"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement
July 1, 2020

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.

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:

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. 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.


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.)


Updating Nonproliferation Criteria for U.S. Nuclear Trade



By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director Arms Control Association
Prepared Comments for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Forum Dec. 11, 2013
Washington, D.C.

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, efforts to exploit nuclear technology for energy and for profit have complicated the task of reducing the nuclear weapons threat.

The United States and other possessors of enrichment and reprocessing technology have appropriately sought to deny the transfer of sensitive nuclear technologies—particularly enrichment and reprocessing technologies, which can be used to make nuclear bomb material—to states that do not already possess the technology through the terms of our nuclear cooperation agreements, which are based on the requirements in the 1978 Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act.

In addition, the new and important NSG rule adopted in June 2011—that bars enrichment and reprocessing technology transfers to states without comprehensive safeguards agreements, have not joined the NPT, do not have an additional protocol in force, or to states in proliferation sensitive regions—makes it highly unlikely that other nuclear suppliers can even offer to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology or equipment to these states.

This week, the Obama administration is expected to roll out its revised policy regarding civil nuclear cooperation agreements. It expected that the policy will continue to encourage higher standards in U.S. nuclear cooperation partner countries but will not require that every U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement is exactly the same.

Some members of Congress, including Sen. Corker (R-Tenn.), have complained that the Obama administration’s revised policy on nuclear cooperation agreements is “inconsistent” because it does not require that all states foreswear enrichment and reprocessing.

It is important that the United States use every tool it has to prevent the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology, but requiring that states foreswear enrichment and reprocessing as a condition for a U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement is not practical in every case.

If Congress wants a greater degree of consistency and higher nonproliferation standards, it can strengthen the leverage of the executive branch by legislating higher standards that should be sought in nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States and if those standards are not all achieved, Congress should revise the process by which such agreements should be considered for approval or disapproval by the Congress.

In other words, it is time for Congress to revisit, update, and strengthen the Atomic Energy Act standards and procedures for peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements.

H.R. 1280, authored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman and others, and introduced in 2011 offers a framework useful to build on.

H.R. 1280 would not require that states adopt the so-called “Gold Standard:” the renunciation of their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing before the United States enters into a nuclear cooperation agreement or renews an existing agreement—which some refuse to do because they claim it is their right under the NPT.

Instead the bill would add several new requirements to the nine key requirements already in Section 123 of the AEA[i] that, if met, would “fast track” that country’s nuclear cooperation agreement for approval.

Agreements with states that cannot meet the higher set of standards would be subject to a more rigorous process requiring affirmative Congressional approval.

Among the most important new requirements for “fast track” approval that would be added are:

  • the application of the IAEA Additional Protocol. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does; and
  • a pledge not to acquire enrichment or reprocessing capabilities/facilities.

I would also suggest that the bill should be strengthened by:

  • clarifying that the recipient state must allow for the application of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) under the terms of the most up-to-date IAEA revisions, which today are known as code 3.1.
  • requiring termination of U.S. nuclear cooperation in the event the recipient state conducts a nuclear test explosion, is found to be in violation of its IAEA safeguards obligations, or acquires enrichment or reprocessing equipment from sources other than the United States.

A modified version of H.R. 1280 is a very reasonable and common sense approach that would simply put into U.S. law the standards that all nuclear supplier states have already agreed are essential to preventing future proliferation.

The Case of Iran

Would adopting tougher standards for U.S. nuclear cooperation have helped prevent Iran from acquiring enrichment technology? Probably not, because we are not engaged and will not in the future become engaged in formal nuclear cooperation with Iran.

And because Iran acquired its enrichment technology on the black market via Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, tougher global standards would likely not have been able to head off the transfer of the technology to Iran.

The best way to limit Iran’s fissile material production capacity is to implement the Nov. 24 P5+1/Iran agreement to pause it nuclear program and negotiation a final-phase deal that significantly reduces its enrichment capacity and bars any reprocessing capability.

If we are to succeed in limiting the number of states capable of producing nuclear bomb material in the future, the executive branch and the Congress can and should work together to update the terms for civil nuclear agreements as outlined in the Atomic Energy Act.


[i] Section 123(a) lists nine criteria that an agreement must meet unless the President determines an exemption is necessary. These include guarantees that:

  • Safeguards on transferred nuclear material and equipment continue in perpetuity;
  • Full-scope IAEA safeguards are applied in non-nuclear weapon states;
  • Nothing transferred is used for any nuclear explosive device or for any other military purpose, except in the case of cooperation agreements with nuclear weapon states, in which the United States has the right to demand the return of transferred nuclear materials and equipment, as well as any special nuclear material produced through their use, if the cooperating state detonates a nuclear explosive device, or terminates or abrogates its IAEA safeguards agreement;
  • There is no retransfer of material or classified data without U.S. consent;
  • Physical security on nuclear material is maintained;
  • There is no enrichment or reprocessing by the recipient state of transferred nuclear material or nuclear material produced with materials or facilities transferred pursuant to the agreement without prior approval;
  • Storage for transferred plutonium and highly enriched uranium is approved in advance by the United States; and
  • Any material or facility produced or constructed through use of special nuclear technology transferred under the cooperation agreement is subject to all of the above requirements.

Prepared remarks by Daryl G. Kimball for the Dec. 11, 2013 Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Forum that took place in Washington, D.C..

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Syria Chemical Weapons Elimination Plan and the Next Steps



Prepared Remarks

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
CWC Conference of States Parties, Dec. 5, 2013
The Hague, Netherlands

The large-scale use of chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas outside Damascus on Aug. 21 required a strong international response to help ensure that further such attacks are not launched ever again in Syria or elsewhere.

And in the weeks and months since, there has been a strong and clear message that the further use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

The UN chemical weapons inspection team found evidence of extensive use of the nerve agent sarin, determined the type of rockets used in the attacks, and calculated the direction from which the rockets were fired.

In the wake of these horrible attacks, which killed more than 1,000 men, women, and children, U.S. and Russian leaders, as well as a wide array of CWC states parties, have worked together to establish international control of and to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal.

And to its credit, the Syrian government has recognized that the human and security costs of these weapons far outweigh any perceived military or political value they may have once had.

Under the agreement negotiated Sept. 14 by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the UN and the OPCW have put into motion an expeditious plan for accounting, inspection, control, and elimination of Syria’s deadly arsenal under the auspices of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The agreement calls for the entire stockpile, including chemical agents, production facilities, and delivery systems, to be safely eliminated or, if necessary, removed from the country by mid-2014.

Without the CWC, establishment of the OPCW and the strong track record of the OPCW over the past 15 years, the agreement negotiated Sept. 14 by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal would not have been possible.

To its great credit, the OPCW has stepped up to the task and adjusted its operations to meet the tight deadlines for verifying the Syrian chemical weapons declaration and the elimination of its relatively small stockpile of weaponized material and larger stockpile of precursor chemicals.

On October 1, a joint team of OPCW and UN officials arrived in Syria and on October 6, 2013 the destruction of Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons and equipment began under UN and OPCW supervision.

On October 27 Syria submitted the details of its plans for "total and verified destruction" of its chemical weapons stockpile and production facilities to the OPCW.

On October 31, the OPCW confirmed that Syria destroyed, or rendered inoperable, all of its declared facilities for mixing and producing chemical weapons.

On November 15 the OPCW Executive Council approved a plan for the elimination of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons that calls for transporting the bulk agents and precursor materials outside of Syria for destruction.

The "most critical" chemicals are to be transported out of Syria by December 31, 2013 and the remainder by February 5, 2014. The plan calls for the destruction of certain priority chemicals by March 15, 2014 and by Dec. 31, 2014, all effluents are to be destroyed.

It is very important to keep in mind that with the verified disablement of Syria’s declared mixing and filling equipment and production facilities that was completed by Oct. 31, the risk of further CW use against Syria’s people has been severely reduced as the potential for rapid weaponization has been eliminated.

Through the work of the UN and the OPCW under the Lavrov-Kerry Plan, this has been achieved in a less costly and far more effective way than a cruise missile strike ever could have accomplished.

But serious security, technical, and financial challenges that lie ahead, including the removal of the bulk agents and precursors from Syria on a tight schedule and under war-time conditions to the port of Latakia.

As announced last Friday, Nov. 29, the United States has offered to contribute a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria’s priority chemicals once they are out of the country on a U.S. naval vessel at sea using hydrolysis. The MV Cape Ray is currently undergoing modifications to support the operations and to accommodate verification activities by the OPCW.

Once the bulk chemicals are removed from Syria and as United States, the OPCW, and commercial entities use hydrolysis and incineration to eliminate the bulk and precursor chemicals and effluents, it is essential that the operation is conducted properly rather than quickly or necessarily on deadline.

Based on my knowledge of the plans—which are still being developed—the operation can be conducted safely and securely and in an environmentally responsible manner.

However, we would strongly advise that before the operation in undertaken that a much more thorough public information effort is put into play to describe the operation in order to avoid misperceptions about public health, environmental, and security risks.

Toward a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East

Syria’s decision to join to the CWC and to eliminate its CW stockpile is an important step to reduce the dangers of the Syrian civil war and toward a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East.

Syria's accession to the CWC should also spur the remaining Middle East holdouts, Egypt and Israel, to join the treaty and prompt them and other states to take additional, overdue steps needed to move the region closer to becoming a zone free of all types of weapons of mass destruction.

The Arms Control Association urges all OPCW states parties and the Director-General to use their good offices to encourage action by these two key CWC hold-out states.

Thank you.


Prepared Remarks by Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association at the CWC Conference of States Parties on Dec. 5, 2013 in The Hague, Netherlands.

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ACA-TLC Bipartisan Nuclear Policy Dialogue Project

The Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center have partnered to establish the Bipartisan Nuclear and WMD Policy Dialogue Project to help foster bipartisan discussion on timely security issues.

Transcript Available - The Arms Trade Treaty: Just the Facts



Briefing for Reporters

Organized by the Arms Control Association and the Stimson Center

Thursday, November 7, 2013, 12:30 to 2:00 pm
The Stimson Center, 1111 19th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC

Transcript available here.

Video of the event is here.

The United States signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on Sept. 25 at the United Nations in N.Y. The treaty opened for signature on June 3 and now has 114 signatories.

Calling the ATT a significant step toward controlling the illicit trade in conventional weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry said, "This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors."

The ATT breaks new ground by establishing common international standards that must be met before states may authorize transfers of conventional weapons. The pact also prohibits transfers that would lead to war crimes and attacks on civilians and requires states to report annually on all authorized arms exports. It does not create export controls beyond what the United States already requires for itself, nor does it place any restrictions on U.S. domestic gun ownership.

The Obama administration has not indicated when it might send the treaty to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle for approval. On Oct. 15, 50 senators sent a letter to President Obama pledging to oppose ratification. Instead of rushing to judgment, senators first need to hear the facts about the ATT and how it benefits U.S. and global security.


Tom Countryman, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State

Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate, The Stimson Center

Adotei Akwei, Director of Government Relations, Amnesty International USA

Moderated by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

This event is made possible by the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth Office and ACA members and donors.


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DARYL KIMBALL:  Welcome to the Stimson Center, everyone.  We’re going to get started.  I’m Daryl Kimball.  I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association.  And we are an independent government organization that has been around since 1971 to deal with the security challenges posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.

And we are here today – along with my colleagues at the Stimson Center, Amnesty International USA and Assistant Secretary of State Tom Countryman – to discuss the Arms Trade Treaty, which as most of you know was concluded this past spring after many years of negotiations and signed on September 25th by Secretary of State John Kerry at the United Nations.  And along with dozens of other national and international arms control, human rights development, religious organizations, we applaud the United States’ strong support for the ATT and for its leadership in negotiating the treaty.

The treaty has now well over a hundred signatories.  It’s well on its way to entering the force in the next few years.  And today we’re going to be discussing the value and significance of the treaty and the details of the treaty.  But I think some of the key provisions – and I’ll just cite a couple here – are that it breaks new ground by establishing common international standards that must be met before governments can authorize transfers of conventional weapons to other countries.

The treaty also prohibits transfers that could lead to war crimes and attacks on civilians and requires that states report annually on all authorized arms exports.  So bottom line of all that, and other aspects of the treaty, in my view and the view of the executive branch is that the ATT can help bring other countries into line with existing U.S. best practices, which will have a positive humanitarian impact and reduce the chances that illicit arms go to terrorists and those who might commit human rights violations.

So today we have a great panel of folks to help explain the treaty – what it is; what it isn’t.  We have with us the lead U.S. negotiator on the Arms Trade Treaty, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman, and two other nongovernmental colleagues who’ve worked for years on the treaty.  We’re going to talk about why it matters for U.S. security, why it matters for civilians in war-torn regions across the globe.  And we’re also going to address some of the misperceptions about the Arms Trade Treaty that have bubbled up and then have been perpetrated by some organizations over the past few years.

And in the months ahead, we hope that the Senate and senators of staff will take a look at the facts about the Arms Trade Treaty and to examine this complex treaty much more carefully than have had a chance to thus far.  I think it would be irresponsible for any senator to rush to judgment about the treaty – or any other serious issue in the Senate – without taking a close look or on the basis of incomplete understanding of the treaty.  And when the Senate gets to the point where they’ve done that, we’re confident that there’ll be much greater support for the Arms Trade Treaty in the Senate.

So we’re going to start with Rachel Stohl, who, here at the Stimson Center, is senior associate with the Managing Across Boundaries initiative.  She was the consultant to the U.N. ATT process from 2010 to 2013 and was previously a consultant to the U.N. group of governmental experts on the treaty in 2008 and did work on the U.N. register for conventional arms at the U.N. in 2009.  And she’s also, I’m glad to say, a member of the Arms Control Association’s board of directors.

Then we’re going to be hearing from Adotei Akwei, who’s director of government relations at Amnesty International, USA, with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working over the last few years in the campaign here in the U.S. for the Arms Trade Treaty.

And then, of course, we’ll hear from Tom Countryman, who I want to thank for your leadership and your hard work on this.  You, along with your team, did an excellent job in taking this treaty through the multilateral talks to fruition, making it a better treaty in the end than it would have been without U.S. participation.

So with that, let me turn it over to Rachel.  And after each of the speakers provide their opening remarks, we’ll take your questions and get into a discussion about the Arms Trade Treaty.


RACHEL STOHL:  Thank you.  And thank you, Daryl, and to my colleagues at Stimson for putting this event together, which I think is both timely and necessary to try and lay out really what the facts about the Arms Trade Treaty are.

And of course, thank you to Tom and his team.  I think the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United States in September was really a symbol of U.S. leadership, not only for this treaty but also for their commitment to the values of insuring that U.S. arms sales and arms sales around the world are not used to harm innocent civilians and that foster the goals of foreign policy and national security that are codified in U.S. law.

I want to start by talking about what the Arms Trade Treaty is and what it is not, what it will do and what it will not do.  I think there are unfortunately – I’m sure not everyone reads the text of the treaty every day.  And there are a lot of nuance and details in this treaty that have unfortunately, I think, been misunderstood or misrepresented, primarily because people just don’t sit down and read it.  So they read a summary of what someone else is saying and come to their own conclusions.

So let’s start with what it is. The Arms Trade Treaty is a legally binding international treaty that regulates only the cross-border trade in conventional arms.  And conventional arms is a very large category of weapons and is everything from small arms and light weapons but all the way through to things like fighter aircraft, naval warships.  So it’s a very large classification of weapons.  The reason this treaty was created was these are the weapons that are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in conflicts every year.  So while we know about the threat of nuclear weapons or chemical and biological weapons, on a daily basis these are the weapons of war.

I want to point out that this treaty does not cover the trade of weapons within a country.  It does not control national regulations of weapons within a country.  And this is important because this treaty really has nothing to do with the domestic gun control debate that we see in the United States.  We’re really simply talking about the cross-border trade of government-authorized transfers of conventional weapons.  So in a nutshell, this treaty does three important things.  The first is that it establishes common international standards for the trade and arms that states have to incorporate into their national control systems.

And I should point out when I say “states” I’m referring to countries.  I’m using the U.N. shorthand.  But we’re not talking about the state of – or, I should say, the commonwealth of Virginia – the state of Virginia or the state of Washington.  We are talking really about what’s happening between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Syria, Russia, China – those are the states I’m referring to.  And I think that might actually be responsible for some of the misunderstanding of what this treaty does and does not do.

The second is the treaty provides a sense of oversight of the global arms trade by enhancing transparency for what has been traditionally been a murky trade.  And we can talk about what some of the reporting requirements of this treaty are, but for the first time we may be able to have a better global picture of what arms are actually flowing to what countries and why.  Third, the treaty creates an environment of accountability where states are now responsible for ensuring that their arms sales meet global standards and norms.

And that’s really important.  There haven’t been rules of the game.  Countries can make transfers for whatever reason they want.  Now, we have not only rules of the game but we have the means by which we can hold states to account and ask difficult questions.  And I think that’s a really important advancement.  This treaty is really long overdue and is truly a landmark treaty.  For the first time in history, we have an outright ban on arms shipments that would be used to commit the horrors of genocide, war crimes and attacks on civilians. And I don’t think that should be taken lightly.

This treaty will prevent irresponsible arms trading by stigmatizing arms transfers to war criminals.  It will require arms exporters to seriously take human rights into account before selling arms to dealers in countries.  It will mandate signatories to close down their safe havens for rogue arms dealers that exploit their weak laws and transfer arms to war criminals with impunity.  And it will require that states are transparent in their arms transfer decisions. These are all really important advancement.

