions, and many questions, until they are satisfied. 

I want to make one thing very clear.  This administration has no intention of rushing into this or demanding premature action before we have had a thorough and rigorous discussion and debate.  I know that it is the official sport in Washington, but I would ask people to refrain from counting votes right now.  Our first priority is education and our focus should be on the hard work that goes into any Senate consideration of a treaty.

Again, I think the New START process is not only a touchstone, but a good example about how we can move forward.  I realize that it’s less fun than trying to count votes or read tea leaves, and I realize that it’s unglamorous and deliberate.  But that’s how good policy is made, and that’s how treaties get across the finish line, as difficult as it is.  So we owe this kind of process to the American people, and it’s exactly this process that we are embarked on during this year.

Of course, as we’ve said many times, there’s no reason for the remaining Annex 2 states to wait for the United States before completing their own ratification processes.  We’ve been pleased to hear some positive statements coming from Annex 2 states in recent months, and we hope that that positive vibe turns into action. 

I also wanted to just take a minute to congratulate Congo, which is the most recent state to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty a short time ago.  So – very good to hear that news.

Finally, we urge states to provide adequate financial and political support for completion of the CTBT verification regime and its provisional operations between now and entry into force of the treaty.  The CTBTO, now under the able guidance of Dr. Zerbo, has and will continue to do a fantastic job of readying the treaty’s verification regime for eventual entry into force. 

For those of you who have a chance to visit the CTBT headquarters in Vienna, it is an impressive place, and I urge you to ask if you can go up on the roof and look at the radionuclide detection equipment that is up there.  Not only is it an impressive sight, but you also get an impressive view of Vienna from way up there.

In closing, I will reiterate that we have a lot of work to do, but the goal is a worthy one.  An in-force Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be in the national security interests of the United States of America and of every country around the world.  So let’s get to work on it together.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, both of you, for your presentations on this subject of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  We have about 12 or so minutes before we need to shift to the next part of the program, and I’m sure this audience has a few good questions that are not the reading-of-tea-leaves questions.  So if you could please raise your hand.  And Jonah, why don’t you go right there? 

And let me also just remind the members of the press who are here that this is also a chance for you to ask a question too.  So wave your hand because it’s hard to distinguish between the civilians and the members of the press.  Please. 

Q:  D.T. Trobet (sp).  Hi, Rose and Frank.  Rose, you just mentioned positive vibes from Annex 2 states.  Can you elaborate what you’ve heard, what the statements, be a little bit more explicit?

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  You know, D.T., I’m a really good diplomat, so I don’t like to talk about too many details of positive vibes – or negative vibes, for that matter.  So I will just leave it at that.

MR. KIMBALL:  I would just, for the benefit of the audience who may not understand the diplomatic maneuverings here, just recommend to you that you look at some of the press coverage of comments of the prime minister’s office of Israel following a recent trip by Dr. Zerbo to Israel to talk about some of the technical issues.  Perhaps he’ll talk about this a little bit.

And thanks to Dr. Zerbo’s work, China has begun transmitting the data from its monitoring stations to the IDC in Vienna, something that was long overdue.  So those are two of the important signs that we’ve seen just in the last few months, and maybe we’ll get into some more discussion about that later.

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  May I just add one thing, which I can say quite openly, and that is when we had our last P-5 conference last April in Beijing, we did have a chance to visit the International Monitoring System data center in Beijing, which had opened up not so long ago, thanks again to Dr. Zerbo’s efforts.  And they were extraordinarily proud to show us the premises, show us all the work that was going on there.

And frankly, I thought it was a great innovation that the Chinese had incorporated into the P-5 process.  That is, that in the course of this conference we did a field trip – not just sitting in a conference room the whole time and talking to each other and giving each other briefings, but actually going out and seeing what some of the Chinese experts were doing with regard to the CTBT.  So I really thought that was a good step forward.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We’re going to take questions from both sides of the aisle, so to speak here, since this a nonpartisan event.

There is a gentleman in the middle here.  Shervin, if you could – Mr. Medalia.  You’re going to have to help get to her, Jonathan.  OK.  Thank you.

Q:  Yes, a question for Administrator Klotz.  My name is Jonathan Medalia.  I’m with Congressional Research Service.

Congress, as you know, has invested tens of billions of dollars in stockpile stewardship over the years.  When the CTBT comes up again for the Senate vote on advice and consent to ratification, the senators will need to have confidence that the U.S. can maintain its arsenal without testing.

How specifically will you give senators that confidence?  How do you translate the technical into the political?  Thanks.

MR. KLOTZ:  Thanks, Jonathan, and you could probably answer this question far better than I.  I learned from you, not the other way around.

No, we make every effort we can to inform members of Congress, but also the general public, on the importance of the Stockpile Stewardship Program and what it means for this particular country.

For those of you who are having an interest in diving more deeply into this, we annually publish something called the Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan, which we do post on a website.  It’s a biannual report, but every year we update it and just put out one a couple of months ago.

So that has a discussion of all the various types of scientific, technical and engineering efforts that are under way as far as the Stockpile Stewardship Program is concerned, the various tools that are associated with that, the various – we call them campaigns – to learn more about the process of aging and how you do component replacement.  So I would refer you to that for greater detail.

And then anytime members of Congress or members of the staff would like to visit one of our national laboratories or out to the Nevada National Security Site, we are more than happy to do that.  In fact, we have almost weekly visits by key staff members as well as members on both Houses. 

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.

Yes, sir?

Q:  David Culp with the Quakers, and I have a question for both of you about the Nevada Test Site.  After the limited test ban treaty was ratified, the United States for decades maintained a atmospheric test site in the South Pacific, in the Marshall Islands.  We sent guys out there every year; get ready, just in case we’re going to do an atmospheric test.  We kept those guys down there for decades.  Looking back on it, it now looks like it was a pretty foolish waste of money.

Today we are maintaining the Nevada Test Site, 20 years after the end of testing.  Earlier today Andy Weber made a pretty declaratory statement; the United States is not going to resume testing.  Yes, I understand that parts of the test site are not related to testing; you’ve repurposed much of the test site.  But you also maintain the ability to resume testing there at the test site.  I’m guessing you’re spending on the order of roughly $200 million for that purpose, related to nuclear testing at Nevada.

At some point, you’re going to end this and people are going to look at this and say, they were pretty foolish to maintain this for decades.  When are we going to get to that point?  Couldn’t we use that money – better purposes, nonproliferation, arms control, rather than maintain the ability to resume testing at the Nevada Test Site?

So that’s both technical and policy, so both of you get a chance.

MR. KLOTZ:  Thanks, David.  Let me give the technical.  I heard that you had asked Andy this question earlier.

As Secretary Moniz pointed out, the name of the Nevada Test Site has changed to the Nevada National Security Site, which is reflective of the fact that its mission now is very broad and growing even broader.

There are a number of different government agencies which use the facilities that are out there, the sheer volume of land and airspace that’s out there, to do very unique testing that’s related to other national security challenges beyond this.  But also, an awful lot of the work that’s associated with the Stockpile Stewardship Program also resides at the Nevada National Security Site.  So that area continues, and that operation out there continues to be extraordinarily important to the work that we do.

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  The only thing I would add – and for those of you who haven’t been out to the Nevada National Security Site, it’s well worth a visit.  They have some public days now and again.  It’s well worth a visit to see some of the broad-ranging work that’s going on there for a number of different customers, not only DOE customers, as well. 

But the other thing I would say that in this period when we are diving into a real effort to work on ratification of the treaty, I think it’s an important moment to ensure that we have in place a continuity in certain policies that are now well established, as we called them back in the 1990s, the kind of safeguards, including the Stockpile Stewardship Program.  It’s enormously matured over the last 15 years, but test site readiness was one of those safeguards.  So at the moment, quite obviously from a policy perspective, I take your point, David, in terms of the investment.  But I think it’s an important safeguard to have in place as we enter into the debate and discussion on the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 

MR. KIMBALL:  Let me just add, since I saw Francois Rivasseau earlier today, from the French Embassy, it reminds me that when France signed and ratified the CTBT, they decided to close their former test site.  And so perhaps one of the benefits of ratification by the United States is going to be the savings of the hundreds of millions of dollars each year that are being invested in that.  But that is probably a debate to come after we have the long-overdue discussion and vote on the CTBT.

So I see a few other hands around the room.  There was one up in the upper left.  Shervin, if you could go up there, I think that’s Richard.  Thank you.

Q:  Hi.  Thank you, Daryl.  Richard Weitz, Hudson Institute.

Given the importance of the agenda that you’ve laid out and the ties that you’re developing with Kazakhstan and the more broader geopolitical environment with Russia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and so on, has there been some consideration to actually have President Obama become the first president to go to Central Asia – perhaps if they open the IAEA fuel bank, as a way to solidify his legacy, both regionally and in the nonproliferation dimension? 

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  It’s a shame we don’t have somebody here from the White House, but I do know that there’s a great deal of high-level interest in going to Central Asia now.  and I simply – I’m not in charge of the president’s schedule, so I can’t say, but I think there are some very good arguments, and you’ve rolled out a couple of them.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Yes, sir, over here?

Q:  Julian Cannan (ph), from the Second Line of Defense website.  My question is for Undersecretary Gottemoeller.  In the ‘90s, Ukraine consented to remove its – (inaudible) – nuclear weapons from the – (inaudible) – of territorial integrity through the multilateral treaty.  Do you think that your global effort in favor of nuclear arms control is now undermined by their recent breaks of this treaty?  Thank you. 

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  I’m sorry, are you – I think I didn’t catch --

MR. KIMBALL:  Repeat your question --

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, just the last part.  Which treaty are you talking about? 

Q:  During the – Ukrainian government consented to remove its nuclear weapons through the treaty – (inaudible) – by the United States.  And with the Crimean --

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  I understand now.  Thank you. 

Q:  Do you think that this effort undermine your effort for the nuclear disarmament? 

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, first of all, let me say that we have been deeply, deeply concerned about the Russian attitude toward the Budapest Memorandum because it was a significant step at the close of the Cold War that I think was very stabilizing in the way it ensured that there was a significant denuclearization in the region and we did not end up with a very unstable situation with nuclear weapons that perhaps would have been subject to lack of control or theft.

There were a lot of concerns in those days, in the early 1990s, about what some of the implications might be of the rapid dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Soviet nuclear arsenal.  So it had an enormously stabilizing effect during the period. 

So we’ve been very concerned about Russia’s behavior, frankly, across the board with regard to this terrible crisis in Ukraine and the flaunting of international law.  And we will continue to be very outspoken about the view that Russia is significantly stepping outside of the realm of international law in many things that it is doing in Ukraine.  The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is really an enormously also difficult situation where that principle has been – has been starkly damaged.

So at the same time, I think we have to bear in mind that nuclear arms control has continued to play a stabilizing role.  I will note that during this current serious crisis, Russia has been continuing in a very pragmatic way to implement the New START treaty, which has given us significant insights into the Russian nuclear arsenal at this dangerous and difficult time.

So in terms of mutual predictability and confidence, in this particular realm, nuclear arms control’s been playing a positive and stabilizing role.  So I think we shouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot in considering stepping away from any measures of that kind at this crisis period.

MR. KIMBALL:  We’re running out of time here for questions, so I think we’ve got – just got time for one or two more.  And I wanted to follow up myself on a question that Jonathan Medalia asked and I wanted to ask you, Rose, too.  Just elaborate a little bit more on one of the things you said in your remarks about how the case for the treaty has improved over time – the Stockpile Stewardship Program, the verification story, other factors. 

And as you discuss these issues with members and staff on the Hill, if you could just describe a little bit more about what are the pieces of evidence, so to speak, that you’re bringing forward?  I mean, since the Obama administration has come in and recommitted the United States to pursuing ratification, there have been some studies that the administration has commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences, the intelligence community, and I think the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What are some of the basic tools that you’re working with to update senators on the technical and security case, and how would you summarize some of the core findings from those studies? 

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, this is a topic for another afternoon’s session.  But honestly, I think the core issues re the ones that I – we’ve already spoken to considerably regarding the Stockpile Stewardship Program and also the – and also the verification regime for the treaty. 

By the way, it’s not only the international monitoring system and the work of the CTBTO, but our own – our own national capability to verify and monitor the treaty has been enhanced significantly.  And that point has not been brought out in our discussions so far this afternoon, but there’s a whole wealth of arguments to be made in that realm as well.

But in addition, I think, frankly, the juxtaposition of what has happened since 1999 in terms of the burgeoning arms race, nuclear arms race – particularly in Asia – against what the CTBT can do in terms of placing – I said speed bumps or road blocks – in the way of that arms race, I think that to my mind, that is one of the most significant national security arguments.  And as the senators, I think, come to understand the way that arms race is developing and how CTBT can play role in slowing and in some cases halting certain developments, I think that that will be a very powerful argument to make, and we will certainly be developing that.

But I want to stress in the first instance that we’re not talking about rushing up to Capitol Hill right away.  Although we are very open to any discussion and dialogue, we do also want to spend a good amount of time in the coming months working out in the states, working with the American public, working with, as I put it, religious groups – they were so helpful to us in the ratification of the New START treaty – and working with the other expert groups around the country, no-governmental groups and student groups.

I think we need to get that kind of groundswell of support going at the grassroots that will help us again back here in Washington to make the case for the treaty.  So that is the kind of strategy that we have in mind, but I think that there are clearly some very powerful arguments that were not available to us in 1999.

MR. KIMBALL:  Great.  Thank you.

All right.  We’ve got time for one more question and one more quick answer.  Who would like to take it?  There’s – right here in the front, if you could, Shervin.  I think she’s – Jonah’s got it.  A race to the middle.  There we are.  Thank you.

Q:  Thank you.  My name is Sarah Orndorff.  And looking at the International Monitoring System as a way to deter and detect nuclear tests, the piece that seems to be missing would be what comes after.  If a country that is a signatory to the CTBT decides to do a test and we find out about it, other than international condemnation, which doesn’t seem to be going very far these days, what other methods of recourse do we have?

MR. KIMBALL:  Maybe Rose? 

MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, I think one of the more interesting things that will be happening this November is a on-site inspection exercise in Jordan.  In fact, I plan to be there as one of the VIP visitors for part – I’m not technically competent to participate in the IFE itself, but it’s just to give you a feeling for the great interactive potential of this aspect of the verification regime, doing on-site inspections.

So it is – it’s clearly, as a matter of international condemnation and forth, but also working together with states around the world to be able to work toward an on-site inspection and work with the states to do so, I think will be a  very important aspect of where we go from here with the treaty and with its implementation.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, thank you, everyone.  Thank you, Frank and Rose, for your presentations for further discussion.  We are out of time for this session.

And before I ask the deputy head of mission from the Embassy of Kazakhstan to come up and introduce our closing keynote speaker, Dr. Zerbo, please join me in thanking Rose Gottemoeller and Frank Klotz.  (Applause.)


YERKIN AKHINZHANOV:  Thank you very much.  What an excellent discussion.  I would like to thank, yes, Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller and Frank Klotz for joining us today.  And I would like to thank all previous speakers, as well as commend all moderators for their excellent work.

And I also wanted to use this opportunity to thank personally Madam Rose Gottemoeller for her endless and -- support and efforts to -- for reducing and eliminating the nuclear threat.  And on a personal note, I have an inordinate privilege to know her in the past, also working together on some other very important but also arms control issues in some other part of the world.  So thank you very much.

And now, it is my pleasure to introduce our concluding speaker, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the CTBTO.  It is very fortunate that we have Dr. Zerbo today here with us who has made a stop here in Washington.  And we’re immensely grateful for this opportunity to have him with us this afternoon to share this -- his knowledge and perspectives on the status of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty regime.  During a professional career, spanning nearly 25 years, Dr. Zerbo has developed expertise ranging from scientific and technical competencies to results-based management and multilateral diplomacy.

For many years as a director of the CTBTO’s International Data Center, he has worked tirelessly to develop the organization’s global monitoring system and to promote ratification of the Test Ban Treaty.  Since assuming this post of the CTBTO Executive Secretary from last year, Dr. Zerbo has worked closely with the Kingdom of Jordan, as many have already mentioned and made reference, on the second full-scale integrated field exercise to improve on-site inspection under the treaty.  And as it was mentioned, it will be this November. 

And my country is very proud to have been the host of the first exercise -- integrated field exercise -- in 2008.  Under that -- under Dr. Zerbo’s leadership, the CTBTO has pioneered an innovative and focused approach to advance the CTBT’s ratification by the remaining annexed (ph) two states, by establishing a group of -- a group of eminent personalities and internally recognized experts, including former Secretary of Defense -- (inaudible) -- and Italian Foreign Minister Frederica Mogherini. 

So over a short tenure, he has already showed a strong leadership role in strengthening the international nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation framework.  And after Dr. Zerbo’s presentation, we will also, again, open the floor for questions from the audience.  With this, please join me in welcoming Dr. Zerbo -- please.  (Applause.)

LASSINA ZERBO:  Good afternoon, distinguished guests.  And thank you for your kind words.  And I would like to thank the sponsors and organizers for putting this event together, and then inviting me to join you in talking about nuclear test explosion -- banning nuclear test explosion and then the role of Kazakhstan in this.

Through the documentary that you’ve shown, the five minutes, I think you one can say that the people of Kazakhstan understand all too well the disastrous consequences of nuclear testing.  And I commend them and the government of Kazakhstan for their dedicated effort to achieve the discontinuance of nuclear testing for all time.

But I would like to thank my friend, Rose Gottemoeller and General Klotz, that I have just met together, because we are planning to have a meeting sometime in Vienna, or somewhere in the -- in the -- (inaudible) -- for all what you’ve done in showing today the process that is underway in the educational framework that you’re putting together on the CTBT.

I must admit as well, that it’s the first time -- I have been 10 years in this organization -- it’s the first time I hear so many times the word CTBT.  And I’m very proud to have been in this meeting today, because in 10 years I can tell you that today I’ve heard it far more than I used to hear it.  And sometimes, it’s been frustrating that people don’t talk much about CTBT.  But thank you and thanks to all.

Now, Secretary Moniz has done a fantastic job for me because he has laid out what the U.S. is doing for the CTBT and also where the CTBT stands today.  So I’m not going to go into far more detail, because I would like to give time for questions, but I will go through a few issues.

But let me first say that it is good to know that at least we can talk about the U.S. report to this treaty because in the developing world, where I come from, many people wonder if the U.S. is supportive of the CTBT.  But they don’t know that over 22 percent of our budget is coming from the U.S. taxpayers.  And what we have to do is to make sure those taxpayers are satisfied with the outcome.  And I’m coming from the industry, that’s why my job is always to make sure what you pay for, you get it in return.  That leaves you happy and then I can get more money from you and then do more work.  (Laughter.) 

And the more money will be to get closer and closer to the entry into force of the CTBT, which is what we’re working for.  It was said as well by Secretary Moniz that the world would be much safer if we didn’t have nuclear testing.  And if we don’t have nuclear testing, we have a CTBT into force.  But I’m not coming here to say ratify the CTBT.  I’m coming here to show how, together, we’re working in that educational framework -- together with the U.S. -- to get people to understand that ’99 and 2014 are completely different with regard to where we come from, and then were we are today and then were we want to be.

Where we want to be is we want the CTBT into force.  But we have to do the work, as Rose mentioned -- education, discussion and debate.  And we want to help in that process.  And we want to help in the education process.  We won’t help in the discussion process and then we won’t be in the debate.  But if we do our job in the education process, I feel we would have achieved a lot.

And as I said, my role when people ask me, when do you see the entry into force of the CTBT, I often say, look, I hope yesterday, I hope during my term.  But if it’s not during my term, what we have to do is to make sure we’ve done our best -- only our best to participate in that process that will get us closer into the entry into force.  And that’s what we want to achieve.  And doing this job, we have to be patient.  And we have to make sure that when we bring it again, we are sure that we’re getting the ratification of the U.S. to sustain that momentum that will foresee the implementing ratification and potentially the entry into force of the CTBT.

So what is the status today?  We have 183 countries that have signed the treaty, now 163 with Congo last week.  And we’re hoping by December to have 165.  That’s a milestone that we set for ourselves beginning of the year.  And we’re hoping that Anglo and Myanmar or Yemen will come through -- at least that’s -- we’re crossing our fingers for that.  But not only the ratification, but let me mention one point.  A journalist was asking me today, why you only have eight countries that ratification is required for the entry into force?

So I had to tell him that this treaty is unique in the sense where, for some reason, they are choosing 44 country who were in the research reactor business at the time when the treaty was negotiated, for their ratification to be a necessity for the treaty to enter into force.  So it means that if the 44 were the one to sign and ratify, the treaty would be into force today and we didn’t 163 or 183 to have ratified.  So that’s how this treaty is a bit bizarre.  So that leads me to a point, which is universalization.

So with 183 we’re nearly universal.  And we are universal -- many countries are saying no and never to nuclear testing.  We have the eight remaining and we’re working towards getting them to join us because people will tell me in the developing world, why do you let yourself be hostage of eight countries while 183 have signed the treaty?  And that’s the -- it’s a million-dollar question that I’m asking you, and then we can have that when you start getting your question.  But we’re working towards that. 

So my next point will be on the technical aspect.  It was mentioned – and we’re working closely with the – (inaudible).  We’re working with Aftec (ph) in sharing knowledge.  We’re not at the CTBT to say we are the best.  We’re opening our ears and eyes and brain to whatever science and technology can bring to the – (inaudible) – that we’ve started for the past 15 years.  And the U.S. is participating well in this endeavor.  Aftec (ph) is a close ally to the CTBT, and the labs have been involved in the work of science and technology conferences, and then you will see that during the integrated field exercise in – (inaudible) -- we have many experts from the U.S. from the lab that will participate.  And I’m pleased to – I’ll be pleased to welcome Rose (ph) there and Anne Harrington (ph) as well.  I think we’re planning – (inaudible) – including Daryl Kimball – Daryl Kimball who, as mentioned, some of the achievement – (inaudible) – where we start – where we stand with regard to the treaty and the annex to the eight remaining NS2 (ph) country.

Rose, you reminded me that I’m not a diplomat.  And since Daryl has shown that he’s not, he start talking about some of the positive vibe from the eight remaining countries.  So I’ll allow myself to pinpoint one of the last one that I see – the last one from our side, because we only talk positive vibe from the remaining country.  The positive vibe that we see in, I think, a share positive vibe is securing that – the phase one of the evaluation of the integrated field exercise will be in Israel.  And I can tell you it’s not easy to pull out a workshop there now at any meeting in that region.  It was a challenge, but a challenge that we achieved in close cooperation with the Israeli, and then a good understanding of all the 183 member state, because, indeed, they have to agree for a workshop of this nature to happen in Israel.  But it took us well – some, I would say, scientific ground, I want to say diplomatic ground, to get this underway.  And I’m – this is in close cooperation with Israel.  And another achievement is the fact that we will indeed, as part of our validation and testing, the commissioning of the international data center, get some of the station to turn for a period of time to primary.  Those are the auxiliary seismic station to deal with what people see as a gap in terms of coverage of our international monitoring system.  This was due to, indeed, an exercise which is similar to – (inaudible).  It’s basically assimilation.  We’re trying to see how we can better use – better close the gap that we have in not having some station in some part of the world by turning some of the legacy station primary for a period of time so that we can achieve the modeling that will serve as confidence-building for countries that are yet to ratify the CTBT.

So this is indeed part of the work that we do to show how credible and how trustworthy our international monitoring system is right now.  Secretary Moniz has talked about DPRK one, two and three.  I just wanted to add one last point on the DPRK three.  This is our detection capability on the (mobile ?) gas.  You all recall for those who follow our work that it took us nearly 55 days for one of our stations in Japan to detect (sniff of radionuclear ?) that could be related to the event that happened in 2013 in Korea.  Fifty days, it’s long.  And 55 days shows as well how effective our system is, because no one else was able to detect the sniff of radio isotope despite sending a plane around there.  It shows how important the international monitoring system is, how important the verification regime is and how the CTBT adds value to the national technical means of the countries that have signed and/or ratified the treaty.

And that was one important point that I wanted to add.  Due to the work of our expert, but in close cooperation with expert from around the world, from the weapons – the nuclear weapons state and also from the developing world as well, because we have stations scattered around the world, including Niger.  And Niger also one of our, I think, most effective seismic station, because in term of signal to noise ratio, it’s one of the quiet station in the world, and it’s in Niger.  And I can tell you three weeks ago, I hosted the director general of the atomic energy of Niger, and then she was frustrated about the way she was dealing with some of the expert at the CTBT to a point where she said, you know – (inaudible) – wondering if we shouldn’t close this station because your people are not cooperating well, and then we’re wondering if this station is not a spy, what’s happening in Niger.  So there is working to be done in the developing countries as well, and this is probably why we have problem in Zimbabwe.  Since I’m not a diplomat, I can’t mention some of it.  But I’m African, so it’s easy to deal with them, I can tell.  (Laughter.)  Whereby we have difficulty to commission a station there for the simple reason that people felt that is this station – what they say.  But if the U.S. hasn’t ratified, why should we have a station that served a purpose?  It was the same thing in Ecuador, and we managed to get Ecuador to change their mind with regard to this perception by telling them that although they haven’t ratified, they’re committed to this treaty and then they’re cooperating well with us in developing the international monitoring system and the verification regime.

So I’ve talked about the U.S. cooperation.  I’ve talked where we stand with regard to 2006-2009.  Let me go into one little aspect, which is some of the spinoff of the technology because that’s what the developing world is interested about, because when we go to them and then you talk about the CTBT banning nuclear tests or monitoring nuclear test explosion, I mean, it’s not their priority.  I can tell you, I don’t think it’s a priority in Burkina Faso either.

But we’ve proven through some of the agreement that we had with UNESCO IOC at providing data and product from the international monitoring system to tsunami warning institution, helping, opening ourselves as well to giving data to institution that are not directly linked to the CTBTO.  We’ve created what we call our virtual data exploitation center, whereby with a zero-dollar contract you can access the data from the international monitoring system and do research and work on topic that could be relevant to nuclear test monitoring and then shared no less with the CTBT in Vienna.

So all along, I want to say that we’ve done enough, but we are still called a preparatory commission.  In fact, I hate the word “preparatory.”  And I was telling somebody this morning that after IFE 14, when we have a feeling of success, I’ll try to avoid preparatory news commission – commission to say –English is not my native language, but I think I just want to give the tone that we’re commissioning the verification regime rather than preparing, because we’ve done the preparatory work already.  So I need you to help us take away this word “preparatory” and use the word “commission,” and that might help in the education process, because when you talk about a preparatory commission, people think that there are 10 people sitting in Vienna dealing with legal framework or diplomatic wording.  They don’t know that there is a science beyond this treaty and that there are 400 people sitting in Vienna and scattered around the world and working hard, making sure that nuclear-test monitoring is effective.  And that’s why the word “preparatory” doesn’t fit anymore.  And this is something that I would like to – not if I say this, I’m sure there are many lawyers in this room – forgive me – but I just want to find a way to help ourselves to get closer to the – (inaudible) – force of the treaty.  So help me use commission rather than preparatory.

So now, I’m turning into now the S&T, science and technology.  Science and technologies, every two years you’ve heard the importance from General Klotz of using science and technology.  They were using it for the (stewardship ?) in the U.S.  We’re using it indeed to try and see how we can share knowledge not only with the U.S. lab but with the international community.  And science and technology brings about an expert from overhanded countries in Vienna to discuss, including young scientists, because we do have what we call Young Scientist Award to try and encourage the younger generation to work on topics that are relevant to nuclear test monitoring.  And let me jump in talking about the importance of the educational framework that we have as well that John is leading, which is a policy course that we have for young diplomat.  Well, we managed to bring people from India, from Pakistan, from Israel, from Egypt, from, indeed, U.S. – although I didn’t want to say U.S., but since we talk about the eight remaining countries – but we haven’t managed to bring anyone from North Korea.  OK.  But the point is that bringing – when we bring them, the young experts from India and Pakistan that I see, the question they ask me, they say – they come to me, they say, Mr. Zerbo, how can I help to get my country to ratify?  That brings a smile.  OK.  And then I say, oh, yeah.  So at least we can count on those young experts if, I mean, someone was talking right now about the Senate in 1999 doesn’t – is not the same Senate today.  So let’s hope that (those ?) if we don’t achieve entering to force today, or we don’t achieve ratification in India and Pakistan, the young generation, they will be the one, the decision makers in five or 10 years.  And by talking today about how can I get my country to ratify, we’re putting the seeds for them to understand and to be educated well enough to show to the civil society in their respective countries that it is about time that this treaty get into force.  It’s the only way, or one of the way, we can make our world safe and secure.  And this is what I’m proud to link with Rose on this educational process and then do our part, as well, in Vienna to serve as a background for what you’re using in the United States and in elsewhere.

So, now we’ve talk about OSI, I think I’ve covered – but let me turn into when we talk about progress in the annex two countries, the eight remaining, I wanted to echo one thing, which is a treaty fatigue. A treaty fatigue – I had a feeling, when I was visiting Russia and then talking to Foreign Minister Lavrov, one of the things he said, was, look, we’ve signed and ratified this treaty long ago, what has other talking about?  And it’s a subtle message, but – which mean that we cannot sustain having this treaty so long not into force.  As much as we have to go slowly, we have to be mindful of those who have signed and ratified this treaty long ago, and been waiting for its entry into force.  And those who are set this organization to be a preparatory commission only for three years and now we nearly 17 years down the line and the treaty’s not into force yet.  And this is a big issue:  How long and how far can we go?  And we’ll go as far as we can, but we shouldn’t take that far too long, and that’s why the educational process should be done quicker and then it should be done in the way where, I think, people are more aware of what is done by that administration, more aware of what Rose is doing, because you have the opportunity to listen to her here but I can tell you, when I travel to those many countries, people, the question they ask:  What is the U.S. doing?  But now I can go and tell them because I not only heard from Rose and General Klotz and Secretary Moniz, but I had a discussion with Rose Gottemoeller and General Klotz and now I have a better feeling of what is being done and a little bit of the – I mean the setup that she put forward:  education, discussion and debate.  At least I’ll be able to say that to people where I go, and then they will know that there is a process.  So now we are in the education process.  The debate is – I mean, it’s still a little bit away, but we’re getting there.  And this is what people want to see.  They want to have a feeling that things are moving, there is a motion, motion towards a U.S. ratification and motion towards the entry into force of this treaty.

So – and that leads me to what, to the group of eminent person mentioned by the deputy head of mission to say one thing, that in everything you do, you have to be passionate, but you have to push.  When I initiated the group of eminent person, I was getting shot from all angle.  Why do you want to do this?  Why should we do this?  You will disturb, you will do this, you will not do this, and whatever.  But today I’m happy to say that for 2015, it’s even difficult to deal with all the offers that I have to host a meeting on the group of eminent person.  We have Italy, we have North – not – we have South Korea.  (Laughter.)  You see, I was tempted to say North Korea.  I wish.  (Laughter.)  But, no, we have – we have Japan, and then we have Hungary.  They all want to host a workshop with the group of eminent person. 

This – I’m not member of the group, although I initiated this group because the group wasn’t initiated for me.  The group was initiated to have people to keep the CTBT relevant, to talk about it and to be able to echo what is done, like what is done in the (U.S. ?), without interfering because our job is not to interfere to the domestic issue of the United States.  It’s to help the process, and this is our job.  If I can do it in Vienna or I can only do it in Vienna, I need people to take that further, and this is what the group of eminent person is doing for us.  And then I can tell you last week we had four op-ed from four member of the group of eminent person: former Prime Minister Gavinrod (ph); Chazuka (ph), Ambassador Chazuka (ph), who was in the negotiation of China, is talking about China-U.S. relationship with regard to CTBT ratification; Calvalu Pelo (ph) from Mexico; and I’m forgetting the fourth one.  Sorry?  Sergei Dwati (ph) from Brazil.  Thank you, Jennifer (ph).  So I can see you’re following CTBT very closely.  Thank you so much.  (Laughter.)  Much appreciated.

So, I mean, this is basically what we’re trying to achieve with the group of eminent person.  And as you know, we’ve – Federica Mogherini, in fact, (was testing ?) last week, and then she said, you know, I have to remember that you – the group of eminent person brought me luck, because when I choose, Federica Mogherini is somewhere (arguing ?), but Dr. Zerbo, can you tell us in which – there were two – the two young member of the group, in what those two are eminent?  OK?  But it takes one year to be eminent, OK?  So it takes you (as well to join the chairman ?) and you’ll be eminent, if you weren’t in the beginning.  But she said we brought her luck, and let’s hope that the luck we brought to Federica, she will bring back this luck for us to get closer and closer to the entering to force.  I think she’s doing it already because, as you know, the G-7 for the first time has mentioned the – (inaudible) – and the CTBT, I think, last June in their statement, and that was certainly something that we’re pleased. 

But let me say that I’m more happy today to have been here and to have listened to what I heard from Secretary Moniz to General Klotz and Rose to Andy Weber, to all of you.  And I want to just say that we need you.  We need you because without you we’ll not get closer to this entering to force.  We need you to broadcast what you heard today, to broadcast what you know and to broadcast what you think is important and to broadcast what you’ve heard.  And we thank the government of Kazakhstan for putting this together.  And then I can assure you that from our side we’ll do and make our best at the money you’re investing in the CTBT is well-spent.  And this is my job, and I’ll make sure this is indeed the case.  Thank you so much, and I thank you for your attention.  Daryl, thank you for inviting me.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We are closing in on the finish line, but Dr. Zerbo has agreed to take a couple questions and – before we break for our reception afterwards.  So let me open the floor.  And again, we have microphones on either side.  Any questions for Lassina Zerbo?  The audience is speechless.  I think you’ve said it all.

All right, yes, this gentleman here in the second row.

Q:  Tom Collina, Ploughshares Fund.  Dr. Zerbo, thank you so much for being here.  Pleasure again to see you.

My question goes to something you said about to the extent that there is a – some kind of a time limit or you’re concerned that the longer the treaty is there without going into force, there are concerns that there could be concerns down the road of how long that viability continues.  Could you elaborate on that and give us a sense of, you know, what is your concern of what might happen if the test ban sits there unratified for too long?  Thank you.

MR. ZERBO:  The concern, I think it’s simple.  What I meant – I should have said it – but since, actually, I wanted to leave room for question, so, I mean, you asked the question.  I mean, the concern is simply that if this – we don’t get this treaty legally binding, OK, we don’t get the CTBT into force, the risk we have, the longer we go, people will say why not resuming testing?  That’s a risk.  And resuming testing for those who have done it, but you have to think of those who said, OK, why so and so? 

And I can tell you, I was in Japan, student, first year at university, I was giving a talk there and then the question they were asking, they said, Mr. Zerbo, you’re working at the CTBT, but what do you think with our neighbors doing testing and threatening us for developing nuclear weapon?  Do you think we should remain so silent?  I mean, this is a risk, because I’m talking about how the young generation could help us, but I mean, they are the risk because there is this feeling of national pride as well that you should see with the younger generation.