But I do want to say that the ATT is not a panacea.  Having a piece of paper, as thick and wordy and verbose as this is, is not going to stop all of the consequences of the poorly and unregulated trade and conventional arms.  It is one tool in what has to be a larger toolbox of strategies to address the negative consequences that happen when arms are diverted, illegally traded or irresponsibly traded.

But it will help us encourage predictability and transparency in the arms trade.  It will help clamp down on the diversion of arms from the illegal to the illicit market.  It will support information exchange and encourage governments to work together to address known trafficking routes or the activities of known arms dealers.

It will clarify national arms trade networks, which is important.  Companies can know what the rules are in the countries in which they’re operating and how to better facilitate their global trade.  It will help develop best practices for national export control frameworks, including regulations for transit and transshipment countries, countries which notoriously have had fewer export – or fewer control regimes.

It will help regions harmonize their own national and regional laws and regulations that are related to the import and export of conventional arms.  It provides a dispute settlement mechanism for questions that arise on particular arms sales.  It creates a multilateral forum for us to discuss arms trade issues which, if you know anything about the United Nations or the Conference on Disarmament, has been less than functional in the last two decades.  And so that’s quite important as well.

The treaty that came out of the U.N. conference is robust, but I do want to mention that it reflects probably the best compromise that could have been achieved on this complex issue.  And it really takes into account the views of exporters, of importers, of transit and transshipment states, of small and developing countries, of countries with sophisticated export control regimes.

So by no means is this text perfect, but it is, I think, the best compromise that could have been achieved.  And I think the vote at the United Nations demonstrated the capacity for this treaty to bring so many countries on board and the sheer number of countries that have already signed and ratified also reflect that this treaty has widespread acceptance.

I believe that the text is strong where it needs to be strong.  It’s balanced where it needs to be balanced and, if it is implemented according to the obligations that are outlined, does have the potential to be effective in stopping the irresponsible illegal arms trade.  And we can talk in the Q-and-A about some of the specific areas of the treaty text that I know have caused some concerns or questions.

The treaty will go into effect 90 days after the 50th ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty.  The treaty opened for signature of June 3rd of this year, so just a few months after the text was negotiated.  Since then, already 114 countries have signed on and eight have ratified.  So best guess would be probably – particularly with the number of EU countries that are holding their instruments of ratification waiting for their EU instructions, my assumption would be probably in the next two years we’ll see the Arms Trade Treaty go into effect.

But I do want to stress that even if every country in the world signed the treaty, every country ratified the treaty, it’s not going to change things overnight.  This is a long-term process.  This is creating global norms and standards.  And so it’s, as I mentioned, just one piece of a larger puzzle that we can use to tackle some of these complex challenges.  But I do believe the ATT was a good start to having a multilateral discussion on these issues and providing a multilateral forum to address these issues.

Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thanks.  Adotei, why don’t you tell us about this from the human rights angle?  The floor is yours.

ADOTEI AKWEI:  Sure.  Thank you.  I would also like to thank Assistant Secretary Countryman and his team for the leadership and perseverance they showed in getting us to a place that there were doubts that we would get to along the way, especially for Amnesty that has worked on this treaty for over 25 years.

This treaty is fundamentally about human rights, human security and seeking to curb the laissez-faire mentality of the unregulated global arms trade.

We know that it is not a silver bullet, and the proof of the pudding will be in securing the signatures of all of the major arms-exporting countries, including China and Russia, the treaty coming into force and ensuring transparency and effective compliance by all of the signatories.  We have just taken a major step, but it is only one step forward.

For over 50 years Amnesty International has produced reports on the impact of light arms and intergovernmental transfers of conventional weapons.  These reports include ongoing violence in countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Syria and many others.  During a 10-year period, between 1991 and 2002, Amnesty concluded that 60 percent of the human rights abuses and atrocities that we documented, from mass rapes and disappearances to executions and the recruitment of child soldiers, involved the use of light weapons, weapons that flow unregulated into conflict zones and also outside of conflict zones.  So there are many, many reasons why the treaty was desperately needed.

The numbers in terms of mortality included about roughly 200,000 in conflict zones and another 300,000 outside of conflict zones.  Those are just deaths by violence linked with small arms.  There are also the displacement of about 28 million people, who have had to flee conflicts, those people who are cut off from medical assistance, from their homes, from security, those who are no longer able to enjoy secure livelihoods.  The cost in development to those regions and to those countries are massive.  And our colleagues at Oxfam and other development organizations have done incredible research showing the human and economic cost of armed conflict, as well as violence in nonconflict zones.

There are also, of course, the role that the arms trade contributes or facilitates in terms of gender-based violence and mass rape.  While many may be aware of what’s going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a primary example, there are also many parts of the world where violence against women done at gunpoint is standard and daily fare.  And hopefully, those things are now going to be challenged and corrected.

So there are also the positives.  And I know that Rachel has already started to talk a little bit about some of the potential impact of the ATT, but I’d just like to run through a few of them in terms of our assessment in terms of human rights.

First, the ATT asserts the principle, which is already enshrined in U.S. law, that states have an obligation to weigh the human rights implications of a proposed arms transaction before authorizing a weapons export.  This provision will help level the playing field among weapon suppliers by applying the same high standard across all would-be exporters, and it removes the argument that someone else will sell the weapons to them, even if we don’t.

It demands accountability for gender-based violence.  I just mentioned that.  The ATT explicitly recognizes that civilians bear the main burden of armed violence and requires exporting countries to assess the risk that weapons that they propose to supply will be used to commit gender-based violence and violence against civilians.

The Arms Trade Treaty is comprehensive.  It covers not only transportation and transit but also brokering.  And hopefully, this will prevent the diversion of lawfully supplied weapons to the black market.

It makes it harder for armed groups and criminals to get weapons.  It makes it harder for warlords to get weapons.  It outlaws the most egregious arms transfers.  The ATT prohibits transfers to those who use them to commit atrocities, including crimes against humanity, attacks against civilians, rape as a war crime and other great violations of international humanitarian law.  Making this principle explicit and legally binding is a critical step towards protecting civilians from attack.

The ATT will also help make war profiteering harder.  It will be harder for weapons traffickers to profit from conflict by funneling arms to warlords who terrorize civilians.  It will significantly raise the cost of making irresponsible transfers and hopefully will reduce or even remove the profit motive for those who only care about money.

The ATT will also keep states from pouring what we call gas onto the fire.  It will keep states from pouring weapons into conflict zones, making bad situations far more violent and deadly and for their own political ends.

It provides international support for securing weapons.  The Arms Trade Treaty creates a mechanism to financially support the implementation of arms export control systems in poor countries, helping authorities to, in these countries, prevent weapons from going to those who will use them irresponsibly.

There is quite a lot of work still ahead of us.  The leadership of the United States is going to be critical in helping ensure compliance.  And organizations like Amnesty and other NGOs will have to take on quite a lot of work in terms of effective compliance and exposing the platform of transparency that this treaty affords us.  But like the others in this room, I think we all understand it.  This is a major step forward, and we are very excited about it, and we see it as a victory for human rights.  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Adotei.

Tom, thank you again for being here, for your hard work.  Please share with us your perspectives on the ATT and where we go next.

TOM COUNTRYMAN:  OK.  Thanks very much, Daryl, for the opportunity to be here.  Thanks to the Stimson Center for organizing this.

We are ready to discuss at every opportunity the Arms Trade Treaty.  We’re ready to discuss it with people who don’t agree with us and have offered to do so with people who don’t agree with us repeatedly with very little response.  So we will seize this opportunity as every other opportunity.

It was a great pleasure for me to be present when Secretary Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty.  It was a significant milestone, represented the culmination of years of work in order to limit the black market and illegal trade in conventional weapons.

We’re grateful to those outside of the U.S. government – and I see a number represented here today – who participated in preparations, not just in preparing the public ground for adoption of the ATT but in helping the U.S. delegation to sharpen our focus, to consider every issue.

As a consequence, an interagency team that every American ought to be proud of for their excellent work was able to conclude an agreement that every involved agency of the executive branch agreed would only strengthen and would not detract from American commercial, political and economic interest and security interest.  So it’s a significant achievement, and we thank partners across the world and across society.

Let me build on what Rachel said to compare briefly what the treaty requires with what the United States already does.  Becoming a party to the treaty would not require any additional export or import controls for the United States, full stop.  Let’s look at the provisions that Rachel mentioned.

Most plainly, it requires states parties to establish and maintain an export control system.  The United States has one.  It is comprehensive.  It is complex.  And it exceeds the requirements of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The treaty requires that this export control system include a process to conduct risk assessments and proposed exports, requires an exporting state to deny an export authorization when there’s an overriding risk that a proposed transfer could be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law or acts of terrorism.

These criteria, with which every exporting state party would assess an export of conventional arms, are fully consistent with existing practice.  United States law passed by Congress exceeds the standards of the Arms Trade Treaty here as well.

The treaty requires state parties to license exports of ammunition or munitions fired, launched or delivered by the conventional arms covered by the treaty.  We do this now.  U.S. law passed by the Congress exceeds the standards of the ATT.

The treaty requires parties to control parts and components if they would allow the end user to assemble a conventional weapon covered by the treaty.  Here again, U.S. law passed by Congress exceeds the standards of the ATT.

The treaty lays out provisions for controlling imports that are consistent with what the United States already does.  The same with transit and transshipment provisions, the same with brokering provisions.  In each case, United States law and regulations approved by the Congress exceeds the standards of the treaty.

Finally, the ATT requires states parties to create national control lists to make clear which conventional arms are controlled for imports and exports.  These are not lists of users.  These are not lists of owners.  These are lists of categories of weapons.  We have had exactly such a list in place for several decades.  It’s called the U.S. Munitions List.

The items that the ATT would require to be placed on such control lists are based on the U.N. register of conventional arms, with the addition of small arms and light weapons.  That list, mandated by the treaty, is not as extensive as the U.S. control list.  Once again, U.S. law passed by the Congress exceeds the standards of the treaty.

Why is the treaty in our national interest?  Because in most countries of the world, their standards are far below those mandated by the Arms Trade Treaty.  Most states in the world, including some important exporting states, do not have a national system in place to make such decisions on exports of conventional arms.

This is in our interest, not because it will prevent every questionable transfer in the world, but because it will increase the likelihood that transfers to undesirable actors, whether they are states or criminal organizations or terrorists, will become more difficult.

It also provides us with another tool in our toolbox, in our diplomatic and political interaction, with states that are acting irresponsibly in conventional arms transfers.  It is another pressure point that the United States, other states and civil society can utilize in order to discourage poor judgment in arms exports and bad and brutal behavior by the world’s worst regimes.

And it requires cooperation with other states to combat unlawful diversion of conventional arms.  It provides yet another opening for something that the United States already does, to work together with other nations to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons into the black and gray markets.

Let me deal rapidly with some of the inaccurate allegations that are made about the effects of this treaty.

It does not imperil the rights of United States citizens, including those secured by the Second Amendment.  It does not undermine national sovereignty.  It does not require any measure that would impact the rights of American gun owners, which are guaranteed by the Second Amendment.  That responsibility lies with the Congress and lies with the states.  It does not lies with the United Nations, and the United Nations treaty does nothing to require any such action by the United States.

President has said that he strongly believes in the Second Amendment guarantee of an individuals’ rights to buy arms.  Our instructions were clear, that we could not agree to any treaty that infringed upon such rights.  We did not.  This treaty is focused on international trade in conventional weapons.  The treaty itself recognizes the freedom of both individuals and countries to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes, including in commercial trade.

This treaty does not undermine national sovereignty.  It reaffirms explicitly the right and responsibility of each country to decide for itself, consistent with its own constitution, with its own legal requirements, how to deal with conventional arms use exclusively within its own borders.

And finally, it’s fully consistent with existing United States law and practice on the international transfer of conventional arms, as I’ve already explained.

How do we move forward?  How do we realize some of the humanitarian benefit that Adotei has sketched and that we all hope for?

First, it’s important to have more countries become party to the treaty.  If we do so, we build a stronger network of states committed to preventing a flourishing black market in conventional weapons.  If we improve export and import controls in each state around the world, as the ATT seeks to do, this will help to slow illegal arms trafficking.  In order to fully realize the benefits of the ATT, however, it must be part of an integrated strategy that each state should pursue, and that more developed states should assist other states to realize.

Let’s start with the most basic things that are necessary.  An export control system on the part of every exporting state on the planet is a good beginning, but it does not immediately solve the humanitarian crisis in a number of countries in Africa and elsewhere that provided the original ethical impulse to this treaty.

What else is needed?  First, those states that are facing these kinds of civil violence have to focus, even more than on export controls, on import controls.  States in Africa need credible legislation to control imports of conventional weapons, and the U.S. and the European Union are ready to assist on that.

Second, to back up that legislation, states facing civil conflict need effective border control and effective noncorrupt customs services.  The United States, the European Union and others are ready to build on already-existing programs to strengthen these capacities.

Third, states that face civil violence need to develop further their capabilities and what we call stockpile management.  How do you prevent weapons legitimately acquired for use by national police or military officials from going out the back door?  How do you maintain accountability for stockpiles of weapons and ammunitions?  Department of Defense and Department of State already assist a number of countries around the world in this crucial endeavor, and we’re prepared to do more.

We need to see states build legal frameworks that will enable them to effectively prosecute illegal traffickers, and to make illegal arms markets a priority for their investigative and prosecutorial and judicial capabilities.  Again, there’s lots of help available from countries around the world in building the rule of law, in fighting corruption.

And finally, states also need to stop exporting weapons to neighboring states in order to support a particular party or faction.  It was occasionally frustrating to hear some of the states at the negotiations that made the most emotional pleas about what was necessary to stop civil violence, and to hear that coming from the representatives of the same states who were actively sending weapons – as a matter of policy, not as a matter of customs inefficiency – into neighboring states.  That needs to stop.  We need to talk about it openly.  These are the steps that can build upon the extremely important foundation of the arms trade treaty to truly realize the humanitarian benefits that the treaty promises.

Working together, I’m confident that using both this treaty and all the other tools of international cooperation available to us, we can make a real dent in the illegal trade and make a real contribution to human welfare.  Thanks.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you.  Thank you all for your excellent overview.  We’ve got a lot of material to discuss, and I want to open up the floor to questions so that we can have a discussion on some of the issues that have been raised.  And we have a couple of microphones on either side, so raise your hand.  Go ahead.

Q:  Thanks.  And congratulations to all three of you.  It was very, very helpful.

Tom, you raised such a nice menu of follow-on activity that would make the treaty even more meaningful for the countries that do have trouble controlling the movement of weapons within their countries.

Could you talk to us a little bit about how much of this is a kind of whole-of-government experience in the U.S.  Is the Treasury Department involved?  Tell us a little bit more who the American players are.  And is there any role for the private sector in some of this outreach activity?

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  That’s a good question.  I’m certain I could not make a comprehensive list of all the different U.S. agencies and bureaus that are involved in helping other countries deal with the issue.  I know within my own Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, our export control and border security program makes real contributions to countries around the world in developing legislation and regulations, and in actual training of Border and Customs personnel, and some provision of necessary equipment to back it up.  In that, the essential partner is Department of Homeland Security, and trainers both active and retired from the Customs and Border Patrol Service.

I know that our colleagues in Political Military Affairs and the Weapons Removal and Abatement Office do extensive work in helping countries deal with excess munitions.  It’s a big problem in a number of countries that have stockpiles of weapons left over from previous conflicts that are not secured and that find their way into new conflicts in other countries.  So WRA has not only destroyed millions of landmines around the world, but they’ve helped countries to destroy weapons that are far in excess of what that country needs.  Department of Defense manages, as I said, the stockpile management program that helps countries to secure and prevent diversion of legitimate stockpiles needed by military and police officials.  I think if we sat around long enough, we’d think of several more programs that we’re already doing and that we’re happy to expand, especially upon those countries that show the most determination to address the humanitarian conflicts within their borders.

MS. STOHL:  Can I just add to that as well that one of the provisions in the treaty – it’s actually two provisions, but they go hand in hand – is international cooperation and assistance.  And it is not just – it’s up to states to identify what they need, but the providers of the resources and the capacity-building exercises that would be required can come from a whole variety of stakeholders that are listed, including, you know, nongovernmental entities, regional organizations, civil society.  So there is the realization that this is not just something for governments to singlehandedly try to address, that it does require kind of creative problem-solving capacity building that would involve everyone from the private sector to nongovernmental organizations as well.


Yes, sir.  Why don’t we wait for the microphone.  Ed Levine.

Q:  Tom, you ran down a very important list of requirements in this treaty that are already exceeded by U.S. law or regulation policy.  I would think that it will be important for people to have available to them a roadmap to those elements of law, regulation and policy so that they know where to find them and don’t have to guess as to whether you were accurate in your presentation.  I wonder whether that is in the section-by-section analysis and whether that’s completed, or whether there will be some other document that will provide that information.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  No, it’s an excellent idea to have it readily available.  It will certainly be in the section-by-section analysis that ultimately goes to the Senate.  I think if anybody has any doubt about it, all they need to do is talk to any major United States arms exports about the thoroughness of current U.S. regulations and ask them to compare it with the ATT requirements.

MR. KIMBALL:  And on the – now you bring up some of those actors.  Could you also just comment on – you can’t necessarily speak for them, but the response or some of the views that you’ve gotten from industry representatives following the negotiation and signature?  And I know that you and others in the administration were in close touch with industry on the negotiations, on concerns they had but, I mean, would you say they’re – they are comfortable with the – with the final product?

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  You’re not trying to put words in my mouth.

MR. KIMBALL:  I’m not trying to – I’m asking you what your assessment is.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  Oh.  (Laughter.)  We did consult closely with industry – I feel never closely enough when you’re in a negotiation that’s moving that rapidly, as it did the final week or two in New York.  We could have always used more input.

I feel confident that the commercial interests of the United States were well defended.  It was never a primary purpose of the treaty to advance U.S. commercial interests.  And in fact, I’m surprised by how nonexistent the discussion of economic and commercial matters was throughout the entire negotiation of the treaty.

But certainly the United States did not want a legitimate, strong industry such as the U.S. defense industry disadvantaged by anything in the treaty.  We succeeded in that, and I haven’t heard anything contrary to that from any United States industry representative.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right, we had a couple of other questions.  Yes, sir?  And then we’ll come over here.

Q:  Hi.  I was wondering, is there any organization provided for in the treaty or other kind of means for consultation or anything of that sort?

MS. STOHL:  So there is – Tom’s pointing at me.  (Laughter.)  There is a Conference of States Parties that is provided for under the treaty, but there is also a secretariat that will, at some point as decided by the Conference of States Parties, administer the logistical functions of that conference.  So there will be a forum for states to discuss issues that come up related to the treaty as well as kind of, is the treaty having the impact we desired?  If not, why?  How can we better coordinate our implementation of the treaty, work together on perhaps intelligence sharing or cooperation on border controls?  That might be of help.

So there is a mechanism provided.  Currently everything is very provisional because the treaty has not yet entered into force.  But once it does, there will be a meeting of the Conference of States Parties that will kind of lay out some of those ideas.  The treaty just provides a framework.  It will be up to the state’s parties themselves to decide what best fits the needs of the states.

MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just also add that, you know, contrary to some of the claims of some of the critics, the opponents, what you see in the treaty described for that secretariat is extremely minimal, right?  This is not a new U.N. bureaucracy by any stretch of the imagination.

And in order to facilitate a meeting of states parties involving well over a hundred states, you do have to have a handful of people to simply shuffle the paper.  And so in my estimation, based upon what’s in the text – I mean, we’re looking at an administrative function primarily, but it will be, as you say, up to the states parties to determine the role.  And there are a lot of issues that will have to be discussed over the years by the states parties regarding implementation and reporting as the treaty evolves over time.

I think – yes sir.  Over here, please.

Q:  Hi.  I was wondering, how did the treaty impact, say, U.S. policy or programs such as foreign military sales, foreign military financing, where relations with a country – take Egypt, for example, what some might call a military coup d’état or others call a people’s liberation action – how that might impact or, some might say, tie our hands regarding those programs in the future due to the treaty?

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  I see no impact.  Our hands are already tied by our own legislation and policies.  And more importantly, our hands are already tied by the difficult political and ethical judgments that we have to make every day when we talk about arms sales.  The treaty in no way either raises those standards or complicates the decision.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right, why don’t we go to the back?  And then we’ll come over here to the left.

Q:  Hi.  My question is for Tom.  I think there are recently 50 senators that sent a letter to the president that they just want to oppose this ratification of the treaty.  So it seems that it’s very unlikely for the Congress to approve this treaty.  So how do you comment this?  Thank you.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  I read the letter because I think it’s important, before one comments on an important document like the letter from a senator or a treaty, that one should read that document first.  I understand their arguments.  I think some of them are inaccurate allegations.

We have offered, we’ll continue to offer, to brief senators one at a time or 50 at a time, to listen carefully to their concerns, to express some of the same points that I made today.  They bear a heavy responsibility in making such a decision.  I don’t expect it to be a decision that they need to face in the immediate future, but I think it’s important to have that conversation and have an honest exchange of views as early and as frequently as possible, and I look forward to such an opportunity.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Yes, in the middle, Linda Delgado, and then we’ve got one other here in the front.  Linda.

Q:  Hi.  Thanks, Daryl.  Linda Delgado with Oxfam.

Adotei mentioned our research, and I just wanted folks to know that I arrived late but I put copies of our “Saving Lives with Common Sense,” which is about the Arms Trade Treaty – it was recently approved for release in September – out on the front desk.  Please take a copy on your way out.

And I had a quick question for Assistant Secretary Countryman.  In relation to the New York Times editorial that came out October 18th on the loosening of laws, the loosening of regulatory controls of military exports, I was just whether you could comment on that and on the critique that’s emerging around that.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  On export control reform.

Q:  Yes.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  I did not read the article.  We believe – I’ll just make the most general comment, which it has – it has been the objective of this administration to follow through on what several administrations in a row and generations’ worth of both congressional leaders and industry leaders have seen as a need to reform the export control system to maintain high standards for those goods that are most sensitive to our national security, but to seek to simplify the process for items that are less sensitive, perhaps less sensitive than they were a generation ago.

The administration has pursued that to the maximum extent it can through administrative action, and the results have been welcomed, I think, by the majority of American industry.  It does not solve all problems, but it also does not weaken our commitment to having high standards on decisions on conventional arms exports.  More specifically I can’t comment on the article.

MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just mention that there was a healthy exchange of views in Arms Control Today, the journal of my organization.  There was a very detailed reply to an article that ran critical of the export control reform initiative that was put forward by Tom’s boss, Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state, so you might take a look at Arms Control Today for that discussion about some of the issues with the export control reform initiative.

All right, here in the front, Jeff, and then the person in the back in the green.

Q:  Hi, and thanks for having this event and for all your comments so far.  It’s good to see you all. I’m wondering how you’re feeling about what’s happening at that international level.  One of the criticisms we hear in the U.S. on the Arms Trade Treaty is about, well, if X country or Y country doesn’t join that that’s going to be problematic.  I think you addressed that in some of your comments.  But you know, we had very positive statements from both China and Israel were some of the things that happened.  But I wonder if you have a feel sort of at that international level about what we’re seeing and whether the U.S. is getting accolades along the ways and helping – (inaudible).

MR. KIMBALL:  And you’re referring to the U.N. First Committee debate that just concluded?  All right, just to be clear.

MS. STOHL:  Sure. I’d always defer to Tom.  That’s usually a good policy.  (Laughter.)  But since he’s pointing, I think that there was a lot of enthusiasm for the ATT in the recent First Committee debate.  I think there was also a lot of interest in ensuring that the ATT is more than just the paper that it’s written on and that there is clear guidance and assistance for what the obligations actually are, what states need to do to comply with its obligations and how they can acquire the assistance that they may need to ensure that they are able to function in a way that is consistent with the ATT.

I think, as you mentioned China, I heard that the U.S. signature was actually a good motivator for the Chinese to take this issue up again.  They had always been – you know, this – as I mentioned in my comments, this treaty was very carefully negotiated.  It really did represent a compromise where the major arms exporters and importers felt as though their needs were being best addressed.  And I think that China’s – we’ve talked in the past, China’s vote in the General Assembly in April was really more about the process rather than the treaty itself.  And so they were much more forthcoming in their interest in pursuing signature in October during the First Committee than they have been, I think.

I think there were other countries that also had been a bit skeptical about the Arms Trade Treaty that now are seeing that there is a political will not only within individual governments but within regions, that there might be benefits to joining the treaty, that it wasn’t just an exporters’ treaty, that there were benefits for importers, for small countries, for transit, trans-shipment countries.  So I think there was generally enthusiasm, but also tempered with this concern that they will understand what they need to do and to be in compliance and not be called out for somehow violating an aspect of the treaty they didn’t understand entirely.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  I don’t know what folks have been saying about the United States in the First Committee the last couple of weeks.  I do know that we don’t do this for the accolades.  If our primary concern was what our colleagues from Europe or Africa or somewhere else thought about us, then in July of 2012, we would have stepped aside and allowed a draft treaty that had some good ideas but was utterly defective as a treaty to move ahead and be adopted.

Our concern is – this will shock you coming from an American, I know, but our concern in foreign policy is not to be loved but to get it right.  And that’s what we do when we’re negotiating with Iran or on Syrian chemical weapons or on the Arms Trade Treaty.  And I think our determination to stick to that standard is what led to a stronger treaty this year than what we could have accomplished last year.

In terms of whether that influences other countries, I think there are certain countries that care very much and will base their decision on signature upon the fact that the United States has signed.  And I can’t speak for the Chinese government, but I think China falls into that category, that our signature is important to their decision on participation in the treaty.

In general, the trend is positive in that countries that were deeply skeptical earlier this year are thinking about it.  Countries that abstained on the General Assembly vote in April are now looking at this positively, as something they may be able to sign.  It is not a fatal defect of the treaty if a major arms exporter fails to sign, but obviously, the more countries that sign, the stronger the treaty will be.

MR. KIMBALL:  One other thing just to remember with respect to treaty – the history of treaties and how they evolve over time.  You know, as we all know, at the moment, the ATT has 114 signatories.  Three other major countries, India, Russia, China, are not yet signatories.  But if we look back to the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in 1970, negotiated in 1968, China and France were not signatories to the treaty for many years after entry into force, two of the other nuclear-armed states at the time the treaty came into effect.

So, you know, going back to the theme that Rachel hit in the opening, this is the first step.  Diplomacy does not occur at Twitter speed.  (Laughter.)  The Russians will realize over time that they are outside the mainstream on the Arms Trade Treaty, and there will be more pressure over time for countries like Russia and China to be part of the mainstream.  I mean, the value of the ATT is that there is now a standard that all states recognize, even if they are not signatories to the treaty yet.

Q:  To build on what the woman in the back row was asking, many of the senators who are opposed to the treaty have said the reason that they’re opposed is because they made it clear to the U.S. delegation and to the U.N., U.N. officials as well, that the treaty needed to specifically exempt civilian firearms.  They say that didn’t happen.  How do you deal with that?

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  Well, if the United States were writing the treaty all alone, it would have looked just like the U.S. Constitution.  That’s not an option that we have in diplomacy.  What we can do is to vigorously defend the rights of United States citizens and the interests of the United States as a nation.  Yes, it would have been nice if the entire Second Amendment were replicated in the preamble of the treaty.  It would have no legal effect.

There would be no manner in which replicating the Second Amendment in the preamble would better protect the rights of U.S. citizens than what is in the preamble, because there is nothing in the preamble, but more importantly in the operative paragraphs, that impinges upon the rights of United States citizens, nothing that requires the U.S. government to change its practices in any way, specifically nothing that would require a restriction of individual rights of American citizens and nothing that could impose upon the Congress and the states a decision that belongs only to the Congress and the states.

There’s a lot of things that I would love to change in the treaty that would make it less verbose, that would have the kind of elegant language that our Founding Fathers were able to put into our Constitution.  There were a lot of good people in New York, but none of them were named Franklin or Washington.  (Laughter.)

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Yes, sir.

Q:  Thank you.  Tom, under international law, a state that has signed a treaty but has not ratified it is obliged not to take any action inconsistent with the object and purpose of a treaty.  Has the administration given any consideration to what kind of action would be inconsistent with the object and purpose of this treaty by the United States or any other power that has signed but not ratified the ATT?

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  You’re correct; that’s an obligation of states that have signed.  We won’t take any such action.  I haven’t thought about going out looking for trouble – (laughter) – looking for examples that would be contrary or making such a list.  It’s an interesting question to think about.  I guess I just don’t see the immediate practicality of the question.

MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just add that we also have to remember this treaty was just negotiated in April, opened for signature in June, signed by the United States in September.  Tom has been doing a few other things since September, like getting rid of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

You know, I think some of these questions will be addressed over time.  I mean, what I think is the most important next step in terms of process is – you referenced this earlier – the article-by-article analysis that the executive branch will put together in connection with the ATT that will, like other article-by-article analyses of other treaties, outline what the United States’ views are of what the treaty’s provisions do.  It will not reinterpret that, but it will provide some further detail about this.  So I will just say that will probably be the first place to look for some answers to your question.

Mr. Levine, who knows a few things about article-by-article analyses from his time at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Q:  Tom, you indicated that the U.S. action to hold up agreement last year was beneficial.  It might be useful to get a list of what was achieved between the 2012 version and the 2013 version.  And on one particular issue, I would be interested in knowing how things went on the ammunition issue and what you think of those provisions.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  They went swimmingly.  (Laughter.)  I think the provisions achieved the purpose of not requiring the United States to adopt new detailed regulations that would have little or no humanitarian benefit while leaving open the possibility for other states to adopt such measures if they wish.

I don’t think that we want to jump into the paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the July text with the March text.  Anybody else can do that.

Q:  Yeah.  Hi.  Let me just offer one specific example of an important change that had to be made that was made between the two texts.  And as Tom just said, though, if you go and carefully read them, you’ll find other ones as well.  But the language on amendments changed, because the way that the amendments article was originally written in July, states would have been bound by amendments that they had not actually accepted, and that absolutely had to be fixed between the two texts, and it was fixed in the March text.  And it’s one that people are signing.

Now you actually have to accept an amendment, and there is – it lays out, you know, the numbers required and stuff, but you actually have to – for a state to be bound by an amendment after it signed the treaty, it actually has to accept it, and that was an important change.

MS. STOHL:  I think, as someone who was perhaps quite intimately involved in the both – drafting of both texts, I think the biggest improvement is that there is clarity where there needed to be clarity and flexibility where there needs to be flexibility.

I think also there was the misframing of the treaty as really an exporters’ treaty and that importers weren’t getting anything out of this treaty, that it didn’t help them in any way.  Excuse me.  I think the new section on diversion, which wasn’t there in 2012, I think, addresses not only the concerns of importing states but also gives practical ways in which exporters can work in partnership with importing countries to ensure that legal arms do not end up – that are – that are legitimate, responsible, well-intended are not used for illicit and harmful purposes.  I think that was a real strengthening as well that I think sometimes gets missed because it doesn’t have a lot of operational teeth, but it provides, again, a framework whereby states can work together, which I think is, again, quite important.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Let’s take maybe one or two more questions before we start to wrap up.

Q:  Thanks.  My question goes to the domestic gun rights debate.  Is there something in the treaty that is being misconstrued or could be clarified to make it clearer that there are no domestic gun controls in this treaty?  Or in your view is this just something that’s been cooked up out of the opposition to be critical?

MS. STOHL:  Well, I can’t presume to guess what critics are – why they’re making arguments that they’re making.  But I will say that one thing that I’ve been asked a lot about is this idea of the national control list and people misinterpreting that as a gun registry – in other words, a list of people who own, purchase weapons within a state’s borders.  I think that is just a misunderstanding of what a national control list is.  As Tom mentioned, we have the U.S. munitions list.  We also have the commerce control list.  Under the new reform there’s a third list of other items.  So we’re drowning in national control lists in this country.

MR. KIMBALL:  And they’ve been around for many, many, many years.

MS. STOHL:  And they have been around for many years.  I think the confusion is – what this treaty does – and perhaps it hasn’t been articulated precisely enough – is it doesn’t say your list has to have A, B, C and D; your national export control system, with very great detail, has to do these things.  What it – it establishes a framework for states to incorporate.  Not everybody needs a system – I hope not everybody needs a system like the United States – for its export controls or for its import controls.  But many states have no system whatsoever and have a patchwork of maybe policy decisions.  So the intent here is to create a national framework to address conventional arms transfers that occur internationally in a way that is consistent and understood around the world.  So it’s establishing that global framework.  It is not saying within a country you have to have a list of everybody that purchases a weapon.  It’s saying you have to have a system to deal with exports, imports, brokering, transit and transshipment for cross-border trade of conventional weapons.  So I think that’s one area where there’s been some misunderstanding.

MR. KIMBALL:  Adotei?

MR. AKWEI:  I think, you know, one is reminded of the – was it the “Dragnet” phrase? – you know, “just the facts.”  And I think Rachel has been fairly gracious, but I think Tom has been a little bit more forceful in saying if you read the facts, it’s pretty hard to misinterpret, you know, what the treaty does and what it doesn’t do.  And so, you know, I think that we should be concerned, perhaps, about a deliberate misinformation effort, and we need to counter that, and especially on something as important as this, which is just not impacting, you know, hundreds of thousands of people in terms of mortality, in terms of millions of people, in terms of displacement, you’re – there are clear benefits to the United States.  It’s hard to see how you can continue to argue against something that is both good globally as well as nationally, and that, I think, demands a little bit more accountability about just going to the facts and having an honest, accurate discussion.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  I wanted to just raise one other question for the panelists that was raised by the 50 senators in their letter from October 15th that I find a little confusing in their letter regarding the process by which the treaty was eventually adopted at the U.N.  As we all know, the United States entered the negotiations with the ATT in 2009 on the basis of the consensus rule for negotiations, and that was the basis for the negotiations through the spring of 2013.  But then there were three countries, Syria, Iran and North Korea, who blocked consensus at the last minute, which led a group of states, including the United States, the U.K. and others, to take the treaty text that they all supported and agreed to to the U.N.  General Assembly.  The senators’ letter argues that – it says, and I quote, “We fear that this reversal of the approach going off the consensus rule has done grave damage to the diplomatic credibility of the United States.”  I find it a little befuddling as to why they believe that taking a treaty that we support and most other countries support that’s not supported by Iran, North Korea and Syria does grave damage to our credibility.