So if you’re not -- we’re not making sure that this treaty is legally binding and that -- I mean, a de facto norm is not enough.  I mean, it is true that since the treaty was put for signature they haven’t been many testing -- there haven’t been many tests.  And we had those three -- but three too many, let’s face it.  But I mean, if you don’t put a legal stop by saying the treaty is into force -- and that will lead me to the question the lady was asking, so what, if we detect what happens -- but at least we have a legal framework.

We detect, we know we’ve detected.  We have on-site inspection capability.  And then it goes on Executive Council, Security Council.  And then people decide what sanction can go to a country that has violated or hoped to have done the tests without being detected.  But I can assure you, today there is no room for any relevant test for the development of nuclear weapon that would go undetected if you combine national technical means and the international monitoring system.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Lassina.  I think we are out of time today.  Please join me in thanking Dr. Zerbo.  (Applause.)  And let me turn it over to you to close the meeting. 

MR. AKHINZHANOV:  OK, thank you very much.  Thank you, Dr. Zerbo, for your excellent presentation.  And it was really inspiring.  Yes, we have some news of concern, like you have posed the questions about why it takes so long, et cetera, et cetera.  But we also have good news about commitment and dedication of all present here to work towards final ratification of the treaty. 

And definitely good news that we have global monitoring system which works -- which actually works.  And I’m especially happy that Dr. Zerbo finally have heard a lot of times references to CTBT this time in Washington.  And this also is encouraging.  And why not make these type of events regular and to hear more?  And let us say maybe -- definitely to follow up developments, to report and to inform each other and to follow up on the developments.

So it’s been a long and very, very productive day.  We all had a chance to hear -- to share our views and to hear many things on human, environmental, many other costs of nuclear testing.  And it is -- it is our hope that all of you, including those who had a chance to view us through webcast, have a deeper understanding of all these -- of all these problems.

And with the presentations from our distinguished representatives from the U.S. government, our colleagues from Canada and from -- Dr. Zerbo from the CTBTO, we have a better understanding of the security value of a permanent, verifiable ban on nuclear testing, anywhere and anytime.  It is our hope that this event sparks renewed interest and consideration for the CTBT.

We are at the end of our time and our program.  And I would -- and I want to close this conference by thanking our co-organizers and partners, the Arms Control Association, Green Cross International, the Embassy of Canada and the Atom Project for the support in making this event possible.  So please visit the websites of our civil society partners for a transcript of this -- of this event, as well as more information about the consequences of nuclear testing, the benefits of nuclear test ban and my country’s initiatives to reduce and eliminate the nuclear threats at the Atom Project website.

Talking about the Atom Project, I would invite you please to put your signatures under the Atom Project petition to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into full force to end further nuclear weapons developments.  Help to tell world leaders to permanently end nuclear weapons testing and ultimately free the world from the nuclear weapons threat.

Now, with this, I would like to thank all of you.  And I hope that you will stay for the reception we have right after this conference.  I’m sorry that I cannot extend the same invitation to our webcast audience -- (laughter) -- but I hope that many of them will have a chance to come and personally participate in other events we hope to have in the future.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)



The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, D.C. and Partners Hosted a Special Event to Mark International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Subject Resources:

Transcript Available: Squaring the Iranian Nuclear Circle: Defining Uranium Enrichment Capacity and Other Key Issues



September 15, 2014
9:30am -11:00am
Location: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

Next week, negotiators from the United States, other world powers, and Iran will resume talks in New York to try to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal.

While significant progress has already been made on a number of key issues, negotiators remain far apart on how to define the size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment program. But a win-win formula is possible, if both sides are willing to be creative and move beyond maximalist positions.

At this briefing, three leading experts will outline the key issues, the major hurdles, the political dynamics inside Iran, and realistic options for getting to "yes" -- including a new Arms Control Association/International Crisis Group proposal on how to define Iran's uranium enrichment program under a comprehensive deal.

Panelists include:

  • Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Analyst, Arms Control Association;
  • Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University;
  • James Walsh, Research Associate, Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and
  • Daryl G. Kimball, (moderator), Executive Director, Arms Control Association.


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DARYL KIMBALL:  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you for being so punctual.  I’m Daryl Kimball with the Arms Control Association.  We’re very glad that you’ve all joined us early this Monday morning for our briefing on squaring the Iranian nuclear circle, and this morning we’re going to try to unpack some of the key issues and the possible solutions for the P5+1  in Iranian nuclear negotiations, which as you all probably know, are going to resume this week at the United Nations in New York.

Clearly both sides have been negotiating seriously and for quite some time on a comprehensive joint plan of action to resolve the issues relating to and concerns relating to Iran’s nuclear program, but some big gaps still remain, and they’re going to need to be bridged before the negotiators’ November 24 target date.

In order to succeed, I think all of us here at the Arms Control Association, my colleagues on the panel today, believe that both sides are going to have to work a lot harder to see creative tradeoffs, particularly on the toughest issue, which is – seems to be defining Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity over the course of the multi-year agreement.  And today we’ve got three very well-informed, very knowledgeable speakers who are going to describe for us where the negotiations currently stand, what can be done to bridge the remaining gaps and what President Obama, President Rouhani and their teams need to deliver in order to obtain the necessary support at home, in Washington and Tehran to support the implementation of what will be a very complex and controversial agreement if the negotiators can pull it together.

And so this morning I’m going to begin with Dr. Jim Walsh, who is research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program.  We’re very glad he can make it down from Cambridge to be with us this morning.  For many years, Jim has been actively engaged in looking for solutions on the Iranian nuclear puzzle, through his own research, his work, his travels, and especially with his colleagues at the Iran project who do excellent work.  He’s going to provide us with an opening overview of the several key issues that the negotiators are grappling with, where the two sides were able to make some progress before the last round of negotiations concluded in Vienna at the Coburg Palais on July 20th, and how, in general, the two sides need to adjust their positions in order to try to get to yes.

And then my colleague Kelsey Davenport, our director for nonproliferation policy, will outline what we believe is a potential formula for resolving differences over Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity that we at the Arms Control Association with our forensic colleagues at the International Crisis Group and other nonproliferation colleagues have put together and delivered to the negotiators just in the past two or three weeks, and which is outlined in the paper we have out on the table.

And last but not least we have with us Paul Pillar, who is now nonresident senior fellow with Brookings Institution and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.  He has many years of experience as an intelligence analyst on WMD issues, including in the Middle East, and he’s going to provide us with his expert assessment of the goals and limitations, particularly on the Iranian negotiating team for – that they’re going to need to achieve in order to get the necessary support from the very complex set of political actors in Tehran for a comprehensive nuclear deal with the West.

And after each of them speaks for about 12, 15 minutes or so, we’re going to take your questions.  And I can see that we’ve got a very well-informed audience here with us this morning.

So to begin, I’m going to turn to Jim Walsh.  Jim, again, thanks for being with us – (off mic).

JIM WALSH:  Well, thank you, Daryl.  Thank all of you for coming out 9:30 on a Monday morning.  What an awesome time for an event.  (Laughter.)  I know I wouldn’t want to listen to me at 9:30 in the morning.  (Laughter.)  And I’m going to try not to.

I want to also say by way of introduction that I have – I am personally biased.  I have a personal stake in the outcome of this negotiation.  I am hopeful that we will have a negotiated settlement with Iran because I’ve been working on this issue almost a decade and a half, and I am sick and tired of it.  And I would like to move on to some other issue, but hopefully I’ll be able to.

Let me – you mentioned the Iran Project, Daryl.  I just want to say that this week the Iran Project, my friends Bull Luers, Tom Pickering, Paul Pillar et al are going to be releasing an important report on Iran and the region after a nuclear agreement, assuming there’s a nuclear agreement – what are the implications for U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, for Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia and others in the region.  And like so many of our reports, it’s been endorsed by a group of people who are on – from both parties – Brent Scowcroft, Brzezinski, Gelb, Winston Lord, Ryan Crocker, Joe Nye and others.  So it’s quite a lineup or people who have worked through what the implications are for regional foreign policy after a nuclear agreement, and I encourage you to look at it later this week.

My task is to provide an overall picture and not to step on anybody toes and steal their thunder.  So let’s begin at the beginning.  I think the most important fact that we start with is that we’ve had a joint plan of action that is now over six months implemented.  It is not where we want to be.  It’s not all that it could be.  And yet we have it and it has worked.  And there is no one, not a single critic who predicted that they sky would fall after having a JPLA.  None of that has happened.  The IAEA continues to report on a monthly basis that both sides have lived up to the obligations, the commitments that have undertaken.

And that – and that’s particularly important to the United States because we got our number one nonproliferation agenda item:  We got no 20 percent.  That was our number issue.  They did not get their number one issue.  They didn’t get banking or financial sanctions.  But we’ve seen an end to the production of 20 percent enriched uranium, and we’ve seen the stockpile, that 20 percent, diluted or otherwise disposed of in a way that doesn’t constitute a proliferation threat.  That is a huge win.  And the fact that it’s been implemented and continues to be implemented I think is a win.

But of course, there are issues that remain, and this will not be easy.  I’m just going to telegraphically cover a few of them.  I’m going to start with the good news.

There seems to have been progress, although we won’t know – and of course, nothing is settled until everything is settled – but it appears as if there has been some progress on the – what will be the future of the Arak reactor and the associated facilities for that heavy water reactor.  You know, whether that means that the power will be lowered so it produces less plutonium, whether it’ll be reconfigured, whatever it is, there seems to be signals from both sides that there’s been progress on that, and that has been something that people have written about and worried about.  It’s been less of a concern for me.  We can talk about that in question and answer.  But nevertheless, it has been a concern for some.  But it seems like there’s been progress.

Fordow – you know, the Fordow reactor site buried underground, I would say if 20 percent was the top nonproliferation agenda time for the U.S. going into these negotiations, Fordow was second, in part because of Israel’s concerns about a(n) enrichment facility buried underground.  And it seems as if progress has been made on that, which among the – if you were starting a year ago, you might say that one would be really, really difficult to handle.  And yet it seems as if it’s going to be a research and development facility, or it’s going to do some different things, but it appears it has the look and feel of an issue that – for which there has been progress.

Obviously, I said on the 20 percent issue, we’ve already achieved that, achieved, of course, only if we are able to reach a comprehensive settlement.

In the news today from Reuters and then this past week, you’ve been reading about another issue, a fourth issue, which is possible military dimensions, which refers to Iran’s activities, particularly prior to 2003, although some suspect there may have been unstructured activities after 2003 related to weaponization or a weapons program, research that had possible military dimensions.  And if you read the Reuters report this morning and you know and you followed it this last week that there continues to be push and pull over this, that Iran has missed the deadline on the various – you know, it’s done, what, two and – it’s making progress on three out of roughly 12 or 18 measures it’s supposed to make progress on.

If you ask me, we’re not going to see a resolution of that issue, at least not before a comprehensive agreement.  Now, would I like to see it resolved?  Of course I’d like to see it resolved.  It would be awesome.  But if you’re sitting in Tehran and you say to yourself, well, if I resolve all this with the IAEA, what does it get me?  Do the sanctions, are they relieved?  Does anything happen?  The answer’s no.  So there is no strong incentive for them to settle up until there is an agreement with the P5+1.  That’s just the politics of the situation.  And so I expect sort of slowness, and, you know, some progress, but I don’t expect any final resolution to possible military dimensions, which is on a separate timeline anyway.  I mean, I think that’s going to be a process that requires more than two months.  But in any case, whether it was two months or six months or 10 months, I don’t think, from a political standpoint, we should expect that that’s going to be resolved.  It’s not going to be resolved until there’s an agreement.  And then when Iran sees there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that this is actually moving towards resolution, that things will – that there is a path towards a better place, I think then you’ll see it resolve.  There’s no reason for them to do so beforehand.

So I think we’re going to periodically see these stories over the next several months, but I really wouldn’t fret about them too much.  I think the biggest issue is enrichment.  And here I plan to go on for a really long time, thus preempting everything you want to say.  (Laughter.)

KELSEY DAVENPORT:  Make my job easier.

MR. WALSH:  So I will just say, obviously – at least according to the reporting and according to the Iranians, who are the best source of information about the American position, the Iranians – (laughter).  It’s true.  It’s true.  It’s true.  It’s always been true.  They blab.  Obviously the size and scope and duration of that program and the duration of the agreement are very much issues that remain unresolved.  And it’s often now being talked about in terms of number of centrifuges – 5,000 centrifuges, 9,000 centrifuges – the amount of SWU – 190,000 SWU, 10,000 SWU – and there appears to be a gap between people about how to resolve that.

So I’m just going to leave that there, but it leads me to the second point I want to talk about, which is, I think – both on the part of the negotiators and on the part of us, the consuming public – that there is a fixation on numbers and on flawed concepts.

Now, let me start with the flawed concepts.  I’m happy to report that it seems that over time people have gotten smarter about the notion of breakout, which has long been something that has irritated me to no end.  As you all know, breakout time has been defined as the amount of time it takes for a country to produce one significant quantity of fissile material.  There has never been, in the history of the nuclear age, any country that broke out for the purpose of building one bomb, ever.  It never happened, right?  And if they test it, they’d be screwed, right, because then they’d use it all up.

So it’s an indicator, but it seems to take on a religious significance for a long time.  I think we now are starting to have a better-informed debate about that.  People understand the limitations of this, even if we’re stuck with it.  So hopefully it’s not going to continue to vex us.  But I think we’re still – even though we may be more sophisticated in the concepts we bring to discuss these negotiations, we are fixated on the numbers.

And this is not a new thing.  People have always fixated on the numbers in negotiations.  And I think that represents a misunderstanding of how and why agreements work.  I mean, the numbers, the substance is important.  It might not be as important as the negotiators tell you it is, because they believe it is, because that’s what they do for a living, but I think we need to step back and understand why it is that agreements work.

We have a wealth of experience in negotiating arms control and nonproliferation agreements:  SALT, START, the NPT, Libya, the Syrian chemical weapons.  There is a long history here, and it was one of overwhelming success – not perfect success but really overwhelming success.  And to listen to the critics of the agreement, you’d think that we’ve never negotiated one of these before.

And when you go back and you look historically at the discussions about SALT and START and the Committee on the Present Danger – remember them, those of you old enough in the room to remember that – it was fixation over a number of launchers, and if we do this and if we do that.  And if we have five less launchers, then the Soviet Union is going to take over the world.  You know, that was the nature of the debate.

And history has shown that that debate was flawed.  The presumptions were flawed.  The Soviet Union went away.  But what was important was having an agreement.  Why?  Because while the numbers – you know, you need good numbers.  They can’t be made up.  But the reason why agreements work is not because of numbers.  It’s because agreements change the political relationship between states and it changes the political relationships within a state.

Now, what has the DNI told us about Iran on the nuclear precipice?  And it set it at high confidence in public testimony year after year after year after year after year, and it said that Iran has a basic capability; it can produce a centrifuge.  You can’t bomb the knowledge of how to build a centrifuge out of their heads.  They have a basic capability.  But they have not made the bomb decision.  They have not made the decision to pursue nuclear weapons.  And the DNI goes on to say, we don’t know if they are going to make that decision.  They could make it in the future.  We know they haven’t made it yet and that their decision will be influenced by costs and benefits.

So we have a country that is at a crossroads here in its regional relationships and in its nuclear future.  It hasn’t decided to build the bomb and it can choose one side or the other.  And we have a new president in Iran, President Rouhani.  And the pragmatists have once again taken power for how long?  I don’t know.  Certainly if they fail in this regard they will not be in power long.

So here we are, a moment where a nuclear agreement might change the relationship between the U.S. and Iran, between others and Iran, and might change the internal politics within Iran.  And that, my friends, is what will determine whether Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state, not whether there’s 5,900 centrifuges or 6,000 centrifuges, even though that’s all that we’re going to talk about.

So I think we need to step back, have a sense of, we have done this before.  There are always risks.  No agreement has been perfect.  The NPT did not have an enforcement clause.  The NPT allowed for peaceful nuclear explosions.  Who would do that?  I mean, if we tried to pass that treaty now, people would wave their hands and object and stomp their feet:  This is a weak treaty.  And it turns out to be only the most important, effective nuclear nonproliferation treaty ever in the history of the world.  So I do think we need to step away from the fixation on numbers and the fixation on flawed concepts, put this in some context, and seize the opportunity while it lasts because it will not last forever.

Moving forward, we have about two months to go here and then this is it.  This is it.  The two sides need to get real.  And I propose, as we discuss this going forward over these two months, and if there is an agreement in the months that follow where we debate the merits of this agreement, my request is that we have an evidence-based discussion.  You’ve heard of evidence-based medicine, evidence-based outcomes for education, but on foreign policy not a lot of evidence-based anything.

So, for example, we had the critics say of the JPOA – predicting that sanctions would collapse after the JPOA.  It did not happen.  Well, I think, going forward, when people make predictions, then we need to look at their track record and say, what is the evidence for that?  How accurate have you been in the past?  And that applies to all sides.  It applies to things that I would say and it applies – I think if we use that standard, we’ll have a better conversation.

And I think we need to keep in mind what will happen if we fail, you know, whether it’s the P5+1, whether it’s Iran, whether it’s a pox on both your houses.  Failure looks really, really, really bad.  And how do we know this?  Because we’ve seen it.  We saw what happened in 2005.  In 2005, after the collapse of the negotiations with EU 3, what happened?  It was a race to the bottom – more centrifuges.  They went from 164 centrifuges to 19,000 centrifuges.  They went from no 20 percent – 20 percent wasn’t even a thought in their head in 2005 – to producing 20 percent enriched uranium.

So if these negotiations fail, the U.S. Congress will immediately pass sanctions.  They will immediately fire up their centrifuges, produce 20 percent.  They’ll probably fire up the advanced centrifuges which they have yet to use.  It will embolden and strengthen those who are in favor or nuclear weapons within Iran.  It will weaken those who oppose nuclear weapons in Iran, because not only does an agreement shape the relations that countries have with each other and their internal politics, the failure of an agreement does the same thing but in an opposite direction.

So I think that’s a pretty ugly future.  And then we will be right back to talk about military strikes and all the rest of it.  So we need to weigh what is possible, what we have learned from the past about what is possible and achievable, what success looks like, and we need to keep in mind what failure looks like, because it is coming fast towards us if in two months’ time we are not able to resolve our differences.  Thanks very much.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Jim, for waking us up this morning, reminding us why this is so important.  And, I mean, just to sum up one of – one of the – your themes here, you know, we hear, often, critics of this negotiation that no deal is better than a bad deal, but clearly a good deal is better than no deal and we believe that a good deal is within reach.

And one of the key hurdles left for the negotiators to bridge has to do with those numbers, particularly the centrifuge numbers, the uranium stockpile numbers.  And Kelsey Davenport is going to talk a little bit about some solutions towards that, that we have been putting together over the last several weeks to try to point the negotiators in the right direction.

So, Kelsey.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Great.  Thank you, Daryl.  And thank you, Jim, for not giving my presentation for me, although that would have been very easy.  I could have just said I agree with everything he said and we could have moved on to Paul.

But it became very clear leading up to the July 20th extension that the size and the scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment program was one of the most significant obstacles that remained in the talks between Iran and the P5+1.  And looking back at last November’s Joint Plan of Action, it’s very easy to see why this is such a difficult obstacle to deal with.

The Joint Plan of Action said that Iran’s uranium enrichment program in a final deal would be based on its practical needs.  Now that sounds like a technical assessment, but both sides have a significant amount of politics that are motivating how they assess practical needs. For Iran, that’s looking into the future, wanting to produce enough fuel for its sole nuclear power plant at Bushehr by 2021, when the Russian fuel supply contract ends.  And for the P5+1 , that’s reducing Iran’s operating centrifuges, which are about 10,200 currently, and pushing them down perhaps even as low as 1,500 centrifuges to really increase the amount of time that it would take Iran to move rapidly towards producing weapons-grade enriched uranium.

So the politics behind this sort of technical assessment has led to a lot of posturing from both sides.  We’ve heard the supreme leader say, oh, we need 190,000 SWU or 100,000 centrifuges by 2021.  We’ve seen in the U.S. people say no enrichment or we need to reduce those numbers down to 1,500 centrifuges.

And as Jim said, there’s a fixation on numbers, particularly on the numbers of centrifuges. So how do you find sort of the right number that meets the goals of both sides?  And the wide gaps that we see between these numbers are what led the Arms Control Association to work closely with the International Crisis Group to come up with a formula that looks at a number of factors that we believe meet sort of the most pressing concerns of both sides.  For Iran, this allows them to keep in place a meaningful uranium enrichment program and allows them slowly over time to move towards self-sufficiency for providing fuel for its reactors sort of far into the future if foreign fuel supplies aren’t available.

And for the United States and its P5+1 partners, it dramatically increases the time that it would take Iran to move quickly towards a significant quantity of enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.  Right now that timeline is currently around two to three months, and our proposal in the first few years would push that timeline to nine to 12 months.

So as Daryl and I have sold this proposal, I think, using – borrowing from Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones and saying that, you know, each side may not get everything at once, but this formula will allow it to get what they need.  So –

MR.     :  (Inaudible.)  (Laughter.)

MS. DAVENPORT:  I would like –

MR.     :  (Off mic.)

MS. DAVENPORT:  I would like the audience to stay, so I’m not going to try singing it.

MR.     :  (Off mic.)  (Laughter.)

MS. DAVENPORT:  That is – that is probably true.  But if Daryl wants to chime in, though, I’d be – I’d be happy to hear that.

But so the details of our proposal were available outside in a nuclear policy brief that I hope you’ve picked up, and I’m just going to go through some of the main components of sort of the three-stage proposal that we have outlined for the size and scope of the uranium enrichment program.

Now we are not selling this as the solution to this problem, but what we really want to do is sort of raise and debate in conversation this idea that if we play with a number of factors, we can meet both of these goals for Iran and for the P5+1  and bridge this gap before sort of the new deadline for the comprehensive deal on November 24th.

So in the first phase of our uranium enrichment sort of proposal, we suggest that Iran reduce slightly its number of operating centrifuges from the approximately sort of 10,200 to 5(,000) to 6,000, and the other centrifuges that are installed but not operating would be moved into sort of a monitored storage.  And at the same time, Iran would continue to convert its stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, of which it has about 7,500 kilograms right now, into a powder form that makes it more difficult to enrich further.  And they’d keep this stockpile for the duration of the deal, sort of below 200 kilograms.

Now in total, this increases the amount of time it would take Iran to move quickly towards weapons-grade uranium for a bomb – as I said, for about two to three months to about nine to 12 months.

Now in return for these light reductions, Iran would receive further guarantees of fuel for the Bushehr reactor from Russia.  Russia would deliver up to five years’ worth of fuel at a time so that Iran could be sure that it would have those foreign supplies.  And that’s very important to Iran given its past experiences working with Eurodif, where it lost a great deal of money that it had invested and never received any uranium fuel in a cooperation agreement with the French and some other parties, and based on its experience just building Bushehr, where a lot of the foreign actors that were assisting Iran in the construction did not sort of come through on time.

Also in relation to research and development, Iran would be able to continue working on its advanced centrifuges, but the efficiency of those centrifuges would be capped.  And again, that’s very important to Iran because moving forward, if they get to the point where they begin to produce enriched uranium for their actual power reactors, it will need sort of these more advanced machines.  And this is in line with what Iran has said, that it does not want to keep focusing on its IR-1 centrifuge, which is what it has operating now, because they’re very inefficient.

So this phase we see lasting sort of two to three years.  And when Iran meets the IAEA’s sort of conditions to resolve its possible military dimensions, then we can move into the second phase.  And within the second phase, Iran would be able to slowly increase its enrichment capacity back to the current levels that it’s capped at now, about 94,000 SWU or 10,200 sort of IR-1 centrifuges.  And at this point, it could also begin to gradually transition the IR-1 centrifuges to the more advanced IR-2 machines, which is what Iran has said it would like to do sort of moving forward.

It could also begin to work on more – slightly more advanced centrifuges in research and development, and that would all occur at the Fordow facility.  As Jim said, one of the P5+1 ’s main concerns is that enrichment would continue sort of at Fordow, so we suggest keeping research and development at that facility, which allows Iran to say the facility is still operating, but it’s not part of the actual production of uranium enrichment, which makes it far less of a proliferation threat.

At this point, the IAEA could also begin working with Iran on fuel fabrication, so it could get to the point where it could actually begin to produce the fuel assemblies that it would need for Bushehr.  And this plays into this idea that Iran eventually, like I said, wants to be sort of self-sufficient.  So it puts in place the technology that they’re looking for and a slightly expanded enrichment capacity that will allow them at the end of the deal to move towards producing the enriched uranium for any future power reactors that they may build.

Then moving into the third phase, which we see in sort of the period of five to 10 years after the initial agreement is reached, Iran could continue transitioning the IR-1 centrifuges to the IR-2s.  It could begin producing more advanced centrifuges, so at the culmination of the deal if it chose to scale up its enrichment program, it could do so.  And – but all of this would be contingent on the IAEA reaching what’s referred to as its broad conclusion, meaning it could say with confidence that all of Iran’s nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes, which is something that it cannot do now.

It would also allow sort of, again, continued R&D on advanced centrifuges in the third phase, and the U.S. and its P5+1 partners would continue supplying fuel for Bushehr, with the idea that, again, if there is consistent fuel supplies coming in for Iran’s power reactors, Iran would not feel the need to sort of dramatically scale up its centrifuges right at the end of the deal.

So as I said, we feel that this proposal has some merits because by combining some limits on centrifuges, by keeping the stockpile low, but allowing Iran to still continue research and development on its advanced centrifuges, it sort of meets the core requirements of both sides.  Iran can sell this deal by saying that the slight reduction of centrifuges is for a very limited time, but it will then be able to scale up.  But it wins on sort of this research and development question, which has been very difficult for the P5+1 and remains a concern that if Iran is allowed unlimited research and development, it would be able to move quickly towards much more advanced centrifuges that would allow it to rapidly move towards nuclear weapons.  So there’s a compromise there, and it also moves the timeline back that it would take Iran to move towards enough enriched uranium for one weapon initially from nine to 12 months and then to over six months as Iran sort of moves up its uranium enrichment capacity back to its current levels.

So as we said, it’s not everybody getting what they want, but we think that this proposal meets sort of the main goals of both sides by playing with this, this combination of factors.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much.

And so for those of you who aren’t sure what SWU is yet, separative work units – right, Jonathan?  That is the amount of effort it takes to separate U-235 from 238 in the enrichment process.  And there’s actually an app for that.  (Laughter.)  So – if you’re looking to find out more.

So thank you very much and – for that overview, Kelsey, and for those of you who want to look at it in more detail, the paper out, our Iran nuclear policy brief, describes that.

And I would just add that, you know, we were looking at one element of this multipart negotiation.  In order to be successful, this agreement is going to have to, as Jim was outlining, resolve the concerns about the plutonium path. The Arak heavy-water reactor is going to have put in place more extensive inspections under the terms of the additional protocol plus, and for the Iranians, there’s going to have to be sufficient sanctions relief and eventually sanctions removal over the course of the agreement and of course the resolution of the IAEA investigation on the possible military dimensions concerns.

So that’s how we, as experts here in Washington who travel around, talking to different diplomats, see things.  But we were hoping that Paul Pillar could give us his perspectives on how this situation, this negotiation, is viewed, particularly inside Tehran, to give us understanding of what Javad Zarif and his team probably have to deliver in order to obtain necessary support there.  And of course Paul has some important perspectives on the same question here in Washington.

So, Paul, please take it away.  Thanks for being here.

PAUL PILLAR:  OK.  Thanks.  Thanks, Daryl, and good morning, everyone.

It really shouldn’t be very hard for us to understand the Iranian perspective on this – these issues, because if the roles were reversed, we Americans would be insisting on some of the very same things – almost all the same things – that the Iranians are insisting on.  In other words, the Iranian position is not the result of some alien messianic religiously driven thought process that is fundamentally different from the way we would approach things, you know, if it were our nuclear program and our security and our economy being sanctioned.  It really is pretty easy to understand.

The Iranians reject the whole idea of double standards being applied against themselves.  You know, they look at the global nonproliferation regime, and they don’t see anywhere in the NPT or anything else a prohibition against peaceful nuclear programs that include uranium enrichment.  And they in fact see, you know, several non-nuclear weapons states that do their own enrichment.

They certainly do not consider it, as some people in this town consider it, a big concession on the part of the P5+1  negotiators to say in the JPOA that yes, Iran can have some enrichment.  I don’t think they would consider that a concession at all, because if it’s looked at that way, then that clearly is a double standard that is implied and is being applied uniquely against Iran.

The Iranians are adherents to the – or parties to the NPT, as you all know.  And they would consider themselves to be better citizens in that regard, therefore, than some of the other members of the community of nations who have either not subscribed to the NPT or did and then withdrew from it, like the North Koreans, and in the case of several of the countries we know, they actually went ahead and developed nuclear weapons, some of which have been then tacitly if not explicitly accepted, like those of the Indians.

So you know, they’re – you know, they have eyes too.  They look at the world and the nonproliferation regime, what’s going on out there, and they believe quite sincerely they have a legitimate reason for asking, you know, why all of this being directed against us?

This clearly plays into one of the outstanding issues – I can’t remember if Jim or Kelsey alluded to it – you know, the duration of the agreement, which will be one of the things yet to be determined by the negotiators, how long will whatever restrictions and sanctions apply to Iran, how long will that exist before the whole thing can be declared over and completed, and Iran and everyone else can say, well, Iran is back to a situation of normality.  Clearly the Iranians consider it rather important that that not be a big, long period, like 20 years or something of that scale.  Various time frames have been thrown out.  I don’t want to get into the numbers.  But that is important to them.

Iran believes – with good reason, in my judgment – that it has shown most of the flexibility already.  One only has to look at that Joint Plan of Action that was agreed to last November, take a look at the terms, compare those terms to what the situation was prior to the JPOA and ask yourself who made most of the concessions.  And I think a fair judgment is it was the Iranians that made most of them, which is a complication, by the way, in terms of the politics of getting, you know, through these next couple of months and getting to a final agreement, because in some respects, our side is going to have to make most of the remaining concessions, particularly when we get to the sanctions, which I’m going to talk about in just a moment.

Part of the background that the Iranians look at it is that we – especially we in the United States – have given them good reason to question whether we really want an agreement, as opposed to still being hung up on regime change, and that this is something like – oh, you know, like the Israelis talk about Hamas.  Well, they just want to temporarily have a, you know, hudna, but they really want to destroy us.  There is a lot of belief still in Tehran that that reflects a good deal of the American opinion about Iran, and that is part of the backdrop to how they interpret the negotiations.

There is a real trustworthiness issue.  As Kelsey mentioned, the Iranians have been given good reason to not want to rely on things like foreign fuel supplies for their nuclear program. This obviously plays into that whole issue of enrichment capacity that Kelsey and my colleagues just discussed.  It is why the Iranians have been slow – we might consider them to have been, by our view – in accepting the whole idea of relying on the Russians or someone else, you know, even for a time, to have their fuel needs met.  They do want to be self-sufficient, and the sooner, the better.

The Iranians are not going to be very swayed by Westerners lecturing them about what their practical needs are for their own program.  The untrustworthiness aspect and that past history about fuel supplies and so on is part of it, but it’s also because for the Iranians this is not just a mechanistic matter of how many SWU it takes to support, you know, what capacity of reactors.  There is an emotional component and a political component.  We’re talking about a program that dates back in its origins to the time of the shah, a program in which the Iranians have invested an enormous amount of time and expense and effort, and that being the case, no Iranian politician is going to take lightly any sort of formula that involves dismantling or destroying a large part of what they have with great pride built.

And that gets to another part of the political backdrop in Iran, which is that there is broad support across the Iranian political spectrum, inside and outside the regime – and we’ve – there polls that have indicated this – for a continued peaceful nuclear program.  It is the main fundamental reason that the whole idea of a no-enrichment formula was a nonstarter from the very beginning, as far as possible agreements are concerned.

President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif clearly do want an agreement and want an agreement that would effectively preclude an Iranian nuclear weapon.  It is simply too hard to explain their behavior and their policy in the year since Mr. Rouhani took office without that being the basic explanation.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, also evidently is at least open to such an agreement, because it is implausible politically that Rouhani and Zarif would have done the things they’ve done and taken the positions they’ve taken and agree to the JPOA as they did if they hadn’t gotten at least some kind of tacit endorsement from the supreme leader.  The Ayatollah is, however, even more so than Rouhani and Zarif, highly distrustful and suspicious of us and our intentions and our objectives.  He is quite explicit about that.  He has been very pessimistic publicly – more so than our president has been – about the prospects for an agreement.  But again, we wouldn’t have been seeing the Iranian policies and negotiating behavior that we have if he hadn’t given Rouhani and Zarif the go-ahead to do it.

He has publicly given himself plenty of room, if the negotiations fail, to be able to say, I told you so, and Mr. Rouhani, you made a good run at it, but this was your project, not mine.  We hope it won’t come to that, but the Ayatollah, again, being a very pessimistic person about this, has given himself that out if it comes to that.  Both Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei have to deal with hard liners, especially those centered in the Revolutionary Guard Corps, some of whom, quite frankly, would not welcome an agreement.  For some of the mirror image reasons, in some ways, that some people on our side would not welcome an agreement.  And in fact, there’s an awful lot of symmetry in that regard.  The negotiators and the governments on both sides have to deal with an internal opposition that has a variety of reasons to be suspicious of any agreement or to oppose an agreement.

The outcome of the talks and whether, in fact, the negotiations succeed will go a long way toward determining the near to mid-term politics in Tehran, and in particular, President Rouhani’s fate.  Well, he’s going to serve out a four-year term, but whether he serves it out as an effectively lame duck for most purposes or becomes the harbinger and the pioneer in a more reasonable and moderate turn in Iranian politics will depend greatly on this one diplomatic endeavor in which he and his foreign minister have placed an awful lot of their effort and prestige.

Exactly what balance, as the – as we get down to November, they will decide to strike between, on the one hand, getting an agreement, and with it, getting sanctions relief that is economically important to their constituencies, and thus, to them, while on the other hand, sufficiently satisfying all those other considerations that I’ve talked about before in terms of double standards, in terms of pride in the program and so on in order that they would not be accused by their hardline opponents of selling Iran down the river, I think those are decisions yet to be made, depending on what the P5+1 ’s negotiating posture and behavior will be over these next couple of months.  I mentioned sanctions and economic improvement, and that is something we haven’t talked about here at all yet, but that, obviously, is at least as important to the Iranians as all these other things.

The Iranians realize, with all the sanctions that the United States, especially unilaterally, has piled up over the years, that they’re not going to get all this lifted all at once.  They don’t expect that.  There will be some kind of phasing in or phasing out, if that’s the right way to look at it, with regard to sanctions – formula, but they also – getting back to a previous point – realize that they have already done, up front, most of what’s required.  No more 20 percent – already intrusive inspections and so on.  And so they would have little patience – they do have little patience with the whole “Iran has to prove itself” line of argument that you hear some in this town – in support of dragging out the sanctions relief for years and years and years, and that’s, of course, related to the issue of completing fulfillment of the agreement, and when does Iran return to normality?