Can any one of you address this or – and maybe explain the circumstances for the U.S. decision to work with our allies to take this treaty to the U.N. General Assembly so we could see it through.  I think I just said two things.  I’m certain none of the senators meant to endorse the blocking of consensus by Iran, North Korea or Syria.  I understand their theoretical argument about why this could cause a loss to United States diplomatic credibility.  I would give credence to that argument if I heard it from a single foreign government or diplomat.  Every one of them involved in the process believes that U.S. credibility has been enhanced rather than diminished by this process.

MS. STOHL:  Could I say two things to that?  One, I’ll say as an American, I would hope that Syria, North Korea and Iran don’t dictate the policy of my government.  So I’m just – as an American, I would like to say that.  From a process perspective, however, when the – when Secretary Clinton made that statement in October of 2009 in supporting the consensus-based process, that was in a response to the U.N. resolution establishing the treaty negotiations that culminated, in 2012, in failure because there was no consensus.

A new process was begun in October of 2012, a new resolution that established the process to negotiate the treaty in March 2013.  That was a different resolution with a different set of rules of how the treaty would be negotiated and what the process for its conclusion would be.  The United States supported that resolution, did not make a new statement about its involvement in the negotiation process, but that process, that resolution, allowed the treaty to be moved from the conference, where the consensus was blocked, to the General Assembly.

So there actually was no contradiction with U.S. policy.  It was something that was continued by the resolution.  And so I am not concerned that there was a break in – I mean, not that I need to defend the U.S. here, but that has never been an argument that’s made any sense to me because we had a new – it really was a new and final process in March of 2013.

MR. COUNTRYMAN:  I don’t quite agree with that argument, but I’ll let it go.  (Laughter.)

MR. KIMBALL:  All right, are there any other questions from the crowd?  If not, I just want to ask each of you if you have any closing thoughts that you want to finish with.  I want to – yes?  No?

I mean, let me just – let me just sum up a couple things.  I mean, first of all, I want to thank each of you for your very thorough and expert presentations.  And I think – speak for myself and Adotei and Rachel, I mean, I hope that, you know, this is the beginning of a serious process to take a look at the key components of the treaty and what it is and what it isn’t.  And as Tom said, I mean, we’re looking forward to opportunities to engage the public and members of Congress about what the treaty is and what it isn’t, and we’ll continue to do this in the days ahead, and we have a lot of work that we need to do in order to see the treaty to its full value.  It’s going to be a many-years-long process.  It’s going to require many more governments than the United States just to make this a success, but the U.S. has done a very important part in getting us to this stage.

So I want to thank you all for being here.  Please join me in thanking our panelists.  (Applause.)  And we will see you again.



The United States signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on Sept. 25 at the United Nations in N.Y. The treaty opened for signature on June 3 and now has 114 signatories.

TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE - The 50th Anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT)




Looking Back on Its Legacy and the Future of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Organized by Green Cross International, the Arms Control Association, the Embassy of Kazakhstan

Thursday, September 12, 2013, 1:30pm-3:30pm
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Mass. Ave. NW

Concluded by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev only months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) was an historic first step toward reining in the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. The LTBT, which banned nuclear test explosions above ground, underwater, and in space, led to the end of the most visible and strongly opposed aspects of the arms race: hundreds of open-air explosions that spewed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination far beyond the test sites of the nuclear powers. Fifty years ago, the Senate debated and approved ratification of the LTBT.

Negotiations of a global, comprehensive test ban were finally concluded in 1996, but the treaty has not yet entered into force. This special event will explore the origins, the negotiations and the legacy of the LTBT and the role of the CTBT in curbing further nuclear competition.

Introductory Remarks - Transcript
His Excellency Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States
Dr. Paul F. Walker, Program Director, Green Cross International

Panel One: The Legacy of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty - Transcript
Chair/Discussant: Thomas J. Putnam, Director, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum


Ambassador James Goodby, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, former U.S. LTBT negotiator
Dr. Timothy Naftali, former Director, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Panel Two: The Role and Future of the Test Ban Treaty - Transcript
Chair/Discussant: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association


Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Russia
Linton Brooks, Committee on "Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," National Academy of Sciences
Roman Vassilenko, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kazakhstan
Karipbeck Kuyukov, Honorary ATOM Project Ambassador, Kazakhstan
Anita Friedt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy, U.S. Department of State

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

PAUL WALKER: So welcome to all of you.  Welcome to our distinguished speakers.  If you look at the program, you’ll see that we have two panels.  We have a panel on the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which is three individuals you see sitting in front of you here now, and we have a second panel on a comprehensive test ban treaty.

So we’re doing a bit of a historical adventure here from prior to 1963 up through 1963, when the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed, on up, of course, to 1996, when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed, and then up to today, talking about the prospects for ratification. We’re really fortunate to have a good number of expert panelists.  And I really thank a couple of the panelists who came a long way to Washington to be with us today.

Let me also when we start off, thank the host of this event and the organizers, particularly the Embassy of Kazakhstan, and I’ll subsequently introduce Ambassador Umarov; and also, the Arms Control Association and Daryl Kimball, who is here; and my own organization, Green Cross International.  And as you know, in Washington, D.C., we’re – or in the United States, our affiliate is called Global Green USA.  So there’s loads of confusion around branding, whether we’re Green Cross or Global Green or Global Green or Green Cross.  But it’s all the same – the same organization.

And we just celebrated, actually, our 20th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland, just a week ago, with a fellow, whose name you’ll all recognize, Mikhail Gorbachev, who came in – he’s now 82 years old, he chaired three days of meetings with us.  And we were actually very involved with the sort of Russian-American discussions on the topic of the day, Syria and chemical weapons.

Let me first extend apologies from Senator Edward Markey.  He can’t come today.  We ran the risk of organizing this this week; it was the best for everyone’s schedule, including Senator Markey, and then, of course, we were all hit with a small issue like Syria and chemical weapons and the threat of Western attacks.  So Senator Reid apparently – a couple of hours ago, called a Democrat Caucus meeting in the Senate around Syria and chemical weapons.  So Senator Markey just called me half an hour, apologized, said to say hello to everybody, and he’s very supportive of this issue, would like to do something in the future in the Senate when it’s better timing.  But he’s very sorry he can’t be here.

So with that – oh, let me first say, this panel will go to about 2:30.  We’ll break for five minutes; there will be actually a video while you’re having a slight coffee break on Kazakhstan and Semipalatinsk I believe.  And then – and then we’ll come back for the second panel, switch seats and move forward.

So it’s my pleasure now to introduce Ambassador Kairat Umarov, the ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States.  Ambassador Umarov has held a number of posts – some of you, I’m sure, know him – in the Kazakh foreign ministry, including ambassador to India, to Syria and has served actually twice before here in Washington, D.C., right in early to mid-1990s.

Also of interest to all of us, I think, because the fact that he was very active in the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement and to close both the U.S. and Soviet weapons test sites in the late 1980s.  And I think, as many of you know, this led to the closure of Semipalatinsk – some of you actually were involved in that, I know, in the audience – on August 29th, 1991, 22 years ago.

So we’re here also, I think, a bit to celebrate the closure of Semipalatinsk; we’ve done that the last couple of years too.  And you also know that that date is the annual United Nations Day Against Nuclear Testing, so it’s sort of a combination of 50th anniversary of the – of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, U.N. Day Against Nuclear Testing, closure of the Semipalatinsk site, and also, moving forward on the Comprehensive Test Ban.

So with that, I turn it over to you, Mr. Ambassador.  (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR KAIRAT UMAROV:  Thank you very much, Paul, for organizing and helping – all to organize this event.  I would like to thank all the panelists who are right now here and who will be coming for the next session.

I think it’s a very important session, just once again, to highlight the importance of everyone to struggle and fight for the ban of nuclear weapons.  I think that everybody has already heard today the news that the DPRK has restarted the nuclear reactor, and I think it brings again to the focus of attention the dangers of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons development.

So I think that it’s very timely, and I would like just to say that we have a special say in this particular issue, because for us, it’s an emotional and political issue.  And I think today, you will have a chance to talk about both political issues and emotional side of the story.

Sixty four years ago, a tragic page was turned in the history of my nation.  The Soviet Union conducted the first test of nuclear device at the Semipalatinsk testing ground in eastern Kazakhstan.  In the course of the next more than 40 years, there were 450 tests of over than 600 nuclear devices with the cumulative capacity of around 2,500 Hiroshima bombs, which, you know, were dropped on Japan.

About ½ million citizens of Kazakhstan have suffered from the effects of radiation and continue to suffer today.  Vast territories comparable to the size of Germany have been exposed to radioactive contamination, and you know, we cannot use this territory for another thousand of years.

I am telling all these facts because, you know, at some point, someone has to say no to nuclear testing and nuclear weapons development, and Kazakhstan actually did a good example of it.  Being still a part of the former Soviet Union, fresh from the Cold War era, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, by his decree, shut down the world’s second largest nuclear testing site.  And it was done because of his own conviction and because of the strong popular movement in Kazakhstan to close the testing ground.  It was mentioned that I was really involved with this movement.  It was really a huge – first, huge grassroots movement to close the testing sites and to show to the world – to the world that it is possible; it needs to be done.

And Kazakhstan succeeded in this.  On August 29, 1991, unconditionally, the testing site was closed.  That is a good demonstration that by political will, some good things could happen in this world.  And we, today, call upon other countries to follow our suit, to follow our example, and show this political will.

It was an initiative of Kazakhstan that in the U.N. General Assembly on August 29th was proclaimed as an international day of – against nuclear tests, and this year, we – the fourth time observing this day all over the world, with different events.  And today’s event, we also wanted to dedicate to this particular date.

The historical act – it was a historical act made by the will of people of Kazakhstan, 21 years ago, and I think it has a great civilizational significance.  Throughout all those years, Kazakhstan has been strongly committed to the principles of nonproliferation.  The reasons for that are quite obvious:  We have first-hand experience of how deadly and appalling the consequences of nuclear tests could be.  The radioactive fallout left, as I mentioned, 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan with nightmarish health problems, horrific tumors, radiation-caused genetic mutations and defects, and this is going on up till now.

On that ground, we have every right to stress the need for further decisive actions aimed at reducing nuclear threat.  We have strong reasons and we have a strong record of our own laws toward that direction.  Kazakhstan was the first to close down the nuclear test site, we voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear missile – nuclear missile arsenal from the territory of Kazakhstan, the leftover from the former Soviet Union.  We declared a nonnuclear status, we were the founding members of the nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia, and we initiated this international day of – against nuclear tests.  And it is a good reminder of the horrific consequences of the nuclear test.

We continue to urge all nuclear weapon states to start developing international, legally binding document on providing security assurances to nuclear weapons-free states.  It is time that some countries overcome the misperception or illusion that acquiring nuclear capability will bolster their security, national security.  We think it’s a very great delusion and we very strongly believe that what we lack today is not the – any more nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, but what we lack today is the mutual trust and understanding.  We lack political will.  And whatever initiatives Kazakhstan today has come with, it comes from the genuine belief of Kazakh people that we have to overcome the lack of trust and to build a safer, nuclear weapon-free world.

An early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which could serve as a catalyst of process of nonproliferation, effective implementation of NPT, is among the steps in that direction.  We welcome the progress made by CTBTO since 1996, and in increasing global support of the concepts of the summit on nonproliferation.  At this juncture, the international community should, through joint efforts, convince eight states that have yet to either sign or ratify the treaty to do so.  We are encouraged by U.S. President Barack Obama’s intention to give a new impetus to that process during his speech in Berlin, casting nuclear reductions as the centerpiece of his address.

Kazakhstan itself continues to contribute significantly to disarmament and nonproliferation, as reflected not only in our active antinuclear position, but also in recent progressive actions.  Our country is actively engaged in settlement of situation of Iranian nuclear program, by providing Almaty platform for the 5-plus-one negotiations.  We actively participate in the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, promoting the development and functioning of International Monitoring System and onsite inspections.

Five stations functioning in Kazakhstan have been integrated into the International Monitoring System, and used to provide a 24-hour monitoring of natural and manmade seismic events in the region.  They demonstrated their effectiveness and quality performance when they had timely detected and located nuclear explosions carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  We strongly condemned the nuclear tests of May 2009 and February 2013, and called upon the DPRK to take note of our positive track record of nuclear disarmament and successful, peaceful development in cooperation with the national community.

Our example becomes very actual today, as I’ve mentioned, since the – North Korea is starting again its nuclear program.  At the Global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April, 2010, Kazakhstan introduced a concrete proposal:  In exchange for the nuclear club guarantee for non-use of nuclear weapons and the protection in case of an attack, the entire world must abolish – abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The president also called for U.N. to adopt a universal declaration on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world – and we’re currently working on it in the U.N. – to advance the commitment to Global Zero.

Kazakhstan today works with IAEA to prevent the countries to acquire nuclear technologies by allocating the International Nuclear Fuel Bank, under the auspices of IAEA, on its territory.  We also call upon the states not to delay the drafting of a fissile material cutoff treaty, which will become an important step towards nuclear disarmament and prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We are very much sure that even more decisive steps have to be made in the area of nonproliferation.  With the political will and mutual understanding, mutual trust, it could be done.

The ATOM Project, which you will see today – it will be presented today, is an initiative of President Nazarbayev coming on top of the more than 22 years of commitment and actions to achieve global nuclear disarmament.  The ATOM Project reminds the world of the tragic consequences of nuclear tests.  We call on the global community to take more decisive action to a final and irrevocable ban of these tests.

Today it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to see the exhibition of the artist who is among us today whose life is a testament how the human spirit can overcome the physical disabilities.  He is using his works to speak clear and loud that nuclear testing and nuclear weapons are the – very harmful for the entire world community.  I would like him, of course, today to talk about his experiencing and his ideas.  And it is Mr. Karipbek Kuyokov, who is among us today and who will give his words in order to speak about sad story which stands behind nuclear testing.

With this, I would like to say thank you, and if at any time anyone would like to talk to us, we will be ready to continue asking and answering questions.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. WALKER:  Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, and also welcome to Karipbek Kuyokov.  This – the signs you see here – you’ll see him on the second panel and hear from him, and also the video from the break will also be on what the ambassador has talked about as the ATOM Project, Abolish Testing:  Our Mission, which is a Kazakh-led project.

Before I turn the panel over to Tom Putnam, let me just say a couple of words about nuclear testing, remind ourselves what’s been done to date.  There have been 2,055 nuclear tests that have taken place since 1945, the Trinity test and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The United States has tested, by my count, 1,032 times.  They top the list.  The Soviet Union tested 715 times.  And then of course we have the British, French, Chinese.  And the only recent tests have been the North Korean.  So there’s been a de facto moratorium on testing in the United States and in Russia since 1992.  And some of us were involved, actually, in putting that moratorium in place.  The North Korean tests, of course, were 2006, 2009 and 2013, and then there’s a question about a test some time ago, whether it was an Israeli and/or South African test that some of you may know about.

So the Limited Test Ban Treaty was an enormous accomplishment in 1963, and I know it took years under the Eisenhower administration and finally the John F. Kennedy administration to put in place.  But we’ll hear more about that in a – in much more detail, I’m sure.  But I want to remind everybody, it was actually signed in Moscow on August 5th, 1963, so just over 50 years ago, by Dean Rusk – you all know that name – Andrei Gromyko and Alec Douglas-Home, the British representative.  And it was ratified, after some considerable debate in the U.S. Senate, on September 24th, 80 to 19 votes.  So I think all of us are hoping that we can get close to that vote count for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the foreseeable future.  And it was signed in a very famous picture – you’ve probably all seen the photo, with many political luminaries around – by John F. Kennedy in the Treaty Room of the White House on October 7th, and it entered into force on October 10th.  So we’re in between all of these dates right now, so this is actually a very appropriate time.

And the reason that I think, in the end, it came about was because of the outrage in the United States and elsewhere, but particularly the United States, over the radioactive fallout and strontium-90 in children’s teeth – do you remember that – back then, particularly from the enormous thermonuclear tests that were taking place atmospherically, and both by the United States and by the Soviet Union.

We had the Threshold Test Ban Treaty in 1974, didn’t enter into force until 1990, so very slow process, to limited underground tests to 150-kiloton or lower, and then the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was voted on September 10th – so we’re just two days off that anniversary – in 1996, by 158 countries in the United Nations General Assembly.  And today the CTBT – we’ll hear a lot more about it in the second panel – has 159 states parties who’ve signed and ratified.

So we still have 37 countries that have not joined, although a number of those are signatories; they just haven’t ratified.  And you probably all recall that the first Senate vote on the treaty was on October 13th, 1999, here in the United States, and it was voted down 51 to 48.  So it was 19 votes short of a 67-vote two-thirds majority.

And as Ambassador Umarov has said, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty requires the 44 nuclear-capable states to join the treaty regime for entry into force.  And those – eight countries of those 44 that are still outstanding are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.

So I’m very much looking forward to this panel and the second panel to see how in fact our lessons learned from 1963 interact with our efforts these days to ratify and enter into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

So with those few words, let me turn the program over to Tom Putnam.  And I want to thank Tom for coming down from Boston from the – he’s the director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.  And I also want to welcome Ambassador James Goodby, in the middle of the table there, who was a negotiator of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, so we have a firsthand – a firsthand account here, and also Dr. Timothy Naftali, who’s a historian and co-author of the 2001 book on JFK, “John F. Kennedy:  The Great Crises.”

So the podium’s all yours, gentlemen.

Panel 1

THOMAS PUTNAM:  Well, I know I speak on behalf of my colleagues.  It’s an honor to be here.  We thank you for inviting us.  It looks like we have about a half an hour, so we’re each going to speak for about 10 minutes, and if one of us is short, you’ll have a few minutes to ask questions.