I think most Iranians would be nodding their heads in approval to what Kelsey talked about earlier in terms of, part of what has to be proven in the first years of implementation of an agreement is the trustworthiness of the non-Iranian side with regard to fuel supplies.  We’ll see how that plays out, too.

A summary point – the Iranians are not going to cry uncle, which seems to be the basis for a lot of what you’ve heard over the last year or two here in Washington, that, you know, that if we just turn that sanctions crank a little bit harder – you know, a few more notches – squeeze them just a little bit more, then suddenly, there will be a day when the Ayatollah says, OK, OK, we give up.  All right, we’ll get rid of this stuff, you know.  That is not going to happen.  It never will happen.

And I think one of the things we need for an agreement to close these remaining gaps is for us in the United States to realize, going back to my opening point, that the perspectives over there really are very similar to the kind we would have if we were in their shoes, and that diplomacy and completing agreements does not consist of our drawing a red line, making demands and deciding how much punishment to inflict on the other side before they cry uncle.  It doesn’t work in other cases, and it certainly won’t work in this one.


MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much for that great overview, all three of you, for teeing this up.  It’s now your turn, audience, for insightful questions – (laughter) – basic questions – any questions you might have – other thoughts, and the microphone will come around.  So why don’t you come up – Jonathan Landay with McClatchy has a question.  Good to see you, Jonathan.

Q:  I’d like to know what you think the place for the possibility military dimension settlement is.  Surely, any agreement that comes out of the P5+1  will be predicated on clearing that up.  And are the – to what extent are the Iranians aware of that, and to what extent do you think, eventually, they’ll be willing to come up with some formula that says, well, some people were experimenting, but it was against orders.  I mean, how do you think that is going to play out.

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, maybe – each of you, I’m sure, have talked about this, but Kelsey, just remind us what the issues are – where things stand, what’s happened lately just so that we’re grounded in that.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Sure.  Well, Iran and the IAEA have been negotiating on a separate track, as I’m sure many of you know, to clear up these issues.  They reached an agreement in November that said, you know, Iran would cooperate with the IAEA.  And they’ve laid out sets of actions.  Right now, they’re in their third set of actions, which incorporates two of these possible military dimensions.  And these are activities that Iran is believed to have taken in the past, that are related to the development of nuclear weapons.  And I should say “alleged” activities, because Iran disputes the evidence that the IAEA has.  Iran missed a deadline for providing information about two of these issues to the IAEA – an August 25th deadline.

Just this morning, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, in his opening remarks to the agency’s board of governors, said that the IAEA is working with Iran on these resolving these two issues.  So one of the things that ACA has supported is, within a context of a P5+1 agreement, saying that the information that Iran provides to the IAEA should be used – on the PMDs – should be used for informational purposes only.  So Iran will not be penalized on its nuclear program going forward, based on what it is has done, sort of, in the past.  And I’m sure both of my colleagues probably have thoughts on how to deal with this issue as well.  But that’s kind of where we see that going as a possible like –

MR. KIMBALL:  (Inaudible.)

MR. WALSH:  I think it’s a good question.  Let me start with the affirmation that I believe Iran did have a weapons program in the late 1990s, and they did halt it in 2003.  I think the key word there, coming from the intelligence community, is a structured nuclear weapons program.  And as someone who studies nuclear weapons programs, structured is the most important word.

So I think they had something, and I think they’ve been beavering away at Parchin to try to cover up, pave over, you know, sanitize – use 409 – whatever it takes to make difficult the forensic investigation of that previous activity.

I also agree with you that it will have – there will have to be resolution of this for the final, final crossing the line.  And then I would say, also, in the spirit of my earlier comments, that we should be evidence-based about this.  So this is not the first time we’ve confronted this problem, right?  We confronted it with South Africa and Iraq, which willingly – Iraq less so, but certainly, South Africa willingly gave up nuclear assets and had to plea to violations of its nuclear past.  Egypt and South Korea also had violations that were investigated by the agency, though not with quite the same fanfare and spotlight.  And you know, we can debate about how innocent – I think the Egyptian was pretty innocent, the South Korean less so, but people may disagree.  And in the North Korean case, we also had settling.

So I expect the following based on our experience with these previous cases.  I expect that there’s going to be something in the middle that Iran – and they already have come forward.  I mean, they say – they admitted that they took the – you know, the A.Q. Khan blueprint and the other stuff, right?  So we’re already in that territory.  I admit – I admit – (laughs) – I admit that I actually build the weapon.  (Laughter.)

I expect that they’re going to have to come forward.  They’re going to not – they’re going to share more than they’ve shared but not everything they know.  I think – there’s this argument that says we have to know everything that happened in the program or we can’t have any confidence going forward.  That seems like a wildly speculative argument to me.  I’m sure that’s partially true, but where in that continuum between knowing nothing and knowing everything – I’m not sure where in the middle it is.

But I don’t – I think some people are using possible military dimensions as another sword to skewer an agreement by requiring perfection.  We’re not going to get perfection.  We didn’t require perfection in the previous five cases that I’ve referred to.  I think, as in those previous five cases, it’s like to be confidential.  So a lot of it won’t come out in public.  And that’s the only way to get it, is a guarantee that it won’t come out in public.  And I know that’s not a very satisfying answer.

But in summary, they had a weapons program, they’re going to have to tell us more about it than they have.  They’ve told us some, but they’re going to have to tell us more than they have.  They’re not going to tell us everything.  What they tell us is going to have to be private. And then, the question is where in that continuum in the middle where we feel like we have enough confidence going forward?


MR. PILLAR:  Clearly there are people who are using this as one more sword to try to skewer the agreement.  There’s no doubt about that.  We may have to face – the collective we, who’ve assessing a draft agreement – may have to decide whether we’re more concerned about events in the past or what Iran is doing now and in the future.  I don’t think that we’re necessarily going to hear, maybe even privately, but I agree with Jim certainly not publicly – you know, about everything that was done in the past.

I, for one, think we ought to be focused a lot more on the present and the future than in the past.  Senator Feinstein made a very eloquent speech on the floor of the Senate a couple months back on this whole topic.  It was her major statement on this whole issue of the Iranian nuclear program, in which she phrased it in those terms about, nations having turned a corner, going from behavior we don’t like to behavior we can live with.  And that’s what she hoped would happen with Iran.  And I think that’s exactly the right way to look at it.

I think there are domestic political interests in Iran that would be highly resistant to letting it all hang out in terms of what was going on, you know, 2003 and before.  And I see no reason why it would be wise for us to let that become a road block to an agreement that would substantially change the incentives and the reality of Iranian behavior from this date onward.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Thanks.  And I would just add very quickly that the opposite is true too, that those of us who want to see this issue clarified and resolved need to recognize, as Jim said, that it is not going to be resolved so long as the P5+1 negotiations are still going on or if there’s not an agreement.  And we’re more likely to see and get more information about Iran’s past possible military activities with the conclusion of the deal.  And Iran knows that it’s not going to get the kind of sanctions removal that it’s ultimately looking for unless this is cleared up, which could take two, three, four, five years for the agency and the Iranians to accomplish.

All right, we got some other questions.  Yes, Ed Levine, and then behind Ed.

MR. WALSH:  Don’t let him ask a question, it will be too difficult.  (Laughter.)

Q:  I want to start with a quick comment and then a quick question.  If our goal is to concentrate on the present and the future, perhaps what we should be asking for is access to the personnel who were involved in the past and a thorough understanding of the organizational structures that were used, plus a provision for the future that involves oversight of their procurement practices so that we will know what they are doing at early stages, rather than only when they produce something.  My question is, how does what you would propose differ from what Bob Einhorn put forth in his open letter?

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, let me take a crack at that, if I could, and maybe Jim and Kelsey have some thoughts.  I mean, I think – let me, first of all, say that Kelsey and I and Ali Vaez from the Crisis Group starting thinking about putting together an illustrative proposal, which you now see, in mid-July.  We developed this through the month of August, talked to a number of our colleagues, had a lot of good feedback, people who are named in the footnotes and those who are – and some who are not.

And just a couple days before we completed everything, Bob Einhorn’s letter that was published from the Brookings website and another website came out.  And I would characterize our approach and the approach that Bob described in a little less detail as being generally consistent.  You know, Bob did not sign off on this, but I think it’s generally consistent in the sense that both of us are looking for a compromise involving the quantity and the quality of centrifuges.

That is, the West giving in a little bit with respect to the type of centrifuge research that can be done over the course of an agreement.  The Iranians need to be reducing the number of operating centrifuges, at least in the near term, to reduce the so-called breakout potential, with limits on the uranium material that is in-country that could be used in this program, with – combined with assistance from the outside – for instance, for the fuel for the Bushehr Reactor – or even technical assistance for the Iranians to make the fuel for the Bushehr Reactor, a capability they currently don’t have.

So I think we’re generally consistent.  And that’s because there’s a certain logic to this negotiation that has now emerged, given the red lines that we see in Tehran and Washington, given the interests of both sides, differing respective interests.  There are only a certain number of possibilities that the negotiators can pursue at this stage.


MR. WALSH:  Bob is a friend and a colleague.  And I loved that open letter.  I thought it was terrific.  And I would commend everyone to read it.  I would also say, I hated the previous thing he wrote, which I thought was awful.

MR. KIMBALL:  But let’s accentuate the positives.

MR. WALSH:  Let’s accentuate the positives.  So he had written a previous thing where it was all framed in breakout and coercive diplomacy and deterrence and has as its recommendation also that we seek an authorization of military force sort of as a general principle as part of the bargaining and agreement process.  I thought that was completely wrongheaded.  And so I was sort of girding myself as I started to read this open letter – fantastic.  You know, and fantastic both in substance – and, of course, there’s enough space in there that people can take very different opinions.

But I thought good in substance, that is to say, to use time – as you guys do in your proposal – time as a way to – as a variable that smooths the process.  You know, they don’t need 190,000 SWU now.  They may never need – my own bet, if I was betting, they’re never going to build 10 power plants.  That ain’t going to happen, right?  And in 10 years, we’re going to be in a very different place and they’re going to be a very different place and nuclear is not going to be the big deal it is to them right now.  This is my own view.

But in any case, that it should – that time – the use of time as a variable is a way to deal with some of the negotiating things because you don’t need to have lots of SWU if you don’t have a lot of need for it.  So let’s face this.  And you say you want these things, OK, but we don’t – you don’t need it all right now.  That seems really, really reasonable.  I would say the other thing that was really terrific, and of course Bob is a skilled diplomat with a lot of experience here, is the way he talked about it, which is so different from what you hear when I visit Washington.

He said – it is a letter to the Iranians.  And he’s saying, you say this.  I understand why you say what you’re saying.  But here’s how we – what we hear when you say that.  And here are our concerns about it.  So that was one of reciprocity and respect, a recognition of their arguments but an explanation of why some of those arguments don’t, you know, work for us but in a way that’s not you’re an evildoer and you better get on your knees and do what we say.  So I thought it was brilliant.

MR. PILLAR:  Daryl, can I – can I just –

MR. KIMBALL:  Yes.  Paul.

MR. PILLAR:  – comment on Ed’s  earlier comment, which I think was a very reasonable one.  I mean, there is a difference between making a demand that you fess to what you did in the past and what you’re recommending, which is saying, look, we need to know – we’re not asking you to, you know, plead guilty to what you did in the past, but we need to know, you know, what your procedures are and who your people are to assure us that nothing like that’s going to happen in the future.  So I think – I think what you suggested, Ed (sp), is a – is a reasonable core for the way this issue might be handled.

MR. KIMBALL:  Agreed.  We have a question over here on the – near the painting.  Thank you.  If you could identify yourself.

Q:  Thank you very much.  Rafael Leal from the Brazilian embassy.

I would like to hear your take on the rationale or the lack of it of the additional imposed sanctions by Treasury and State Department.  From what I could grasp, State Department focused pretty much on Fakhrizadeh, the alleged man behind the possible nuclear program of Iran.  And the State Department – sorry, the Treasury sanctions, they focused among other things in front companies associated with Mahan Airlines.  That’s the biggest airline in Iran, and it’s owned by Rafsanjani, who is himself the – responsible in my opinion for Rouhani being elected president.  So what would be the logic of the Treasury to attack indirectly Rouhani, which seems to be willing for a deal in Iran?  Also identified in the Treasury sanctions some effort to target Iranian help in Syria.  So my question is, are those additional sanctions just internal politics to try to justify that Obama has not been weak when it comes to Iran in looking at the midterms or not?  Thank you very much.

MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Very quickly, what’s our – what are our perspectives on these?

MR.    :  It’s your, baby.


MR. PILLAR:  I think your last comment is the basic explanation.  It’s aimed more at domestic audiences, and Obama can’t be seen as weak, and so on and so forth.  Far be it for me to try to come up with a plausible rationale for the State and Treasury departments on this.

I think the underlying disagreement between the United States and Iran on this is the difference between imposing new sanctions versus further execution and implementation of existing sanctions.  And of course, this sort of – these sorts of measures are rationalized by our side as being implementation of something already on the books using powers already on the books, whereas new sanctions would be – (inaudible) – new legislation or a whole new executive order that would have – basically expand the authorities.

I certainly – we should not be at all surprised that the Iranians squawked about this.  I would expect them to, and I think there is a lot of reason behind their complaints.  But as to the explanation, I think it’s a matter of our policymakers having to deal with our hardliners, just like theirs have to deal with theirs.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Next question, please.

MR. WALSH:  Can I – can I offer just one very briefly – I don’t know, I don’t know what Treasury was thinking.  I met up with Treasury – the Treasury officials responsible for the sanctions, but this was a while ago.

My only comment is that whether justified or unjustified – and I’m not – you know, sanctions are tough; I’ve looked at them a long time, but I don’t consider myself a sanctions expert.  The comment I would offer, though, is that any headline, true or false, of that kind weakens the Iranian political – the political stance of the Iranian leadership in trying to negotiate an agreement and puts pressure on them to find some way to respond in kind.  That’s just whether – maybe the sanctions are justified, maybe they’re not; I don’t know.  But I can tell you that’s the political reality that if that’s a headline that appears in Tehran, then it makes Rouhani and Zarif look weak.  It feeds the narrative that we’re not really interested in this, we’re going to sanction regardless, and even if they agree to what we’re going to do, we’re still going to sanction.  And it puts pressure on them to find some way to tweak us.  So I’m sort of more focused on the consequences, I guess.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Yes, sir.

Q:  Hi.  My name is – (inaudible) – with Webster University.  I like to, if I could, share with you an observation or two from my recent trip to Iran, which was about two weeks ago.

MR. KIMBALL:  If you could be brief about it, yes, that’d be great.

Q:  OK.  I – the observation I had with the – from talking to some of the advisers to the government besides the negotiators pretty much substantiated and – the arguments that Dr. Pillar and you, Dr. Walsh, made.  And that is very much the sensitivity of the Iranians that first of all, this whole process is more than technical.  Technical issues pretty much can be, you know, solved and sorted out by the examples that Ms. Davenport and others have been saying.  But the political is the really key that needs to be agreed on this both sides.

In addition, the elements that Dr. Pillar mentioned are really on the head of the – on the mind of the Iranians, basically the lack of trust for the whole process on the – on the American side.  And to be brief about one items that perhaps were missed in Dr. Pillar’s comment is that they are really not sure that the administration can deliver what it promises, especially they follow very curiously the elections, the midterm elections, then perceive and they see that, you know, the Republicans are going to be the power.  And the Congress – (inaudible) – Congress and the administration, they’re so – (inaudible).  So they really know what goes on perhaps more than we do about our conflicting positions, and they hope that, you know, by interacting with them, perhaps Americans become aware that – where they stand.  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Thank you.

MR. WALSH:  Can I actually still say something about that?  Because I think it raises an interesting point.

You know, I’ve wondered myself, you know, about our ability to deliver on the deal. And, you know, people who have – I’d say 90 percent of the talk about the agreement has been – up to this point, I think it’ll change – has been about breakout, breakout, breakout.  And I tried to make the point that agreements succeed for lots of different reasons that no one talks about, and they fail for lots of different reasons.  What you try to do is augment the reasons that make agreements likely to succeed, which people ignore, and you try to minimize the ones – (inaudible) – fail.  But breakout is the one that everyone’s obsessed with.

But, you know, I think it’s an interesting question.  Is it more like – which is – going for it, which is the more likely scenario for the collapse of an agreement that is agreed to?  That we fail to follow through on sanctions relief or that they break out?  Just, you know, I’m not going to take a vote in the room, but I would ask you to ask yourself, which is the higher probability?  I think – you know, I’m not – well, I think I know the answer, but, you know, I – and that answer then leads you to other sorts of conclusions.

MR. KIMBALL:  We have a couple questions.  In the second row, please, and then come up front.

Q:  Sort of getting at some of the questions asked previously, certainly focusing on uranium is fair enough.  But to build new weapon, you need a lot more than just uranium.

MR. KIMBAL :  Yes.  Yes.

Q:  And so it seems, at least to me, that the other issues that in building a weapon are not getting as much scrutiny, if you will, as they deserve.  And when you say, ah, they did stuff till 2003, it seems that it is pretty important to know how far they progress, and whether it’s in explosives, whether it’s in making things smaller or whatever, all of these issues come into it.  Plus we have another country called Israel who’s looking at this breakout number.  And so it seems to me you got to take all of these issues plus the focus of this meeting, which is rightfully I think on uranium.  And I wonder what the panel thinks about the other issues and how it might affect Israel and what they might think is the breakout point at which they might act whether the U.S. does.

MR. KIMBALL:  Let me ask Paul to weigh in on this, but let me just first clarify that, you know, the Arms Control Association has been working hard over the last year plus to try to remind policymakers, the press that there are several steps that are necessary to build a nuclear arsenal.  And one of the starting points, one of, is amassing enough uranium hexafluoride gas enriched to 90 percent that then could be turned into metal form, shaped into a device, possibly tested.  Then you need to have, as Jim said, more than one – more – enough material for more than one device to really make an arsenal.  You might want to test a device.  You might need to test (mated ?) warhead on delivery system.  So it takes more than just the amount of time to amass enough uranium hexafluoride gas enriched to 90 percent.

But that’s a key metric, in part because many of us believe that the Iranians have made significant progress towards the research necessary to miniaturize the device, to design the device.  It is possible theoretically to do some of this work in secret.  Right now we don’t have the additional protocol to do inspections at undeclared sites.  So, you know, this one metric is important, but it’s not the be all and end all and doesn’t mean that the Iranians are going to have a nuclear arsenal that can threaten Los Angeles or Des Moines or Washington in two to three months or nine to 12 months or whatever.

The proposal that we’ve been outlining here, Arms Control Association proposal, would significantly increase the time.  And in our view, and I think in the view of many others, I’d be interested in Paul’s perspective, give the international community and certainly the United States the time and the means to detect and disrupt any such effort before it was completed.  So, I mean, that’s what we need to achieve.

But Paul, tell us – give us your perspectives on how professionals in the business calculate some of these issues and make key judgments about them.

MR. PILLAR:  Well, I haven’t been that kind of professional in the business for a while, so I’m not going to pretend to do that.  But at the risk – at the risk of getting into the technical areas – and my colleague is no better – I think it is fair to say that, you know, production of fissile material is still what the analysts would call the pacing factor in most, you know, potential proliferation concerns.

If needed the Iranians, as was reported in the unclassified version of that estimate that was published in 2007, had been doing weaponization, weapons design work and cease doing that work in 2003, there seem to be continuing disagreements about how to interpret that – any Iranian decision in 2003.  Defenders of the Bush administration’s policies, for example, say, aha, that coincided with the invasion of Iraq and the fact that we bumped off Saddam Hussein while telling the Iranians, take a number, indicates a favorable spillover effect of the invasion of Iraq.  An alternative view would be that because the production of fissile material is the pacing factor, even if the Iranians wanted to preserve the option of a weapon, they had already done enough work at that point that they could sit the work on the shelf for a while, and it would not affect the date when they would have capability for a weapon.  I tend to think the latter explanation is probably more true.

You alluded briefly to the Israeli side of things and what they might assess.  My only comment on that is you have to take everything that the Israeli government says on this with a huge grain of salt in that they have, you know, other reasons to oppose the agreement.  There is a lot of analytical differences of view here in Washington among people like myself as to whether – well, to what extent the threat of an Iranian – or, excuse me, the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran is real as opposed to being one more way of squeezing us and squeezing Iran as well.  So I would just be very cautious about taking any of that at face value.

MR. WALSH:  May I add something super quickly?


MR. WALSH:  So I would say you’re right about all the things that you said.  And weaponization is a big piece – you know, having a softball size of HU is great, but you still have to turn it into a weapon.  These estimates will vary.  They’re going to probably shrink over time. But when Panetta was still secretary of defense, he was quoted publicly as saying that from the moment at which Iran had a significant quantity of fissile material, if will take them about a year to weaponize it, and then that’s an estimate that – (inaudible) – in the Israeli Atomic Energy Agency tell me is their view as well.

The thing that I would say is, again, in the spirit of being evidence-based, every nuclear weapon state, the first platform they use is an airplane because building a nuclear weapon is hard, and building a ballistic missile is hard, and then building a ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear weapon is the hardest of all because you have zero percent – you know, this has to be one hundred percent reliable.  You cannot press the button, have it come up and come back down, despite Mals (ph) testing, only time in history.  So the tolerances here are, you know, really, really, really tight.  And so I would assume they’re going to go with a plane for a while.

And, you know, the – on the Israeli thing is I know there is talk that Obama is forcing the Israelis to then going to take military action; you’ve heard this line of reasoning emerge in the last couple of weeks.  You know, if there is – people think of this as an U.S.-Iran agreement.  I cannot state strongly enough this is not a U.S.-Iran agreement.  This is an agreement between Iran and the international community, represented by Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain.  If the international community comes to an agreement with Iran and there are international people as part of this agreement at those facilities, right, in addition to IAEA but also nationals, maybe Japanese nationals, maybe there are others who will be on the ground, I do not think Israel is going to bomb these facilities.  I mean, they – obviously, you want to give them wide berth in terms of their propensity in the past to use force and to act on their own and willing to be – take the, you know, brunt of public opinion.  But that’s really a lie, you know.  I don’t think they’re going to cross that line.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We have one more question up here in the front, which we’ll – I think the last one, and then I’m going to ask our speakers to offer their wrap-up thoughts.

Q:  Thank you.  Andrew Pierre (ph).  The current discussion regarding the Islamic State and the response seems to focus on Iran as being a key player.  And Iranian interests and our interests sometimes coincide, and sometimes in major ways don’t coincide.  This obviously has to be in the minds of Iranian leadership and in a major way.  So wondering whether – Jim, you follow Iran very closely, but Paul also – whether this – the current developments are a plus or minus in terms of reaching an agreement.

MR. WALSH:  It’s a great question, and from – a ISIS question from a nuclear guy.

You know, I think it’s – I hate to say ISIS is a plus.  That seems like just a wrong sentence to say.  I will say, though, if it wasn’t for ISIS, would Maliki have ever left?  I mean, as it was, he had to have, what, a third or a fourth of his territory taken over, and he still held on?  I think ISIS what finally was the final thing that got rid of Maliki.  So I don’t want to say that’s a positive thing, but I like that outcome; that made other things possible.

You know, I think the – I think it produces – as with some minor sanctions relief is also in this category – it produces secondary incentives, right?  At the end of the day the nuclear deal is going to get done or not one on the merits of the nuclear deal by those folks in the negotiating room.  In the back of their minds is possibly the idea, if we get this done – if we don’t get this done, it’s a freaking disaster, and we start digging – everyone starts digging a hole.  And if we do get it done, well, maybe we can do a little more here and do a little on Afghanistan and do a little on some other things.  So I think it’s mildly second order positive.  But I think my brothers and sisters who do nuclear stuff –they’re known as jihadis, you know, the nonproliferation jihadis – they’re going to insist that the nuclear deal be able to stand on its own without regard to other foreign policy issues.  That’s my guess.


MR. PILLAR:  Both sides in the negotiations so far, the Iranians and the P5+1 , have quite wisely in my view, tried – and they both emphasized this – we’re limiting our agenda to the nuclear issue because once one side or the other starts bringing in other issues, that leads to other demands and counterdemands on who knows what.  I believe the negotiators will continue to keep that as a top priority and I salute them for that.

That said, one of the important pluses in my judgment of completing an agreement, in addition to assuring us ourselves that the Iranian nuclear program will stay peaceful, is that it starts to take us away from this enormous preoccupation with this one issue that has colored and constrained, you know, our policy on everything else insofar as it touches Iran, whether it’s Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, anything else.  I will second the advance advertisement that my colleague Jim mentioned for the Iran project’s new report, which will be released – we are going to have an event at the Wilson Center day after tomorrow, which gets to some of these very issues, Andrew (sp), not only ISIS, although that’s the – you know, the threat du jour, but other regional concerns and ask the question to what extent would an agreement make a difference in being able to address some of these problems.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Thank you.  And just a side note, in deference in our good colleagues at the Institute for Science and International Security, we inside the Arms Control Association are calling these guys in Iraq and Syria ETIS, the extreme terrorists in Iraq and Syria, but – (laugher) – that’s another issue.

So let me ask the three of view to quickly offer two minutes of wrap-up thoughts on our conversation this morning, any key points you would like to emphasize or re-emphasize.  Paul, Jim, and Kelsey.

MR. PILLAR:  All I would do is just incorporate by reference Jim’s earlier comments about the misguided nature of focusing so much on the numbers and on breakout when what we really have is a political process here.  And whether the Iranians build a bomb or not is going to depend not so much on whether it’s X thousands HU or Y thousands HU that’s written under the agreement, but whether the perceptions in Iran are that Iran is part of a better circumstance for itself as well as for the rest of the world if it lives under an agreement in which an Iranian nuke is not part of that future.  And they get the other benefits, of course, that they’re looking for, which is to be reaccepted as a normal participant in the community of nations.


MR. WALSH:  I think you’ve heard me drone on and on, and I commented on virtually every question.  So I’m just going to say this is it, right?  We’re down to it, two months, two months to go.  Now, could it get extended another six months?  God, I hope not, and I think we would all – all the sides would be politically weaker if that happens.  But I think it’s – we’re looking at history right now.  If it happens, I think Iran ends up in a different path, and we are talking about this in a very different way 10 and 15 years from now.  And if neither – if it blows up because one or both sides just can’t cross the bridge, then we’re in for a period of real ugliness.  It’s not going to go to the status quo, the pre, you know, November 23rd status quo.  It’s going to sink lower, and it’s going to sink like a rock.

MR. KIMBALL:  Kelsey.

MS. DAVENPORT:  Well, this time I think Jim did pre-empt my comments.

MR. WALSH:  Oh, I’m sorry.

MS. DAVENPORT:  And put them probably far more eloquently than I did.  But, I mean, I would – I would certainly agree, we need to remember that the consequences of not reaching an agreement are far worse.  And in that sense, I would just remind us where we were a year ago, Iran moving much more – moving very quickly toward Prime Minister Netanyahu’s red lines on this 20 percent enriched uranium, continuing to install centrifuges, moving forward on advanced centrifuges.  And so much has been accomplished in a year in terms of halting their program, rolling back key elements of it that I think the next two months really represent the best chance that we have to get towards a deal.  So I would encourage policymakers to move away from the posturing and the red lines and to really think creatively about how we can get to an agreement?

MR. KIMBALL:  And to end on a high note, the deal is within reach.  It is now a matter of, what, two months to close off the final issues, including uranium enrichment.  It’s not as hard as it looks.  And to quote Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – no, I’m not going to sing it – both sides can get what they need, but they can’t get everything they want.  And it’s now within the reach of the negotiators and the key political leaders.

Thank you all for being here.  We’ll see you again.  Let me just remind you that the Arms Control Association has lots of information about the ongoing discussions on the negotiations.  We have a P5+1 in Iran nuclear talks alert that goes out.  There is a signup sheet outside if you want to keep up date on all the nuances and twists and the turns.  Thanks again.  (Applause.)


    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    Transcript Available: Toward a Comprehensive, Effective Nuclear Deal with Iran?



    Briefing on Options for Negotiators; New Report Released

    June 26, 2014
    10:00am -12:00 noon
    Location: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
    1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

    Negotiators from the United States, other world powers, and Iran have a month before their July 20 target date to conclude a historic, multi-year agreement to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

    The two sides must find ways to address several complex issues. In recent weeks, they have made progress, but significant gaps remain on a few key issues.

    The Arms Control Association will present the key findings of a new staff report that explains the key issues and outlines options available to the negotiators that could help secure a "win-win" outcome.

    The briefing will address options for extending "breakout" time and improving the ability to detect and disrupt any such effort. Options for resolving the difficult challenge of defining Iran's uranium enrichment capacity and reducing the plutonium output of Iran's Arak reactor will also be explained.

    Panelists include:

    • Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Analyst, Arms Control Association;
    • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association;
    • Greg Thielmann; Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association, former Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and
    • Frank von Hippel, Senior Research physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security.

    Transcript Below
    Presentation (PDF)

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.

    DARYL KIMBALL:  All right.  Good morning, everyone.  I’m Daryl Kimball.  I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association.  We’re going to get started in just a minute.  And I would just, before we do, ask you to turn off your mobile devices so that we’re not interrupted.

    Welcome to this morning’s Arms Control Association briefing on a comprehensive nuclear agreement between the P-5 plus one and Iran.  We are meeting today less than a month before the P-5 plus one countries – the United States, the U.K., Germany, France, China and Russia, as well as Germany – try to conclude an agreement with Iran on or around July 20th to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful.

    So time is short.  Progress has been made on some issues.  There are gaps on others.  And today we’re going to discuss what those issues are, what some of the gaps are between the two sides on some of the key issues, and we’re going to outline how the gaps can be bridged, what kinds of options the negotiators have available to them.

    And as part of this presentation we’re going to be rolling out and describing a new report that the Arms Control Association has released today, “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle.”  You should all have copies of this.  This is the third edition of this briefing book and this is the substantially revised version that the research staff of ACA has put together.

    A couple things about our report and then about our speakers and what they’re going to talk about.  As you can see from the briefing book, as you can read from the news coverage about the P-5 plus one talks with Iran, this is one of the most complicated and difficult nuclear negotiations in many decades.  Even though it’s complex, we think the goals of the P-5 plus one and the international community are pretty clear.

    Those goals are to establish verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium production capacity that substantially increase the amount of time it would take for Iran to break out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and build nuclear weapons, if they were to choose to do so; and just as importantly, to increase the international community’s ability to detect any efforts by Iran to go in that direction by building in much more effective inspections.  And at the same time, the agreement needs to, and can – one of the goals is to increase Iran’s incentives to comply with the agreement and decrease its incentives at some point in the future, perhaps to pursue nuclear weapons.

    And our report I think illustrates that while there are difficulties between the two sides reaching an agreement, they’ve got options – technical options, political options – that can help bridge these gaps.  And we believe it’s important for them to do so because the alternative to a comprehensive, effective deal of the kind we’re going to be describing today is far worse for both sides.

    So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today with three very knowledgeable folks.  My colleague at the Arms Control Association, Kelsey Davenport, is our nonproliferation analyst and who has been the lead writer in this report.  She’s going to talk about what the main issues are, what some of the options are.  Then she’ll turn it over to Greg Thielmann, our senior fellow, who’s got a background in WMD intelligence analysis, who is going to talk a little bit about one of the big issues in this debate, which is understanding what breakout is and what breakout isn’t – a widely misunderstood term that is very likely going to become a central part of the debate about this agreement if and when it emerges.

    And we’re also very pleased to have with us Dr. Frank von Hippel from Princeton University, who works at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, has an extensive background in the field, has been at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and many other things.  And Frank and his colleagues at Princeton, including Ambassador Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian official, now fellow at Princeton, recently put together an article that we published in ACA’s journal Arms Control Today on a two-stage strategy for dealing with the uranium enrichment issue.

    And in addition to talking about that proposal, Frank is going to get into a little bit more detail about some of the views on both sides about how the uranium enrichment issue can be dealt with and what some of the options are to resolve this issue, which I think is probably the central issue at this stage in the negotiations.

    So with that I’ll turn it over to Kelsey, who is going to come up.  And we have a few slides to help make the complex a little simpler.  Thanks.

    KELSEY DAVENPORT:  Well, thank you all so much for coming.  So as Daryl said, I’m going to talk today a little bit about some of the central problems that we see emerging in the negotiations between Iran and the P-5 plus one and then outline some possible solutions for how the parties can move forward on these issues.

    Now, the briefing book that we are releasing today is not designed to provide an assessment of what exactly the deal should look like but to give sort of some metrics that will allow you to assess how the final deal meets the goals of both sides.  So it’s meant to be sort of a guide for thinking about the deal and evaluating whether or not it will meet sort of the Iranian demands but also the demands of the P-5 plus one.

    So there are a number of key issues that are part of the negotiations:  Iran’s uranium enrichment program, what the size and the scope should be; the future of the Arak reactor and what that means for Iran’s plutonium path to the bomb; what the IAEA inspections regime should look like and how that needs to be structured; how the IAEA should complete its investigations into Iran’s past activities related to the development of nuclear weapons.  And then there are the questions that are very important to the Iranians:  How is sanctions relief phased in?  How are the U.N. Security Council resolutions dealt with?  So I’m really going to focus today on sort of the first four key issues listed here, but all of these are dealt with in our briefing book and I’m happy to take questions on them at the end.

    One of the central problems that is emerging within the Iran P-5 plus one talks is coming up with a way to bridge the gap on defining Iran’s uranium enrichment program.  And this is essentially because the negotiation goals of both sides are fundamentally at odds.  In the initial agreement reached in November of 2013, it was decided that the final deal would allow Iran a uranium enrichment capacity that’s based on its practical needs, but the definition of practical needs is still very much a political determination and Iran and the P-5 plus one have very different ideas about how “practical needs” should be interpreted.

    For the P-5 plus one, the goal here really is to increase the time necessary for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for nuclear weapons.  And right now, with the operating centrifuges that Iran has, which is about 10,200 of their first-generation machines, and the stockpile of uranium-enriched reactor grade, Iran could probably produce enough weapons-grade enriched uranium in about two to three months.  And based on statements by Secretary Kerry and other members of the P-5 plus one, we think that the U.S. position would like to extend that to at least six months and possibly longer.

    Now, Iran’s definition of practical needs differs very significantly.  They see practical needs as inclusive of what they view as their future needs for enriched uranium, which includes perhaps domestically providing fuel for the Bushehr reactor, which is currently fueled by the Russians until about 2021, and then possibly more civilian nuclear power reactors that Iran may plan to build somewhat in the future.

    So I guess that this will be sort of one of the most difficult areas to resolve because Iran wants to increase from 10,000 operating centrifuges to possibly to 100,000 IR-1 centrifuges and the U.S. really wants to go in the other direction, to decrease that, but we still think that there are – that there is a combination of possible outcomes that will allow both sides to sort of address their needs.

    First, we suggest a limit on enrichment levels to 5 percent.  This is very likely to be acceptable to the Iranians.  The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, has publicly said, you know, on multiple occasions that Iran is willing to accept this limit.

    We also think that limits on the stockpile of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to keep in the country would be advisable.  If Iran has less enriched uranium, it will increase the time that it takes it to further enrich that reactor-grade uranium to weapons-grade uranium.  So limits on the stockpile could help.  And one of the ways to enforce those limits is to have Iran convert its stockpile of enriched uranium gas to a solid form, uranium oxide, that could be used to produce fuel for power reactors.  Now, Iran could convert that back but it would take time and the IAEA would likely notice very quickly.

    Another way to sort of consider enrichment capacity would be to allow Iran to grow its enrichment capacity over time.  And Frank is going to talk more about sort of the specifics of how this could be done, but as Iran demonstrates a practical need, if it does go through and build, you know, these reactors and it shows that it’s willing to adhere to a nuclear agreement, it could perhaps in the future be allowed to increase the number of centrifuges.  And that could be a combination of more sort of efficient centrifuges.  We think that Iran could be allowed to continue sort of research and development on more efficient centrifuges as part of the deal if it’s appropriately safeguarded by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    Also related to the question of enrichment is the future of the Fordow facility.  The P-5 plus one in the past has wanted to shut down this facility because of its location.  It is less vulnerable to a military strike because it’s located sort of deep inside a mountain.  Iran, however, is very attached to the idea of not shutting down this facility.  And Iranian officials have said on multiple occasions that no Iranian facilities will be closed throughout the course of a deal.

    So we suggest that perhaps it would be a good idea to repurpose Fordow for a research and development facility.  Iran could use this facility to test its advanced centrifuges.  So the facility is still operational but it would not be allowed to stockpile any enriched uranium and there would be limits on the number of centrifuges that Iran would be allowed to have at that facility.

    Another way to meet Iran’s “practical needs” would be to extend Iran firm fuel supply assurances that would reduce its needs to indigenously produce uranium.  Now, Iran has claimed that it does not want to depend on foreign suppliers to fuel its future power plants, and this concern is partly legitimized by the fact that Iran has had difficulties in the past working with other countries in terms of both trying to complete its nuclear facilities and also receive nuclear fuel.  Its experience with Eurodif in the 1970s, for instance, and given sort of the current political environment, it may be somewhat reasonable to have concerns about relying on Russia for fuel supplies.  And then there’s also the question of sort of a multilateral enrichment center, which could be an option in the future for providing fuel for the region.  But Frank is going to talk about that a little bit more.

    So one of the other big questions is the future of the Arak reactor.  The Arak reactor is well suited to produce plutonium that could be separated and used for nuclear weapons.  As planned, it would produce enough plutonium for about two bombs per year when this reactor is finished.  Construction is currently halted and it’s unclear how much longer it would take Iran to make the reactor operational because it has been beset by delays in the past.  Iran claims that it wants this reactor to become operational to produce medical isotopes.

    And the Arak reactor being the only indigenously built nuclear sort of reactor in Iran, there’s definitely a sort of a sense of sort of national pride and attachment towards completing the reactor.  So it’s likely that a deal will have to involve sort of completion of the Arak reactor in some form.  But there are ways that would allow Iran to complete the reactor and use it for medical isotopes while reducing the plutonium output of the reactor.  You could reduce it from a 40-megawatt reactor to a 10-megawatt output and use 3.5 percent enriched uranium to fuel it instead of natural uranium.  And if you have any sort of specific questions about sort of the feasibility of that and how exactly that produces less uranium, I would definitely urge you to direct them at Frank, because he can speak about that with far more authority than I can.

    There is also a question of Arak shipping out the spent fuel.  And this would also guard against Iran separating the plutonium out of the spent fuel even if it’s – if we reduce the output to as little as one kilogram a year.  And Russia would probably be the most likely sort of destination to ship the spent fuel to since they’re taking the spent fuel from the Bushehr reactor as well.

    Finally, on the question of monitoring inspections and sort of the possible military dimensions, any deal that the P-5 plus one reaches with Iran really needs to contain extensive monitoring and verification provisions.  And for us, this is kind of the crux of how to really evaluate a good deal, because all of these other questions – looking at extending the timeline for uranium enrichment, the options for modifying the Arak reactor – we’ll have assurance that these are in place if a good inspections regime allows the International Atomic Energy Agency access to Iran’s facilities so that it can quickly note if there are any sort of deviations or violations.

    So we think that the existing Safeguards Agreement is not comprehensive enough.  It does not allow the IAEA to visit all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and it does not allow them to do it on as short of notice as we would like.  So any agreement, you know, should include the so-called Code 3.1 of the Safeguards Agreement, which will require Iran to notify the IAEA as soon as it decides to build a nuclear facility, and the Additional Protocol.  And this Additional Protocol should be ratified, not just implemented.

    Ratification of the Additional Protocol is key to this agreement because it will allow the IAEA to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities with very little notice – really, no notice – and expand the range of facilities that are included.  So the IAEA will have a much clearer picture of Iran’s nuclear activities, and it will be able to – much more likely to detect any sort of covert attempt by Iran to break out of an agreement.  And the U.S. national intelligence community has consistently assessed that if Iran were to pursue nuclear weapons, it would be more likely to do it through a covert program.

    Finally, on the question of the possible military dimensions, there has been some discussion amongst policymakers in the United States that it is difficult – that it will be difficult to move forward on a comprehensive deal until Iran has resolved all of the questions about sort of its past activities related to sort of developing a nuclear weapon.

    We support the resolution of these issues, but think that it needs to sort of remain separate from Iran’s negotiations with the P-5 plus one.  And the outcome of the P-5 plus one negotiation should not be dependent on what the IAEA uncovers in its investigation.  This investigation will likely go beyond the P-5 plus one talks with Iran, and we think that if the goal is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful, the negotiations between Iran and the P-5 plus one could include language that perhaps, you know, requires and obligates Iran to continue cooperating on these issues, but judges that the information should only be used for the IAEA’s determination that the program is entirely peaceful.

    And we think that this will work as a formulation because Iran is actively cooperating with the IAEA.  They reached an agreement last November where they said they would provide answers on all of these outstanding issues.  And while a great deal of work still remains to be done, Iran thus far has been following through on its commitment and begun providing information on these questions related to past military activities.

    So with that, I’m going to let Greg talk now about sort of the breakout timelines.

    GREG THIELMANN:  Thank you, Kelsey.

    Thank you all for coming.  My job, I guess, is to break down breakout.  The concept of breakout capacity is critical to understanding U.S. negotiating objectives at the Iran nuclear talks, and it’s a very useful metric to help evaluate the various formulas for a final deal.  But this terminology is also commonly used in a misleading way, which could send us off course in seeking a successful outcome.  As you know, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – unlike all of those countries, Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  And the word “breakout” refers to a situation where Iran decides to break out of its NPT obligations and build a nuclear arsenal.

    Legally, states parties to the NPT have the conditional right to withdraw from the treaty after giving three months’ notice.  But the most likely, and worrisome, scenario for Iran’s breaking out of the NPT is through a clandestine effort to develop a parallel program of uranium enrichment alongside that which it has declared to the IAEA.  This would also include a secret warhead and system integration effort that will allow Iran to present the international community with a fait accompli – a nuclear test, a sudden announcement that we have the bomb, or less direct signaling through an Israeli-type opacity approach.  The intelligence community reminds us every year that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to ultimately produce nuclear weapons if it chooses to do so.  It could do it blatantly, by booting out inspectors from declared facilities, or secretly, in what is sometimes called “sneak out.”

    So if Iran has the option to go nuclear, it follows that the realistic goal for a final deal in the ongoing talks is not to make breakout impossible, but to make it an even more difficult and unattractive policy option for Tehran than it is today.

    Since the most challenging task for any nuclear weapons aspirant is getting the highly enriched uranium or plutonium for the core of a bomb, the chief nuclear nonproliferation focus is on preventing this from happening.  We are concerned about Iran getting either of these fissile materials, but enriched uranium is the more proximate danger.

    Thus, the usual definition of breakout is the time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb, around 25 kilograms.  Policymakers and NGO researchers have been seeking to identify how the breakout timelines would change under different scenarios.  We know that the dash to build a nuclear weapon would be significantly shorter the more enriched uranium gas Iran retains in its stockpile, the higher the enrichment level of that gas, the more installed centrifuges Iran has, and the more of those installed centrifuges Iran already has operational.  The challenge is to determine which combinations of measures to lengthen the timeline would be most effective in dissuading Tehran from building the bomb and, at the same time, least unpalatable to the Iranian regime.

    There is broad agreement among experts about the supply side of this equation.  For example, based on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpiles and operating centrifuges today, as Kelsey mentioned, Iran would be able to produce 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium hexafluoride within two to three months, or if Iran eliminated its existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium by converting all of its uranium hexafluoride gas to powder, it would need some six months, using all of its operational centrifuges, to produce 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium gas.

    One of the elements agreed to last November for a comprehensive deal was, quote, a “mutually defined enrichment program,” unquote.  This program would include mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs.  But as Iran argues for an expansive definition of its future practical needs for enrichment, the six powers worry about the implications of this enrichment infrastructure for breakout.  If Iran were allowed some 100,000 operating centrifuges, which it claims it would need just to fuel the Bushehr power reactor and the Arak research reactor, its breakout capacity would appear to increase exponentially, shrinking the amount of time Iran would need to make the dash for a bomb.

    But before we get swallowed up in this yawning gap in the positions of the two sides on uranium enrichment capabilities, we have to return to the meaning of breakout capacity.  Let’s start by making clear that 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium gas does not a nuclear weapon make.  In other words, when you reach the end of the breakout timeline as commonly defined, there’s still nothing to go boom.  Once Iran has – had enriched sufficient uranium gas to weapons-grade level, it would next need to convert the gas to powder form, then fabricate the metallic core of a weapon from the powder.  Several additional and separate technological hurdles must be overcome, not all of which can be done concurrently with the uranium enrichment.  The explosive device must be designed, constructed and integrated into a delivery system, most likely a ballistic missile.

    It’s also likely that Iran would want to conduct an explosive test of the weapons package.  States developing nuclear weapons typically conduct multiple large-scale nuclear test explosions to perfect their warhead designs, particularly the smaller, lighter and more efficient designs needed for missile warheads.

    Now, it is true that the international community’s ability to surgically disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons development might decrease once a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium gas had been produced.  But even making a worst-case assumption that Iran could enrich sufficient amounts of weapons-grade uranium gas for a weapon only a few weeks after detection, Iran would still be months away from fielding even a limited nuclear arsenal.

    Moreover, the technical criteria I’ve been discussing constitute an important but incomplete lens through which to view breakout.  Real-world timelines also take into account a broad range of political and economic factors inside and outside Iran.  The success or failure of a breakout attempt would depend critically on the quality and scope of the international inspection regime, the ability of the international community to respond effectively to disrupt the breakout and the number of weapons Iran would judge it needed to pose a credible deterrent.

    With existing U.S. national technical means of intelligence and the international monitoring system established to verify compliance with the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, any explosive nuclear test by Iran would very likely be detected.  If Iran would try to sneak out, to build nuclear weapons without testing, Tehran would have to accept a lower confidence level concerning the reliability of the warhead design.

    And Iran is very unlikely to plan a breakout of the NPT by building only one nuclear weapon.  Even if Iran were willing to tolerate the large uncertainties deriving from an untested nuclear weapon’s design, a single weapon would add additional uncertainties regarding missile performance and the ability of the warhead to penetrate the sophisticated missile defenses deployed in the region.  Tehran would be staking everything on the perfect performance of one untested system.

    If Iran chose to increase the odds of success by planning to build multiple weapons, however, it would increase the need for fissile material, thus lengthening the breakout timelines and increasing the chances of international detection and blocking actions.

    So not even factoring in the consequences for this theological regime of reversing the supreme leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons, the technical and political obstacles to breaking out of the NPT are formidable.  So a negotiated formula that may initially appear to provide an unacceptably short breakout timeline as usually defined may still constitute a daunting deterrent when Tehran considers its real-world nuclear weapons options.

    Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Greg.  That’s very helpful to put all this in perspective.

    And let me welcome Frank von Hippel up to the podium to talk more about uranium enrichment and other options.

    FRANK VON HIPPEL:  Right, right.  So this is the key figure in my presentation.  I should have put a little line on there, which would show Iran’s current enrichment capacity if all the centrifuges were operating.  That would be near the line of 20,000.  The red line shows what we judge Iran’s needs are, which are much lower.

    But then out beyond that, you see all of a sudden the rise to a hundred thousand in 2021 if Iran does not renew the contract it has with Russia to provide fuel for Bushehr.  And that’s currently Iran’s intention is not to renew that contract, and that is where the impasse is, about that rise.

    But you do see the – with the low number of needs until maybe 2019, we say it would have to start installing centrifuges to produce that large amount of uranium that Bushehr would require.  And I should have said that – I guess it says up above that 5,000 SWUs would be – from natural uranium would be sufficient for one bomb, and from low-enriched uranium for about three bombs.  So we’re talking about a very large enrichment capacity if this is the way things develop.

    Now, things don’t have to develop that way, and that’s what I’m going to discuss.  For one thing, of course, Iran could renew, for some years, the contract with Russia, if we show another line – if in fact that is renewed for five years.  But we do have these five years to work with, and our proposal is to divide the negotiations in two.  We think it’s too far a reach to actually reach an agreement about what to do in this – the longer timeframe.  Both sides have to have their shoes nailed to the floor.

    And so – and there’s another aspect on our side with regard to the short term, those 20,000 SWUs or so that Iran could put online at the moment, 20,000 SWUs a year, and that is that these are basically obsolete centrifuges.  I think Iran accepts that there’s no way – that it would be crazy to try to – try to produce more than 100,000 of these centrifuges to produce fuel for one reactor.  And they are developing more advanced centrifuges, you know, which would be required in much fewer numbers.  So our proposal for the short term is that Iran scrap these 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges.

    It has, in addition, a thousand IR-2m centrifuges on – which are installed but not operating – will be more than adequate for its needs over the next five years.  And so that would, during these five years, extend the breakout time.  So it would give – so we would have five years, or some fraction of that, to cool down this impasse.  You know, right now Iran’s conservatives, you know, are pounding the table about Iran’s right to enrich.  And they say, you know:  We’ve absorbed $100 billion worth of sanctions.  We’ve had our scientists assassinated.  There’s no way that we’re going to – we’re going to settle for less – becoming less than self-sufficient in terms of enrichment.

    On the other side, some see Iran’s after – as being after nuclear weapons, not just the nuclear weapons option such as Japan or Brazil have, for example, but really nuclear weapons.  I don’t think this is true.  They do definitely want an option, but it would – if we were able to, over the next few years, broaden the discussion with Iran – they’re interested in having a relationship again with the U.S.  If we could broaden the discussion with Iran, if the liberals that we’re negotiating with could strengthen their political base in Iran, then – you know, then maybe some of these – some of our – the nails that are holding our shoes to the floor could be loosened.

    But what could we do in the – in the long run?  If we see – by the way, this is an article, as Daryl said, in the forthcoming issue of Arms Control Today and is co-authored with Zia Mian, who is there in the back –

    MR. KIMBALL:  It’s online already.

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  It’s online already but not – not in the pretty form, yeah.  And in fact, I’d love to be able to put this figure into it – (chuckles) – but I may be too late.

    So this is a – this is a problem, a problem not just about Iran.  It’s a problem about national enrichment plants.  It’s a – it’s a weakness in the nonproliferation regime.  It was recognized in 1946 in the Acheson-Lilienthal plan that if countries have national reprocessing and enrichment plants, they do have a breakout capacity for acquiring nuclear weapons.  And we saw that dramatized in 1974 when India, which we were helping develop reprocessing technology for a civilian breeder reactor program, used some of the first plutonium that separated for a nuclear test.

    That resulted in a debate – in fact, do we really need to reprocess – and in 1977 basically the U.S. decided that it didn’t need to reprocess and adopted the stance that we don’t reprocess; you don’t need to either.  And that’s been very successful.  There’s only one non-weapons state that reprocesses today, which is Japan, and we’re working on Japan – still working on Japan.

    Well, we’ve got to do enrichment.  Countries do need enrichment in some form or another, but the industry is going in a very interesting way.  There is multinational – a large fraction of the market now is multinational enrichment, specifically URENCO.  URENCO is a consortium – Germany, Netherlands and the U.K. – which supplies Europe basically and also has a plant in the United States, which is our only operating enrichment plant.  The U.S. does not have a national enrichment plant today operating.

    And so we could – we could, if – adopt a position – we don’t have a national enrichment plant; you don’t need to either – and then discuss what kind of multinational options might be possible.  My own favorite – I don’t know if it will fly – is that Iran could provide the centrifuges for an enrichment plant someplace else in the Middle East, maybe Oman or something like that, and, you know, they would have the pride of their achievement but they wouldn’t have the enrichment plant in the country.

    But there are many different variants of that and – which need to be discussed and worked out and see which ones really could be politically credible.  But this is something that – this is – this crisis is over Iran’s enrichment program but tomorrow it could be over Saudi Arabia’s enrichment program.  You know, as I said, it was – in the past it was about Brazil’s and South Africa’s.

    And so we really do need to look at a larger – you know, make the problem – you know, look at the larger problem.  And I think it would be easier for Iran if we said we’re not – you know, we’re not setting up special rules for Iran; we’re trying to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, where you can help us by any of that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you.

    All right.  Well, thank you, the three of you, for those great presentations which outline the many issues that the negotiators are dealing with – going to be dealing with over the next month.  It’s now your turn to ask questions, offer thoughts, ideas.  And I would just ask that you identify yourself and wait for the microphone to come your way so that our friends at the Federal News Service, who will be providing a transcript to this event, can hear you and the questions.

    And while you consider yours, why don’t we go to Michael Klare, and then – up front here?  But while the microphone is coming over to you, let me just highlight, or underscore, one of the things that is part of the Princeton proposal that Frank is outlining, in the first stage.

    As Kelsey described, right now Iran has 10,000 operating IR-1, first generation centrifuges, but there is the second generation of more efficient centrifuges some three to five times more efficient.  And the first part of that proposal that the Princeton team put together suggests that over this initial period of five or so years the IR-1s are swapped out and the IR-2Ms are swapped in smaller numbers, but still at same overall capacity and ideally a lower capacity, much lower than the 9,000 SWU that Iran currently has.  And I just wanted to highlight what that could mean for both sides.

    What that could mean for both sides is that the P-5 plus one achieve in this initial phase a significantly lower enrichment capacity in Iran, but the Iranians would be able to say that they are continuing to develop their scientific expertise, their scientific knowledge for more advanced centrifuges.  They have said in private meetings, and I think in public meetings too, that they do not see the IR-1 centrifuges being efficient enough to build in large numbers.  It’s not commercially viable.  It’s about 10 times less efficient, at least, than the URENCO centrifuges, for instance, maybe even more.

    MR.VON HIPPEL:  A hundred times less.

    MR. KIMBALL:  A hundred times less, OK.  So those IR-1 centrifuges are just not commercially viable.  So Iran doesn’t want to go in that direction.  They’d rather use those more efficient centrifuges.  So that part of this proposal I think provides some interesting advantages for both sides in helping to solve this puzzle.

    Now let me get back to the question that I think Michael Klare had. Thank you.

    Q:  Hi, I’m Michael Klare.  I’m on the board of the Arms Control Association and an academic.  And it’s a question mainly for Greg Thielmann.

    Greg, how much do we actually know about Iran’s efforts to make something that will go bang?  That is, the device – the explosive package itself.  I know the IAEA has been trying very hard to collect information on this.  What’s the status of their inquiry?  How will the negotiations maybe lead to greater clarity on that aspect of this, that you discussed?

    MR. THIELMANN:  Well, that’s a very good question.  That’s a very good question, and I’m not sure I can answer very authoritatively since I don’t really know what’s being seen inside the U.S. government, the intelligence area.  I can make a few observations, though.

    For one thing, it is still the main thrust of the national intelligence community – at least what they’ve shared with the public – that the information that it had collected that gave it a high confidence of knowing what was going on in Iran was time-limited.  That is, when it came out in 2007, the intelligence community said it had high confidence that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had discontinued in the fall of 2003, but it was a little less sure about the future.  It talked about moderate confidence at that time that it was not still continuing.

    We’ve gotten a few more hints from the IAEA, which is – has presumably seen much of the intelligence now on which the U.S. based its conclusion, and they have various intricate formulas for saying that there may be certain elements of nuclear weapons work ongoing, but there is no reconstitution of a coherent, large-scale program.  I mean, I’m paraphrasing here but that’s kind of the thrust of it.

    So where does that leave us?  I think one can assume that if one believes the intelligence community’s original assessment – and I have to say that I found it pretty convincing that Iran had been doing for a number of years things that it should not do under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – one has to assume that they have made some progress in mastering some of the technologies and information that they would need to actually build a nuclear weapon if they had all of the materials assembled.

    So I think – I think that’s really where we are in our state of knowledge.  What I tried to emphasize in my comment, though, that you can only do so much, and the consequences of having an integrated program broken up or put on hold or whatever over a number of years means that you don’t just have a switch, you can turn it on and say, now, we’re going to restart exactly where we were when we ended.  I mean – you know, there are people – their expertise – this is not just a science, but an art doing something as sophisticated as designing nuclear weapons.  And it is something that would take time even if they got to that end of breakout as commonly defined of having enough uranium – enriched uranium gas for one weapon, so I hope that speaks to some of those questions.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Yeah, as Greg is saying, I think we have to assume that Iran has some of that knowledge, even if Iran, as some people say, comes clean about its past program, they’re still going to have that knowledge.  And what’s key – and Kelsey was talking about this a bit earlier – is that the IAEA is able to get enough information through this work plan they’ve worked out with Iran on these past experiments, most of which appear to date back before 2004, into 2003 and the earlier period – some of which may have continued – to determine that those activities are no longer continuing and that they have enough information to look in the right places, pay attention to the right people going forward in the future.

    And if they can get that information and they can report back to the IAEA board of governors in several months that they believe – they’ve got confidence that those activities don’t continue, even if there are questions about what was done in the past – that is where the agency needs to get. That is, I think, the best that can be achieved, and this comprehensive agreement can help create the leverage that the agency needs to finally close out that investigation.

    So we’ve got a few more questions coming up here – why don’t we – Alex Liebowitz (sp) here in the front –

    Q:  Thanks I have two questions, but I’ll be brief with both of them. One for Greg.  A lot of this is very technical, but it seems to me, to some extent, to figure out how long it would take, you’ve got to know how – why Iran would like a nuclear weapon, and I think, you know, just sort of thinking off the type of my head – I mean, the two examples that come to me on the two extremes are Israel, that doesn’t even admit they’ve got one and leaves this sort of ambiguity, or North Korea, the whole point of which is to, you know, show that we’ve got something, and therefore, we’re going to test it and so on.  And I’m wondering where you think Iran fits on this.

    And then, for Frank von Hippel – I tend to be quite skeptical of this multilateral idea.  I mean, either it’s not very multilateral – that is, it’s essentially sort of one or a couple of countries that have it under control, or you have to create some very elaborate thing.  I remember once hearing a briefing from the Germans where they – I mean, they went so far – they even had a flag.  But, you know, it sort of struck me as being very unrealistic to think that you’d ever come up with something like that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  So Alex is a skeptic, so how does it really work?

    Q:  How would – how would you come up with – you know, deal with something like that?  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  And why don’t we – before you take those, why don’t we just take one more question.

    Q:  Hi.  Scott Sharon (sp).  Let’s say July 20th comes around; we have a deal – everything that was just discussed in the slideshow, how – and which leaves Iran with a limited capability.  How do Secretary Kerry and President Obama sell that to the U.S. Congress?  A few weeks ago, I was at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on the regional implications of an Iranian deal, and there was plenty of opposition – both Democrats and Republicans, that would settle for nothing less than full dismantlement, and just given everything else in the region and this being an election year, I mean, how does that go forward?

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  All right.  So why don’t we take the first questions first?  Greg and then Frank –

    MR. THIELMANN:  OK.  Why would Iran want nuclear weapons?  What a question.  There are multiple reasons that countries are attracted to nuclear weapons, and my understanding right now is that Iran doesn’t necessarily want nuclear weapons, it wants a rapid dash breakout capability.  Iran wants to have the best of all possible worlds, and wants to say, we’re a loyal member of the NPT; we deplore the possession and threats of nuclear weapons by the existing nuclear powers, and they want people to understand that they could have nuclear weapons fairly quickly if they chose to.

    So there’s a little bit of the – of the multiple game that Saddam Hussein was playing.  Saddam wanted to convince most of the world that he had no programs, but he wanted to convince his own people and potential neighbors and potential threats that he did have a program.  I think Iran is in somewhat a similar position.  But I am convinced that if Iran actually chose to build a nuclear weapon, it would be to protect itself from those countries that continually threaten to attack it no matter whether Iran has done anything in the way of attacking its neighbors or not.  And in that respect, it is somewhat similar to North Korea’s motivations, I think.  But – there would be multiple motivations, but ultimately, to take such a dire step – and it would be dire for Iran in all kinds of ways – I think it would be an act to assure the survival of the regime.

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  On the multinational enrichment option, I understand your skepticism.  I’m skeptical that we can keep going with the national model, where every country has a right to its own enrichment program, and that looks pretty scary.  So I think we do have to work on the multinational, and I take hope from the fact that it actually has – it exists – there is a – of course, Europe isn’t the Middle East, but it actually originally – it’s interesting – in the ‘70s, when Germany, Netherlands and the UK were all working on their own enrichment programs, people were very worried about Germany’s enrichment program.  And one of the motivations for doing – becoming – doing it multinationally was to deal with that concern.

    And, in fact, today there are enrichment plants in all three countries, but the one in Germany came 10 years after the ones in the Netherlands and in the UK.  And it’s right on the border with the Netherlands, so it did have – it did have that dimension to it as well.  So, you know, I – I mean, that’s why I say, give us five years to work on it, or it may be possible that Iran relents, you know, in that interval, and we don’t –  and stops insisting, if things go well.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK. Kelsey you might cover the second question?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  Yeah, sure, Scott. So your question about, how do you sell this deal to the U.S. Congress?  I would first remind them that a deal that’s in place that limits Iran’s nuclear capacity, that provides stringent monitoring and verification is far better than the alternative, which is no deal, which could result in an unconstrained Iranian enrichment program where we have less access, less monitoring and less verification.

    Also, the United States has already agreed that Iran will have a limited uranium enrichment capacity.  This was part of the November 24th Joint Plan of Action.  The U.S. said it will be based on practical needs.  The U.S. said that there would be a future for the Arak reactor; we would just determine, sort of, what that is.  Also, I think it’s important to remember that this is a negotiation, and Iran also has to be able to sell this deal domestically.  Iran has lost billions of dollars from the sanctions.  It’s sunk a great deal of money into developing this program, and it has become a point of national pride.

    So they need to be able to preserve enough of a nuclear infrastructure to be able to sell the deal domestically.  So I think, sort of looking at those arguments and really stressing that this deal is far better than the alternative would be the way that I would approach explaining this to Congress.

    MR. KIMBALL:  I would agree with that, and I think another part of this is going to be the tactics of discussing this and who is discussing this. It’s my personal view that the Obama administration needs to do a better job than they have so far in talking about the alternatives, the choices and the realities behind this breakout issue.  It’s going to take a full-court press on the part of the president to talk to members of Congress – all of them, not just the key members of key committees.

    Deputy Secretary of State William Burns can be a great asset in the effort, and I think – you know, as Kelsey said, I think once members of Congress actually see the agreement, study it and look at the alternatives, I think they will sober up a bit, all right?  I think they will understand that if they take actions that undermine the implementation, they’re going to have to own the consequences, and there isn’t going to be another second run at this negotiation.  Congress can’t say, this isn’t good enough for us and urge Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman to go back.

    This is – this is the agreement that is going to be there, and I think it’s going to be a good agreement, otherwise the U.S. team and the other P-5 negotiators wouldn’t be concluding it.

    All right, we got a lot of questions coming up.  Why don’t we start over here with Steve Colecchi – and keep your hands up for a second so I can see where you are.  OK.  I’ll try to get to everybody; we’ve got plenty of time.  Thanks.

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  Could I just add one thing –

    MR. KIMBALL:  Frank, yes, I’m sorry.

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  We have to be very conscious of the fact that this is not only – I mean, the primary negotiations are within Washington and within Tehran, and we have to be conscious of the – of the fact that Rouhani is just as besieged in Tehran, or maybe more than Obama is in Washington, and we have to take that whole thing – both sides into account.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Good point.

    Q:  I’m Stephen Colecchi with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  I’d like to address the Congressional question a little bit, and then just offer some information.  I was part of a delegation of U.S. bishops that went to Qom in March to meet with one Grand Ayatollah – several other ayatollahs – very high-ranking, including members of the council of experts that oversee the Supreme Leader.

    And I don’t think we can underestimate the moral commitment of at least a large segment of the establishment in Iran.  I’m not naïve enough to think that there’s no one within their establishment who wants a breakout capacity, but the – we probed in several different meetings with several different ayatollahs and with Shia scholars in a very deep way, and the fatwa is real and it has a basis within their theology, and reversing it by way of contradiction is just unthinkable for the religious establishment.

    I’ll just – let me just share one more minute.  Imam Ali, who is a key figure within Shia Islam, had the option – his generals were trying to convince him to poison a well before his troops went off to take their positions in battle, and he said, no, we can’t poison the well, because that’s indiscriminate, it will kill anyone who comes to the well, and it’s not honorable.  The enemy came to the same well, took their water, and they actually lost the battle.

    And they then pointed out that in the Iran-Iraq war, when chemical weapons were used against Iran, they did not respond in kind, even though they had them.  And it was based on this teaching that indiscriminate weapons – it’s very deep within Shia theology – I just would not underestimate it, and I think that the religious community and civil society, in addition to the technical arguments that need to be made, could motivate people within Congress and people within the pews to contact their members of Congress to say, give this a serious look; this is a highly religious culture that has very serious questions about the acquisition – stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destructions.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you for those insights, Steve.  We’re going to come over here to Mr. Hoenig (sp) and his colleague to the left in a moment.  Yep.

    Q:  Hi, Milton Hoenig. Daryl touched on my question, but I’d actually like to raise it in another way.  How would the IAEA, without losing credibility, suddenly erase the statement which it puts in all of its quarterly reports that the agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran?  This is in every quarterly report, and it’s going to take a lot of planning and thought by the IAEA to take – (inaudible) – so how will that be done?

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We’ll answer that in a second, and then this gentleman, too.  Why don’t we take this question?  Yeah.

    Q:  Hello.  My name is Wright Smith with the National Iranian-American Council.  My question is, there’s talk – on the give-and-take of negotiations, there’s the issue of centrifuges, and how many can Iran keep, and there’s the issue of verification and monitoring of those centrifuges.  Is one more important than the other?  Should the P-5 plus one compromise on one to get the other, or is there some balance that can be achieved there?

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Let me take a stab at the first, Kelsey, and maybe you take a stab at the second and you can add on.

    So you’re exactly right.  It’s going to be very difficult for the agency to come to a different conclusion than it has been putting in each of its quarterly reports.  And it is going to take more information, it’s going to take more time.  There are some people in this town who are arguing that the IAEA investigation of PMDs, possible military dimensions, experiments by Iran needs to be closed off and concluded before the P5+1 conclude a deal.  That ain’t going to happen, folks, in part because the IAEA needs time, they need information, they need to go back to Iran and ask additional questions.

    When is the director-general of the IAEA going to be able to change that sentence in those quarterly reports on Iran?  I don’t know exactly, but one of the things that’s absolutely essential is going to be to get Iran to agree to those additional transparency and verification measures that Kelsey was outlining that focus on the undeclared sites, the short notice inspections, including things like the centrifuge workshops. That is essential, that access is essential in order for the agency to change that declaration to something like, “we have moderate confidence that no undeclared material or activities are taking place inside Iran.”

    But that’s going to take time, and that’s why this agreement is likely going to be a multi-year agreement.  And that’s why there are going to have to be milestones built into the agreement that the Iranians – steps the Iranians take and then there are steps that the IAEA and the international community take with respect to sanctions relief and other measures over time.  It’s tough, and this legacy issue is one of the hard issues.

    Anything else on that, Kelsey, that I’ve forgotten?  You want to take the other question?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  Yeah.  So it does need to be a combination when considering how you look at the uranium enrichment program.  Yes, if we define Iran’s current enriched uranium needs sort of based on exactly how much it would need to produce now to run its existing nuclear facilities, Iran wouldn’t need to dramatically cut down the number of operating centrifuges that it has.  It could easily meet its practical needs with less than 2,000 IR-1 centrifuges.

    Iran is not going to – really likely not going to accept that sort of within a negotiation, so it needs – we need to balance asking Iran to reduce its centrifuges with the monitoring and verification that we put into place.  And then it’s important to think about those – both of those aspects in relative to timing as well.  The monitoring and verification with the additional protocol that would allow inspectors to visit Iran’s centrifuge workshops, that would allow it to visit the uranium enrichment plants, would be permanent in its duration.

    Iran would be able to visit the – or the IAEa, excuse me – would be able to visit these facilities without any notice, really, whenever they wish to.  So once Iran then begins to sort of establish credibility under the deal, they could perhaps phase up their centrifuges, as Frank outlined, based on sort of an increase in their practical needs.  But the inspections would need to remain permanent, and that’s what – that’s what would happen under the additional protocol.

    So, yes, it does need to be a balance, but I think ensuring the permanence of the additional protocol and the inspections and the monitoring sort of really is key.  And while there probably will need to – well, you know, there will be a push for Iran to reduce its centrifuges.  If we can determine the numbers of centrifuges that Iran has, how many it’s producing, then the IAEA can also guard sort of against a secret breakout, as Greg described.  So I would put a lot of emphasis on the monitoring measures.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Frank, you had some additional thoughts?

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  Yeah.  Just two things.  I mean, the language that was mentioned is always coupled with Iran has not agreed to the additional protocol, and it would have to be for some years.  I mean, they have actually – they are complying with it on a voluntary basis right now.  And in fact, they’re going beyond the additional protocol with regard to the centrifuge transparency, and there’s a – I think they’re interpreting that as part of their voluntary compliance with the additional protocol.

    But I think, in fact, as Kelsey said, that you probably need to formalize that, and in fact, it would be a lot easier to do so if other – if Urenco and other centrifuge manufacturers would accept the same kind of transparency.  I think there will be a big collective gulp if they’re asked to do that, but I think we really – we should start talking about that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  If we could go to the gentleman in the back with the red tie and then we’ll come up back to the front.

    Q:  Hi, I’m Derek Davison with Lobe Blog.  I wanted to ask – you talked about firm assurances of foreign supply is a way to reduce practical – Iran’s practical needs for enriched uranium.  Given that the Iranians have some past experience with the unreliability of foreign suppliers of enriched uranium, I wonder if you could maybe expand on that a little more.  What kind of assurances could we put into a deal that would satisfy Iran’s concerns in that regard?