It’s no secret that for John F. Kennedy, really, he – his greatest accomplishment, he felt, was the signing of that first nuclear test ban treaty.  And I want to just give a few opening comments to set that achievement in context, and I hope I can kind of paint, actually, a very general picture with wide brushstrokes and perhaps use a few of President Kennedy’s words to just capture that moment, and then my colleagues, I think – obviously Ambassador Goodby, who was there, will give us really that internal view, and then my colleague Tim Naftali will give us a little bit more of a historical analysis.

I always remind people that to understand John F. Kennedy, you really have to go back to World War II.  His father was ambassador to England.  He actually traveled through Europe as a young man and visited both pre-war Germany and the Soviet Union and made his own impressions, came back to Harvard, wrote his honors thesis, which became a book called “Why England Slept.”  And the essential thesis there was that in the contest between democratically elected governments and totalitarian ones that when competing militarily, the totalitarian regimes will always have an advantage because they’re able to conscript their citizens into military service, and they can spend as much money on their military as their budgets will allow without the consent of their citizens.

And in my mind, that’s really the essence of his famous inaugural address when he spoke – it’s very much a Cold War address.  He spoke to the American people, and he was saying the only way that the U.S. could compete in the Cold War against the Soviet Union were if Americans were willing to sacrifice and care as much about the common good and the national interest as they were about their own individual well-being.

The second essential feature of JFK’s life experience was actually his service in World War II, where he really developed a skepticism of military authority.  Again, this was not only forged during his service on the PT-109, but it’s captured by his comical remark at the height of the missile crisis.  When an errant U-2 pilot mistakenly flew into Soviet airspace and really almost set off a nuclear catastrophe, JFK quipped, “There’s always one son of a bitch who doesn’t get the message.”  (Laughter.)

He was of course both devastated and disappointed in himself that he actually followed the advice of his military generals in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, but the world avoided catastrophe when he disregarded their advice during the Cuban missile crisis.  And it’s such a remarkable story, and one we’ll hear more about from the panel, of how in less than a year’s time, we went from the Cuban missile crisis, the highest level of nuclear brinkmanship in world history, to the historic signing of the nuclear test ban treaty.

Really, the over-arching theme of both the missile crisis and JFK’s quest to sign the test ban treaty was his fear that humanity was being gripped by forces it could not control, and he endeavored to do what he could to be sure that that didn’t happen.

A couple of observations.  In the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, he sees the nuclear issues as the greatest threat to the world and the greatest challenge for him and other world leaders to solve.  He gives a press conference in May of 1963.  He said, “If we don’t get an agreement this year, I would think the genie is out of the bottle, and we will never get him back again.  Personally, I’m haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we’re successful, there may be 10 nuclear powers instead of four.  I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard, and I think we ought to stay it.”

He believed that the arms race was not only costly but was inherently unstable to the world, and he gives a famous address at American University, really the first presidential address in 18 years to reach beyond the Cold War.  And that speech began with a commitment to genuine, lasting peace, and I would like to quote from it:  “Not a Pax America enforced on the world by American weapons of war, not merely peace for Americans, but peace for all men; not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time.”  And he goes on to say, “Our problems are man-made, and therefore they can be solved by man.  Some say it’s useless to speak of a world peace until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude.  I hope they do.  I believe we can help them to do it.  But I also believe we must re-examine our own attitude towards peace and the Soviet Union.”

There’s two other lines from that speech I like.  In regard to the Soviet Union, he says, “No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered lacking in virtue.”  And he describes peace as “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”

But of course, he had to overcome many obstacles to get the test ban treaty signed.  First he had to convince the Soviets themselves, and he had a kind of a difficult dance.  He was both extending an olive branch to them, but he also gives that famous speech in Berlin at the time where really he excoriates communism, and McGeorge Bundy, after the speech, worried that Kennedy had gone too far and could have actually damaged the effort they were making to try to sign the test ban treaty with that speech.

Even after the treaty was initialized, it needed to be ratified, and the American people needed to be convinced.  Congressional mail at the time, like the White House mail, was running 15 to 1 against the treaty, and JFK was truly worried that he would face the same failure that Woodrow Wilson had with the League of Nations.  So he did what he did best, and he addressed the American people.  Again, they continued to believe what their leaders had been telling them, that for years the U.S. was in imminent danger of a massive nuclear attack by the Soviet Union and that the communists were evil liars never to be trusted.  So the treaty was very high politics and a tough sell.

And let me just read briefly from the famous address he gave to the American people in August of 1963.  He said, “I speak to you tonight in a spirit of hope.  Since the advent of nuclear weapons, all mankind has been struggling to escape from the darkening prospect of mass destruction on Earth.  But yesterday a shaft of light cut into the darkness.  This treaty is not the millennium.  It’s an important first step, a step toward peace, a step toward reason, a step away from war.  This treaty is for all of us.  It is particularly for our children and our grandchildren, and they have no lobby here in Washington.  And according to the ancient Chinese proverb, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step,” and he challenges the country to take that step.

He made four points in that speech.  The reasons that he was for the test ban treaty was that it would reduce world tension, prevent radioactive fallout, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and he argued that limiting the arms race with the Soviet Union would actually strengthen American security, not weaken it.  The treaty, nevertheless, encountered tremendous attack.  There were nuclear scientists, like Edward Teller, who were against it.  He was facing a growing military-industrial complex that had an inherent interest in continuing to build and test weapons.  Influential senators like Senators Stennis, Goldwater and Russell all came out against the treaty. And JFK was truly worried that a coalition of conservative Southern senators who were especially angry with him over the civil rights legislation he had proposed would band together with Republicans to prevent the two-thirds needed for ratification.

The heroes of the story were Scoop Jackson and especially Everett Dirksen.  Dirksen was known to have said, when he endorsed it, that he would not like it written on his tombstone that he knew what happened at Hiroshima but did not take the first step.  And while I wish I could play the tapes for you – and my colleague Tim Naftali’s an expert on the tapes – there’s a fascinating tape where Everett Dirksen is in the Oval Office working with the president to figure out which votes they could get to be on their side, and in the end, they did get a number of Republican votes.  And it’s hard to imagine, for instance, President Obama and Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office working together on figuring out which senators could vote on a piece of legislation they both agreed on.

So as was mentioned, in the end 11 Southern Democrats and eight Republicans were opposed, and 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans supported.  So it was essential to have that Republican support to get it passed.

Again, JFK stated that no other accomplishment gave him greater satisfaction.  And as was mentioned, he signed it in a newly restored Treaty Room, and he probably did that because the desk in the Treaty Room belonged to him and he wanted to sit at his own desk and sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

We actually have it on display now at the library because it is one of his greatest accomplishments.  Tim was there last week and we went and looked at it together.  It’s on loan to us from the National Archives and Records Administration.

I just want to make a couple more points and to conclude.  After he gave that speech, he actually went out and gave almost a pre-campaign tour.  He was getting ready for his re-election campaign.  He went out to some Western states.  And the thing that surprised him was – it was supposed to be a tour about the environment and conservation, but he was getting the greatest applause lines when he actually talked about the Test Ban Treaty.  And he discovered that there – he felt that there really was a thirst amongst the American people for this – for the
Test Ban Treaty and for a call for peace, and that’s why he decides to run his re-election campaign on peace and prosperity.

And this, I think, is captured – and this is my last remark – in the final address he gives to the United Nations, which literally was 50 years ago this week, and I just wanted to read that speech for you.  He’s addressing the United Nations, and he calls for, quote:  further agreements which spring from our mutual interest in avoiding mutual destruction, for a new approach to the Cold War on both sides and for changes in the U.N. Charter to enable conventions of peace to pull abreast and then ahead of the inventions of war.  But peace – and this is what I want to conclude with – does not rest in charters and covenants alone; it lies in the hearts and minds of all people.  And if it is cast out there, then no act, no pact, no treaty, no organization can hope to preserve it.  So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper; let us strive to build a desire for peace in the hearts and minds of all our people.

So I thank you for listening to me.  And I’ll now turn the panel over again to my two colleagues, as been introduced before, historian Tim Naftali, who I promise, because I’ve heard him speak many times, is one of the most engaging speakers on JFK that I know – and Tim is in the process of writing a new biography – and Ambassador James Goodby of the Brookings Institution, but most importantly, again, he was a true eyewitness to this history, having served as the officer in charge of nuclear test ban negotiations at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1961 to 1963.

So Ambassador Goodby.

JAMES GOODBY:  Thank you very much.  And thanks to all the sponsors of this.  I think it’s very important to commemorate these days of the Limited Test Ban Treaty’s anniversary.

I’d like to say that I actually began working on the Test Ban Treaty in 1954.  And you say:  What?  It didn’t really get underway until 1958, at least.  But I really see the scientific miscalculation, as I call it, of March 1, 1954, as the beginning of the test ban negotiations.  That scientific miscalculation was the Bravo shot in the Castle series thermonuclear device, which instead of having something like six megatons, as they had expected, turned out to have 15 megatons and threw debris over a sizable part of the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the sickness and the death of at least one Japanese fisherman and fairly dangerous levels of radioactivity over a lot of the islands in that area.  So I really think the serious talks about should we continue to do this began in that year and continued really throughout that period.

The legacy of the Test Ban Treaty has been mentioned already.  I don’t need to dwell on it.  Children don’t have to drink strontium-90 in their milk, at least that caused by fallout.  Had the Limited Test Ban Treaty not been put into effect, maybe people would have done something unilaterally, but the fact of the matter is it did cause us to stop doing something that was devastating to human health.  So that’s an important legacy in itself.

But there’s another legacy, a lesson, if you will, that I think people don’t take note of, and I was glad to hear Dr. Putnam mention this today.  It is that in a sense, I think – I’ll underscore this – what it proved was that adversaries can cooperate.  It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game between two adversaries.  That lesson, I think, is very relevant today.  If you think about what happened in the year 1961, we had the Bay of Pigs disaster; we had a terrible summit meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy; we had the building of the Berlin Wall; we had the breaking of a moratorium that had been started by Eisenhower, with a 50-megaton-yield Soviet nuclear bomb; and finally, a termination of the talks which looked as though that might in fact be the end of it.

In 1962, we saw the Cuban missile crisis, and yet by January of 1963, I was in New York with Bill Foster and others, Charlie Stelle, talking with the Russians – and the British came later – about how can we revive these talks.  So I think if you think about today and we think about then, there seemed to be a greater willingness in those days to negotiate with adversaries, to do something that would be in the interest of both countries even if it was only limited in scope.  So I regard that as really one of the major lessons of that time, and I think we ought to keep that in mind.  We had leaders in those days who were ready to, you know, turn their attention fully to getting something done that would benefit all of humankind.

I attended the 25th anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty.  It was at the Kennedy Library in 1988.  And of course on that occasion, all the veterans of the Test Ban Treaty were there.  My colleagues at that time were Ted Sorensen and McGeorge Bundy and Carl Kaysen and Ros Gilpatric, a number of others.  I mention that because I think Ted Sorensen, Ros Gilpatric, former defense – deputy defense secretary and I were the only people there among the group of eight or 10 who thought we had really done as much as we could do when we arranged this Limited Test Ban Treaty.  Most of the others were saying, oh we could have done more.  I thought they were kind of bellyaching about their hopes that were unfulfilled.  Even McGeorge Bundy said, you know, I wish you really had done more, and maybe we should have done better at trying to convince Kennedy to go this route.

Well, my sense of it, frankly, is we’re very, very lucky that he got even that much.  And I say even that much in the sense that I think we did a great deal of good through that treaty, because there were innumerable obstacles.  Bear in mind this whole thing started in 1958 under a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who convened a scientific conference held in Geneva, which resulted in an agreement between the Soviet Union and others, ourselves included, about a verification system that became known as the Geneva system.  And it included virtually all those things we are now talking about in terms of verification – seismographs and detecting fallout and what have you.

The talks began later that year.  And at that same time, Eisenhower, to his great credit, declared a moratorium, which continued until 1961.  But almost immediately there was resistance to it, and so rather than smooth sailing and negotiating, there were backs and forths, new data came up and so forth.  I say this because that was really the story of the negotiations.  I can go through each of these years and show you that it was a very close call.

Even the speech of June 10 at the American University that Dr. Putnam just mentioned, a very, very important speech, was fortunate, in a sense, in that it had two items in it that I think Ted Sorensen basically collected and put into it.  I don’t think that President Kennedy had in mind initially putting those things into it.  One was the idea of a mission to Moscow.  He was able to announce that the Russians had accepted that and it would be a mission to Moscow, which became the place where the treaty was actually finished.

That ran into a lot of trouble with the State Department, to be blunt.  I had come up with the idea.  We talked to the British.  The British came back and said it’s a great idea.  And then we found that the Soviet people – the Soviet experts in the State Department didn’t think it was a good idea at all.  I was astonished to hear that, because generally they favored the test ban.  But what they thought was that Khrushchev was too busy with the emerging split with China to pay much attention to it; we didn’t want to bother him.  Fortunately, he was overridden and we did go ahead and propose this, and Khrushchev eventually accepted.  But it could have gone the other way.

And the same thing with this idea of not testing in the atmosphere, which is the other big thing, I think, in that speech.  That was a proposal that we had made a couple of times in 1962.  We even had begun consultation with Congress about it.  But for one reason or another, it was put aside.  It was lying in the White House, and nobody was pushing it at that particular time in 1963, but Sorensen picked it up and put it in the speech.

And so a lot of good luck, along with a lot of bad luck, is what I’m saying to you.  And it was certainly not an easy thing to get even a limited test ban treaty.

A little bit about the characters involved.  It was interesting to me how much the scientific community got involved in this, I think perhaps more so than any other negotiation that I’m aware of.  And it was both good and bad.  In a way, they were kind of re-fighting the Oppenheimer-Teller argument about should we go into thermonuclear or not.  Bitter, bitter fights between the scientists, which reflected in the ups and downs of negotiations.  So that was one of the major elements I saw.

People in the State Department connected with John Foster Dulles, many of whom had actually served in the Atomic Energy Commission, as I had, were very supportive; I think, frankly, during the years ’59-’60, the latter two years of the administration of Eisenhower, managed to keep the thing afloat.

Beyond that, looking at Eisenhower, he deserves a lot of credit for getting this done.  Kennedy was able to say, look, my predecessor wanted this done very badly – and which was true.  A man who doesn’t ever get much of any credit in this country, Harold Macmillan, Macmillan was close both to Eisenhower and Kennedy and kept pushing both of them to keep on working on this test ban treaty.  At one time or another, I think he was probably the key to keeping this whole thing on the tracks.

Khrushchev, to me, is kind of an enigma.  He supported the – he did really support the test ban treaty when it first began.  By 1961, he had turned against it.  He began to link the Test Ban Treaty to general and complete disarmament, which meant basically turning his back on it.  In some point in the spring or summer of 1963, he began to say, OK, maybe this is a good idea.  People attribute this – Russians do, as well – to the experience of the Cuban missile crisis, but I’m not so sure about that.  I saw the Soviet negotiating team close up in January of ’63 in New  York, and they didn’t show any signs of that whatsoever, and there was no evidence to me that there was a willingness to negotiate.  So I put it down more to other factors – Khrushchev’s internal position, break with China and so forth.

Anyway, I think that’s probably enough time for me to talk, and I’ll turn it over to my friend here.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI:  Thank you very much, Ambassador Goodby.

When we commemorate the 50th anniversary of a world-historical event, it makes sense to take time to see what we have learned about the event since its initial reporting and also to highlight some elements of the event that have current relevance.

In that spirit today, I will focus on three aspects – I promise, quickly now – of the history of the Limited Test-Ban Treaty of 1963.  And I’m focusing on them because you won’t know these stories:  the personal commitment of John F. Kennedy to banning nuclear tests – this is not a matter of idolatry but history – the role that the Soviets and the British actually played in the achievement of the test ban, one crucial and one peripheral; and the ugly political environment in 1963 that President Kennedy faced – Candide’s evil seems everywhere today; it is so easy to fall into the habit of assuming we now live in the worst of all possible political environment.

Although members of the president’s inner circle have long said that the test ban treaty was John F. Kennedy’s most treasured White House achievement, it was not until the opening of Russian archives that we had a sense of not only the depth of the president’s commitment to achieving a test ban but the political risk he was willing to take.  Funny that it took the archives of an adversary for us to understand U.S. history better.  But this was the case.  And I am pleased to say that my Russian co-author, the late Aleksandr Fursenko, and I were able to bring this information to light for the very first time, and the material is still astounding.

Three weeks after the Bay of Pigs, John F. Kennedy asked his brother to initiate secret talks with the Soviets to conclude a comprehensive test ban with Moscow that Kennedy and the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, could conclude at a summit in a neutral country.

Lest you think that all he wanted was a political victory after the defeat in Cuba, the decision reflected a mature assessment of the Cold War.  Kennedy had just learned that the United States was not in fact behind the Soviet Union in missiles; the infamous “missile gap” that had helped JFK get elected was a chimera.  But Kennedy did not yet know that the United States was far, far ahead of the Soviets.  As far as he knew, the Cold War was a military stalemate, and Kennedy’s goal was to freeze it there to reduce the chances of World War III.

Since 1958, as Ambassador Goodby not only described but knows very well, the United States and the Soviet Union had been observing a moratorium on atmosphere tests while negotiating a treaty banning all tests.  Verification was the sticking point in these negotiations.  Given the number of seismic events in the Soviet Union, which could easily be mistaken for underground nuclear tests, the United States had requested a set of annual on-site inspections to confirm that the Soviets had not broken the agreement.  Senate confirmation, as you can imagine, depended on reaching whatever threshold number was required to build confidence that the Soviets could not cheat.  The outgoing Eisenhower administration position was 20 on-site inspections a year, and the Soviets seemed prepared to offer three.

Without notifying any other member of his national security team, including National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy or Secretary of State Dean Rusk or Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Kennedy sent RFK to tell the Soviets that if Khrushchev increased the number of acceptable on-site inspections, the United States would be willing to accept 10, and he would sign an agreement in the neutral country, which later turned out to be Austria.

Imagine the political storm if these backchannel negotiations had leaked.  RFK told the Kremlin secretly, quote, improving U.S.-Soviet relations was job number one for the new administration.  But he also explained the domestic political situation the United States president was in and why he couldn’t say these things publicly.  A later administration would use the term “reset” and probably now regrets having admitted this goal publicly.

The secret backchannel negotiations continued until JFK boarded Air Force One for Europe at the end of May 1961 for the summit in Vienna.  But as we know, they were unsuccessful.  The Soviet leader, as we know from Soviet records now, had no interest in achieving an arms control agreement so long as in his mind, the problem of Berlin remained unresolved.  What we also only learned with the opening of Soviet records is that Khrushchev consciously withheld a test ban from Kennedy, seeing it as a reward for good behavior and not as a strategic need for the Soviet Union.  As he told the Kremlin, no test ban until Berlin is solved.

Kennedy’s other key partner was Great Britain.  Although Kennedy’s commitment to achieving a test ban can be explained in terms of his general desire to reduce what one might call nuclear danger, one must also take note of the supportive role played by family friend and later British ambassador to the United States, David Ormsby-Gore, or Lord Harlech, the British Conservative Party’s expert on arms control, who did lobby John F. Kennedy to give test – to put test ban on the forefront of his agenda once he became president.

Until 1963, however, the Soviets and the British were pulling Kennedy in opposite directions.  Khrushchev toyed with Kennedy by unleashing a powerful set of nuclear tests in 1961, breaking the informal moratorium that the two sides had been observing after he did not get the agreement he wanted on Berlin in the summer during the Berlin crisis.  Meanwhile, the British placed increased pressure on Kennedy not to resume testing in response

Meanwhile, Kennedy faced enormous pressure at home to resume testing in 1961 in light of the Soviet challenge.  Quote, personally, I hate the idea of resuming atmospheric tests, Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger in late 1961 in some unpublished diary.

In response to these pressures, in April of 1962 Kennedy once again used his brother RFK to make a secret test ban offer to the Kremlin.  If Khrushchev would accept a partial test ban and give up seeking an agreed number of on-site inspections to verify underground testing, Kennedy would not go ahead with the nuclear tests that he was planning for the summer of 1962.  Again, imagine the political cost to the president of the United States if the U.S. military, U.S. nuclear laboratories, elements in State and CIA and Congress, all of which supported a resumption of U.S. testing, had learned of this secret offer to the Kremlin.

Kennedy had tried to make this offer publicly.  It was in the first draft of his State of the Union message.  But Dean Rusk and McNamara had forced it out of the draft, January of 1962.  So Kennedy had to maneuver secretly using Bobby.

Once again, Khrushchev turned Kennedy down.  Instead, he decided to put missiles in Cuba and push for a Berlin agreement once again in 1962.

So why did JFK get the partial test ban in 1963?  It was, I believe, because of his deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It particular, it was because Kennedy had tried to help Khrushchev save face by agreeing – again, secretly, using Bobby – to remove the Jupiter missiles in Turkey.  The Kennedy brothers struck a deal with Khrushchev:  If he said nothing publicly about the offer, it would happen within three to four months of the end of October 1962.

Both sides stuck to the bargain.  From Soviet records, we know how obsessively the Soviets followed events in Turkey, sending their ambassador constantly to check whether the missiles had been removed.  And in March of 1963 the Soviet leadership learned that indeed, the missiles had been removed.

And so in late April Khrushchev announced to the Kremlin in a top-secret session we only learned about 10 years ago that he was ending the hold he had placed on the partial test ban.  He would no longer block the agreement because of Berlin.  When the time was right, he would tell Kennedy he could have it.  As Kennedy had hoped in 1961, the test ban became for Khrushchev a symbol of a better working relationship with Washington.

And so when was the time right?  When Kennedy gave his American University speech, Khrushchev said, OK, he can have it now.  He had already prepared his colleagues for a test ban.  He said, Kennedy has now done what we need him to do; he has earned the right to a test ban.  And that’s why it happened.

Most of the test ban story, the real story, took place in secret and involved a handful of the very top leaders of the two superpowers.  And for that reason, we didn’t know it until a few years ago.

Why did it happen in secret?  Why was it not the product of a somewhat more public discussion of what international mores and humanitarian interests ought to be?

It was not because test ban negotiations were a political problem for Khrushchev or for his political standing or because he had opponents in the military.  Khrushchev had fired all the opponents in the military in 1960; he could do whatever he wanted.  The problem was us.  It was our side.

And now, with the few minutes I have left, I’d like to explain to you why John F. Kennedy felt he could not publicly be as pro-test ban as he was secretly with his brother Bobby.

The U.S. military, especially the Joint Chiefs, opposed a test ban.  The nuclear scientific community was split, but the scientists who ran laboratories – most famously, as you mentioned, Edward Teller – against the test ban.  The director of the CIA, John McCone, the president’s director of intelligence, opposed the test ban.  The secretary of state, Dean Rusk, was actually cynical about what arms control could achieve.  Vice President Lyndon Johnson, whose national security views were largely shaped by the Joint Chiefs, had doubts about détente with the Soviet Union.  Other southern Democrats, who were angry at Kennedy’s new civil rights policy, as Tom mentioned, were eager to oppose a test ban, not because they disliked it on strategic terms but because Kennedy would get a victory.

But worst of all, from Kennedy’s point of view, the most revered military history in the country and the one man who could make a test ban a bipartisan achievement, former President Dwight Eisenhower, had changed his mind about a test ban since leaving office and now had serious reservations.  With Eisenhower’s opposition to a test ban, most Republicans in the Senate would not be able to support it.

Eisenhower is an interesting case because so little of the true story is known.  Eisenhower’s legacy is currently going through a revival based on some ahistorical assumptions about what he thought about the Cold War.  Yes, he had supported a test ban in the late 1950s, absolutely.  But he did so because the United States was ahead in nuclear technology.  A ban would freeze the U.S. advantage.  By 1963 Eisenhower concluded that the Soviets had caught up, and a ban might well favor them more than it would favor us.

The Kennedy administration sent Dean Rusk to sell the test ban to Eisenhower before Kennedy gave his speech to the nation.  Rusk, speaking for himself, told Eisenhower not to worry; the test ban would not mean a détente with the Soviet Union.  Privately, Eisenhower, who had a passionate dislike of his successor, called what Kennedy was doing a snow job in the Senate.  Nevertheless, he decided not to speak out against the treaty because there was so much international support for it.  However, he did confess to CIA chief John McCone, who had served in his administration before joining the Kennedy administration, that he would not have signed this treaty.

Kennedy did not have to pay any price for Ike’s support.  Eisenhower, in fact, publicly supported the treaty.  But he did have to pay a price to get the U.S. military to come along.  It is a quaint notion that the U.S. military does not play politics.  The Pentagon leaks as well and as strategically as the White House when it feels the need.

The price that Kennedy had to pay, you’ll be surprised to know, was Angola.  Kennedy sacrificed briefly the administration’s progressive policy in favor of decolonization in Portuguese Africa to ensure continued access to air bases in the Azores that were controlled by Portugal.  This was done to calm Portugal’s allies in the Air Force.  As Schlesinger wrote in his unpublished diary at the end of July, there is now a general feeling that an agreement, especially one confined to self-policing environments, would get through without much difficulty.  I think that the president still has some concerns about it, though; he has made it clear that he wants no trouble over the Azores in order to husband his strength for the test ban ratification.

As a result, I believe it would be impossible to imagine the U.S. signing a limited test ban agreement if anyone else had been in the White House.  Eisenhower would not have signed it.  Given Eisenhower’s personal opposition, the Nixon of the early 1960s would not have signed it.  Nelson Rockefeller, a leading candidate for the GOP nomination in 1960 and ’64, opposed the test ban treaty.  Among leading Democrats, Kennedy was the most skeptical about the Cold War, and as his secret RFK diplomacy illustrated, he was willing to outmaneuver Washington’s national security establishment for the sake of arms control.

The Limited Test Ban Treaty, therefore, is truly the product of political courage.  The historical record now speaks volumes about JFK’s role.  But it also, sadly, shows the constraints on creative presidential foreign policy making in Cold War America.  In policy terms, Washington was a very conservative place in 1963.  It is not clear that it is harder to be a progressive president today.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

Panel 2

DARYL KIMBALL:  If I could ask everyone to take their seats once again, so that we can resume our program.  Thank you.  And my name is Daryl Kimball.  I’m the executive director of the Arms Control Association, one of the cosponsors of today’s event.  The Arms Control Association was established in 1971 by several of the men that we heard about in the previous panel, who were part of the Limited Test Ban Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty efforts.

And ACA, along with many of our colleague organizations who are here today, including Women’s Action for New Directions and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council and others have been working for decades to bring about a halt to nuclear testing.

And I want to join Paul Walker in thanking our co-organizers and hosts, the Embassy of Kazakhstan and of course Paul and Global Greens USA for pulling all this together.

Before we begin with our second panel on the role and future of the Test Ban Treaty, we’re just going to take a moment to see a video – it’s about five minutes long – that describes the ATOM Project that was established to highlight the dangers of nuclear testing, particularly in Kazakhstan, but as I’ll say in a few minutes, those dangers extend far beyond the Semipalatinsk test zone in Kazakhstan.  So let’s just take a look at this.

(Video plays.)

Narrator:  On August 29th, 1949, the former Soviet Union detonated what would be the first of more than 450 nuclear warheads at their new testing site in Eastern Kazakhstan.  Just 100 miles away, the people in the industrial city of Semipalatinsk watched as the sky lit up and radiation filled the air.  Today, that city is called Semey.

It has been more than 20 years since a nuclear bomb was tested here, but for the people of Semey, nuclear testing is not a thing of the past.  Every day, many residents in Semey live with the legacy of those tests.  For these people, the consequences of nuclear testing, the devastating effects of nuclear radiation are clear.

Over the four decades of nuclear tests, approximately 1.5 million people in the region were affected.  Today, one in 20 children is born with deformities.  The cancer rate is 50 percent higher here than elsewhere in the country.  Many of the population die before reaching 60.

Not many of the people who lived in Semey throughout the tests are alive today to tell their stories.  But the lives of their children and grandchildren tell their own cautionary tale.

Governments around the world know with certainty that the side effects of nuclear weapons and testing are illness, unending environmental devastation, and death.  The people of Semey, the Bikini Atoll, the Marshall Islands, Nagasaki and Hiroshima have lived it.

Some countries, such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and South Africa have already eliminated their nuclear weapons or abandoned their nuclear weapons programs.  Through the decisions of its president, Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has also shut down the infamous Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, yet other countries could have done much more to help create a nuclear safe world.  The United Nations is working to build national and global security without nuclear weapons, establish regional nuclear weapons free zones, put an end to testing, and ultimately free the world of its nuclear arsenal.

One of the most concrete steps towards achieving this goal would be pushing through the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  The very existence and availability of weapons-grade fissile material in nuclear states such as North Korea, as well as the appeal of nuclear devices as the ultimate weapon, increase the risk of global nuclear terrorism.  If we stop nuclear weapons testing and secure all fissile material, then we also substantially reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The people of Semey, Nevada and the Marshall Islands didn’t know they’d become the victims of nuclear radiation, but if you’re watching this, you now know that their fate could be your own.  But together we have the power to stop nuclear weapons testing.  Today, we have the power to create a nuclear safe world.  By joining together, we can let the people all over the world affected by nuclear weapons testing know we heard their story.

Make your mark by telling the world leaders that you want to live in a nuclear safe world.  Go to theATOMProject.org and sign the petition.  Let’s act now and stop nuclear weapons testing.

(Video ends.)

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, as we heard in the previous panel, the United States and Great Britain and the Soviet Union came close but did not complete the effort for a comprehensive test ban.  As successful as the Limited Test Ban Treaty was in stopping the most visible and dangerous aspect of the arms race, the hundreds of open air explosions that spewed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination at the test sites and far beyond that caused this kind of damage was the result.

And one thing that’s important to note is that the same kind of citizen movement that we’re hearing about with the ATOM Project, that did occur in the lead-up to the Limited Test Ban Treaty.  The organization I used to work for, many years ago, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with other citizen activists were a critical part of the efforts to bring about an end to testing in the late ’50s and ’60s and was one of the reasons why, in my view, John F. Kennedy’s efforts were so strong in terms of trying to end testing.

And one thing to note also is that though the damage around – immediately around the test sites, Semipalatinsk, Nevada and elsewhere, was – has been extremely great, the damage caused by that radiation, even after the Limited Test Ban Treaty has been tremendous also.  According to a 1992 calculation by experts from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, there were between – there have been between 320,000 and 650,000 additional cancer fatalities worldwide through the year 2000 as a result of global nuclear fallout.

And so knowledge about the harm of nuclear testing is still not complete.  And the job of ending testing is not complete.  The next best chance for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would not come for another three decades after the ratification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on September 24th, 1963, and its entry into force weeks later.

As we heard already, in 1989, Kazak people rose up to call for an end to further soviet testing in their homeland.  And here in the United States, about a year later, there was a renewed movement to push the United States Congress to introduce legislation to match the Soviet moratorium that was announced in 1991 by Mikhail Gorbachev in response to that citizen movement in Kazakhstan.

And four years later, multilateral negotiations on the CTBT were finally concluded.  And so this panel is going to look at the Test Ban Treaty, the issues relating to the U.S. ratification issue, the technical issues, some of the political issues, and we’re also going to hear again about some of the reasons why we need to move ahead to close the door on testing.

And I would just note that we’re talking about this today because – the Test Ban Treaty, here in Washington, because U.S. and Chinese ratification is critical to moving forward to its formal entry into force.  They’re among the few holdout states that must ratify in order to bring the treaty into force.

President Obama, as we heard before from the ambassador at the top, has repeatedly expressed his support for U.S. ratification of the CTBT.  In 2009, he said that he would immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification.  And again in June, President Obama said we’ll work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

It’s a lot of work to be done.  That pledge is important, but there’s much more work to be done in order to move forward to develop a concrete plan of action, to pursue the steps necessary to win support in the Senate.  My organization and many others believe that such an effort will take time.  The results may not be clear anytime soon.  But to move forward, we can and must begin that effort.  And it’s important for the White House to name a coordinator to help lead that effort and to use some of the tools that the president now has to help inform the Senate about the key technical issues regarding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

And this panel is going to take a look at some of those issues.  We are very happy to have with us here today Ambassador Linton Brooks, who was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which issued its report in March 2012.  And Linton is going to describe to us the findings of the panel which addressed some of the key issues that were at the center of the previous debate in the Senate in October 1999, when the treaty was rejected by the Senate.

We’re also going to be hearing from others on the panel.  We’re going to be hearing from Ambassador Roman Vasilenko.  He serves as ambassador at large for the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan.  And he has been central to the ATOM Project’s efforts.  He will be speaking second and describing his views about how we can move forward with Test Ban Treaty entry into force, as well as other issues.  And we’ll also be hearing from Karipbek Kuyukov, who’s the honorary ATOM Project ambassador, third.  And then, at about 3:25, we’ll be hearing from Anita Friedt, who is principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear strategic policy at the U.S. Department of State, on the Obama administration’s perspective on the legacy of the LTBT and the value of the CTBT.

So with that transition and introduction, I want to welcome Ambassador Linton Brooks to begin outlining the results of the National Academy study.

Thank you, Linton.

LINTON BROOKS:  Thank you.  At the request of the United States government, particularly the vice president’s office and the State Department, the National Academies undertook a technical study.  That’s the first thing you have to understand.  There are some important issues – will ratification help nonproliferation; if we ratify, can others be brought to – that I am going to say absolutely nothing about because that’s not what we were tasked to do.

So we’ll talk about technical issues.  That’s the first thing you need to keep in mind.  Second thing you need to keep in mind is that the Academy’s process is thorough but majestically slow.  And the government’s review process is equally.  So I’m not going to talk at all about money.  There’s a good deal in the report about spending.  It’s based on the budget situation in 2010 and is now largely of historical interest.

The report was done in a classified version.  You’re just going to have to take my word for it that if you had the classified version, it would not be inconsistent with anything I am saying.  The recommendations are in almost all cases verbatim the same in the two versions.  Classified version has a good deal more about U.S. unilateral capabilities.

We got asked to look basically at four questions.  Can we maintain the U.S. stockpile without nuclear testing?  How well can we detect, locate and identify nuclear explosions?  What do we need to do to make the answers to those first two questions continue well in the future?  That’s the money part, which I’m not going to talk about.  And what could be done under the CTBT?  What kind of evasion could happen and would it matter?