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, why don’t we have Frank take that.  And then this gentleman in front and then we’ll go to Laura Rozen in the pink.

    Q:  Alan Keiswitter with Dentonson (ph).  Mt question is really about the Stage I of the proposal because, as I understand it, the U.S. would like 3,000 to 5,000 and the Iranians would like 100,000.  And is the proposal roughly to freeze what there is for five years?  And this would be roughly 10,000 that are operable and 9,000 that are not being operated or –

    Anyway, could – Phase I is going to be crucial to this, selling it on the Hill and elsewhere, and clarity would be very helpful.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Why don’t we stop there, and Frank, why don’t you – because those two questions are for you.  So why don’t you tackle those and then we’ll go on.

    MR.VON HIPPEL:  There is – whether it’s politically possible in Tehran right now, there is – I mean, you could, in fact, assure supply for Iran.  And it’s something we’ve been talking with Iran about for more than 10 years, that they – if they’re worried about supply, you know, why don’t you build up the stockpile of fuel in advance – I mean, 10 years of fuel in advance.  And then you’ve got 10 years to figure out – you know, you could build the centrifuge plant in that length of time if, in fact, countries refuse to supply it.  But it’s become a matter of national pride and it makes it difficult.

    With regard to the Stage I, the – what Iran needs now is much less than what it has in this Stage I.  It’s a couple of the IR-1 centrifuges or less than – the thousand centrifuges that it – the second-generation centrifuges that it has installed would do the trick.  So we’re not talking about freezing, although, you know, we – we’re a little bit – it’s a little bit unclear in our article.  But it doesn’t  require freezing at the level we have now if Iran buys this argument that the IR-1s are obsolete.  You’re going to get rid of them sooner or later, why not make life easier for all of us by getting rid of them now?  And so just sticking with the 1,000 IR-2m’s that they have installed but not operating.

    MR. KIMBALL:  So before we get to the – to the next question, let me just clarify one thing that I think is important.  I mean, you mentioned, sir, that the Iranians think they need x number – the P5+1 think they need this number.  I don’t think any of us in this room know exactly what the Iranians – bottom line is what the P5+1 bottom line is.

    We’ve heard things in the press, we’re 30 or so days out from the July 20 target date.  In a complicated negotiation like this, neither side’s going to put down its bottom line in public, and it’s quite likely that even in the negotiating room, they’re laying down positions that are pretty far apart hoping that the other side’s going to move closer in their direction.

    So I think it’s pretty likely, if not almost certain, that each side knows they can and must move closer to the other side and they know that these options that we’ve been describing today are there and there will be some creative combinations of all of these different things that they will have to use if there’s going to be an agreement on or around the 20th of July.

    All right.  Let’s go to Laura Rozen who is in the center in the coral, I suppose.

    Q:  (Laughs.)  Laura Rozen from Al-Monitor.  Thank you for doing this.  I apologize if you already addressed it, but what do you make of the reports the past couple of days from Iranian official accounts that Russia and Iran are signing two more power reactor deals?

    MR. KIMBALL:  Frank, you want to take a stab?  I have a couple of thoughts.

    MR.VON HIPPEL:  Well, the – I think they are, and it would take some time to build those reactors – you know, on the order of 10 years, so we have some grace before the – before the requirements of those reactors are upon us.  And I think also that it is quite likely that they would come with 10-year contracts, fuel supply contracts like Bushir-1.  And so that is often the – you know, and this is – it’s also often that this is Iran’s domestic lightwater reactor that they’re talking about building, which will probably take a long time to materialize.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Let’s take this question in the middle and then – and then we’ll go to the back.

    Q:  I’m Peter Smallwood from the University of Richmond.  I’d really like to return to a question that you posed because I feel like there’s a gap here that is – there’s not – I see very little written and very little discussed about why Iran would want to have perhaps a breakout ability that Japan has.  And I was very happy to see that slide that mentioned that.

    In Japan, it’s pretty easy to understand, and all the more so with China developing.  But is there – is there opportunity in trying to better understand some elements in the Iranian security apparatus want that ability to find other ways to address that ability instead of having everything being – increasing the cost of having it?

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  And then why don’t we take a question in the back, if you could raise your hand again.

    Q:  Thank you.  My name is Farzin Nadimi (sp).  How much do you think a possible deal should be tied to Iran’s conventional missile program?

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Who wants to take the first question?  Go for it, Frank.  And then Greg is – take the second.

    MR.VON HIPPEL:  Well, you know, why does Iran want a nuclear option?  I mean, if you look around, Libya gave up their nuclear option and you see what happened to them.  Iraq gave up its nuclear option and you see what happened to them.  So the – so there’s a rationale.  I mean, just – the U.S. has made very clear that if, you know, there are circumstances in a – you know, that no U.S. options are off the table, and Iran, of course, would like to have the U.S. take some options off the table.

    And so – but I think there is this – as Mr. Colecchi said, the – there’s a spectrum of views from the – you know, the fundamentalist view that this is an illegitimate weapon to probably –

    Some people say well, maybe an illegitimate weapon but we should keep them – the other side uncertain.

    MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just add quickly, I mean, we’ve got to remember – I mean, the political scientist in me here, political science is not really a science, and the question you’re asking is a political science question.  And, you know, when we talk about Iran, there are many Irans, there are many views.

    Steve Colecchi from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops just talked about some of the strong religious views, but then there are other very hardline military views in Iran that might be very different.  So, you know, just like the United States or any other country, the view that is coming out of the existing government is a balancing act of these different constituencies.  And so it’s very hard to answer these questions in a – in a simple fashion and it’s another briefing altogether.

    So the second question on missiles, Greg, you’ve thought a little bit about this subject.  Go ahead.

    MR. THIELMANN:  You know, the missile issue is, again, one of those confusing issues because of course the missiles would be the delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons.  So it’s a relevant thing to worry about.

    And even if we weren’t worried about Iranian nuclear capabilities, we would worry about all these Iranian missiles.  With the nature of the Iranian regime, we worry about what this means for the neighborhood.  Particularly, the kind of medium-range ballistic missiles that Iran has are not very accurate, and so they’re basically weapons of terror.  They can slam into cities.  They can’t necessarily hit Israel’s Dimona reactor, but they can – they can hit Tel Aviv.  So they’re obviously something to be concerned about and to think about ways to constrain.

    The problem is – losing sight of the forest for the trees here, if you’re interested in getting limits on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, the way we should do it is obviously the way we’re trying to do it, which is to limit their ability to make nuclear weapons.  And if you are successful in that endeavor, then Iran will have ballistic missiles with no nuclear weapons.

    And the confusion is here that the 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution required Iran to stop its ballistic missile activities.  The U.S. Congress has inserted all kinds of legislation that says that this comprehensive accord must also limit Iran’s ballistic missiles.  Well, that is just showing a failure to prioritize here and also an ignorance about Iran’s perilous – the perilous state of Iran’s military power.

    Iran is not in a powerful position militarily in the region.  Iran has been under various kinds of embargos for many years.  Its air force is extraordinarily weak given its size and power as a country, partly because it relied heavily on sophisticated U.S. technology to equip the air force before the Islamic Revolution.  In all kinds of ways, in terms of the expenditures – military expenditures as a percentage of GDP and other things, Iran is not the big military spender in the region.  Iran does not have enormous tank armies.  Iran has missiles.  And to say that Iran has to significantly weaken or eliminate the one conspicuous source of power it has is an extremely naïve way to approach negotiations and a perfect way to divert a reasonable chance of success at getting a grip on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right. Why don’t we take this question from this handsome gentleman in the front row, and then we’ll take a couple from the peanut gallery in the back?  (Laughter.)

    Q:  (Laughs.)  Thanks for the nice compliment, Daryl.  I’m Paul Walker with Green Cross International.  I want to thank you all for very good presentations.  And I also think it’s been important for us to talk about the biggest challenge, I think, is really selling any agreement, which I hope comes about in Washington and Tehran.  But one of the challenges in Tehran – and this is to you, Frank, I think primarily, is the fact that the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system has been for years described as a discriminatory regime from a variety of ways.  And I’m wondering if the safeguards, the inspections, the verification that the gentlemen here raised to being requested of Iran can be described in Tehran to the general public as a nondiscriminatory regime.  In other words, do we need to include other inspection regimes elsewhere, like on Urenco?  Is it any more stringent than the IAEA inspection regimes in Brazil and Japan?  Is there anything the P-5 could begin to move on to overcome these ongoing perceptions of discrimination in the regime?

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Kelsey, Frank, you want to quickly answer that?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  Sure.  I mean, you are right.  Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said very clearly that Iran does not want to be asked to go beyond what is required of other counties and that this idea of sort of the “AP-plus” is not acceptable to Iran.

    However, you know, Iran agreed in the November sort of 24th agreement to move forward on the Additional Protocol and that that is understood to be sort of part of this additional inspections regime.  And in this interim six months, they have agreed to measures that go beyond what the Additional Protocol requests of states that adhere to it.

    So I think the phrasing and the language will be – will be very important in terms of how these monitoring and verification measures are presented and also their duration.  Iran has been very insistent upon moving towards a position eventually where it’s treated like any other member of the – of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

    But it’s important, I think, for Iran to acknowledge also that as we have said here – you know, as it has been brought up already, that the IAEA has not been able to confirm that Iran’s nuclear activities are sort of entirely peaceful right now.  So it should not be treated like any other member of the NPT at this time.  But we need to resolve these issues so we can move to that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  In the back, those two gentlemen please.

    Q:  Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service.  I wanted to go back to the question of a multilateral institution to provide the fuel for Iran.  The question I have about that is how do you ensure the governance of this is not in the hands of powers which have in the past already had relations with Iran with regard to fuel supply, i.e., Germany, France and Russia, who have in fact, for political reasons, either stopped or manipulated that relationship for political reasons?

    And the second question I have is with regard to the possible military dimensions issue.  And that is does it matter – well, how credible are the documents on which the IAEA is basing its investigation, i.e., the laptop documents and the series of documents that the IAEA acquired in 2008 and 2009?

    I mean, I’ve written about this extensively, of course, but just to make another point that I think a lot of people may be unfamiliar with, the IAEA has not been unanimous about the credibility of these documents.  That was Olli Heinonen’s view for sure, but then-Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei and other senior officials of the IAEA were very skeptical about the authenticity of these documents.  And as late as 2009, ElBaradei was saying that we still don’t have the authenticity of the documents established, and therefore, you know, that’s a serious problem that needs to be taken into account in the policies.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Well, why don’t we have Frank deal with the first one and Greg the second.

    Zia Mian has another question.  Why don’t you raise your hand so everyone knows who you are?  All right.  Go ahead.

    Q:  One of the problems with the framing of the debate about the deal and going forward is that it treats it as if this is the only process that should be taking place regarding Iran and its security concerns and the role of the United States and the P-5 plus one.  The fact is that the P5 and Iran also committed to the discussions on a Middle East nuclear weapon-free zone as part of the NPT process at the 2010 NPT conference.  That process has broken down almost completely as far as anyone can tell.  And I think that one of things that we need to do is to put that process back on track as a way to help address the larger regional concerns, including those in Iran, about their security future and their relationship to their neighbors and what a Middle East nuclear weapon-free zone could do.  And we mentioned this in other work that Frank and I and folks at Princeton have done is to create a regional structure that could have countries agree to restraints that go beyond those that counties accept as part of the NPT as a way to ensure their collective regional security.

    So I think having the two processes take place in parallel and command similar degrees of attention, especially in Washington and – which has enormous influence on countries in the region, is actually very important and it’s part of the missing pieces in this puzzle that might have to actually be brought into play.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  All right, so Frank, do you want to answer the question about who was working with Iran on multilateral, and then Greg, on the credibility of – the information the agency has regarding possible military dimensions?

    MR. VON HIPPEL:  On the credibility of the multinational regime, we don’t have a – we haven’t got a specific proposal, so it’s hard to defend its credibility.  But I think maybe in a belt-and-suspenders approach – I mean you’re – I think what you’re referring to is maybe this multinational entity, if it were outside Iran, would all the sudden cut Iran off again.  And I think the ultimate assurance there would be, in fact, to allow – if the facility were outside of Iran, to allow Iran to have a – you know, up to a 10-year stockpile of fuel in-country.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Greg, next question.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Maybe just a footnote to that question too.  I think there are other agreements and institutions like the ABACC arrangement between Brazil, Argentina and the IAEA that can provide some encouragement to the notion of multilateral agreements that actually go beyond, in some respects, the obligations under IAEA safeguards.  So I think there are actual historical reasons to be intrigued by Frank’s proposals.

    On PMD, this is a – this is a tough issue, because how does one have a fulsome discussion of these issues when we’re not privy to all of the details, which gets into some very sensitive information?  I would just say, as someone who had access to some of these details over the last decade, that I am not satisfied with the discussion in the press about capturing all elements of the picture here.  And I can’t remedy it without getting in big trouble.

    One other observation I would have, having been involved heavily in Iraq WMD matters, forgeries are not very difficult for governments accused of malfeasance to disprove.  And so when Iran declares that everything is a forgery, I think one has to be a little skeptical.  I mean, bring the people who wrote the documents in, show the pieces of the forgery that couldn’t have been true.  I mean, the IAEA did a great job on the uranium from Africa issue.  And it showed how easy it was.  Even if it was a bit of a challenge at the time for the U.S. intelligence community, it was not a challenge for the IAEA to show it was a forgery.

    So I’m a little skeptical of Iran’s dismissal of these things.  And I think one has to give a little bit of credit to the reformed U.S. intelligence community to be not totally incompetent and naïve in the way that it’s presented the case for various kinds of activities that occurred prior to the fall of 2003.

    MR. KIMBALL:  I would just say really quickly, one other issue about the concerns about possible military interventions.  It’s the political reality today.  It’s a political reality in these negotiations.  There are perceptions that governments have about what these – what this information that was supplied to the agency and some of the information the agency has acquired on its own really means.  And we can debate all we want the authenticity, or not.  And most of us haven’t even seen the documents.  But what matters is, you know, how it’s dealt with today given what the governments have, what the agency has, and what the Iranians want to ultimately try to achieve through the comprehensive agreement and the IAEA investigation.

    On the Middle East, Kelsey, do you want to take a stab at that?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  Sure.  Actually, for the first time there may be some progress towards the Middle East WMD-Free Zone.  The parties met just this past week in Geneva.  And from what we hear in those meetings, they’re – the Israelis are attending, along with the members of the Arab League.

    And there is progress being made sort of on an agenda.  But I think that Zia (sp) is exactly right, in that we have not, and particularly in the United States, placed enough political emphasis on sort of moving forward with establishing a zone, with encouraging the parties to reach an agreement on the agenda so a conference can be held, because this zone actually could address the concern in the United States about missiles.

    As sort of understood from the 1995 resolution on the Middle East WMD-Free Zone, the zone would need to include limits and verification in relation to delivery vehicles.  So putting more emphasis on this could provide sort of another alternative to check Iran’s ballistic missiles, but in a way that applies to all of the countries in the region and does not single out Iran, which it’s not going to accept.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Let me get to some folks who haven’t had their hands up.  We’ll go to this gentlelady here on the left, Elena (sp), in the lime-green blouse, right here.  Thank you.  And then we’ll go back over here.

    Q:  My name is Veronica Cartier (sp).  I’m focusing on international conflict management initiative.  My question is focused for supporting breakout capacity.  In the bilateral communication, instead of multilateral which is a focus also in comprehensive communication within the United States and Iran, has it been established or will it be possible to establish specific working group, beside IAEA, focused on bilateral coordination mechanism in the revision process.

    Just as you asked Japan earlier development cooperation agreement, bilateral coordination mechanism, effective operational commission, information reporting procedures and overall accountability issues to induce bilateral cooperation and for United States understanding of Iran motivation?  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Well, maybe I can try to quickly answer that and we’ll get to a couple of the other questions.  I think it’s very likely that the comprehensive agreement is going to have a consultative mechanism, just as the interim agreement from November 2013 does, to resolve questions between the two sides.  The agency, the IAEA, is going to be very involved in monitoring Iranian compliance with certain aspects of the agreement.  So there are going to be these kinds of mechanisms over time that are there to ensure that the agreement is being effectively implemented and both sides are in compliance with the terms.

    So we’ve got a couple questions over here.  This gentleman in the middle, on the – right there, and then we’ll go to Mark Harrison and then we’ll come up here.  I’m trying to get to everybody.  This may be the first briefing we do where everybody gets to ask a question.  So just be patient.  Everybody’s got their hands up.  Go ahead.

    Q:  (Inaudible.)  We know that U.S. or United States and P-5 plus one is asking for, perhaps, 15 to 20 years for timeframe after agreement is reached for Iran to be treated as a normal PMD member.  And on the other hand, Iran is – perhaps is asking for five years max.  So I would like to ask each of the panelists, respond to this and see where do you stand and if you could explain your reasoning?  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  And then the gentleman right behind?  Thank you.

    Q:  Mark Harrison with United Methodist Board of Church and Society.  I just want to ask the question about the party of five plus one, is there a common agreement among those members of the party of five on what they want to see come out of this?  I know that – I know Russia and China – do we – do we have an understanding of that?  Because most of the discussions have been, well, what is going on inside of Iran.  So what’s going on in the party of five?

    And in this section here in the study, where you talk about the sanctions that Europe put on Iran, do those governments also have to go back and take off those sanctions if they reach the agreement, like some of the sanctions here in this country?  And lastly, if the United States, given the situation we find ourselves in with Congress and the – it’s just a bad – a lot of infighting – countries – if an agreement is reached, countries can go forward and open – and now start trading with Iran, even if the U.S. doesn’t agree with those.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We’ll try to answer all those good questions.  But first, on the timeline and the time frame of the agreement question, Kelsey, why don’t you try to address that?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  Sure.  I think it’s difficult to discuss the time frame of an agreement sort of in abstract of the conditions – the other conditions in an agreement.  You know, I would certainly thing that certain limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity, certain increased transparency measures, need to be – remain in place, particularly while the IAEA is still investigating the possible military dimensions issue.  And we don’t know exactly how long that’s going to take.  You know, estimates say, you know, one to two years, but depending on the information it could take far longer.

    And then also, you know, it depends on an assessment of how Iran’s practical needs might change.  You know, if an agreement sort of lasts 20 years but 10 years down the road, you know, they may need to provide more fuel for the Bushehr reactor, you know, could they scale up the centrifuge capacity, you know, perhaps if Iran shows that it has been complying with the other elements of the deal?

    So I think when you talk about time frame in abstract of sort of those individual conditions, it becomes a little bit sort of more difficult.  And, you know, some of these conditions also will be permanent.  A ratification of the additional protocol will mean that it’s in place for – you know, as long as Iran is a member of the NPT.  Some of the other measures – like I said, the additional transparency measures will have to be dropped.  But, you know, that could depend on where Iran is in its enrichment program.  So that isn’t a very specific answer and I apologize, but I think it is hard to consider any of these metrics sort of individually.

    And then a quick answer, Mark, to your questions on sanctions.  The majority of the sanctions against Iran emanate from the United States.  There also is the U.S. – the U.N. Security Council sanctions and the European Union sanctions.  For the European Union to lift its sanctions it would require a unanimous decision by the council – the Europe – the Council of Foreign Ministers, excuse me.

    The U.S. sanctions is much more difficult.  Some can be waived via executive order.  Some would eventually have to be lifted.  However, the problem is a lot of the U.S. sanctions are extraterritorial in nature in that they don’t just apply to entities in the United States.  Banks, for instance, in foreign countries now, that do business with Iran, can be penalized and cut off from the U.S. financial system because of the way that we have structured our sanctions.  So even if – when we begin to waive sanctions, I think we will see some companies that are very hesitant to go in and do business with Iran because they are concerned that until those sanctions are lifted, if sanctions are re-imposed they could then be penalized for that in the future.

    So, yes, there are a lot of – we hear a lot of trade delegations going to Iran from different countries that are interested in doing business, you know, with them, but until we get to the point where some of these sanctions in the U.S. are lifted, I think there will be some hesitancy about actually signing agreements or beginning to do business there.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  And just very quickly on the P-5 plus one group, these are individual governments.  They do have individual views.  But they have been highly coordinated to this point through EU High Representative Cathy Ashton’s efforts.  You know, they’ve got each slightly different motivations for involvement, but what I think is important – and it’s been somewhat surprising – is the level of unity thus far.  The U.S. is clearly one of the tallest poles in that P-5 plus one tent, but they have all been acting in quite a unified manner.  But the fact that you have got these different entities actually makes this negotiation just tougher to pull off because of the degree of coordination that has to be achieved, and that kind of adds time.

    So we might see, for instance, on – at midnight on July 20 the negotiators coming almost to an agreement but one of the P-5 plus one member states needs to check back with their prime minister or their president or the foreign minister to get final approval.  So I think it has more of an effect on the – how the talks play out rather than – and the timing rather than the substance.

    Let’s take a couple more questions and then we’re going to wrap up.  I can’t remember who had their hands up.  Yes, the gentlelady in the front and then right behind her, and then we’ll close out.

    Q:  Hi.  Katherine Bova from Search for Common Ground.  Thank you for – thank you all for your very clear presentations.

    I was wondering, you had addressed what would be needed from the U.S. side to deal with the concerns of Congress.  I was wondering if you could speak to what would be required on the Iranian side to satisfy hard-liners in the Iranian government as well as members of the Majlis, who would ultimately have to ratify the additional protocol.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, and then right behind her.  Thanks.

    Q:  Hi.  I’m Rafael Lael (ph) from Brazil.  So my question will be, what about the countries that are not on the table, especially Israel, that has been very silent lately?  And what would be the role played by AIPAC and AJC and other lobbying institutions here in Washington?  We heard rumors that they would be pushing for sanctions that would not be related to the nuclear program.  So what about if Congress proposes sanctions related to Iran’s sponsoring of Hezbollah and Hamas or human rights?  And if you could also elaborate about how would Saudi Arabia take a successful deal, or a partially successful deal, between Iran and the P-5 plus one?  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Such easy questions.  (Laughter.)  Who would like to take the first question that was just asked?

    MS. DAVENPORT:  I can take a stab at it.

    MR. KIMBALL:  OK, and then –

    MS. DAVENPORT:  I think, similar to the United States, there will be hardliners in Iran that will not be satisfied by any deal.  But, that being said, I think a deal that preserves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, that preserves Iranian enrichment, a future for the Arak reactor and allows for the possibility of building up capacity over time is the most likely configuration that is going to be acceptable to Iran.

    Iran has made some statements about elements of these aspects being sort of completely unacceptable.  Shutting down facilities, for instance, I think is a red line.  Having to accept any limits on its missiles I think sort of would be – would be a red line.  But I think it is important to remember, again, also from the Iranian side, you have to juxtapose a deal with limits against no deal and what that means for Iran domestically.  I mean, Hassan Rouhani ran on a platform promising sort of greater economic prosperity for the country.  That will come with sanctions relief.  And he has a limited time to deliver on that as well.  So I think that, similar to the Obama administration, he will need to do his part sort of selling this within Iran.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, let me give you some quick answers on the other questions about Israel, AIPAC, Saudi Arabia.

    There are, clearly, strong interests in Israel about the outcome of this negotiation.  And Prime Minister Netanyahu has been, I think, quite vocal actually, not so quiet, over the past several months about the kind of deal Israel would like to see.  Netanyahu has been arguing for zero enrichment.  He has been calling for the closure of the Fordow and Natanz and Arak facilities.  And I think that he has been making those arguments in order to try to harden the position of the P-5 plus one going into these conference of – negotiations.  He understands, and the Israeli security establishment, intelligence establishment understands that.  That is not a realistic outcome.

    If they are expecting that out of this, they are going to be disappointed, for many of the reasons that we just discussed.  So I think it is a – it’s a tactic.  I think that in some congressional offices have heard the Israeli ambassador to the United States come in and make those arguments.  And I’ve been told that American lawmakers politely nod, say, thank you for coming here but I don’t think that’s the kind of agreement that is going to emerge if we’re going to have an agreement.  So I think it’s understood that this is a bit of posturing.  I think it’s a bit of an effort to try to harden the P-5 plus one’s position.

    Now, what should we expect Israel perhaps to say if there is an agreement?  I would be shocked if Prime Minster Netanyahu praises the agreement in any way.  He’s going to preserve his options, OK?  He’s saying:  This deal is not good enough for me; this is not good enough for Israel and we reserve our right to do what we need to do to defend Israel, which is Israel’s right.  But I think in their private conversations those Israeli leaders will probably recognize that this is a better outcome than no constraints on Iran’s program, than no inspections on the undeclared areas of Iran’s program.

    And they recognize, even if they hold it out as a possibility, that Israeli military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a solution.  It is not going to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities.  It would at best set those capabilities back a few years.  And they know that it probably would lead Iran’s leaders to change their thinking about the fatwa and to actually actively and openly pursue nuclear weapons, probably with a lot of public support, if that were to happen.  So I think we need to understand these statements and put them in context.

    And just very quickly, with respect to, you know, others in the United States who speak out about these issues, including AIPAC. I think they have an important role to play.  I think they need to – like all of us do, need to take a close look at the agreement.  They need to understand what it does.  They need to understand that this is a nuclear negotiation and not a negotiation about overall rapprochement with Iran and an effort to try to moderate Iran’s behavior in other nonnuclear areas.  And I think they, like all of us, need to take a look at what the alternatives are, and the alternatives to a good and effective and verifiable deal are definitely not as good and can lead to increased Iranian capabilities and increased risk of war, and I don’t think that’s something that AIPAC or anyone really wants to see.

    So with that, let me ask you to join me in thanking our three great speakers.  (Applause.)  And let me also encourage you to read our report, which is online at www.armscontrol.org


    Country Resources:

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    Statement to the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee



    Time for All States to Accelerate Progress on Key 2010 Action Steps

    Statement to the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting,
    United Nations, New York, April 29, 2014

    Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
    Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability Green Cross International and Global Green USA

    We are one year away from the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and the global nuclear disarmament and risk reduction enterprise is at yet another important crossroads.  The situation requires that the states gathered here must seriously consider, explore, and pursue alternative options to reduce global nuclear dangers and jumpstart progress toward the fulfillment of the ambitious 2010 NPT Action Plan.

    The Current Landscape

    As efforts to resume Six-Party talks remain stalled, North Korea threatens to conduct its fourth nuclear test in violation of its NPT commitments and the global ban on nuclear tests.  New diplomatic approaches from China, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan are required, starting with a new proposal for talks focused on interim measures to halt further nuclear testing and long-range missile tests, coupled with more vigorous implementation of existing international sanctions.

    Negotiations between the P5+1 states and Iran to resolve longstanding concerns about its nuclear program are at a critical phase.  An effective, multiyear deal can only be achieved if each side is ready to compromise and pursue realistic solutions that meet the other side’s core requirements.

    A successful agreement will verifiably and significantly curtail Iran’s overall enrichment capacity, block the plutonium path to the bomb, put in place tougher international inspections, bring Iran fully into the CTBT regime, resolve outstanding questions about the purpose of Iran’s program, and lead to the phased removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

    The ability of the 2010 NPT Review Conference to reach agreement on the so-called Action Plan was an important breakthrough.  But the follow-through on the plan—particularly the 22 interrelated disarmament steps—has been disappointing as progress on most of the items have slowed to a crawl.

    The United States and Russia did successfully negotiate, sign, and ratify the 2010 New START treaty, which requires them to have no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads each on no more than 700 deployed bombers and missiles by 2018.

    However, since 2011, they have failed to start talks to further reduce their still enormous nuclear stockpiles.  Even after New START, U.S. and Russian strategic stockpiles will still far exceed any plausible deterrence requirements. Many of their weapons remain on prompt launch status, a condition that President-elect Barack Obama called “a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

    Worse still, with Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, which violates its 1994 Budapest Memorandum commitments to respect the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, Russian relations with the United States and Europe have reached perhaps their lowest point in more than a quarter century.  New negotiations on further nuclear disarmament beyond New START are unlikely any time soon.

    Even before the recent political turmoil in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s extralegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, President Putin rebuffed U.S. President Barack Obama’s June 2013 proposal to reduce U.S. and Russian strategic stockpiles by one-third below the ceilings set by New START.

    Progress toward CTBT entry into force  still awaits promised action from the United States and China on ratification, as well as the five other Annex 2 hold-out states.

    Talks on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and other important disarmament agenda items have still not begun at the Conference on Disarmament.

    Progress on tactical nuclear arms reductions and deployments also remains stalled. NATO has been unable to agree on a proposal for transparency and accounting regarding the 180 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs located in five European states, as well as the far larger stockpile of some 1,000-2,000 Russian tactical nuclear weapons.  Russia refuses to engage in talks on tactical nuclear weapons and its military strategy allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict.

    In 2010, all of the NPT nuclear-weapon states committed to “diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons” and “[d]iscuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons.”

    Unfortunately, none of them has undertaken demonstrable, concrete steps to do so.  In fact, as Hans Kristensen writes in the May 2014 issue of Arms Control Today:

    “… all of the world’s nuclear weapons states are busy modernizing their arsenals, continue to reaffirm the importance of such weapons, and none of them appears willing to eliminate their nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.”

    As a consequence, the risk that nuclear weapons might be used again someday—in response to conventional attack, in response to a nuclear attack, or as the result of accidental exchange—remains all too high.

    In light of these realities, leaders at this conference must consider, explore, and pursue new ideas and options to reduce global nuclear dangers and meet the 2010 NPT Action Plan goals.

    Ways Forward

    We believe that more than one path can and should be pursued. The following are practical ideas for consideration by all states at this meeting:

    Use the Humanitarian Consequences Conferences As An Opportunity for Dialogue: The conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are a useful and important venue for understanding the risks of nuclear weapons and the means by which those risks can be eliminated.

    The five NPT nuclear weapon states should actively participate in the meeting and support joint statements warning of the consequences of nuclear weapons use.

    For their part, the non-nuclear-weapon state majority must also better utilize the Humanitarian Consequences dialogue to develop and come together around proposals that more effectively challenge the dangerous nuclear doctrines of the nuclear weapons states.

    Before the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the nuclear weapons states should also be called upon to explain the effects of their nuclear weapons use doctrines and war plans, if they were to be carried out, and explain how the use of such weapons would be consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law.

    The June 2013 Report on the Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy of the United States claims that “[t]he new guidance makes clear that all plans must also be consistent with the fundamental principles of the Law of Armed Conflict.  Accordingly, plans will, for example, apply the principles of distinction and proportionality and seek to minimize collateral damage to civilian populations and civilian objects.  The United States will not intentionally target civilian populations or civilian objects.”

    Given the catastrophic consequences of the large-scale use of nuclear weapons against hundreds of targets, as envisioned in the U.S. and Russian war plans, it is hard to see how the use of significant numbers of nuclear weapons could be consistent with international humanitarian law or any common sense interpretation of the Law of Armed Conflict.

    The NPT nuclear weapons states should, as part of their reporting responsibilities for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, report in detail on their nuclear weapons employment policies so that NPT states parties can evaluate whether such practices are consistent with international humanitarian law.

    Accelerate New START Reductions: As a 2012 report by the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board suggests, with New START verification tools in place, further nuclear reductions need not wait for a formal follow-on treaty.  The United States and Russia could accelerate the pace of reductions under New START to reach the agreed limits before the 2018 deadline.  As long as long as both sides continue to reduce force levels below the treaty limits, deeper reductions below New START are possible.

    Such an initiative would also allow both sides to reduce the extraordinary costs of force maintenance and modernization and could help induce other nuclear-armed states to exercise greater restraint.

    Seek to Cap the Growth of the Arsenals of the Other Nuclear-Armed States: U.S. and Russian nuclear forces still comprise more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear stockpiles.  But other countries must do more to fulfill their NPT Article VI obligations.

    As a first step, other nuclear-armed states, beginning with China, France, and the U.K., should pledge not to increase the overall size of their growing nuclear weapons and missile stockpiles as long as U.S. and Russian reductions continue.  Such an effort must eventually involve states outside the NPT, specifically India and Pakistan, which continue to expand their stocks of nuclear weapons material and their holdings of nuclear weapons.

    Adjust Nuclear Readiness Posture of Some ICBMs: As a confidence-building measure, U.S. and Russian experts could commence technical discussions on verifiably reducing the alert status of an agreed portion of their respective stockpiles, beginning with a portion of their land-based intercontinental ballistic missile forces. In December 2008, President-elect Obama said he would “work with Russia to end such outdated Cold War policies in a mutual and verifiable way.”[1]

    Follow Through on Commitments to Ratify the CTBT: Despite statements of support for ratification from the United States and China, neither state has taken sufficient action to secure domestic support for ratification.  The path to approval by the U.S. Senate is a tough climb but is achievable with a major push.  So far, the White House has done too little to begin the ascent.  Now is the time for President Obama to begin that effort.

    Ratification by Israel, Egypt, and Iran would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the region.  It would also help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a Middle East Zone free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Iranian ratification of the CTBT—as well as a decision to allow the transmittal of data from international monitoring stations on its territory to the International Data Center in Vienna— should be a part of any comprehensive P5+1/Iran agreement.

    Iran’s leaders should want to ratify the CTBT to help distinguish their country from North Korea, which for now, is the only state that openly threatens to conduct further nuclear tests.

    States not involved in the Iran nuclear talks, particularly the Non-Aligned Movement, need to do their part by calling on President Hassan Rouhani to ratify the treaty.


    As Obama said last year, “[S]o long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe. Complacency is not in the character of great nations.”  States and this conference must do more than simply repeat previous calls for action. States must be prepared to act and they must do so before next year’s review conference.

    In the coming months, creative, bold approaches will be needed to overcome old and new obstacles to the long-running effort to reduce nuclear dangers and to fulfill the promises of the NPT.



    1. “Arms Control Today 2008 Presidential Q&A: President-elect Barack Obama,” Arms Control Today, December, 2008.


    We are one year away from the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and the global nuclear disarmament and risk reduction enterprise is at yet another important crossroads. The situation requires that the states gathered here must seriously consider, explore, and pursue alternative options to reduce global nuclear dangers and jumpstart progress toward the fulfillment of the ambitious 2010 NPT Action Plan.

    Subject Resources:

    ACA Executive Director Participates in Faith Leaders Conference on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear War



    The Humanitarian Imperative to Accelerate Progress
    On Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation

    Prepared Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball for the April 24 Conference

    “Faith Leaders and the Dialogue on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear War”

    U.S. Institute for Peace, Washington, D.C.

    Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons have driven global leaders to pursue concrete steps to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use.

    Over time, our understanding of the scope of these effects has become more sophisticated.  Early studies found that the direct effects of a large-scale nuclear exchange would produce catastrophic regional and national damage that would kill tens of millions and likely several hundred million people within one month of the initial exchange.[1]

    More comprehensive studies in mid-1980s found that the direct effects of such a large-scale nuclear war involving thousands of nuclear detonations could result in several hundred million human fatalities, the indirect effects could be far greater, leading to the loss of one to four billion lives.[2]

    More recent studies have found that even a smaller nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan involving just 100 nuclear detonations against urban targets would kill 20 million people in the first week and loft soot into the global atmosphere that would reduce surface temperatures by 1.3 degrees Celsius and disrupt agricultural production and put 1-2 billion people at risk for famine.[3]

    These and other findings make it clear that the use of even a relatively small number of nuclear weapons would result in humanitarian emergencies far beyond the immediate target zones of the warring parties.

    The catastrophic impact effects of nuclear weapons use make these weapons an enormous global health and security liability.

    Nevertheless, the nine states and several of their allies, still employ nuclear weapons as part of their military and security doctrines. As a consequence, the risk that nuclear weapons might be  used again someday—in response to conventional attack, in response to a nuclear attack, or as the result of accidental exchange—remains.

    The Humanitarian Effects Process and the NPT

    Appropriately enough, the 2010 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference Final Document expresses “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and [reaffirmed] the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

    The NPT nuclear-weapon states committed to “diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons” and “[d]iscuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons.”

    The Final Document commits the states parties to certain actions to reduce the risk of such an outcome, including some 22 overlapping nuclear disarmament commitments.

    Among other steps, the 2010 NPT Action Plan calls for:

    • changes in nuclear doctrines to diminish the role of nuclear weapons;
    • reductions of the number of all types of nuclear weapons;
    • changes in the operational readiness of nuclear weapons to reduce the risk of accidental war;
    • increased transparency and reporting by the nuclear-weapon states;
    • tangible progress toward entry into force of the CTBT; and
    • overcoming the paralysis of the UN’s disarmament machinery, especially in the CD.

    The ability of the 2010 NPT Review Conference to reach agreement on the Action Plan was an important breakthrough, but the follow-through on the plan has been disappointing.

    Slow Progress

    The United States and Russia did successfully negotiate, sign, and ratify the New START treaty in 2010. The treaty, which entered into force in February 2011, requires them to cut their deployed strategic stockpiles to no more that 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 strategic delivery systems by 2018.

    Since then, progress on most of the key steps outlined in the 2010 NPT disarmament action plan have slowed to a crawl. The U.S. and Russia have begun to implement New START reductions and continue on-site inspections and information exchanges under the treaty, but to date, there has been no progress toward reductions below the ceilings set by New START.

    Despite adjustments to U.S. missile defense plans in Europe announced by the Pentagon in March 2013 that eliminate any near-term threat to Russia’s strategic missiles, President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed President Barack Obama’s June 2013 proposal to slash U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear stockpiles by another one-third below New START ceilings—to nearly 1,000 deployed strategic warheads.

    On Dec. 25, Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's security and disarmament department said: “Now is the most inauspicious moment in the past 10-15 years to talk about further reductions.” Russian officials list a range of grievances that must be addressed before they will be willing to engage in a new round of formals arms reduction talks.

    U.S.-Russian tensions have only worsened since Moscow’s meddling in Ukraine and it is unlikely that Presidents Obama and Putin can find the will or the way to engage in new, formal talks on further nuclear arms reductions and transparency measures regarding missile defense, which the Kremlin cites as one of the reasons why it does not want to engage in further disarmament negotiations with Washington.

    As a result, new, informal but still verifiable approaches to reduce bloated U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles are in order.

    Progress on reducing tactical nuclear weapons in Europe also remains stalled. NATO declared as part of its 2012 Deterrence and Defense Posture Review its intention to engage Russia in a process of confidence building on tactical nuclear weapons in order to pave the way for future reductions.

    Even though the remaining 180 U.S. B61 nuclear gravity bombs that are still stored at bases in five NATO states are not necessary for the common defense of NATO, the alliance has said it will contemplate changes to the nuclear posture only on the basis of Russian reciprocity.

    Unfortunately, the NATO bureaucracy has been unable to produce a common proposal for accounting and transparency for U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. This situation allows Russia to maintain its far larger tactical nuclear weapons stockpile in the region.

    Meanwhile, because nuclear weapons remain part of the military and security strategy of nuclear weapons states, nuclear weapons competition continues among the world’s nuclear-armed states.

    As Hans Kristensen writes in the May issue of Arms Control Today:

    “… all of the world’s nuclear weapons states are busy modernizing their arsenals, continue to reaffirm the importance of such weapons, and none of them appear willing to eliminate their nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.”

    The United States alone is scheduled to spend in excess of $355 billion over the next decade on maintaining, replacing, and upgrading its nuclear warheads and delivery systems.[4]

    Of course, since the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States have significantly reduced the overall size of their nuclear arsenals, but huge warhead and missile inventories remain. China, India, Pakistan—and possibly also Israel—are increasing their stockpiles.

    North Korea continues to slowly improve its ballistic missile and fissile material production capabilities and may soon conduct its fourth nuclear test explosion, which could give it the know-how to deliver such weapons on missiles.

    Most states recognize that nuclear testing is a vestige of the past and most have halted testing and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Nevertheless, eight key states must still ratify before its entry into force—most importantly the United States. Despite strong statements of support from President Obama, the path to approval by the U.S. Senate is steep, and the White House has done little to begin the ascent.

    Without action by the United States and China to ratify the CTBT, other states necessary for the treaty’s formal entry into force will be less inclined to accede to the treaty—and it is more likely that North Korea will conduct further nuclear tests.

    Consequently, the door to the renewal of nuclear testing and new and more deadly types of nuclear weapons remains open. Positive action on the CTBT could help curb proliferation risks in South Asia, the Middle East, and on the Korean peninsula.

    The current state of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation affairs is unsustainable.

    As President Obama noted in 2009: “Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but … we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.”

    Frustration amongst the non-nuclear weapon state majority is running high.

    The conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons held in Oslo, Norway in 2013 and Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014 are a symptom of the growing impatience regarding the agonizingly slow pace of action by the nuclear-armed states to fulfill their disarmament obligations and commitments.

    As the 2015 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference approaches, pressure to accelerate action on disarmament will only grow.

    As government officials, parliamentarians, and civil society leaders, we must consider how to jumpstart action on meaningful, practical proposals that can challenge dangerous nuclear doctrines and reduce the risk of catastrophic nuclear war.

    Slow Steps vs. Bans? A Reality Check

    In response to the slow pace of progress, some states and some civil society organizations participating in the Oslo and Nayarit conferences say the “step-by-step approach,” as expressed in the 2010 NPT Review Conference has reached a dead end. They argue the time is right to pursue the negotiation of a convention to banning the possession and use of nuclear weapons. The core of the argument for a treaty banning nuclear weapons is that it would “stigmatize the weapons” and “also build the pressure for disarmament.”[5]

    Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states have proposed the negotiation of a convention banning the possession of nuclear weapons in the moribund Conference on Disarmament (CD).

    Such efforts are well-intentioned, principled, and appealing in its simplicity. Unfortunately at this point in time, this approach would not likely do much to reduce the risk of nuclear war, slow nuclear buildups in certain regions, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the military and security policies of possessor state and their allies, nor would it likely accelerate action on concrete steps toward the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.

    Nevertheless, such an initiative clearly has the potential to increase pressure on some nuclear-armed states to accelerate action on nuclear disarmament, which is essential to achieving global zero.

    Unfortunately, even if non-nuclear-weapon states were to adopt convention banning nuclear weapons outside the CD, it would not have the support and participation of the NPT nuclear weapons possessor states, which oppose such an effort.

    It is more likely that the nuclear-armed states and their allies would likely dismiss and ignore a “ban treaty” as an instrument supported only by nonnuclear weapon states that accomplishes little more than the NPT already does.

    Although a majority of the states attending the Nayrarit conference expressed support for an eventual ban on nuclear weapons, many states do not believe that the time is right for the pursuit of a convention banning the possession and use of nuclear weapons.

    For their part, the leaders of the nuclear weapons states have thus far boycotted the Humanitarian Consequences Conferences. Some of them call the conferences a “distraction,” in part because they worry they are simply a prelude to an effort to begin negotiations on a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Thus far, the conferences have focused on the consequences of nuclear weapons use.

    The failure of the five original nuclear weapons states (a.k.a. the “P5”) to engage in the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons dialogue is counterproductive and a missed opportunity to advance progress toward common disarmament objectives.

    In response the humanitarian impacts dialogue, the P5 have repeated their commitment to the so-called “step-by-step approach,” but unfortunately they have failed to explain how they propose to jumpstart progress.

    In a statement issued April 15 from Beijing, the P5 states say they “are now more engaged than ever in regular interactions on disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation issues.”

    The statement also says: “the P5 intend to continue to seek progress on the step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, which is the only practical path to achieving a world without nuclear weapons and in keeping with our NPT obligations.”

    The P5’s commitments to meet their disarmament obligations are welcome, as is their ongoing and hard work to create the conditions for further progress.

    But absent concrete actions and creative, new initiatives to overcome longstanding problems between the United States and Russia, as well as more active leadership from the other nuclear-armed states, the P5 rhetoric simply does not represent a fulfillment of their NPT obligations.

    Ways Forward

    All people, including the leaders of the nations of the world, have a moral, legal, and international security imperative to come together around new and practical approaches to accelerate progress toward the elimination of the risk of global nuclear catastrophe. More than one path can and should be pursued simultaneously.

    The conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are a useful and important venue for dialogue that should be welcomed by the nuclear-armed states. The conferences can play a powerful role in increasing awareness as well as political will on nuclear disarmament.

    Rather than dismiss the next Humanitarian Consequences Conference scheduled for Vienna, Austria in December, the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states should actively participate in the meeting and support joint statements warning of the consequences of nuclear weapons use. The nuclear-armed states must also recognize that unless they propose and pursue practical, new ways to accelerate action on their disarmament commitments, frustration from the non-nuclear weapon state majority will increase.

    Leading non-nuclear-weapon states must also better utilize the Humanitarian Consequences dialogue to develop and come together around proposals that more effectively challenge the dangerous nuclear doctrines of the nuclear weapons states.

    As Ambassador Desra Percaya, Indonesia’s Representative to the United Nations, said in a speech in Washington D.C. in March: “…the world cannot wait endlessly for nuclear weapons’ elimination. The risks are obvious.  For a nuclear detonation, deliberate or accidental, its effects will be horrendous on people and all living things – we will all suffer.  We must act now.”

    While there are few quick solutions to stubborn nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation challenges, present circumstances demand that serious international leaders consider new approaches to accelerate the agonizingly slow pace of the so-called step-by-step approach.

    The following are some ideas that could be pursued beginning this year.

    1. Engage the P5 In a Discussion on the Impacts of Their Nuclear Weapons Use Plans

    Before the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the nuclear weapon states should be called upon to explain the effects of their nuclear weapons use doctrines and war plans, if they were to be carried out, and explain how the use of such weapons would be consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law.

    The June 2013 Report on the Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy of the United States claims that “[t]he new guidance makes clear that all plans must also be consistent with the fundamental principles of the Law of Armed Conflict. Accordingly, plans will, for example, apply the principles of distinction and proportionality and see to minimize collateral damage to civilian populations and civilian objects. The United States will not intentionally target civilian populations or civilian objects.”

    The NPT nuclear weapon states should, as part of their reporting responsibilities for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, report in detail on their nuclear weapons employment policies so that states parties can evaluate whether such practices are consistent with international humanitarian law.

    Particularly if the P5 states do not participate in the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, the United States and other nuclear-armed states should be called upon to explain the legal rationale and practical effects their nuclear weapons employment plans at the 2015 NPT Conference.

    The discussion would, in the very least, highlight the importance of reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons, reinforce the norm against their use, and stimulate new thinking within the nuclear weapons states on the need to revise their nuclear weapons employment plans.

    2. Explore a ban on the use of nuclear weapons

    One implication of the catastrophic, global effects of even a relatively small number of nuclear weapons detonations is that nuclear weapons should not ever be used. As President Reagan once said: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought.”

    One very logical way for responsible states to address the NPT Action plan goals of diminishing the role and significance of nuclear weapons in military and security doctrines and assuring nonnuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be to explore options for a legally-binding instrument banning the use of nuclear weapons for any purpose.

    This is the approach taken with respect to chemical weapons in 1925 when states agreed in the Geneva Protocols that their use "has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world" and that "this prohibition shall be universally accepted ... binding alike the conscience and the practice of nations.”

    The negotiation of such a ban on the use of nuclear weapons could take place in a dedicated diplomatic forum, possibly to be established by the UNGA in 2015, beginning with the convening of a Group of Governmental Experts.

    Even if the nuclear weapons states do not initially join in the negotiation or sign the instrument, the process itself and the final product would in the very least help to delegitimize nuclear weapons, promote a robust, serious debate on the nuclear use doctrines of the nuclear weapons possessor states, strengthen the legal and political barriers against their use, and help create the conditions for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

    Such an approach would, in my view, have a greater chance of winning broad, international support than a treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons.

    For many years, India has, in fact, supported a convention on the prohibition of the use or threat to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.[6]

    3. Steps to Accelerate Progress on Nuclear Disarmament.

    With the progress toward most of the key steps outlined in the 2010 disarmament action plan at a near standstill, it is also essential that the nuclear-armed states consider, and the nonnuclear-weapon states push for, actions that can jumpstart the process. Such steps might include:

    Accelerate Pace of New START Reductions: Even after New START, U.S. and Russian stockpiles will still far exceed any plausible deterrence requirements and the use of just a few nuclear weapons by any country would have catastrophic global consequences.

    As a 2012 report by the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board[7] suggests, with New START verification tools in place, further nuclear reductions need not wait for a formal follow-on treaty. President Obama, the report suggests, could announce he will accelerate the pace of reductions under New START to meet the treaty ceilings ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline.

    So long as Russia takes reciprocal steps, Obama could announce or simply act to reduce U.S. force levels below the treaty’s ceiling of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles. A reasonable target would be for both side to reduce their stockpiles to 1,000 deployed strategic warheads and 500 strategic delivery vehicles each.

    Such an initiative could induce Moscow to build down rather than build up to U.S. strategic force levels, which currently exceed Russia’s by more than 275 deployed strategic launchers, and could allow both sides to trim the high cost of planned strategic force modernization.

    Adjust Nuclear Readiness Posture of Some ICBMs: As a confidence-building measure, U.S. and Russian experts could commence technical discussions on verifiably reducing the alert status of an agreed portion of their respective stockpiles, beginning with a portion of their land-based intercontinental ballistic missile forces.

    In 2008, president-elect Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation. I believe that we must address this dangerous situation—something that President Bush promised to do when he campaigned for president back in 2000, but did not do once in office. I will work with Russia to end such outdated Cold War policies in a mutual and verifiable way.”[8]

    Capping the Arsenals of the Other Nuclear-Armed States: Nuclear disarmament is a global enterprise that requires leadership from all states, including China, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as states outside the NPT, specifically India and Pakistan, which continue to expand their fissile stocks and weapons holdings.

    A realistic and pragmatic contribution to global nuclear disarmament would be for all other nuclear-armed states to exercise restraint by not increasing the overall size of their nuclear weapons stockpiles or increasing the size of their fissile material stockpiles, so long as the United States and Russia continue to make further progress in reducing all types of their nuclear weapons.

    At their eighth ministerial meeting in Hiroshima on April 12, the foreign ministers of the ten-nation Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative[9] called on “those not yet engaged in nuclear disarmament efforts to reduce arsenals with the objective of their total elimination.”

    Missile Defense Restraint and Cooperation: Despite the cancellation of phase IV of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, U.S. missile defense plans continue to complicate the nuclear arms reduction enterprise. The United States and Russia should resume and intensify U.S.-Russian talks to achieve verifiable measures to make missile defense capabilities more transparent, consider exchanges of data on technical parameters, and conduct regular joint exercises.

    They should also explore options for a joint center for the surveillance and monitoring of missile threats and space objects.

    Redouble Efforts In Support of the CTBT: Despite statements of support for ratification by President Barack Obama and senior administration officials, the path to approval by the Senate remains challenging due to a lack of political will and partisan divisions in Washington.

    Ratification is only possible if President Obama decides to direct his administration to organize a “New START-like” ratification campaign with efforts peaking in 2015. So far, he has not done so. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller has recently pledged to step up public outreach in support of the treaty. The Obama administration’s goal and our goal should be to:

    • Continue to underscore the value of the CTBT in heading off proliferation in the Middle East, South Asia, and Northeast Asia;
    • Bolster CTBT outreach efforts and demonstrate the broad public and opinion-leader support that exists for the CTBT; and
    • Encourage Senators to agree to “reconsider” the CTBT in light of new information about the treaty.

    Other states can take leadership on the CTBT, advance its entry into force, and bolster the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

    Specifically, ratification by Israel, Egypt and Iran would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the region. It would also help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a Middle East Zone free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Following a mid-March visit to Israel by CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he considers the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to be of no use in the Middle East, the sources said, but by contrast Israel considers the CTBT to be “very significant,” is “proud” to have signed it, and “has never had a problem with the CTBT,” according to a report in The Times of Israel.

    Iran was at one time an active participant in the CTBT negotiations and on September 24, 1996, Iran signed the treaty. Today, Iranian ratification and transmittal of data from international monitoring stations on its territory to the International Data Center in Vienna would help reduce concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads.

    The Bottom Line

    As President Obama said last year, “[S]o long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe. Complacency is not in the character of great nations.”

    In the coming months and years, creative, bold approaches will be needed to overcome old and new obstacles to the long-running effort to reduce nuclear dangers.

    [1] An April 1979 U.S. Arms Control Disarmament Agency report found that an exchange of U.S. and Soviet nuclear forces involving a total of approximately 18,000 strategic warheads would kill from 25-100 million people in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Under the scenario examined the population centers would not be targeted but would be within the range of effects of the weapons targeted against military and industrial targets. As a result, the 200 largest cities in each country would be destroyed and 80% of all cities with 25,000 people or more would be attacked by at least one nuclear weapon.

    [2] The Medical Implications of Nuclear War, Steering Committee for the Symposium on the Medical Implications of Nuclear War, Fred Solomon and Robert Q. Marston, Editors. U.S. Institutes of Medicine, 1986.

    [3] “The Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear War,” Ira Helfand, M.D., Arms Control Today, November 2013.

    [4] “Nuclear Arsenal Costs to Rise, CBO Says,” by Tom Collina, Arms Control Today, January/February 2014.

    [5] “The Case for a Ban Treaty,” from the Web site of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

    [6] Statement of Amb. D.B. Venkatesh Varma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament to the First Committee of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, October 18, 2013.

    [7]International Security Advisory Board Report on Options for Implementing Additional Nuclear Force Reductions,” Nov. 27, 2012.

    [8] “Arms Control Today 2008 Presidential Q&A: President-elect Barack Obama,” Arms Control Today, December, 2008.

    [9] The group includes: Australia; Canada; Chile; Germany; Mexico; the Netherlands; Nigeria; the Philippines; Poland; Turkey; and the United Arab Emirates.


    Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons have driven global leaders to pursue concrete steps to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use.

    Subject Resources:

    Russian-German-U.S. Expert Commission to Release Report



    "Preparing for Deep Cuts: Options for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security"
    Monday, April 28, 2014
    10:00 am - 11:30 am

    The Brookings Institution
    1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
    Click to RSVP

    Four years after the conclusion of the New START Treaty, the United States and Russia continue to maintain nuclear arsenals far exceeding the requirements for deterrence. Even before the current tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and Crimea, differences over other security questions had stymied progress on further nuclear arms cuts. It nevertheless remains important that policymakers in Washington, Moscow and European capitals continue to explore ideas for promoting greater stability and predictability at lower levels of armaments. The 21-member U.S.-Russian-German Deep Cuts Commission has formulated proposals to achieve further arms control and nuclear risk reduction to enhance national, Euro-Atlantic and international security.

    On April 28, the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at Brookings will host the release of the Deep Cuts Commission's first report, "Preparing for Deep Cuts: Options for Enhancing Euro-Atlantic and International Security," and a discussion of its key findings and policy recommendations. Ulrich Kuehn and Götz Neuneck of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy; Eugene Miasnikov of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies; and Greg Thielmann of the Arms Control Association will detail the possibilities for and challenges facing further nuclear reductions. Brookings Senior Fellow Steven Pifer, director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, will moderate.

    Following their opening remarks, the panelists will take questions from the audience. Copies of the Commission report, will be available at the event.

    Speakers include:

    • Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative, Brookings Institution
    • Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
    • Götz Neuneck, Deputy Director, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, IFSH
    • Eugene Miasnikov, Director, Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies
    • Ulrich Kühn, Deep Cuts Project Coordinator, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, IFSH


    The trilateral German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission was established in 2013 to devise concepts on how to overcome current challenges to deep nuclear reductions. Through means of realistic analysis and specific recommendations, the Commission strives to translate the already existing political commitments to further nuclear reductions into concrete and feasible action. The commission received active support from the German Federal Foreign Office and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.


    The 21-member Deep Cuts Commission, made up of former government officials and arms control experts from the United States, Russia, and Germany, have taken on the challenge of finding ways to achieve further arms control and nuclear risk reduction steps that can enhance national, Euro-Atlantic, and international security.

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    Transcript Available - The NPT and the Humanitarian Consequences of N-Weapons



    Options for Accelerating Progress on Nuclear Disarmament Through the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Dialogue and the NPT Process

    Monday, March 31, 2014
    9:30-11:30 am

    Organized by ACA in cooperation with Physicians for Social Responsibility

    The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Choate Room
    1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

    For decades, the risks posed by nuclear weapons use have driven global leaders, particularly the policymakers in states possessing nuclear weapons, to pursue concrete steps to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use.

    Recognizing this threat, the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference Final Document expresses "deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and [reaffirmed] the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law."

    The lack of progress on key 2010 NPT disarmament goals has led many nonnuclear weapon states to organize a series of conferences focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. A third conference will be held by Austria in Vienna later this year to evaluate how the humanitarian consequences dialogue can lead to concrete actions that reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles and risks and spur action before and after the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

    Speakers included:

    • Ambassador Desra Percaya, Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations;
    • Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Senior Research Associate, Center for Nonproliferation Studies;
    • Dr. Ira Helfand, Co-president, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War;
    • George Perkovich, Director Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
    • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association (moderator).


    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.

    DARYL KIMBALL: Well, good morning, everyone.  I’m Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, and I want to welcome everyone to our forum this morning on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons dialogue and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty process.  And we’re pleased this morning to be teaming up on this event with Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization that I worked for once upon a time in the 1990s, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    And through the years, with the help of organizations like PSR, many of us have come to understand that the direct effects of large-scale nuclear conflict could result in several hundred millions human casualties and the indirect effects would be even greater.  Nevertheless, the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations still threaten to use their massive nuclear arsenals in the name of deterrence, and many continue to build up their nuclear warfighting capabilities.

    Recognizing this threat, the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference final document expresses deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and the conference reaffirmed the need for all states at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.  And as many of you know, the NPT states parties also agreed to certain actions to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use, including some 22 overlapping nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament – nuclear disarmament commitments and many more nonproliferation commitments.

    Unfortunately, progress towards these goals has stalled – and we’ll hear more about that from some of our speakers today – for a range of reasons, not the least of which is the increasing friction between Washington and Moscow about whether and how to proceed beyond the New START Treaty with further nuclear reductions.  Now, we are about a month away from the beginning of the final preparatory committee meeting before the 2015 NPT review conference, which as we’ll hear from our speakers, promises to be more contentious, to say the least, than the 2010 review conference.

    Now, the concern about the severe consequences of nuclear weapons use has led many states, most of them non-nuclear weapon states, to organize and attend three international conferences focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use, the first in Norway in 2013, the second in Mexico last month, and a third humanitarian consequences conference will be held in Austria, in Vienna, later this year, perhaps in December.

    Here at our forum today, we’re going to be discussing these and other issues.  We have, I think, a great lineup of expert speakers who are going to help us explore some key questions and issues, including the issues surrounding the upcoming NPT review conference, the origins and goals and next steps of the humanitarian consequences dialogue and whether the United States and other nuclear-armed states should participate, and how states can overcome the hurdles blocking progress on disarmament and accelerate progress to reduce nuclear risks before and after the 2015 NPT review conference.

    So to start us off, we have Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova.  She is senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies here in Washington, and she’s going to discuss some of the dynamics of the NPT review process and the humanitarian consequences dialogue.  She served as an expert for the Kazakh delegation at the 2010 NPT review conference and attended the Mexico conference last month at Nayarit.  And she will also have an article in the upcoming issue of Arms Control Today, the journal of the Arms Control Association, on the 2015 NPT review conference situation.

    Next we’ll hear from Dr. Ira Helfand, a longtime friend and colleague of mine from my PSR days.  He will outline some of the latest findings of the direct and indirect effects of nuclear weapons use and his views on how states should respond to those findings.  Ira is the co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which of course won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for Peace.  He is an emergency room physician and an internal medicine physician by training, and he’s a very excellent speaker and motivator and advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  He also spoke at the February conference in Mexico.

    And we’re very pleased and honored also to have with us from New York Ambassador Desra Percaya of the Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.  He’s held a number of senior positions for his government since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986.  And in his current role, he’s been deeply involved in the disarmament debate at the U.N. and is among the leading voices in the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons dialogue.

    And last but not least, we’ll hear from George Perkovitch, who’s director of the nuclear policy program and director of studies here at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and he’s a longtime and keen observer and scholar and advocate for advancing the nonproliferation and disarmament objectives of the NPT.

    So after each of the speakers makes their remarks, about 12 minutes or so each, we’ll take your questions and comments and get into what I think will be a very lively and interesting discussion.

    So with that introduction, Gaukhar, if you could lead us off this morning.


    Thank you very much, Daryl and Arms Control Association and Carnegie Endowment, for organizing the event, and Physicians for Social Responsibility as well, and for having me here.  It’s indeed a privilege to share the panel with these speakers.

    Daryl has asked me to first of all cover the major issues ahead of the 2015 NPT review conference and then to go a bit deeper into the humanitarian dimension, its origins and its role.  And I’ll try to do that.  I will not cover all the main issues because it will take a lot of time, but we’ll be happy to return, you know, to them during the question and answers.

    I also must note that I hear there is an event next door at Brookings about Iran negotiations, so that led me to think that we need just to organize a Middle East event somewhere in a third location, and that will cover all the main issues for – (laughter) – for the 2015 review conference.

    And there are a number of reasons for that, all of them historical, but even – but going back to the treaty negotiation, you would know that it’s the uneven distribution of rights and obligations within the treaty and this promise of pursuing nuclear disarmament that’s contained in Article 6 of the NPT – these two are really the main reasons we have an NPT review process, though, because the non-nuclear states wanted that kind of leverage, to go back every five years.  So it’s not surprising, it’s not illogical that nuclear disarmament has been a perennial concern and has always been central to the review conferences.  And 2010 was not an exception; 2015 will not be either.

    And then in 1995, Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction also was added to this – to the ranks of key issues for the NPT, and since then it was really nuclear disarmament in the Middle East that have been key to outcomes and lack thereof of the NPT review conferences, and that’s, you know, the crash and burn of 2005 was very much due to these two issues.

    And then when we came back to the (reborn ?) process in 2010, again, some kind of agreement progress on the Middle East and on nuclear disarmament were critical to achieving a consensus outcome.  And so so far, the progress on implementing either set of decisions has been let’s say less than impressive, and that does spell trouble for 2015 because these issues are not going away, and they will be central at the next review conference.

    A little bit on the Middle East.  The decision, as you well know, the main step adopted by the review conference in 2010 was that there should be a conference, regional conference, with the participation of all states in the Middle East on the establishment of the zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  The conference was supposed to convene in 2012.  Obviously, we’ve missed the deadline, and so far there is no new date.  It led to quite a fallout at the previous prepcom in Geneva.

    But today the situation looks a lot less dire, and I’m actually cautiously optimistic, the reason being that it’s in the past six months, there have been several rounds of informal consultations organized by the facilitator, Ambassador Jaakko Laajava.  And for the first time we actually had Israel and a number of Arab states and on one occasion Iran as well sitting in one room and actually talking about business, about, you know, their concerns, about the agenda, possible outcomes, modalities of the conference.  So that’s clearly progress.  They still haven’t agreed on the agenda.  There is no date.  But I’m reasonably optimistic that they would like to actually end up with the Middle East conference before 2015.

    Now, does that mean smooth sailing? No.  I think the absence of the Middle East review conference will certainly be a tremendous hurdle.  I don’t think it will be possible to have consensus without the Middle East.  But even with the Middle East conference, I think what we’re heading is a much bigger kind of more profound confrontation potentially between nuclear and non-nuclear states and then some division within the non-nuclear weapon states about the appropriate progress of disarmament, the rate of implementation of the action plan and the approach to it – you know, there is a lot of emphasis on the step-by-step approach, and then there is also the conversation about the more comprehensive approach.  I think this has been – the past two-three years have been very important in the development of that kind of – of that kind of conversation.

    The action plan that was adopted in 2010 was very much the product of the initial idea to have an action plan of disarmament, which is why the disarmament section is formed – formulated in the most actionable terms.  So a lot of focus will be on the limitation of the action plan, the first 22 items.

    And so far, there is not much to show in terms of its implementation.  The actions that are doing the best have to do with bilateral arms reduction.  So New START Treaty is being implemented according to its provisions.  There – seems to be everything going all right.  But the discussion on the follow-on steps, as you’re well aware, is at a standstill, so there is – there has been no progress – no prospect of new U.S.-Russian treaty even before the developments in Ukraine.  And now with those developments, it really seems like the situation is quite hopeless.  United Kingdom is the only country that announced unilateral reductions since 2010.  China seems to be increasing its arsenal, not that we would know it from their official sources, and that, you know, it’s linked to the problem of transparency, and that’s also quite central.  And the United States was sort of expected to announce unilateral reductions, but again, that got linked to the U.S.-Russian progress, and the prospects are not good.

    What, however, is more important to non-nuclear weapon states, rather than the numerical reductions, is the very question of the role of nuclear weapons and nuclear security in national security, in doctrines in the – in the alliance, defense alliances.  And there the situation has remained largely the same.  Since 2010 there was some movement in the U.K., in the United States, but so far not to the point of the sole purpose doctrine, you know, when nuclear weapons are – the only purpose is to deter a nuclear attack and nothing else.  Russia – in Russia, nuclear weapons are very central to national security strategy.  France just released a white paper on defense a year ago where they reaffirmed the role of nuclear weapons as central, as the guarantee of national sovereignty and security.  So these are all very bad signs for non-nuclear weapon states for the long term, and these matters more than, you know, a little – you know, some material disposition or some reductions in deployed weapons.  Furthermore, all five are engaged in modernization, and so that is also a signal for non-nuclear weapon states about the continued and long-term projected reliance on nuclear weapons by the – by the nuclear weapon states.  And so this is – this will all will – this will all be discussed in 2015.  That will be very central.

    A lot of focus has been since 2010 on this new process, and there were two new process that developed.  One of the humanitarian initiative that we’re talk – we’ll talk about, and the other process is the so-called P-5, the consultations among the nuclear weapon states on a range of issues, including disarmament and other NPT-related developments.  The five nuclear weapon states are expected to report on this engagement, on the results of these engagements, on the progress in April or beginning May at the prepcom.  And again, the reporting is going to be very modest.  The expectations among non-nuclear weapons states have been high, but nuclear weapon states have played them down.  The – so far, what they worked on primarily was transparency in reporting, verification and a so-called glossary of nuclear terminology.  And initially, it was supposed to focus on arms control disarmament and got expanded to nuclear security, nonproliferation issues.  They – significantly, they did manage to adopt a standard reporting form to talk about their arsenal, about the doctrine, about arms control disarmament activities.  On the downside, however, it’s not going to be unified report.  There’s a standard.  And then each state is going to report what that state feels comfortable, so it’s going to – again, it’s not going to be sort of a one kind of approach.

    But more fundamentally, there seems to be, in this – in this kind of slow progress, there seems to be lack of urgency on nuclear disarmament on the part of nuclear weapon states.  A lot of it has to do with how they view the action plan.  They view it in a very long term, long-term prospect.  And you can see it in the language that is used and statements by nuclear weapon states.  You know, it’s a road map, you know, it’s a slow process.  And that contrasts very much to the non-nuclear weapon states’ expectations.  They may not have expected the action plan to be implemented by 2015.  That was certainly unrealistic.  But, you know, are we talking about a 50-year horizon or 60-year horizon?  And how does that go together with the modernization plans?

    And so as a reaction to that kind of incremental step-by-step, very slow long-term approach, the non-nuclear weapon states have been putting on their own initiatives in the past two or three years, and it’s been really interesting to see that development.  And humanitarian initiative is one of those very bright manifestations of non-nuclear weapon states taking the initiative back and reclaiming the ownership of nuclear disarmament issues and reclaiming their place in the debate that they also can influence, that they can influence the terms of the discourse.

    And where it began, as Daryl mentioned, is in 2010 review conference.  It expressed concern about catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapon use.  And then that was picked up also by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.  There was a council of delegates movement meeting, and they adopted a resolution calling on states to make sure that nuclear weapons are never used again, regardless of the states’ views on their legality; another debate that’s been developing recently is, you know, whether nuclear weapons should be considered legal at all.

    And the point of the humanitarian initiative debate is to really shift the focus from what is a traditional NPT debate on nuclear weapons centered on state security, centered on strategy and stability, all those, you know, warm relatable human terms, and actually shift it to the question of what do these weapons do and what are the effects and whether that is compatible with who we are as humans, whether we as humanity should tolerate their continued existence and, if not, what should be done about that.  So really, the focus is not on the possessors, on good, bad, good guys, bad guys; the focus is on weapons and their effects.  And the people promoting the initiative have been very specific about emphasizing that point.

    So the message clearly has a lot of appeal.  The message is very inclusive.  It broadens the debate.  It goes beyond the – beyond the NPT room.  It goes beyond the diplomatic circles.  It involves the humanitarian organizations.  Civil society very much took up the – took up the issues.  So it’s really a much more dynamic conversation we’re used to in the NPT conference rooms.  And you can see the growing momentum in the way the joint statements on the humanitarian initiative have been gathering support.  It started with the 16-nation statement and the 2012 NPT prepcom, and the latest joint statement was delivered at the first committee last October, and it was already higher at 125 states that signed up.

    So – but along with the – with being a unifying initiative for a lot of non-nuclear weapon states, I think what happened is that also it exacerbated a lot of the tensions the pre-existed in the NPT and just were, you know, sort of hushed over and not in the foreground, and a lot of it has to do with a difference of views between nuclear – non-nuclear weapon states in and outside of nuclear alliances.  So you will see a much more cautious approach to the humanitarian initiative by states like Germany, like the Netherlands, like Japan, who traditionally have been nuclear disarmament advocates, but now they find themselves in a difficult position.  They cannot sign up to statements that say, you know, nuclear weapons should not be used under any circumstances because they are in the alliances that foresee potential use of nuclear weapons.  I think all that has been boiling up and developing and snowballing.