Maintaining the stockpile was most straightforward.  It’s most straightforward because compared to the last look, we now have substantially more experience with a program called Stockpile Stewardship.  And that has led to systematic capture of past information, major improvements in computing to manipulate the data, major construction of facilities to look at individual aspects of the physics that we used to look at in explosions.  And the conclusion of the committee was, quote, “provided the sufficient resources and a national commitment to stockpile stewardship were in place, the committee judges the United States has the technical capabilities to maintain a safe, secure and reliable stockpile into the foreseeable future without nuclear explosion testing.”

That judgment was fairly straightforward and a good deal of detail in it.  The adequate resources mostly means a program of surveillance which has not always fared as well in the budget process as we thought it should.

Second question we looked at was monitoring, monitoring primarily underground, but also underwater, atmosphere and space.  And here too, the committee drew on the substantial improvements since the last time a National Academy panel looked at this, which is a report that came out in 2002, but probably reflects the situation around 2000.

The majority of the international monitoring system is completed, so instead of talking about what will be, we’re talking about what is.  We’ve improved our xenon radiation – radionuclide detection capabilities.  We’ve implemented regional seismic detections.  And as a result, we’re seeing more and more international capability.

Now, the report is very general on U.S. unilateral capability.  I think it would not be unfair to say that most observers believe that the United States’ national technical means are at least as good as the international capabilities.  So as you see that improvement in monitoring internationally, it’s fair to assume that it’s been matched by internal effort.

The report spent much of its technical effort on seismology.  Seismology is the most effective technology for detecting underground explosions.  Unlike past efforts, we had a separate panel of distinguished seismologists.  This will become important for one aspect when we talk a little bit about evasion.

And the basic conclusion is that threshold levels for detection are well below one kiloton worldwide and in Asia, Europe and North Africa, which are the places that most people are most concerned about detecting, the detection thresholds are substantially better down to 0.9 to 0.2 kilotons, so 900 to 200 tons.

We also looked at on-site inspection and concluded, as others have, that on-site inspection, if conducted without hindrance and if there was sufficient precision in location would have a high likelihood of detecting evidence of an explosion with a yield greater than 100 tons.

So what that suggests to you is that we concluded that there’s a very strong probability of detection and characterization of nuclear tests.  But that assumes no evasion.  So what did we look at on evasion?

First, we concluded that if you wanted to evade, the most obvious way is simply to test at very low levels.  All of these things scale down so that they are harder to detect at low level.

Now, it’s important here to distinguish between our confidence in detecting something and an evader’s confidence that we wouldn’t.  So you don’t look and say we have a 90-percent confidence.  That’s important for us, for building our system.  But the evader has to be much more certain that we won’t detect.  And so typically, when you see numbers in our report that there’s a 90-percent probability we’ll detect something, you should reduce that by about three and say that that’s a 10-percent probability.  Would someone take a 10-percent risk of non-detection?

There are two scenarios that have floated around about evasion.  One is mine masking.  You’re doing things in a mine and when the right seismic event happens, then you take advantage of that to hide a nuclear test.  We concluded that for a variety of technical reasons, that’s a much less interesting scenario than it was thought to be 10 or 12 years ago.

Cavity decoupling, of which you will hear great deal in the press, says this.  If you take a relatively small device and you put it in a large cavity of the correct geological conditions, that you can decouple.  This is based on two-and-a-half tests from a very long time ago and a whole bunch of extrapolation.  And it is an increasingly challenging scenario with higher yield.

So when you see things in the press that you can decouple by a factor of 70, that doesn’t mean somebody can go out and conduct a 70-kiloton test and have it undetected.

There’s an extensive amount of information in the report for those of you seismologically inclined to do this.  But we concluded that these efforts are credible at most for a few hundred tons and well monitored explosions.

And so we concluded that there are three countries that could probably pull off this kind of complex evasion scenario.  One’s the United States, one’s the Russian Federation, one’s the People’s Republic of China.  But for both China and Russia, we concluded that anything they could gain by that wouldn’t add significantly to the very robust and complex stockpile they have.  So basically, the people who are capable of cheating already have the stuff they could gain from cheating.  The people who don’t have that stuff are less capable of cheating.

There was one subset of this, which is what’s called a hydronuclear explosion.  There’s a debate in the CTBT about the absence of a definition of a nuclear test.  We do not engage on the question of whether that’s good treaty-making or bad treaty-making.  We do, however, engage at some length on saying we take all of the definitions people think they use and we can’t find anything that a state could do under one but not the other.  So technically, we could – now I’m being very precise – doesn’t mean there’s not something there.  Simply means we could not identify anything where are these very low yield tests, exactly how you defined them, makes any difference.

It is fair to note, however, the Russian Federation appears to place much more value on hydronuclear, these very low yield, but under our interpretation of the treaty, actual itty-bitty nuclear tests.  That the Russian Federation appears to place much more value on those tests than we do, we don’t fully understand why.

Our important conclusion, therefore, was we could not identify a potential threat that could arise through undetected nuclear explosion testing that would require the United States to return to nuclear explosion testing.  The only thing that we could identify as a possible reason for returning to testing was the need to develop some fundamentally new type of weapon.  And there, sort of by definition, you don’t know whether you believe you can do it without testing and we note that that is what the supreme national interest clause appears to be intended for.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Linton.  (Applause.)

We’re now going to hear from Roman Vasilenko.  He’s been with the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan since 1996.  And he is presently ambassador at large with the Foreign Ministry and has been in charge of various issues in very recent years, including the ATOM Project.

So over to you, thanks for being here.

ROMAN VASILENKO:  Thank you so much, sir.  And good afternoon to everybody and thank you so much for your great interest in this panel and in this whole event.  Needless to say, I’m deeply humbled to be able to speak to such a distinguished audience and with such distinguished panelists.

As we heard on the first panel and as we heard just now from Ambassador Brooks, I think that between all of the people who have been engaged in nuclear disarmament or disarming the Semipalatinsk nuclear test ground and testing site in Kazakhstan, we can easily get up to dozens of years or up to hundreds of years, I think.  There are so many people here who I know have been to Semipalatinsk or have dealt with nuclear disarmament issues for decades over their lives and it would be hard for me to really say something which will be surprising to people who are gathered here today.  However, I’ll try.

I would like to mention a few of the initiatives that our ambassador already mentioned, but I would like to a little bit expand on them.

One is the initiative that Kazakhstan has launched and jointly with our four other neighbors in Central Asia and signed the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.  The significance of that treaty of Semey signed in 2006, entered into force in 2009, is that it created the first nuclear weapon-free zone in – completely located in Northern Hemisphere and a zone that is bordering on two nuclear weapons states, Russia and China.  And that it was a zone created in a place where there used to be nuclear weapons, which is Kazakhstan, obviously.

Kazakhstan right now is a coordinator of that zone and working with the P5 to get the so-called “negative guarantees” for the zone so that the zone is finally recognized internationally and is accepted by the nuclear five countries, by the five nuclear weapons states.

However, we think that this was a major step forward and as you well know the whole of South Hemisphere is nuclear-weapon-free.  And because of – there has been at least four prior nuclear weapon free zones in – before Semipalatinsk.  So there are – there is this process that’s – by which countries declare the intention to free themselves from nuclear weapons and create legal frameworks for this.

One other initiative I’d like to mention is the Universal Declaration of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, which our president has proposed accepting through the United Nations.  It has nothing to do with taking away the power from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the yet to be entered into force CTBT.  The idea behind this convention is to sort of jumpstart the rather stalled process on nuclear disarmament that we have seen over the past 17 years since the CTBT treaty was opened for signing.  And to reconfirm through consensus that nuclear disarmament is indeed the ultimate goal of the mankind and we all are prepared and we all are working towards that goal.

And I know that our colleagues are now working at the United Nations in New York and in other locations to advance this vision.

There has been at least several occasions, even at today’s events, where we heard the words “political courage” or “trust,” when especially we heard this fascinating story of how the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed and how it took a lot of behind the scenes negotiations and how lack of trust – of mutual trust hindered these negotiations for quite some time.

I think that I would completely agree with the assessment that – and with the phrase that – with the notion that it is indeed a matter of trust.  And it is indeed a matter of confidence in each other, which the world, unfortunately, is lacking.

And I was particularly impressed by Ambassador Brooks recounting of the technical sides of why a test ban is possible for the United States.  But I was also mindful of the fact that the panel looked at this whole issue from the technical side obviously and the panel looked at it from the side of how were the United States to respond if somebody violates this ban basically and how we can introduce the verification mechanisms.

Of course, we all heard – we all remember the phrase verify – trust – doveryai no proveryai – and I think it’s all relevant today.  What was it in English?  Trust but –

MR. BROOKS:  Trust but verify.

MR. VASILENKO:  Trust but verify, yes.  And it’s important, indeed, but I think the world is particularly lacking on the first part of that phrase, trust.  There is plenty of verification mechanisms and Kazakhstan is proud to be part of that mechanism through the hosting of five tracking stations of the CTBT.  But trust is the hardest thing to come by.  And once the world gets around, I know maybe it sounds utopian, maybe it sounds a little bit out of this world, but truly we have seen in many occasions where only through trust things can happen.

And the other component of the success, as Daryl Kimball mentioned, is civic activism.  We have seen over the past 17 years how it is – how hard it was to push for the ratification of the CTBT.  However, as we all know, out of 183 signatories, 159 ratified, including three nuclear weapons states – Russia, the United Kingdom and France.  So basically, these countries have shown that they are willing to go along with the agreement that they signed in the United Nations.

And in order to really add – not put, but add human elements in the – in order to remind of the horrific human consequences of nuclear weapons testing, Kazakhstan and our president launched the ATOM Project.  You have seen the video and I’m not going to talk much about the project, as we have described it in the video and as we have the honorary ambassador of ATOM Project, Mr. Kuyukov.  But I would say that already people from more than 100 countries signed the petition, the online petition, calling on the leaders of the world to abandon nuclear weapons, to make sure the CTBT enters into force and to work towards a nuclear-weapon-free future.

It was amazing to hear from Mr. Naftali the history of the backstage negotiations before the Limited Test Ban Treaty was adopted, but it – just as it was amazing to hear the behind the scenes talks during those times, it was amazing to realize that the leaders of the world, indeed, act from the best interests not only of their own countries, but of humanity.  And there is hope that they will listen to the people’s voices.  And we certainly hope.  And with this amazing verification mechanism in place, the United States and other countries that are the holdouts will show leadership and will make good on their promises.  We certainly hope so.

I will not take too much of your time and I’d like to – if you don’t mind – OK – to turn over to my colleague.  We came jointly to here.  We first, actually, on this visit, went to the United Nations General Assembly and there we heard very positive response from many, many dozens of countries who spoke at the special informal meeting of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the International Day against Nuclear Tests on what the United Nations as an organization and what the country members can do to move forward this process.

But we’re here with my good friend and colleague and distinguished person Karipbek Kuyukov.  He really truly is an embodiment of the fact that mind can be stronger than the matter.  And we’re honored to have him with us.  He’s a longtime activist and he can tell you directly what the people in Kazakhstan think about nuclear disarmaments and the way forward.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

KARIPBEK KUYUKOV (provided through an interpreter):  Good afternoon.  First of all, I would like to thank all the organizers of today’s event and I also want to thank you for all that you have done to ensure the nuclear-free world for us.

I’m visiting you from Kazakhstan, from a small village, Yegyndybulak, that is located about 100 kilometers from Semipalatinsk test site.  And I’m very proud to say that I come from the former Semipalatinsk test site because I’m very proud that Kazakhstan became the first one to close it and I think we’re a good example for the others to follow in our footsteps.

And now, I have asked my parents, my mom and dad, often, why was I born without arms?  And then, while I was asking, I actually found out that before, there was a brother and sister of mine that didn’t live past their six months on this earth.

And my dad was an eyewitness of the testing and so he was telling me how they were instructing when the testing was announced to come outside of their houses and to lay down on the ground and to cover themselves with something.  But people who were living there also knew that it was an amazing sight to see.  As my father was describing it, it was a beautiful flash that they could see from the explosion.  And so they would climb the hills near the village and they would watch how the sky and the ground would come one and how the day will become night.

And as they would go back home, in the streets they would see dead chickens and they would see dogs without any hair.  And not only our people, but also animals suffered.  We have seen calves born with two heads, six legs, and so this was also a very commonplace occurrence in our area.

And I can tell you that I have been active in this area on the subject for a long time and I have been involved with different people who suffered, families and children.  I saw children who couldn’t see, who couldn’t hear, who couldn’t talk, and their parents were very shy to show them to everybody.  So they would hide them at home.

And it was hard to look in the eyes of the mother who would have a baby who couldn’t move, who couldn’t talk.  And she would just put him in a bucket that she would use for laundry and just put him outside so he can be outside this way.

And so the most amazing was that those people just quietly lived with it for 40 years, being next to the test site, not realizing that there was a quiet war being waged against them.

And so probably for the suffering of those children and for the suffering of those parents that I decided to dedicate my life to this movement.  And I started some time ago participating in the movement that united Semipalatinsk and Nevada.  This is not my first time in the United States.  I have been here before.  And I remember, back in ’91, I came here with a peace march.  And we went all over the country ending up in Nevada, where we organized a protest by the U.S. test site.

And so this takes a lot of time from my art.  And here today, you can see it.  This is some of the latest portraits, some people who have no voice to tell the world what happened to them, what they had to live through.  And this is my way to show, and this is sort of their soul screaming through my art.

And I’ve been to Japan.  I have seen what hurt the radiation caused there in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And as you can see, radiation doesn’t choose its victims, doesn’t choose the color of the skin.  We can all be happy, we can all cry together.  But this is something that we can do together in order to stop it from happening.

And so I’m here today as a goodwill ambassador of the ATOM Project and I would ask you to go online to look at the petition, to sign it, to tell people about it, about our site, about what you can do, so we can be living in a new world, where we can look differently at things and not have these problems occurring.

And so the fact that you have gathered here tells me that you’re the people who give me – like the people who give me strength, the people who let me continue my fight against this.  And what I’m trying to reach at the end is to be the last one who has suffered from the radiation and so we don’t have the suffering anymore.

And so I want to thank you personally.  I would like to wish you all success, and I think that this is probably the time when we can hold each other’s hands and change this world and get the success in what we’re doing.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  Karipbek, thank you so much for your powerful testimony, your hard work and your perseverance.  And we will succeed in the end in the effort that you just outlined.  And before we hear from our final speaker, I wanted to allow the audience, you’ve been very patient with this program to have an opportunity to ask a question, make a brief comment of any of our panelists on the wide range of issues that we’ve just talked about here today.  And I would just ask that you identify yourself and wait for the microphone to come by

And before we do that, let me just note that unfortunately, Ambassador Tom Pickering will not be able to make us.  He was hoping to come, but I just got a message that he has a hand ailment that requires going to the doctor.  So it’s not life threatening, but it’s something that is keeping him from being here.  So we’re sorry that he’s not with us.

And so with that, let me open up the floor and ask for any questions, comments.  Yes, right here, Alex.

Q:  Alex Leibowitz (sp), retired from the State Department.

I think Ambassador Brooks’ presentation was very persuasive, but in some sense, you could have – I mean, it was less persuasive, whatever it was, 13 years ago, but you could still have made, to some extent, the same kind of arguments even back then, especially when, on the other side, we’re not really giving up anything, since we’re not testing anyhow.  And so I’m wondering what can we do – what kind of arguments would really be persuasive in this kind of environment that we face in the United States and in the Senate in particular to – I mean, it’s not directly what your mandate was, but I’m wondering whether – because you’ve obviously been around this business for a very long time and probably have some insights into this, whether you have any thoughts as to what we can do to, you know, gain a momentum for ratification in the United States.  Thank you.

MR. BROOKS:  Well, you’re about to hear it from a representative of the administration who’s much better positioned to answer that.  I’ll give you an answer with the understanding that this is not the view of the committee or of anybody else.  And it’s not the view of this administration.

Comprehensive Test Ban will be ratified in the United States when there is a Republican president who supports it because then – now, look back – look back.  New START is the first time since John F. Kennedy that we’ve ratified anything negotiated by a Democrat.  It – historically, in the United States, you get all the Democrats because they like arms control and you get enough Republicans because it’s their guy.  And when we have that again, I think the treaty will have a shot.

The important – it’s important to note – and here I can speak for the previous administration – there’s not been five minutes worth of discussion about resuming nuclear testing in a very long time.

If you talk to your friends running the labs, their view is you can do what you want about the CTBT.  We’ve been living under a no-testing regime for 20 years and expect to live under it forever.  And so I think there’s no chance of resumption of testing and no constituency for it.  But I – no disrespect to my colleagues in the administration who are trying very hard to deliver on the president’s promise – I think in this partisan environment it is going to take a Republican president to bring this off.  I wish that weren’t true, but it’s – probably is.

Q:  Thanks a lot.

MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  Just a couple of quick thoughts to the same question, I don’t want to pick a fight with Linton Brooks, you never do because you usually lose, but there was one treaty that was negotiated by a Democratic president that has been ratified, and that was the New START treaty.  But that was a different treaty, a different time, if – it’s hard to imagine, but it was a different time.

But what I’ll say, and I alluded to this in the beginning, is that any treaty ratification effort takes a lot of preparation.  That preparation has really not begun on the CTBT in the way that the administration did it for New START.  And it’s time to begin that process.

Now, you were asking about the arguments for moving ahead.  I mean one of the key questions I think you’re alluding to is why take the trouble to do this in the first place?  And the issues that Linton outlined, yes, those were arguments and issues that were there in October of 1999.  In my estimation, you know, the report of the National Academy makes it clear that, you know, that was then, this is now.  A lot of things have changed from the technical perspective.