    And if nothing major happens by May 2015, I think that issue will be central to the review conference, this divergence of views about what constitutes an appropriate approach to nuclear disarmament, what is the appropriate debate, what is the appropriate rate of progress, and what are the next steps.  And this will be a very contentious debate.  And it might be very bad for the treaty in the short term.  And there have been a lot of discussion about how it is a distraction from the NPT, how it is a distraction from the action plan.  The reaction of nuclear weapon states have been very negative.  They boycotted collectively both conferences – boycotted collectively the first conference in Oslo and then also individually did not show up in Nayarit last month.  So yes, on the – on the one hand, in the short term, there is an exacerbation of tensions and disagreements.

    But I think it’s a very healthy debate for the NPT in the long term because we can – we can move incrementally on small steps, and they have been good steps.  They have been good positive developments, but very small.  And that – and that really shines a light on the fundamental question, you know.  Are we very – are we really serious about accomplishing disarmament, or do we have second thoughts?  And I’ve heard some second thoughts in Geneva last year about, or, maybe disarmament is destabilizing, maybe disarmament is not what we really want.  And this – these questions have to be asked. And I think states really have to be made to do some soul-searching about what kind of role for nuclear weapons they see in their national security concepts, whether or not they possess nuclear weapons.  And so I think – I think it may – it may be a very problematic 2015 review conference, but it’s like having therapy, you know; you have to face them, you have to face some of those hairy issues to actually come to some kind of – some kind of development.  And so I’ll try to finish this on a very optimistic tone.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you.  Thank you for the great overview of a lot of different developments.

    Ira Helfand, if you could please take it away.

    IRA HELFAND:  Thanks.  Thank you for that very, very nice and powerful review of where we are.

    What I want to talk to you about a little bit right now is just indeed the humanitarian message that has so I think empowered and motivated this campaign.  Back in the 1980s there was a very, very widespread understanding of what was going to happen if there were a nuclear war.  People knew what these weapons could do, lots of people, millions of people.  We’ve lost that understanding, by and large.  Certainly, in the general population, there is very little understanding about what nuclear weapons can do or even how many there are in the world.  People of my generation have actively put it out of their minds and don’t think about it at all, and there have been generations that have come of age since the end of the Cold War that never lived through that stuff and never knew this material at all.

    And it has been our belief, Physicians for Social Responsibility, international physicians, that this information is critical to the debate at the simplest level because you need to have informed consent.  People need to know what they’re taking about when they make decisions.  And as a tactical or a policy level, perhaps, for the reasons that Gaukhar explained so nicely, that if you have this as the starting point, what happens if the weapons are used, that conditions the entire conversation in a very different way than if you start with, oh, where are we today, and what can we accomplish this week and so on.

    So let me just kind of go over some of the data that’s emerged.

    There are basically I think two ways of looking at this.  One is small-scale nuclear war, in quotes, and the other is large-scale nuclear war.  And what is really quite new I think is the discovery in the last eight years, starting in 2006, that even a very limited use of nuclear weapons would be something that cause global – a global catastrophe.  The papers that were published in 2006 by Tunun Robak (ph) looked at a scenario in which India and Pakistan go to war, 50 warheads on each side.  Warheads in that scenario were about the size of the Hiroshima bomb.  They were criticized at that time for a worst-case scenario.  We now know this is far from the worst-case scenario.  India and Pakistan each have closer to a hundred warheads; any of them are substantially larger than the Hiroshima bomb.

    But sticking with the original scenario, they found that in a countervalue war in which cities were targeted, perhaps as many as 20 million people would be killed in the first week directly from the explosions, from the firestorm, from the direct radiation, something really quite unprecedented.  I mean, in all of World War II, about 50 million people died, and that was over eight years.  This is 20 million people dying in the course of a single week.

    What they found that was much more disturbing even than that was the fact that this limited use of nuclear weapons, less – well less than half of a percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals, causes profound global climate disruption.  Temperatures worldwide drop about 1.3 degrees centigrade, and this effect lasts for about a decade.  Now, 1.3 degrees centigrade does not necessarily sound like a very large change of temperature, but to put it into context, in the last 130 years, the global warming, which so demands everyone’s attention, has amounted to seven-tenths of a degree.  So this would be a change twice that magnitude and occurring at about three days’ time.  As a result of that, there would also be a very significant disruption of global precipitation patterns.  When the atmosphere cools, less water evaporates from the oceans to fall back as rain and snow.

    And as a result of these combined effects, it was our concern there would be a very profound impact on food production.  In the last couple of years, we’ve been able to look at this and examine a number of key staple crops around the world.  We’ve looked at corn production here in the United States, the world’s largest producer of corn, and found that on average, it goes down about 12 percent over a full decade.  We looked at rice production in China, the world’s largest producer of rice, and found that on average, the Chinese rice crop goes down about 17 percent for a full decade.

    Based on those figures alone, we issued a report in April of 2012 suggesting that up to a billion people worldwide could die of famine.  Why?  Because at baseline today, there are 870 million people in the world who are malnourished.  They’re getting about 1,800 calories a day, which is just enough to maintain their body mass and able them to do a very limited amount of physical work, to gather food or to grow food.

    There are also about 300 million people in the world who are well-nourished today but who live in countries which are highly dependent on food imports.  And in the event of the kind of crop disruption that we are going to see in the aftermath of a limited nuclear war, international commerce in grain is going to be profoundly disrupted, and it is quite likely that these countries will not be able to import enough food to feed their people.

    Now, since then we’ve been able to do a little bit of additional work, and in particular, we’re able to look at wheat production in China.  The wheat crop in China is just a little bit smaller than the rice crop.  It is a major staple food, principal staple in northern China.  And it turns out that wheat is much more profoundly affected than rice production.  Rice goes down about 17 percent for a decade; wheat production in China goes down about 31 percent for a decade.  And in the first five years, it’s down 39 percent.

    And looking at those figures, we have had to revise our predictions of what we think the effect of this famine will be, because in the initial work, we assumed that China would not be directly affected, that China would be able to feed its people, and looking at this kind of ne data, it – that is in question.  China is better prepared than the developing world to withstand this kind of famine.  People are better nourished to begin with, and the grain reserves in China are substantially bigger in terms of days of consumption than the global grain reserves are.  Despite that, a 31 percent decline in wheat and a 17 percent decline in rice is beyond the capability of China to deal with, and it is highly likely that there’ll be widespread hunger in China as well – another 1.3 billion people at risk, if not all of these people facing actual starvation, certainly the country as a whole facing profound economic and social disruption for a full decade.  It’s the largest country in the world, the country with the world’s second-largest economy.

    We have never had an event like this in human history where anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the human population dies over the course of a decade.  And this is a real possibility in the event of a war between India and Pakistan, which is itself a real possibility.  There has been fighting on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir on a daily basis over the last year.  Both countries are rapidly expanding their nuclear arsenal, as I’m sure all of you know.  And this is not some kind of abstract worst-case fantasy that you can cook up in a think tank.  This is the reality that we’re facing.

    And it has enormous implications, obviously, for nuclear policy in South Asia, but it has huge implications as well for the nuclear policies of the larger nuclear powers.  Each U.S. Trident submarine can carry up to 96 warheads, each of which is 10 to 30 times more powerful than the bombs that we used in our scenario.  And that means that each Trident submarine is capable of causing this global nuclear famine many times over, and we have 14 of them – and that’s only one leg of the triad.  And the Russian nuclear forces contain the same – I use this in a clinical sense – insane level of overkill capacity.

    We – I think we also need to consider the possibility of even more large-scale war than just this limited scenario.  I was told in a meeting with the State Department last year that the United States does not worry about a nuclear war; it is only concerned with nuclear terrorism and the nuclear weapons of rogue states.  I countered at the time that I don’t – didn’t think we should be so sanguine that the U.S. and Russia could never find themselves in an adversary position.  And even if we didn’t use the weapons deliberately, there was always the possibility of an accidental nuclear war.  And as we all know, we have come perilously close on many occasions to nuclear hostility during the last 30 years because of various kinds of technical failures.  Obviously, the events in Ukraine underline the fact that the U.S. and Russia still could find themselves in a direct adversarial position and one in which nuclear weapons are used.

    The effects of a large-scale war dwarf even the horrors that I’ve just described from the India-Pakistan war.  A study that we released in 2002 show that if only 300 warheads in the Russian arsenal detonated over targets in American urban areas, something between 75 and a hundred million people would be dead in the first 30 minutes, and a U.S. counterattack on Russia would cause the same kind of destruction.  We chose the figure 300, by the way, to represent an 80 percent success rate of a hypothetical missile defense system, which, of course, doesn’t exist and would never be that effective, but even if you put something that effective in place, of the 1,500 warheads on the Russian side, 300 would get through.

    And this is what they would do.  In addition to killing this many people in half an hour, this attack would also completely destroy the economic infrastructure of this country.  All of the things that we rely on to maintain our population,  the public health system, the banking system, the public transportation, the communications networks, it would all be gone.  And we depend on these systems functioning at an intact mode to maintain our population.  You know, we’re not hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers.  We go to the supermarket to buy our food.  And if the supermarkets don’t have food, then we starve.  And it is probable that in the aftermath of this war, the 200 million not killed outright in the first wave of the attack, the vast majority of those people would also die from starvation, from exposure when they couldn’t heat their homes, from epidemic disease and from radiation poisoning.

    But again, as, I mean, mind-boggling as this kind of direct toll is, it is not the worst part of the story because a war between the United States and Russia also causes profound climate disruption.  A hundred small warheads in South Asia put 5 million tons of debris into the upper atmosphere and dropped global temperatures 1.3 degrees centigrade.

    A war between the United States and Russia, using only those weapons which are still allowed when New START is fully implemented in 2017 – that war puts 150 million tons of debris into the atmosphere, and it drops global temperatures 8 degrees centigrade on average.  In the interior regions of Eurasia and North America, the temperature decline is 25 to 30 degrees centigrade.  We have not seen temperatures on this planet that cold in 18,000 years, since the coldest moment of the last ice age.  In the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, there would be three years without a single day free of frost.  Temperature goes below freezing at some point every single day for three years.  And that means there is no agriculture, there is no food production.  Most of the ecosystems in this zone collapse.  The vast majority of the human race starves to death, and it is possible that we become extinct as a species.

    Now, if that is the starting point of the conversation, the next thing that flows from that is these weapons cannot exist.  We know that there is a real and finite possibility every day that they will be used.  And if that is true, then it is simply a matter of time until they actually are used, and that means they cannot be allowed to exist.  And that is a very different starting point than where we are in the current conversation about disarmament.  And that’s why this argument, I think, has become so powerful.

    The plans of the nuclear weapon states to maintain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely – and those do appear to be their plans.  That’s certainly how their plans are perceived by the non-nuclear-weapons states.  That approach is simply unacceptable, and we need a fundamentally different new approach.

    We are accused often of being unrealistic when we talk about the possibility of, say, medium-term nuclear disarmament.  I would argue that it is those who defend the status quo, who say that we can continue to maintain these arsenals for decades into the future, who are profoundly unrealistic.  The chance that this is going to happen, that we’re going to maintain these arsenals indefinitely and that they’re not going to be used, is very low, and it’s certainly not a risk which any rational person would entertain.

    And so we need to have a very different approach to all of this.  And they say that politics is the art of the possible.  Statesmanship, I think, is clearly the art of the necessary.  And it is time that we ask our leaders to act like statesmen, not like politicians.  It’s time that we demand that behavior of them.  And I think that’s what this whole movement is about at this point.  It is calling the nuclear weapons states, saying that we will not accept their behavior anymore, and demanding that they change.

    Let me stop there.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Ira.

    Ambassador Percaya, the perspective from Indonesia, please.  Thanks for being here.

    AMBASSADOR DESRA PERCAYA:  Thank you very much, Daryl, for Arms Control Association for inviting me to be here in D.C.  It gives me the opportunity to see the sun because New York is always gloomy now.

    If you look at the discussion on the issue, there have been at least three encouraging developments.  First, there has been much renewed focus on the issue by civil society, academics, think tanks, as well as government.  Secondly, if you look at the discussion, if you look at the conference, it has become more intensified and regularized.  And thirdly, there are countries joining the statement in the NPT PrepComs as well as General Assembly session.

    However, there is still unclarity on what exactly does the humanitarian approach offer and where it leads to.  So let me begin by stating what I understand that the humanitarian approach is not.

    It is not about discounting the security value of nuclear weapons or specifically disputing the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence or laying out particular actions for complete nuclear disarmament.  For Indonesia, for my country, we support the discourse on humanitarian consequences because it is useful in spreading a rights-based approach and deepening the humanistic development as well as environmental argument.  It helps to delegitimize nuclear weapons and their whole pretext

    For many countries, including Indonesia, the discussion on the utility of nuclear weapons ended by itself with the entry into force of the NPT.  All members or parties of the NPT have legally and morally committed themselves to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, period.  Since we are all agreed on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the only questions remaining are when and how.  Unfortunately, the so-called 13 practical steps as well as the 2010 review conference’s action plan do not set a deadline for their elimination.  It is also unfortunate that the U.N. disarmament machinery remains mired in a political deadlock, with no meaningful progress at the CD in negotiating a comprehensive nuclear convention, along with other needed disarmament instruments

    This is where the humanitarian approach comes into play.  The humanitarian consequences debate and related activism by the civil society, academia and youth can play a powerful role in increasing awareness as well as political will on nuclear disarmament.  That is why I believe that at the upcoming Vienna conference on the humanitarian consequences, all states and relevant stakeholders should participate

    The examination of the debate on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has at least, I could identify, revealed two fundamentally important truths.  First, because nuclear weapons affect all states, they have a direct stake – they have a direct stake in ensuring their elimination.  All states have a legitimate role to play, and it is their responsibility to act.  It is not something that can be left to the nuclear weapons states to be done by them on their own.  This is the first truth.

    Second, the world cannot wait endlessly for nuclear weapons’ elimination.  The risks are obvious.  For a nuclear detonation, deliberate or accidental, its effects will be horrendous on people and all living things – we will all suffer.  We must act now.

    It is these truths which have energized the non-nuclear-weapons states and civil society and unsettled P-5.  It is time the consequences of these truths reshape and energize global efforts on nuclear disarmament and the multilateral security landscape gets revamped.

    What do these truths mean for the NPT specifically?  I believe that they mean taking a fresh look at the treaty, its review process and seeing it that the treaty is universalized.  Take Article VI, for example.  We are used to thinking about it as the article dealing with nuclear weapons states.  We invoke it to press the P-5 into moving on disarmament.  We measure their progress against its exasperatingly vague provisions, and we complain when we feel they are failing to comply it.

    But Article VI is not just about nuclear weapons states.  It applies to each of the parties to the treaty, and it requires us all to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures related to cessation of nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.

    So in light of the humanitarian approach, what we want so purely as a neglected obligation of the P-5, we now see as a license and a requirement for action by non-nuclear-weapons states.  And we have to pursue effective measures to discharge our obligations under this article.

    We cannot stop by objections from the nuclear weapons states to the humanitarian consequences approach, who see it as a distraction that is diverting attention from the NPT.  This initiative is derived from the NPT’s own preamble, which makes reference to, I quote, the devastation that will be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need – and then – and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to make measures to safeguard the security of peoples.

    Therefore, the nuclear weapons states should be involved in the humanitarian approach, including, I believe, by participating at the next meeting in Vienna on the basis of their treaty obligations.  Bearing in mind as well that the Vienna conference will be held just before the 2015 NPT review conference, I hope that during the Vienna conference, member states or parties can also discuss practical ways to further integrate the humanitarian initiative into the NPT framework in order to further transform all the compelling science behind this initiative into norms and actions.

    This brings me to the NPT review process.  What does the humanitarian approach mean for that?  I think the main implication is one of accountability.  The NPT must deliver specific measures on nuclear disarmament, and deliver them within a clearly defined short time frame.

    For too long, the non-nuclear-weapons states have been on an endless treadmill of hope and disappointment.  After the hope inspired by the 2010 action plan, we are already hearing the telltale sounds of excuses being prepared and mutterings that the action plan was never meant to be for five years only.  Of course, we do not expect nuclear weapons to be eliminated overnight, but we cannot also continue to tolerate endless procrastination, poorly defined goals and timelines that are fake to the point of absurdity.

    I believe that driven the – I believe that driven by the humanitarian imperative, we must push for greater accountability in the NPT review process and the U.N. disarmament machinery.  These frameworks are essential, but they must deliver.  They will deliver when we will fulfill our obligations in them, work together better and bring to bear the required political capital.  While Gaukhar is optimistic, I am cautiously optimistic.

    Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.  We’ve heard the word “insane” and “absurd” used.  George, can you provide us with some insights –

    GEORGE PERKOVICH:  Was that my introduction, insane?  I’m sorry – (inaudible) – (laughter) –

    MR. KIMBALL:  That was your introduction.  (Laughter.)

    MR. PERKOVICH:  I’ve been called worse.

    MR. KIMBALL:  It’s now for you to help us deal with the absurdities and the insanities.  So thank you.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Thanks, Daryl.  I like that introduction.

    MR. KIMBALL:  You’re up to the task.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  The – I mean, I – let me start by saying I think, you know, one of Ira’s points was profoundly important, not to say that the others weren’t, but – and that is the question about, you know, how probable it could be that if we go on the present course and nuclear weapons are retained that over the next hundred years, they won’t be used.  I mean, I think that’s ultimately an argument that a lot of defenders of nuclear weapons in the status quo can’t engage.  They’re very happy to say that nuclear weapons have prevented major war or the reason why there hasn’t been major power war since 1945, but it’s much harder to look farther ahead.  So I think that’s a very important point.

    And also, I would say by way of preface, I come at this issue as someone who has worked a lot on and written a lot on nuclear disarmament, and so often am in discussions and debates around the world where I’m the abolition advocate.  So that’s by way of prefacing what are doubts that I will try to explain about not necessarily the discourse on humanitarian consequences, but then the segue from that to promoting a convention to ban nuclear weapons.

    And I think that’s the distinction I want to make, so – because in part, I think the – some of the arguments made about humanitarian consequences are too categorical in many ways, and so they invite factual dispute, which I think ought to be had.  I think that debate ought to be had, but you can talk with military planners; you can talk with weapon designers, and they can give you scenarios which they in many ways and political leaders in many ways would say are the most likely scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons, which would be a warning shot, perhaps at sea, destroying a naval ship, but it’s a military target at sea, one use with a low-yield weapon, and that argument has to be engaged.  And it’s difficult to – you know, to necessarily accept as a fact, and probably in a court of law it wouldn’t be accepted as a fact that that would ipso facto create a humanitarian disaster.

    Now, there are counterarguments to that as to, OK, how does the escalation end; so you did that; how do they retaliate, and how do you not get escalation?  I think that’s the debate that ought to be had.  But sometimes just the categorical assertions that any use would be a humanitarian disaster, I think invites dismissal and is problematic.  I can go into other concerns, but they all branch off that basic problem.

    That said, I think the nuclear weapons states make a huge mistake by not engaging in this debate, by boycotting as they did the meeting in Norway, as they did in Mexico, and as they may do in the future.  I think it’s a terrible mistake for several reasons.  One, these issues are inherently important.  They’re profoundly important for reasons that Ira and others posit.  So it’s kind of – it’s irresponsible and unseemly that any state, but especially states who happen to be permanent members of the Security Council, would not engage in a discussion and a debate on issues of such profound importance.  So it – to me, it’s indefensible.

    I think they’re also mistaken for practical reasons, which is that their main – well, they – there are different views.  For example, in France, you get a different view than in the United Kingdom, and in Russia you get a different view than China, and the U.S. is somewhere in the middle.  But if you can kind of group them, a legitimate concern they have is to focus on nonproliferation, and they’re worried about proliferation and how we deal with Iran and how you strengthen the capacity to detect undeclared nuclear facilities and all of that and are saying, well, this discussion will distract from that.  That’s a valid concern, but it’s – but their argument about it doesn’t kind of prove itself.  And so I think they need to be there to have that engagement, and in fact, if that’s their biggest worry, then the way to deal with it, I would argue, is to take on this issue and to address it and to show up and have the discussions.

    In my sense, the debate is super important to have about humanitarian consequences, but it’s really important also to have not just in the U.S.  Try to have this debate in Russia.  Good luck right now, but you know, but that’s – but it’s not a trivial proposition to have this discussion to have this discussion in Israel right now, to have this discussion in France.  To have this discussion in Estonia right now would be interesting after what’s happened in Ukraine, to have this discussion in Poland, to have this discussion in South Korea when there’s firing over the last 24 hours and North Korea may be prepared to conduct a nuclear test.

    Try to have this discussion in Pyongyang about humanitarian consequences of anything.  And why I say that is not to be flip, but that’s precisely what Japan and South Korea are thinking about, right, just like the eastern states in NATO are thinking about what just happened in Crimea, and it affects the way they think about nuclear weapons.  The same is true of humanitarian issues in North Korea and what their neighbors fear.

    And by the way, that’s probably the biggest driver of U.S. nuclear policy right now.  If you go talk to people who make policy, including in the White House, what’s driving them is how to reassure allies in the eastern part of NATO and in South Korea and Japan, how to reassure them that in this environment, we’ve got their back and that they’ll be defended.  Now, I would argue and welcome the chance to argue that nuclear weapons aren’t relevant to that, but that’s not how it’s perceived there, and that’s a great pressure on U.S. policy.

    And so I think this debate needs to be had in all of those places if it’s to be responsible and if it’s to have a chance to actually move the ball.

    What I’m alluding to in a way is what we need to ask to the states that possess nuclear weapons is how do you deal with the humanitarian issues?  Do you recognize humanitarian law, first of all?  Secondly, do you – do you recognize that it may apply to the use of nuclear weapons?  If not, why not?  If so, OK, then how do you think about that, and how does your arsenal and your doctrine and your policy reflect a respect for humanitarian law which you otherwise profess?  I think that’s a big part of what should be the discussion.

    But I think similarly, coming back to advocates of eliminating nuclear weapons by a convention, you have to say, how do you deal with aggression?  How do you deal with threats of major aggression?  Because it seems to me on the one hand, as long as nuclear weapons exist, then there is a risk of humanitarian disaster, but as long as there – threats of massive aggression exist, then there’ll be nuclear weapons.  And so how do you reconcile those or bring those two issues together?

    And we’ve just had last week what to me was a chilling reminder of this tension, and that was the U.N. General Assembly vote on the Russian action in Crimea.  General proposition was it violated international law; it was an act of aggression.  Well, look at the vote.  The abstainers were – among the abstainers, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, South Africa, leaders of the New Agenda Coalition who’ve been urging a ban on nuclear weapons.  So here’s an opportunity just to have a vote in the General Assembly to describe something as aggression, which by all indications it was; they pass.  They abstained.  Others didn’t show up.  How is that to give confidence then to the rest of the world, you know, if you’re facing threats of aggression, we’ve got your back; you don’t need nuclear weapons?  Can’t even get a vote on this issue.

    And by the way, the Budapest agreement, which was –

    MR.    :  1994.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  – the document in 1994 that Ukraine signed with the U.S., the United Kingdom and Russia as Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons to Russia.  So this was a disarmament and nonproliferation agreement.  In that agreement, the states, especially Russia, promised Ukraine that there would be no threat to its territorial integrity.  So that starkly violated, very pertinent to the issue of nuclear weapons, and then you get this vote, and some of the biggest advocates of the convention abstained.  To me, that should be a big – a big debate as well.

    Final points, and then just to summarize, it seems to me that while it’s absolutely vital and important to promote a debate on humanitarian consequences, and it’s totally indefensible for the states with nuclear weapons to avoid that debate, not show up and so on, I would also say that focusing then on a convention to ban nuclear weapons actually undermines the argument.  It’s counterproductive, in part because it will provoke resistance and dismissal because some of the factual issues, and it will distract from this effort that otherwise can put these guys on defensive and get at questions not only of nuclear weapons, but of aggression, which seems to me are the underlying issues that have to be addressed.

    Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, thank you very much, George, for those reminders and questions that I think everyone needs to think about who is involved in this discussion.

    I think we had four very rich presentations, and some clear areas of agreement, some questions that I think provoke thinking on the panel and in the audience.  I want to invite our distinguished audience – and we have some very smart people in the crowd who I can see – to offer your comments, questions about what you’ve heard, and if you have a thought, question, raise your hand.  We will bring to you a microphone.  If you could just identify yourself, we’ll start with the gentleman in the back where the microphone is.  Thank you.

    Q:  Thanks, Daryl.  Appreciate it.  I have a question for the first two speakers, and thank you all for the presentations.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Just identify –

    Q:  Sorry, Justin Anderson, SAIC.  I’m struck, actually, by a bit of divergence, unintentional, in your presentations.  And here’s the divergence.  Doctor, you speak of challenges within the NPT, just a dissention between the nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear-weapons states.  And then Dr. Helfand, you began your presentation with a discussion of the papers that discuss a possible nuclear conflict in South Asia and the consequences of that.  Well, of course, India and Pakistan aren’t NPT members.  So my question – and it’s really for the panel – is, is the NPT an – you know, while perhaps flawed and imperfect, nonetheless the right way to move forward?  And if you’re really concerned about nuclear use by South Asian states or by North Korea, perhaps all the NPT member states should set aside some of their disagreements for now and press those outside the NPT to join.  Or is there some sort of alternate means, alternate to the NPT, perhaps along the humanitarian conference track that’s been going on right now, that ultimately is a better means to move forward?  And it’s an open question because I was struck by the fact – all this discussion about possible nuclear war in South Asia, and yet those are two non-NPT states.  It’s totally outside the NPT on this.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Right.  OK.  All right, who would like to respond to that?  Gaukhar and then Ira.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  Thank you for the question.  I keep getting promoted today.  I’m not a doctor.  (Laughter.)

    You pose a very important question, and that does go back to the point that this is not about the possessor; it’s just about the weapons, which means we can talk about the five, we can talk about India and Pakistan, we can talk about Israel, we can talk about North Korea.  And the study that Dr. Helfand presented is only one of the discussions – the presentations that took place in Oslo and in Nayarit.  There were conversations about the weapon – you know, a one nuclear weapon detonation in Manhattan, and there are different studies being done about where nuclear weapons can be used and what it would do to that area.  What’s important about this study in particular is about – is that it really brings home the message that it doesn’t matter really where they’re going to be used; we’re all going to be affected.  And countries that gave up on the very idea of nuclear weapons a decade, two, three ago will be affected the most, countries in Africa, countries in Southeast Asia.  So yeah, it’s – I think it’s a much more inclusive debate.

    About whether we should set aside differences in the NPT, certainly.  And actually, the humanitarian initiative promoters never meant to make it an alternative to the NPT.  If you look at who the major promoters are, they’re also very active NPT states parties.  Ireland takes a tremendous offense at this – at the suggestion that they are undermining the NPT because remember the Irish resolutions and the role that Ireland played in promoting the negotiation of the NPT.  They’re very much committed to the treaty, but they’re also very frustrated with the way it’s being implemented, or not implemented.  So they view this debate as feeding into the NPT, as re-energizing the debate within the NPT, but not leading away from it.  And I think that’s the very profound disagreement right now between those who are suspicious about the true motivations of the initiative.  There are arguments that, oh, it’s meant to divert attention from nonproliferation and from all other issues, but this is not the view of those – of the very promoters of the initiative, the original 16 countries and some of the others.

    Should we work on getting India and Pakistan into the NPT?  Yes, sure.  Great, it would – it’s a fantastic idea, and the – (inaudible) – of the NPT is as a mantra we’ve been repeating, and it’s gotten so hollow it means nothing anymore.  We repeat it every NPT meeting, and then we go and conclude a trade agreement with India and, you know, export nuclear materials and technologies.  U.S. started, but then everybody else picks up because what you’re going to do?

    So do I want them in the NPT?  Yes, but if they – if there is no chance – if we ourselves destroyed the chance of getting them into the NPT, maybe we should stop clinging to that idea of getting them in and think of other ways we can engage them.  And unlike the five nuclear weapons states, Israel – India and Pakistan did show up in Oslo and did show up in Nayarit.  Pakistan made a statement about safety and security of its arsenal.  There were a lot of crickets in the room after that.  But at least, you know, they kind of faced the people and told them what they think about their nuclear weapons, which is not the case with nuclear weapons states.

    And I want to respond to the point about military planners can present you scenarios with possible legitimate or limited weapons use.  Fine, they should go to Vienna and do that.  Just come to Vienna and say, we understand your concerns; this is how we plan to use nuclear weapons if we ever need to.  You know, if you have those policies, you have those weapons, well, stand up and explain what you mean by that.  And that’s all.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Ira.

    MR. HELFAND:  Yeah, a couple of points.  I think with regards to the role of this – in the NPT or outside the NPT – this notion – and just to support what Gaukhar just said – this notion that this process in some way is undermining the NPT, I think, is – it’s the kind of thing that you can say – you can put words together and make a sentence any time you want to, but the people who have put forward from the nuclear weapon state side really have not been able to make any kind of a case for how this might be so.

    In fact, this, I think, is enormously important to the preservation of the NPT.  The NPT is in great – that whole regime is in great danger, but it’s not because people are talking about a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.  It’s because there is a widespread perception that the nuclear weapons states are not living up to their obligations.  And in fact, that’s true.  They’re not.

    So the question becomes, how do we move the process forward?  Well, people could just abandon the NPT, or they could try to engage in some kind of productive international diplomatic initiative to achieve the stated goals of the NPT, which is the elimination of nuclear weapons.  And I think the people who have been advocating for this convention to ban nuclear weapons understand this is not the end stage; this is a way of trying to move the ball down the field, of trying to put some pressure on those nuclear weapon states which are using the NPT process, frankly, to preserve their nuclear monopoly.  And there’s just no patience left in this idea of acceptable nuclear apartheid.

    And the nuclear weapons states have to understand that.  They’re not going to get away with this.  So they can, you know, insist on squashing – trying to squash efforts of this sort.  And I think the result will be, ultimately, that the NPT process suffers a terrible blow, or they can welcome this as a way of meeting the requirements of article VI and as a way of demonstrating that, in fact, they are committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons.  I think they’ve shot themselves enormously in the foot with the statement they released before Oslo and by the failure to attend Nayarit and would agree with everyone who has spoken about this that they need to show up in Vienna and participate in this conversation.

    Let me stop there.  Actually, can I also just say one thing about the idea of legitimate use of nuclear weapons?  I think the nuclear weapon states have to be clear.  They have to – they have to – they can’t have it both ways.  They can’t say, it’s OK for us to have nuclear weapons because we’re never going to use them on the one hand, and on the other hand say, our policy is based on deterrence.  For deterrence to work, we have to convince people that we will use them.  You just can’t do this.  It’s one or the other.  You can’t say we’re never going to use nuclear weapons and then talk about the circumstances in which we can use them legitimately and safely and without it being a humanitarian disaster.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  You can.

    MR. HELFAND:  Well, you can talk like that, but you can’t convince anybody because it doesn’t make any sense.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Well, it depends.

    MR. HELFAND:  Either you’re going to say that you’re never going to use them, or you’re going to say that you are going to use them.  And if you’re going to say that you are going to use them, then if it’s OK for the U.S. to use them and to have them so we can use them, then how can you tell the rest of the world that we can’t?  And the fact of the matter is, we have lost that argument.  The rest of the world rejects that, and rightly so, because the argument is profoundly flawed.

    MR. KIMBALL:  So why don’t you come back to the question that was asked?

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Conference on disarmament is a place, if it worked, where India, Pakistan and Israel participate and reside, so you could address this issue through the conference on disarmament.

    MR. KIMBALL:  And if I could just press you a little bit further – I mean, you spent a great deal of time looking at the India-Pakistan nuclear conundrum and the issue of inside-outside the NPT has been around for a long time.  I mean, what – given the deadlock at the CD, I mean, what other steps might India and Pakistan themselves take to contribute more to disarmament?  What might non-nuclear weapon states be urging India and Pakistan to do to contribute more to disarmament?

    You know, I find India’s support – speaking personally – for the timebound framework for nuclear disarmament to be elegant, but a little big disingenuous, since they know that that time might take quite a while.  (Laughs.)  So they get some credit for that rhetoric, but their actions say something else.

    So, I mean, just, your thoughts, George, beyond what might happen with the FMCT and the CD?

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Yeah, I mean – the – I think it’s the case that you can’t get anywhere with India and Pakistan if the focus is on nuclear weapons, because the drivers are something entirely different.  So the driver in Pakistan is India’s conventional capability.  The driver in India is Pakistan’s use of terrorism.  Nothing to do with nuclear weapons.

    Now, nuclear weapons get involved because if Pakistan conducts a big terrorist – or if actors associated with Pakistan conduct another big terrorist attack in India, India may use its conventional military force against Pakistan, at which point Pakistan says it’ll use nuclear weapons.

    But coming in like we do, talking about nuclear weapons, they – on either side, they both go, what, are you deaf and blind?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s – you know, you’re missing what the real drivers are here.  And so you have to address those issues in order to even – to get them to stop laughing, basically.  And unless and until we do that, they know all the lines, so the Indians have the line that they have – we want a timebound framework, which suits them well – we go, OK, that put them in their place.

    And the Pakistanis have their line of, they want a fissile material cutoff that actually gets at existing stockpiles and is a disarmament treaty, which, when you talk to them about it, it’s an absurd – I mean, it’s an absurd position which the military will laugh about if you actually get them in private and say, you know, so this is your position, but they’re very comfortable having their diplomat say it.  So I – to me, that discourse is pretty much irrelevant.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Yes, sir, you had a question.

    MR. PERCAYA:  (Inaudible.)

    MR. KIMBALL:  I’m sorry – Desra, and then, while the microphone comes up.  So go ahead.

    MR. PERCAYA:  Thank you, Daryl.  Just very short, in response to your question, I think there is a possibility to bring these convention on nuclear weapons as well as FMCT to the general assembly.  That is also one possibility.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Yeah.

    Q:  Thank you very much.  I’m Mohammed Khaled (sp); I’m a physician.  My job is prevention.  And pardon my sarcasm.  I think all four of you have missed the boat.  Number one, there were six very serious incidents between Soviet Union and United States, when nuclear went from one to six.  Brzezinski and Carter was awakened once; Boris Yeltsin’s finger was inch away to press the button.  So number one.

    Number two, nuclear accidents – probability of a single nuclear bomb detonation has gone up since Cold War.  Maybe the governments have better communication and command and control, and today’s one bomb, which was on Titan II missile in Arkansas in 1980 has power of nine megaton, which means it has more lethal power, if it would have went off, combined all the bombs used in World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Third –

    MR. KIMBALL:  If you could come to your question, because, I mean –

    Q:  Yes, yes.  My question is, NPT – NPT is like putting dust into the eyes of the people.  Number one, China is testing hypersonic.  United States military industry is asking $1 trillion, Russia has put in Lithuania and Kazakhstan.  So why you all four are not looking at those issues from this angle rather than political and, like, governmental type of – that’s what my question is.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Well, one thing I would just say – and I don’t mean to be flip – is that it’s difficult to organize a panel that talks about the dozens of different ramifications of the questions that we’re raising here.  So many of us on the panel and in the audience are well aware of those – that history and some of those challenges.  So we’re taking one side of this issue and I think each of us are struggling with how we can move forward to deal with the challenges that are out there, which the additional challenges you’re mention.

    But let me just ask Gaukhar – you had, I think, an intervention with the previous question –

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  And this one, too.

    MR. KIMBALL:  And this one, too.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  Yeah, first of all, thank you for reminding me about the risk of nuclear weapons use, and this was – this is not missing from the humanitarian discourse.  It was actually a very powerful presentation narrated by Patricia Lewis – Dr. Patricia Lewis from the Chatham House, and with Heather Williams, they presented their study on the near uses of nuclear weapons and about how the risk of use remains as long as, you know, the weapons exist.  So it’s not missing, and you’re quite right to point it out.  And I think it will –it will probably develop further in the discourse about that in the humanitarian initiative.

    Why we’re focusing on the political debate?  Because we’re talking about the NPT today, and fundamentally, NPT review conferences are political conferences, and that’s been part of the problem, you’re right, because we started talking in the stratosphere without discussing the actual risks and the actual effects of potential nuclear weapons use.  And that’s part of the humanitarian initiative point, to try to change that.  So I hope that will have an effect in 2015 and beyond.

    But I wanted to come back on the role – what can nonnuclear weapon states do to call on India and Pakistan to sort of prod them?  And I think you’re very right to point it out.  And again, because of the nature of the arrangement – the nonnuclear weapon states giving the promise in the NPT, and the five recognized nuclear weapon states giving a promise to disarm the NPT, the focus entirely has been on the five, because they’ve actually committed to the treaty, including article VI, to pursue disarmament commitments.  India and Pakistan have not done that.

    So just as we say that Israel is not bound by the decisions of the 2010 review conference and has a right not to show up at the Middle East conference in Helsinki, we can also say India and Pakistan have a right to pursue whatever policies, because they never promised anything.  And that’s part of the problem of our relationship with India and Pakistan, because they never promised anything, we’re not making them promise anything.

    And it’s not just a problem of nuclear weapon states, it’s a problem of non-nuclear weapon states, particularly the non-aligned movement states, because non-aligned has been the banner carrier for disarmament since the beginning of the nuclear age.  India was the biggest carrier of that banner until they actually acquired their own arsenal, and I think it’s the non-aligned movement’s responsibility also to turn to their own members and question their motivations and question their statements and question the actual sincerity of their support for disarmament, for the time-bound convention.  And again, humanitarian initiative – bringing those countries in – I think it will help a lot of non-aligned countries to also look beyond the NPT and ask their fellow members about their policies and what they mean to do with their nuclear weapons.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Thank you.  I think we have a question in the back, please – Arjun Makhijani –

    Q:  Thank you.  I’m Arjun Makhijani.  (Off-mic exchange.)

    MR. KIMBALL:  I think you just turned out our lights, Arjun.  Please enlighten us; don’t – (laughter) –

    Q:  I didn’t mean to put everybody in the dark.  Sorry about that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  There we go.  Thank you.

    Q:  Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.  You know, over the years, there have been many proposals by states and by NGOs to reduce the risk of the kind of humanitarian catastrophe that Ira talked about.  The two most prominent ones, in my view, have been, you know, ideas about low first use, and ideas about reducing the alert level of – especially of U.S. and Russian weapons.

    My friend, Admiral Ramdas , whom many of you know – retired chief of the Indian Navy – proposed to me informally some time back – and I don’t think this has been introduced as an idea to reduce risk – of combining these two and proposing some kind of a nuclear ceasefire.  I like the nuclear ceasefire concept, because you reduce the alert, and essentially, you promise not to use first, but you’re packaging the thing in a different – I think in a different strategic – it’s not just packaging – presenting a different strategic concept.  I’d like Ms. Mukhatzhanova’s comment on that for the – or comment from anybody in the panel, but especially for its relevance for the 2015 NPT review.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Yeah.  Let me invite each of you to respond to Arjun’s question – suggestion, and let me just also ask you to take one other thing into consideration, which is that, you know, we heard from Ira Helfand, in his presentation, the suggestion that one of the implications of the findings on humanitarian consequences – nuclear weapons use is that we need to move towards the banning of nuclear weapons.

    That was a suggestion made by many of the nongovernmental organizations in Nayarit in Mexico, by the Mexican diplomat who provided his personal summary of the conference – he talked about pursuing a diplomatic process and the next stages, but it appears to me that there is not a lot of clarity about what to ban, how this might be packaged – Arjun is putting together yet another variation.

    So, let’s keep in mind that there are several theoretical possibilities for how – if there is a diplomatic process emerging from the humanitarian consequences initiative – several different directions this could go in, and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    There could be a process leading to the negotiation of a convention on the elimination of nuclear weapons. There could be a process leading to a ban on the possession and use, but not necessarily a whole treaty that tries to effect the elimination.  There could also be a legally binding instrument that bans the use of nuclear weapons, as we saw the international community doing in the 1920s in response to chemical weapons use during World War I.

    So there are these different variations, and Arjun, you’ve presented yet another variation that might involve practical steps with respect to no-first-use pledges and reducing the alert status of the deployed arsenals.  So if I could ask you all to respond with these variations in mind and to provide your thoughts on some of the pros and cons and the possibilities and the hurdles as you see in them.  Who wants to start?  All right – Ira.

    MR. HELFAND:  I think, you know, the idea that there should be a nuclear cease-fire, universal adherence to a no-first-use policy – I think those would be a very useful step forward.  There are many steps that we can take.  The problem is we’re not taking any of them at the moment.  Ultimately, what we need is a nuclear weapons convention – a negotiated instrument, negotiated by all the countries which have nuclear weapons as well as the non-nuclear weapon states – that sets out exactly how we’re going to step-by-step dismantle the existing arsenal – so sort of an extension of the New START treaty writ large – how we’re going to take the weapons apart, what the timetable’s going to be, what the verification mechanisms are going to be, and what the enforcement mechanisms are going to be.

    The nuclear ban treaty that’s been proposed is not that.  It is a political tool to try to create pressure to get to a nuclear weapons convention.  And what has been proposed is a treaty which bans not just use, but also possession, to make the point that these weapons should not be maintained, even when countries say they’re never going to use them, because of the very clear fact that the countries that say they’re never going to use them in fact do have plans for using them.  And, as one of my colleagues has argued, in fact use them every day.  They don’t detonate them every day, but they use their possession of nuclear weapons to intimidate and bully the rest of the world.  And so something that simply says that we will not detonate the weapons would be useful as well – the use in that sense – that would be a useful step, but it would be even more useful to say – to have an international norm created that says that it is illegitimate to possess these weapons, that any country which possesses these weapons, including the United States and Russia – the big countries – they are defining themselves as rogue states by their continued possession of these weapons.  So that’s, I think, the impetus, the thrust behind the nuclear ban treaty, at least as I’ve understood it.  But that’s one of many things that we could do at this point to try to move the situation forward.

    If this administration in the United States, which is so allergic to the idea of a ban treaty, put forward any significant initiative at this point, I think we would all rally behind it.  But that hasn’t been forthcoming since New START was negotiated.  And so that’s a great idea.  I’m sure there are other great ideas out there.  At the moment the one which seems to be getting the most traction is a ban treaty.  I think it’s an exceptionally good move, because it really does move things forward in a very dramatic way and I would encourage people to support that, but I think if other ideas come forward, you know, it’s fine – whatever moves the ball forward.  We’ve just got to get some movement in the right direction and we’re not getting it right now.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Others?  George.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Just very briefly, one point is – the ban treaty idea may be great among some states but I would venture to say it actually is counterproductive with the states that you’re ultimately trying to affect, because I can tell you that allied countries of the United States are going back to the United States privately, saying this makes them very apprehensive, reassure us you’re going to keep your nuclear weapons and so on.  So it has – it has a perverse effect in that way, with allies.  And so if one can deal with  –

    MR. HELFAND:  Does it create that thought on their part, or does it just get them to express it?

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Well, I think they were nervous when President Obama did the Prague speech.  That made them nervous.  And then, I think, as they see kind of this happening, they get further nervous and express it privately to the U.S.  And then since the Prague speech you have what’s happened in Crimea, you have the intensification of the dispute over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, which has made, you know, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and others more apprehensive.  So I think they’re more apprehensive now even than they were in 2009, and so they express that.

    MR. HELFAND:  Can I just comment – you know, I think that their apprehension is quite real.  A lot of people around the world think that nuclear weapons make them more secure.  It’s our job to help them understand that isn’t true –

    MR. PERKOVICH: Well, I agree with that.

    MR. HELFAND:  That the nuclear weapons make them less secure.  And so the humanitarian campaign is trying, I think, to really get that message through to many, many people who don’t get it.

    MR. PERKOVICH :  I agree with that and I would say the same thing about, you know, automatic weapons in the U.S. and everything else.  But you see what happens when it looks like you’re going to ban something; it actually mobilizes the people who are most worried and you actually get a worse result of a weakening of gun laws around the country and a recall of politicians who were advocating gun control.  So I’m just saying there can be consequences that are unintended.

    But I – just on Arjun’s point, seems to me, beyond no first use, that an effort, and Ira alluded to this with the people who were thinking about a convention – nuclear disarmament’s never been defined.  We don’t know what it means.  There’s not a full-time official in any of the states that possess nuclear weapon (sic) whose job it’s been to figure, OK, how would we actually dismantle these things?  How would we verify it?  What would we do with our weapons laboratories?  How would we monitor other people’s weapons scientists?  Would we agree to regulate their travel?  What kind of dual-use experiments would be allowed?  How do you manage missile technologies?

    None of that’s been done.  So as a starter, you know, that would be a useful thing.  Not only to have people on the outside do it, but to try to at least task or get the governments to agree that they’ll appoint one person, you know, maybe more would be great, but at least one full-time person to be thinking through, you know, how you would actually do this.  And every once in a while, they could have coffee with each other and say, well, what do you got?  (Laughter.)  And advance the ball.

    MR. KIMBALL:  That’s a good idea. Ambassador Percaya.

    MR. PERCAYA:  Daryl, I’m not going to reply to Arjun’s question, but to your earlier question.

    I think four points.  First, ideally, nuclear weapon states have to take part and engage in the process on the humanitarian consequences.  But one thing that’s for sure, we cannot force them to attend.  That’s why my second point is that we have to make condition for them to make it comfortable to join the process.  Next will be in April, NPT.  Perhaps we can have some dialogue among the proponents of the humanitarian consequences with the P-5, because there has been no dialogue on this.  Certainly, there has been some apprehension among the P-5 about the legitimation of the nuclear weapons, et cetera.  And thirdly, when there is a diplomatic conference, I think we should go ahead with or without nuclear weapon states.  I think that there has been some examples in which, finally, we can have international treaty or agreement without the participation of the P-5.

    And lastly, last year in General Assembly, in the First Committee, we adopted a resolution on the high-level meeting, and one of the operative paragraph is on the establishment of comprehensive convention on nuclear disarmament, including the use, the stockpiling, the banning – everything.  And there is also a timeframe in which, within five years – within five years – there will be international conference.  I think this should also be seen – I mean the humanitarian consequences process should also be seen within the context of the convening of the international conference in 2018.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much.  And Gaukhar –.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: I’m glad that Doctor Helfand addressed the question about no first use, possible nuclear cease-fire.  India actually proposed a no-first-use kind of treaty in Nayarit.  The nuclear weapon states were not there to hear or respond to it, so it didn’t get really any response there, but it’s an interesting proposal.  But that – that would cut against the current policies of a number of nuclear weapon states, right?  Most of them, actually, except China.  So that would provoke a very serious reconsideration about the role of nuclear weapons, and I don’t know – I don’t think they’re ready.  But it would be good if they actually started that kind of conversation.  And P-5 consultations – or P-5 consultations they potentially were – remain, probably – one of the avenues where the five nuclear weapon states can talk about their use policies.  But as far I understand, they didn’t progress very much in that direction.

    Similarly, on reducing alert levels, you know, there is an annual resolution at the U.N. General Assembly, because the same states that are promoting humanitarian initiative, a lot of them are also involved in the de-alerting coalition, and they asked for the reduction in the launch-on-warning status.  Now, the thing here is that nuclear weapon states perhaps need to get over their allergy to proposals coming from non-nuclear weapon states, because that’s been a consistent theme in their response to the de-alerting coalition, because they say you don’t understand how alerting works and how it would destabilize things.  So then, similarly, they’ve ignored the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament negotiations, where they also could safely come in and talk about different steps they propose or plan to undertake in terms of disarmament.  So – and the same goes for the humanitarian initiative.  I think the – this is – and it is a fundamental issue.  They need to engage in a dialogue in a very – in a very honest fashion, and not just on their terms that they use to dictate in the NPT setting and in the Conference on Disarmament.

    And on the ban proposal, I think there’s a great deal of confusion among states themselves about what the ban proposal means.  There is no unified coalition saying this is what we need.  There is a very unified coalition in the civil society about the need for a ban.  ICAN has been doing a very – has been very active in promoting that, including in the allied states that Dr. Perkovich mentioned.  But among states themselves, there is no clear understanding what a ban treaty would mean.  There is no clear understanding who would support it, how to negotiate it.  So I think the concern among nuclear weapon states may be a little bit overstated about the determination that exists within the humanitarian initiative.  But if they continue to ignore the conversation, they will have less and less impact.  They’ll have less and less contribution and it will go places where they really don’t want it to go, so we think they should engage.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Thank you much.  We have a question here.

    Q:  Thank you for the panel.  My name is Rebecca Gibbons and I’m a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at RAND this year, and my question is about the prognosis for the NPT regime broadly.  There’s been no shortage of pessimism about the treaty, and in my research, you know, this goes back to the ’70s, so hearing that we’re at a tipping point or we’re going over a cliff – that doesn’t seem to be new.

    Dr. Helfand said there’s no patience left.  And so my question is, for someone who’s trying to analyze the NPT and understand it, what would – what would it look like if it were really falling apart?  What would the initial sort of cracks be that we would see, you know, before people maybe leave the treaty, but how would we really know that’s happening when we’ve had years and years of people saying it’s falling apart?

    And then, I’m wondering what leverage do the nuclear – do the non-nuclear weapon states have?  It seems ’95 was a key point of leverage.  They got maybe minor concessions, and then we go to the status quo.  So where is this going and how is it going to change?

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Good questions.  George, Gaukhar – you want to start us off?


    MR. PERKOVICH:  Go ahead.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  OK.  Thank you very much for that question.  I was bothering, I think, diplomats a lot with the question:  What do you mean NPT’s falling apart?  What do you mean the regime is in danger?  I mean, how – what’s it going to look like?  And personally think about it, I don’t think we’re looking at a tipping point beyond which there is this fantastic breakdown and an abyss.  Treaties – multilateral, large treaties don’t go that way.

    What I’m concerned about is that the countries that used to be very committed to the treaty will find it less and less relevant – less and less relevant to their security, less and less relevant to their identity, who they are, and so they will pay less attention to what’s going on.  And they will not send their top-notch diplomats to NPT review conferences to negotiate the next consensus and a common understanding about, you know, the world’s perception of what nuclear weapons – of how to proceed on nuclear weapons disarmament and nonproliferation.

    And it won’t be a dramatic collapse – you know, we wake up on May, whatever, 28th, 2015, and boom we don’t have NPT.  What I fear is that it’s going to go the Disarmament Commission way.  Who cares about Disarmament Commission, by the way, in the U.N.?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    It hasn’t produced anything since 1999.  People go in there and they talk, but nothing comes out.  The CD’s become a joke, and we keep talking about revitalizing it, but seriously – how long will that – will that last?  What do they do in the CD?  And similarly, that’s what I’m concerned about – that the regime will not collapse – it’s more the situation of the frog, you know, and being slowly heated up and not noticing that it’s about to be cooked and eaten.

    And what implications would that have?  Are non-nuclear weapon states going to massively go and acquire nuclear weapons?  No, again, it won’t be massive.  But you’ll have less and less of this unifying framework to respond to proliferation cases, for example.  There won’t be a massive outrage about, you know, Iran cheating for 18 years or about North Korea walking out, or – you know, oh who cares?  Maybe, you know, maybe you do need all the separated plutonium, country X.  Maybe you do need all the high-enriched uranium, country Y.  And so this – it’s going to be just this across-the-board weakening of international position about whether or not pursuit of nuclear weapons is bad.  And yeah, I think it will just increase the risks.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Anybody else want to add to that thorough answer right now?

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Just briefly.  I mean, it’s a good question.  I would say Iran is enormously important, as in answer to your question.  If the Iranian challenge to the nonproliferation regime is resolved peacefully in a way that most people go, OK, at least, you know, there’s a couple of years’ confidence that they can’t break out, then it will – that would significantly strengthen the process.

    Conversely, if that doesn’t happen and there’s a war, or Iran is perceived to, you know, kind of get much closer to nuclear weapons, then I would say, OK, well, that’s a failure of the system at the job that it was fundamentally set up to do.  And so then – but I agree that you wouldn’t have, like, a rapid cascade of, then, other states doing it, but you’d see a lot more hedging.

    Then the next thing would be to South Korea – get permission to do reprocessing and enrichment, which the U.S. would have to grant it.  So you start seeing some more hedging, but I think Iran’s the super important case.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  We had a question over here.  Ashley (sp), up front here.  Up one more – two more.  Thank you.

    Q:  Thanks.  Rob Anderson from the Dutch Embassy.  In about 10 days the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative will gather in Hiroshima, and they will for sure also discuss – debate the humanitarian consequences.  I would like to pose a question to the panel:  How do you see the role of ad hoc coalitions like the NPDI in this debate?

    Maybe George and Gaukhar can say something about that, but also I want to pose the question specifically to the Indonesian ambassador because the Indonesian foreign minister is – (inaudible).  Thank you.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  Ambassador Percaya, aren’t you going to speak at the ministerial?

    AMB. PERCAYA:  No, I – you first.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  (Chuckles.)  All right.  Coalitions – OK, you probably all are familiar with the NPT structure, but there are three kind of outdated groupings that are built into the NPT system.  You have the Western states and others – Western European states and others, you have Eastern European group, and you have the NAM, and the three have their own sort of pet issues – or rather two, because Eastern European group is completely solid.

    But what has been very important at different points in the NPT history is the role of the cross-grouping coalitions, the like-minded coalitions.  And the New Agenda Coalition was particularly important, for example, in 2000 because they were able to bring together countries from different regions, countries from the Non-Aligned Movement, countries from Western Europe – so countries with a lot of legitimacy on the nonproliferation and disarmament issues that were able to engage in a very adult conversation with nuclear weapons states and bring the nonnuclear weapons states onboard.

    And then we had a period of the fall-down of those coalitions.  There was a lot less interest in doing that and the NAC had its internal problems in terms of defining purpose after 2000 NPT Review Conference.  NPTI is a new – is a new development in this regard, and a lot of people are kind of skeptical about the role NPTI because it’s dominated by allies of the United States.  But then they’ve enlarged the coalition recently, including the Philippines and Nigeria, so I’m personally very curious to see what comes out of the next ministerial, whether that addition would change the tone, change some of the positions of NPTI.

    I think they have been very important in promoting transparency.  And because they, most of them, are allies and friends with the United States, they were able to maybe approach them on a different level with their proposal on the standards reporting form.  It was a very ambitious proposal and I know the nuclear weapons states scaled it down a lot, but at least it set a very high benchmark, so it was much harder to sort of roll back from it.  And I think NPTI will continue to play that important role in tabling sort of middle-ground proposals.

    But can they lead sort of the non-nuclear weapons states en masse?  I have my doubts but I think it’s important to see some other coalitions emerging.  There are some countries that are supporting a humanitarian initiative.  I’d like to see how they engage in the conversation with the – with the nuclear weapons states at the next REFCON (ph) to forge maybe some new language on the humanitarian dimension and find a compromise there.  And the NAC is kind of reinvigorated so it’s an interesting coalition still to watch

    MR. KIMBALL:  Ambassador Percaya, George, any thoughts?

    AMB. PERCAYA:  Thank you for the question.  Yes, Indonesia foreign minister will attend the meeting in Hiroshima.  I think Indonesia is also, at the time being, chair of the Non-Aligned Movement for the disarmament.  We are going, certainly, to convey our, quote, unquote, “grievances” with regard to the implementation of NPT, also the unbalanced implementation on the three pillars.  And certainly, which is very important, we are going to also encourage nuclear weapons states to take the lead and give example, because they have more responsibility on these issues.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right –

    MR. PERKOVICH:  Just briefly –

    MR. KIMBALL:  – George?

    MR. PERKOVICH:  No, I agree with both comments, and I think NPDI can be very influential.  There’s a paradox because some of them are allied to the U.S. and some of them are internally split, their governments, or their parliaments and their governments.  But I think because it’s also – there are some leading middle powers, all the more important at least to try to reach out into Russia and, you know, try to reach North Korea and China.  The other states – that frankly are a greater source of resistance to this agenda than the United States is – France, but that’s hopeless but, you know – so more amendable states like North Korea and Russia, I think – (laughter) – would be – would be useful.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, let’s take a couple questions at a time.  Let’s take one from this side, right – take your pick – and then we’ll have another one here on the other side.

    Q:  Dean Rusk, retired State Department.  As I hear you talk about humanitarian consequences and the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons eventually, I think of other forums on nuclear terrorism that I go to all the time where the same issues are there.  That is, the people who are supporting strong efforts against nuclear – preventing nuclear terrorism talk about the fact that nuclear weapons can’t be around forever; we have to eventually eliminate them.  And they focus a lot on humanitarian consequences as a way of pushing their agenda.

    So I wonder if you thought about how you might be able to leverage that overall movement to kind of give a little extra push to what you’re trying to do within the NPT.  Understand, the NPT does not bind nuclear terrorists, but the United States has tried to bring some of the nuclear terrorism issues into the NPT forum.  It just seems to me there might be a way to leverage the nuclear terrorism theme as a way to give an additional political push for what you’re doing.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, thank you.  And then over here, Ed?

    Q:  Edward Ifft, Georgetown University.  Thanks for a very rich discussion.  I just got back last night from a conference in Berlin on European arms control issues, and it was rather discouraging, as you can imagine.  The Russians were there.  NATO officials were there – representatives of various European countries.  The most alarming thing for me was the feeling that today NATO would not be able to reaffirm the three no’s.  That is, that NATO has no intention, no need and no plan to move nuclear weapons into Eastern Europe.  This is because the East Europeans now are quite paranoid about what’s happening in Ukraine.

    And then just one comment.  I mean, I’m sure it’s obvious to everyone in this room, but it needs to be repeated at every opportunity:  Further nuclear proliferation would make all of these problems worse.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, reactions, comments to this.  Ira?

    MR. HELFAND:  Yeah, I think one of the ways that the nuclear terrorism concerns intersect with the need for – with the NPT issues is the nature that nuclear terrorism apt to take in the future, and we tend to think of this in the context of a dirty bomb or perhaps even a small nuclear explosion going off in a city.  But, you know, frankly, the most disturbing possibility of nuclear terrorism would be a cyberattack which causes the – you know, the launch of one of – of a system, either in the Russian or the U.S. arsenal.

    And this is obviously something which would be quite complicated and quite difficult but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.  And the fact that there are people who would seek to use – terrorists who would seek to use nuclear weapons I think in this – in that context underscores the absolute necessity for getting these weapons off of their high-alert status in particular, and ultimately for getting rid of them.

    To the question that was suggested by Ed’s comment, you know, obviously the situation in Ukraine is making things – you know, sort of juggling the whole picture a little bit and making people look at things very differently.  And not surprisingly, the initial reaction of many people on this I think is to sort of seek greater strength.  That’s what we usually do when we’re threatened.  And so there’s been a lot of talk already about, you know, this means we can’t make progress towards nuclear disarmament at this time.

    I think the more profound lesson of the Ukraine crisis, the one which I hope will emerge over – as people have a little bit more time to think about this, is the lesson that we did learn during the Cold War, that it’s precisely when there was a great danger of war between nations that it is particularly important that those nations not be armed with nuclear weapons.

    You know, I don’t know what Putin is going to do next if this is simply a one-off going into Crimea, or if this is part of a much broader and profoundly dangerous effort to undo the great tragedy of the 20th century, in his eyes, and reconstitute the Soviet Union.  Obviously if the latter is the case, we’re in for a very, very dangerous and difficult time.  But the most dangerous and difficult aspect of that would be if nuclear weapons come into play.  And I think, frankly, that what the lesson from the Ukraine crisis should be is the – an increased understanding of the urgency of moving towards nuclear disarmament.

    At the height of the Cold War, when things were even more tense than they are between the U.S. and Russia right now, Gorbachev and Reagan made the decision that we needed to move towards lessening of the nuclear tension towards nuclear disarmament.  They came close to agreeing at Reykjavik to getting rid of the weapons altogether.  Unfortunately we don’t have a Gorbachev-like figure who is self-identified at this point who can sort of move things forward in a big way, but perhaps one will emerge.

    And I think we have to – we have to play to the possibility of that happening.  Short term, medium term, these weapons need – we need to have a fundamentally different approach than the one we have.  What we’ve been doing up to this point simply has not worked.  The weapons are still there in numbers which make the arsenals of today not functionally different in their threat to human survival than they were at the worst moment of the Cold War.  We can still do it many times over and we have to get beyond that situation.

    The humanitarian message, I think, is the key to that.  The thing that motivated Gorbachev, according to his memoirs, to take the initiatives which he took in the 1980s were the conversations he had with physicians from my organization, in which they explained to him what was going to happen if the weapons were used.  And remarkably, as the head of a nuclear power, he didn’t fully understand what was going to happen if a nuclear war took place.  And I will tell you, I think the same is true of most of the leaders of the nuclear weapons states today, including people in our administration who, for example, I know are not familiar with the dangers of limited nuclear war in the Nuclear Famine report because they’re surprised when we get a chance to meet with them and give them this data, as recently as three weeks ago.

    So I think there is an enormously important role for the NGO community and for civil society to get that message out as perhaps the most important thing we can do to try to create the conditions where perhaps a fundamental change, a transformational change, in nuclear policy can take place.  I certainly can’t guarantee it’s going to happen, but I think this is our best shot at achieving that.

    MR. KIMBALL:  If I could just take a moment to comment on Ed’s intervention briefly.  And, you know, the issue of Ukraine is not the specific topic today but it is on everybody’s minds and it’s relevant to whether and how the nuclear weapons states can make progress.  Let me just say a couple things.

    Yes, of course, at the moment the mood in Berlin or any European capital is – is gloomy as a result of Ukraine.  A lot of bad reminders of the darkest days of the Cold War come back when we look at this situation.  But, you know, it’s clear so far that the United States and Russia do not want to link the political tensions over Russia’s aggression in Crimea to the nuclear security or the nuclear arms control agenda.

    For now, the instruments that were negotiated to reduce U.S.-Russian nuclear numbers and tensions are still operating.  They do provide a greater level of transparency, information, predictability that is especially important in these tense times.  New START inspections continue.  Open Skies Treaty overflights continue.  OSCE is operating, perhaps not as well as it should but it’s still operating.

    So those instruments of – arms control instruments that originated out of the Cold War days are still working and are still vital.  The real question that I think we need to ask – and we can’t answer it at this particular time, less than a month out from the invasion of Crimea – is, you know, how can the United States and Russia continue to make progress to reduce their still-bloated stockpiles?

    And I will posit that, you know, new approaches need to be pursued other than what has been tried up to this time.  Russia had already rebuffed U.S. suggestions about a further one-third cut below New START levels. Both sides are going to have to be clear-eyed and creative and recognize that it’s still both in their interest to further reduce, rather than to stop this process.

    But that’s a conversation for another time.  My organization, along with some of our German colleagues and Russian colleagues, will be speaking about this at the end of this month – in April, to release some findings and recommendations about how to deal with Euro-Atlantic security.  But you know, this is a very important issue.  It also requires some new and fresh thinking.

    So I think we had some other questions in the back here, if you can just raise your hands again.  Yes, right here, with the dark hair.  And I think we’ve got time for maybe one or two more questions.  Thanks.

    Q:  Hello.  Lecia Dressman (sp), independent researcher.  I’ll make this brief.  I’ll be a little heretic here.  Part of my reservations about multilateral disarmament agreements – we’ll say convention here, although I know that the terms haven’t been discussed – is that both the U.S. and Russia, whenever we have opportunities to pursue bilateral arms reductions, you know, (so their rep ?) – (inaudible) – will say, oh, we want a multilateral discussion with all of the P-5 on ,you know – or – and then D.C. will come back and say, oh, no, we wanted it to be conditional on Moscow’s involvement and just bilateral.  None of them seem to be pushing for unilateral or bilateral cuts, which is the obviously the priority.

    So how can – how can – my question:  How can this discussion on humanitarian weapons push – although I know it’s everyone in (NWBC ?) –  push the two countries that in my opinion matter the most, the United States and Russia?  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Well, I’ve  got an answer to that question, but we’ve got four great panelists here.

    Other thoughts on this?  Specifically, what can the humanitarian consequences process do specifically to push the U.S. and Russia to accelerate the pace of – I suppose you’re talking about numerical reductions but also other actions.

    MR. PERKOVICH:  I mean, the U.S. is clearly ready and eager to do that.  The military strategic command have already said, as Daryl alluded, that as far as they’re concerned, we could do fine with about 1,100 operationally deployed strategic weapons.  That’s a reduction from New START.  So it’s kind of clear that we’ve got all the permissions that would be necessary to do it and are kind of waiting from – a sense from Moscow that Moscow would be prepared to do that jointly.

    Similarly, when it comes to weapons based in Europe, at least up until a couple of months ago, it was clear that the U.S. military would just as soon take those weapons out of Europe.  Others would too.  I think Ukraine changes that, but if the Russians are prepared to engage on that issue, which they’re not, you know, we’d be prepared to move.

    So I think the discussion is – mostly needs to be had on that issue in Moscow, and what they will tell you then is, they’re more concerned about conventionally armed strategic systems and conventional capabilities and the support of groups that are trying to subvert Russia through perverse ideologies and homosexuality, so on and so forth.  And so you have to address those issues.  That’s the discussion that you’ll get back from Moscow.

    MR. HELFAND:  Having said that – and I agree; I think that at the moment the major stumbling block is in Moscow.  But I think there are things the U.S. can do unilaterally, and we should.  You know, the big stumbling block in the ’80s was here in Washington, and Gorbachev took some unilateral initiatives that were incredibly important.  If he hadn’t, we would still be testing nuclear weapons, probably.

    So I think the U.S., having determined that it doesn’t need more than 1,100 warheads –and as I’ve discussed, 1,100 warheads, you know, kills everybody on the planet several times over – having determined to our satisfaction that we can get by with 1,100 warheads, perhaps we should make a unilateral step in that direction, maybe not go to 1,100, maybe go to 1,350, and challenge the Russians to do it.  They may reciprocate.  They may not.  We lose nothing if they don’t.  We gain a great deal if they do.  We actually gain something even if they don’t in terms of bolstering our position and our ability to move forward on other issues.

    In terms of alert status of our weapons, we could take steps to diminish the alert status of our weapons.  We could do that today, and we should do that today.

    We could take our weapons out of Europe, and there would be some opposition from our European allies, and I don’t think U.S. nuclear policy can or is dictated by Estonia.  We should – we should start to take those weapons out.

    So I think there are a number of things that the U.S. could do, and the way the humanitarian campaign could affect that is by helping people in the U.S. government understand why it’s important that they do that, that we cannot continue to maintain the status quo.  Whatever we need to do, we have to take like a Franklin Roosevelt approach, because we’ve got to try to some things.  Some of them may work.  Some may not work.  As long as it’s not things that are going to undermine our security, it’s OK to try them.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Gaukhar and then the ambassador.  Go ahead.

    MS. MUKHATZHANOVA:  Well, I don’t have a short-term answer, but – the steps, but I wanted to go back to what the humanitarian initiative’s largely about.  And I think that the step towards disarmament, rather than, you know, we’re going to reduce 200 more warheads, but the actual commitment to the actual elimination – that’s going to take a psychological shift.  And I think that’s the wall we’ve hit so far.  We’re prepared to talk about the steps on the margins, but we’re not – but not – but nuclear weapons states, that’s very, very fundamentally attached to the fact of possession of nuclear weapons and the fact of yielding that kind of power.  I think the humanitarian initiative poses very sharply the question of, you know, are you prepared to use these weapons and face the consequences, and if not, then why do you have those weapons?

    But that’s not a short-term answer.  That’s going to be a longer-term – and in the shorter term, I think Dr. Helfand is right.  There are things that the United States can do unilaterally.  And it’s a matter of – in the short term, it’s a matter of coming to the 2015 review conference and standing next to Russia and next to France and being – we are just like them.  Is the United States ready to do that?  Does the United States want to do that, considering that this administration is decidedly not like them?  And it will come down – I don’t know; I mean, I hope that this will – this conversation will happen at the White House at some point – is the question of President Obama’s international legacy.  He started off his presidency with the Prague speech.  Is he going to – is he going to go out and say, well, Russia didn’t want to negotiate on 200 more warheads?

    So I think the United States has some things to deliver, and it can deliver them.  It will be difficult domestically.  Yes, it might, you know, really send a couple of Democratic senators into a fit about their future in the Senate if they allow this kind of thing to happen.  But then again, it would come down to the question of what’s more important, the – you know, the domestic victories or really looking larger about the risks you’re posing for the rest of humanity?

    MR. KIMBALL:  Ambassador Percaya?

    AMB. PERCAYA:  Thank you very much, Mr. Kimball.  I think this has been the complaint among the majority of Non-Aligned Movement, that the P-5 have agreed on the multilateral or conventional agreement, but very often when it comes to implementation, they would rather have done it bilaterally.  This has been our complaint.

    I think there is a limitation for nuclear – non-nuclear weapons state, especially Non-Aligned Movement.  What we can do is make very loud and noise for this all the time.  We – at the General Assembly, at the NPT.  Then they will listen to us.

    What we can do, I think – again, I think this is very much related to the general domestic dynamics/politics of each country.  For example, the role of civil society in this country is very, very, very instrumental.  But let’s not forget also the role of the youth. And if I can also ask – beg the question about how many senators and congressmen in the U.S. are aware of this, of disarmament?  Because when you talk about disarmament with them, and that they will think of reduction instead of disarmament.

    Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much.

    Well, not everyone supports operating by time-bound frameworks for certain goals, but I do in the context of this particular event, and we have reached the end of our time-bound framework.  And I just want to thank each of the panelists for their excellent contributions and insights.

    We’ve heard a lot of different perspectives this morning on the nature of the nuclear weapons challenge, how to address it.  I think we can agree that leaders from the nuclear-armed states, the non-nuclear weapons states and leaders from civil society have to do more to consider and debate and come together around some creative and practical approaches to jump-start progress on disarmament in all of its aspects, as the ambassador just said, and to curb further proliferation and to guard against nuclear catastrophe.

    So let me just mention one other set of words from one other important person that’s a good reminder about the task ahead.  President Obama gave an address in Berlin in June, and he said:

    “So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.

    “Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how distant that dream may be.

    “Complacency is not the character of great nations.”

    So let’s not be complacent.

    Please join me in thanking our panelists.  (Applause.)


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