But you know, now I think one of things that is crucially important to consider as we look ahead, not to 2015 or ’16, but you know, five, 10, 15 years down the road, is, you know, what do we need to do to create higher barriers for future potential nuclear-armed states to develop sophisticated arsenals.  And you know, we are looking at North Korea, as was alluded to earlier that is outside of the test ban regime.  They are going to, if nothing else is done, slowly amass a more capable arsenal.

So it’s the kind of problem that we need to be thinking about.  And because the United States no longer needs nuclear testing, this is manifestly in our interest and the international security interest.  And it’s that kind of argument that has really not been brought to bear in this debate to date that I think could be very powerful with a Senate that is – you know, is different in many ways than in 2010, when New START was ratified, very different from 1999.  There’s less than a quarter of the senators there today who were there in ’99.

So I’m confident this will be done.  Perhaps maybe we should make a wager to see how many presidents from now we’re going to be, but perhaps it’s going to take a Republican, but I think that the task, the work has to begin now.

Any other questions from the crowd here?  Shocking.  OK, very well.

Well, with that, what I’m going to do is I’m going to invite our next speaker up.  We’ll take some more questions, and then I’ll make some brief concluding remarks and we’ll adjourn.

And our next speaker, very honored to have her with us, is Anita Friedt.  She’s the principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and strategic policy in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.  I’m glad I don’t have to put that on my business card.  It’s – I don’t think there is enough space.  We’re glad that she’s here.  She has been working at the State Department and in the government for 33 years.  And this is the second time Anita has been at one of our events.  She has a wide range of expertise on nonproliferation, New START, and the CTBT.

We’re very glad you’re with us.  Why don’t you come to the podium, please?  Thank you.

ANITA FRIEDT:  Thank you very much – good to see you. Thank you very much.  As the last speaker of the day, here I am – see, maybe that will help with the number of hard-hitting questions.  But thank you very much for the very nice introduction, Daryl.  And thank you very much for inviting me to speak here.  It really is wonderful to be back at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and to be speaking along such distinguished leaders as Ambassadors Umarov, Goodby, and Ambassador Brooks, of course.

Now, I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage since I wasn’t here to hear most of the speeches and the discussion today, but I know I will quickly catch up because as Daryl says, I have followed this issue, certainly CTBT and these issues very closely throughout my career, but most especially now.

As has certainly been discussed today, it has been 50 years since the Limited Test Ban Treaty entered into force.  It was limited in the sense that it did not ban underground nuclear weapons test explosions or any other underground nuclear explosion.  But of course, at American University, in 1963, President Kennedy called for a complete ban on nuclear explosive testing.

“The conclusion of such a treaty,” President Kennedy said, “so near and yet so far –  would check the spiraling arms race in one of the most dangerous areas.  It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963 – the further spread of nuclear arms.  It would increase our security and it would decrease the prospects of war.”

A goal was in sight and it was clear how we could monitor tests in the water, in space, and on land.  There was, however, widespread concern that states would have difficulty in detecting and distinguishing underground nuclear explosions from other naturally occurring events.  So without the inclusion of underground nuclear tests, the LTBT was a good start, but it wasn’t enough.

Moving on.  So we pressed on.  In 1976, a group of scientific experts, the GSE, was established by the Conference on Disarmament to address the issue of effective seismic monitoring of underground nuclear explosions.  The work of this GSE helped propel the successful negotiation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

So I won’t spend too much time extolling the many virtues of CTBT today, as I certainly know that this is an expert audience, but I will state definitively that a global, verifiable ban on explosive nuclear testing is in the national security interests of the United States of America.

The treaty is central to leading nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons and reduced nuclear competition.  Furthermore, with a global ban on nuclear explosive tests in place, states interested in pursuing or advancing their nuclear weapons programs would have to either risk deploying weapons with uncertain effectiveness or face international condemnation and possible sanctions for conducting nuclear explosive tests.

As you all know, the Senate chose not to give its advice and consent to ratification of CTBT in 1999.  For almost a decade, this treaty languished with some fearing that the United States would withdraw its signature and that it would not be the end of a – that it would not be possible to have a global ban on nuclear testing.  But those fears were not realized and what we have today, I’d argue, is a stronger case for ratifying the treaty than ever before.

There are two primary reasons for this.  First, as I know Ambassador Brooks has talked about, Stockpile Stewardship.  Stockpile Stewardship was at its infancy in 1999.  Today, it is a marvel of modern science.  From 1945 to 1992, the United States conducted 1,054 nuclear explosive tests, more than any other country.  The United States has observed the moratorium on nuclear explosive testing since 1992.  So our policies are already consistent with the central prohibition of the treaty.  In fact, our scientists at our weapons labs say that they know more now about our arsenal and under the Stewardship Program than we ever did while we were actually testing.

We have proven that we can maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal without resorting to explosive testing.  And as Ambassador Brooks said in the answers to the question here, I mean, that really is true.  There’s – I don’t think anyone would say that we would go back to testing.

Second, the treaty’s primary verification mechanism, the International Monitoring System, or the IMS, was not even an infant.  It was more a twinkle in the eye of the world’s best and brightest scientists, when the treaty was first considered by the Senate.

Today, the IMS is roughly 85 percent complete and when fully completed, there will be an IMS facility in 89 countries spanning the globe.  At entry into force, the full body of technical data gathered via the IMS will be available to all states parties.  And this is really impressive in terms of where we’ve come with the facilities over the last decade.

The system has already demonstrated its capabilities under real world conditions, detecting and helping states identify three nuclear explosive tests conducted by North Korea over the past several years.  Following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, we saw how the IMS can be useful for non-verification related purposes, such as tsunami warnings and tracking radioactivity from reactor accidents.

Moreover, the United States will always rely on our robust national technical means to provide even greater confidence that we can detect any illicit nuclear explosive tests.

Another area of progress in recent years is preparation for the on-site inspections or OSI, which is another of the treaty’s verification – element of the treaty’s verification regime.  Such inspections would be key to clarifying any ambiguity regarding a possible nuclear test.

U.S. experts have been deeply involved in the development of an OSI framework by contributing our extensive inspection expertise to the development of procedures, manuals, training, testing, exercise planning, and inspection equipment and specifications.  The United States has helped build up the CTBTO’s capability to conduct robust and effective inspections at entry into force.

In addition to the general preparations for the on-site inspection element, the Provisional Technical Secretariat or the PTS is in the midst of planning and preparing for the second major integrated field exercise in 2014.  And this will take place in Jordan.  Like the previous integrated field exercise conducted in Kazakhstan in 2008, the 2014 test will test the capabilities of the OSI elements under realistic field conditions.  This integrated field test will also test for the first time the integration of various inspection techniques allowed under the treaty in order to provide states parties with the most detailed and robust set of technical data and information on which states could make a judgment of compliance with the treaty.

So as taken as a whole, the treaty’s robust verification system, which supplements and reinforces the existing U.S. state-of-the-art nuclear monitoring capabilities, will make it extremely difficult for any state to conduct militarily significant explosive nuclear tests with confidence that they will escape detection.

I was just in Vienna a few weeks ago, in August, at a P5 CTBT technical experts meeting.  It was in this environment, which I have to say there were – the Ph.D.s far outnumbered politicos such as myself, that P5 experts really got into some interesting technical discussions about the treaty.  As nuclear weapon states, the P5 have a unique knowledge in the conduct of nuclear explosive tests.  And this knowledge gives us distinct perspectives on what is required to verify a ban on nuclear explosions.

It is this sort of collaborative and creative work among technical experts at the PTS that will have to shore up and support the treaty’s entry into force.

It is for these reasons and more that President Obama expressed his support for the treaty in Prague in 2009 and then reaffirmed that support in Berlin just a few months ago, pledging to work to build support in the United States for ratification.  Whether it is a senator or a staffer, a schoolteacher or student, we know that it is our job to make the case for this treaty.  First and foremost, what we hope to get is a commitment to listen with an open mind.

We need to make sure that people are updated with the latest information about CTBT.  We know that this agreement involves a very technical set of issues.  And we want people to absorb and understand the basics of the treaty and how it benefits us.

We have no timeframe for Senate action, as discussed here today.  And the political situation is dicey here in terms of ratification.  So we will continue to be patient, but we will also be very persistent in our education effort.  And as Daryl pointed out, we need to start this campaign.  I would argue we have, but we can go into detail there.

We will continue to call on all governments to move forward with ratification and, as appropriate, declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test.  The CTBT is in the security interest of every nation.  There is absolutely no reason for any other state whose ratification is required by the treaty for entry into force to wait on the United States.

So let me stop here, but I do want to leave you with a thought.  Fifty years ago, we formally started the process to ban nuclear explosive testing.  The reason we will keep pushing, the reason we will keep trying is that this treaty is good for American national security.  And we will continue to make that case to the country and we certainly will count on your continuing help in this effort.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you.  Why don’t you stay here for a moment and we’ve got time for a few questions for Anita Friedt.  And just before we do it, let me amend and revise my remarks, as they do in the Senate, to say start in earnest.

MS. FRIEDT:  Start in earnest, OK, all right, Daryl.

MR. KIMBALL:  Start in earnest.  OK.  So maybe we can – so we’ve got one more microphone.  If you could go over to the other side.  Tom Cochran, please.  There we go.

Q:  You know, Ambassador Brooks mentioned that seismology was our best method for detecting nuclear tests.  And I’m wondering if that’s true today or whether signal intelligence is not a better method in light of the revelations about the NSA capabilities.  And I’m reminded, back in the ’70s, when defense programs used to conduct small secret tests at the Nevada test site, we discovered how to detect them by calling up the test site and asking when the weather briefing was, which always occurred 24 hours before the test.  (Laughter.)  We would pretend we were from Washington, D.C., and they would tell us the time of the briefing and we would know that the next day there would be a test.  So I think maybe signal intelligence now is a pretty good way for confirming whether the North Koreans are testing.

MS. FRIEDT:  I certainly agree with you.  That’s an interesting story.  (Laughs.)  But I certainly agree with you that national technical means or signals intelligence is an important asset.  But the seismic remains, so it’s got to be both.  As I mentioned, national technical means are a priority.

I think as everyone sees and knows here, collection efforts, NTM, I mean, and our priorities over the last – certainly since the end of the Cold War have changed in many ways.  I mean, whereas 30, 40 years ago, we looked at – we have a lot more to look at now, let me just say.  I mean, with the threats with Iran, North Korea, elsewhere, there’s a lot more for our national technical means to look at.  So we really need both.

MR. KIMBALL:  Linton, from a technical standpoint, anything to add?

MR. BROOKS:  The National Academy tasking as we understood it was direct detection, not knowledge.  And as I indicated the area in which the public report is substantially smaller than the classified report has to do with U.S. so-called national technical means.  I mean, take the most obvious case.  We detected the North Korean test because the North Koreans announced they just tested.

MR. BROOKS:  But you can’t necessarily depend on that, so I don’t – this is not the venue to get into a debate about the relative merits of signal intelligence.  We did not cover that because we saw our task as direct detection.  But your point’s a good point.

MS. FRIEDT:  Yeah.  And as Linton – it’s a very good point you make – open source is by far – I mean, it’s bigger and bigger and more important than ever.  As you point out, North Korea announced it.  And so we can get a lot from open source.

Q:  Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire.  Anything you can tell us about a timeline for doing something like naming a coordinator for the ratification campaign effort?  Anything about whether the chemical weapons issue before Congress is in any way bringing more concern for WMDs or taking away, you know, scant attention for WMD concerns?

MS. FRIEDT:  Well, on the latter point, certainly – thanks, those are good questions.  On the latter point, no, I mean, it certainly makes clear that this is – these WMD issues are more prominent than ever.  There’s no question about that.

In terms of naming a coordinator or anything like that, as I’ve mentioned, there really are no timelines set.  And I think there are good reasons for no timelines set in terms of naming coordinators or doing anything, at least at this point.  We just have to see where we are because it’s – politically it’s – we just have to see where – test the waters and see where we are.  So I’ll leave it at that.

MR. KIMBALL:  Test the waters, so to speak.  Yes.

MS. FRIEDT:  Test the waters, yeah, not the – (laughter).

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Any other questions from the floor?  The gentleman in the front here, Paul Walker.

Q:  First of all, thank you, Anita, very much for coming and speaking today.  We’re very happy to include you in the program.  I want to follow up, I guess, on Rachel’s question, not about the naming of a coordinator, but the last two major arms control agreements that we’ve signed and ratified, but had a real struggle to ratify, was the 1997 fight over the Chemical Weapons Convention.

And part of doing that under the Clinton administration was to in fact name a coordinator out of the White House, in fact, then organize the civil society, NGO, arms control community.  And we worked – many of us worked every single month.  We met at least every two to three weeks for over a year in coordinating, in fact, the campaign around ratification of the CWC.

Similarly for New START, we had a pretty active campaign around ratification of New START.  And it was very uncertain that either treaty, at that point, would be ratified.  And we – as you know – obviously ratified them, you know, sort of by the skin of our teeth in the end.

So I’m wondering whether the State Department or the NSC or the White House has actually begun to reach out to the larger community.  I personally know of no effort or campaign effort to bring NGOs, arms control community into the discussion at this point.  And that’s what a lot of us have, as you know, written State Department and the White House about – that we really feel it’s time to begin this.  It can be a year, a year and a half, two years.  As you say, no schedule is predictable at this point.  But I wonder whether there’s been discussion on building a campaign around the CTBT, regardless of the head count in the Senate at this point.

MS. FRIEDT:  It’s a good point and thank you very much.  I certainly – well, I was front and center in the New START ratification effort, so I know firsthand.  And it was, yes, more than dicey.  And it was – if it were not for the massive effort and the very welcome help from NGOs and from the community at large, we would not – and the campaign – we would not have ratified the treaty.  There’s no – the chances – it was an uphill battle.  The negotiation was quite – in some ways, the negotiation was very tough, but it was almost a cakewalk compared to the ratification, if I – it really was when it was done an eye-opener, to say the least, for me and for many others.

And after that, I mean, the original plan, when President Obama came into office and gave his famous Prague speech in 2009 was to go for ratification of New START, to negotiate and then ratify New START, and then immediately move on to CTBT.  Because of the uphill battle and many other political and other factors, it was clear that we couldn’t just kept – keep going because it just was not – it just didn’t make sense.

At this point, we certainly welcome your help.  I know you’re ready and willing and out there.  And yes, you will be hearing from us soon.  I think it’s – again, it’s a delicate – a delicate issue.

MR. KIMBALL:  I have a question I wanted to ask Anita or Roman to address, which is that there’s the international aspect to entry into force.  There are other countries that do need to sign and ratify.  And coming up on September 27th is the eight Article XIV Conference on facilitating the entry into force the CTBT, where almost 100 representatives will gather to exhort the CTB holdout states to get going.  And there will be NGOs there making some key points, too.

I was wondering if, you know, each of you could offer your thoughts about, you know, what some of the other countries around the world can do and why to move forward on CTBT entry into force.  And as one small example, I think it’s quite interesting, that has been noted in Washington is that just about a month and a half ago, at the behest of the new executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Provisional Technical Secretariat, Lassina Zerbo, China agreed to transmit the data from their certified IMS stations to the international data center in Vienna, which they had not been doing for some time.  And so that’s a small step forward for China, which has also, like the United States, signed but not yet ratified.

But there’re other countries that have their part to do.  The U.S. is, of course, critical.  But I was wondering if you could just address, you know, that aspect of the problem, what kind of diplomatic strategy could be organized in order to help that effort and what you expect out of this next entry into force conference, which, you know, is an opportunity to help pull together a serious multilateral diplomatic strategy for the Test Ban Treaty.

MR. VASSILENKO:  Thank you so much.  And I thought it was going to be quick, but it seems like we have a lot to discuss here.

Well, I wouldn’t be inventing the wheel when I say that there are countries, and not just Kazakhstan, but many others, who are trying to chip in and to contribute to the whole discussion and to move the process forward, trying to influence the remaining eight countries.  I would particularly mention Norway, which hosted the conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons testing in March this year.  A hundred and thirty-five countries participated, but no P5.  That just tells you the challenges of even maintaining the dialogue on this issue.  There were India, Pakistan, Iran there, but no P5.

The next event that this group of countries is organizing is in Mexico, in February 2014, which is just next door to the United States.  So I hope that this is – this gets more attention from P5.

In terms of the next conference on the entry into force, I would just revert back to what I said earlier, that there is obviously a great need in a better and more open dialogue.  And once this dialogue is in place, everybody knows what can be done.  And there are dozens of specialists from every country who are part of this process.  I’m sure that they will be able to find even incremental steps forward to convince the remaining holdouts to move forward.

MR. KIMBALL:  Any thoughts on this topic, Anita?

MS. FRIEDT:  Sure, yeah.  No, no, we’re certainly looking forward to the Article XIV Conference next – well, the week after next.

In terms of getting other states to ratify, as I mentioned in my remarks, I mean, the fact that the United States has not ratified should not hold other countries back from ratifying.  I thank you for mentioning the Chinese.  They’re putting their stations on – that really was – it was a small, but it’s arguably also a very large step.  And that was an extremely welcome step forward.

As I mentioned, I think that the work of the CTBTO in Vienna is really – I’ve been out there twice now, which is not a lot, and I’m sure many of you have much more experience – it really is an impressive, impressive organization which has come so far.  The organization has been doing a lot in terms of getting out and trying to get Annex II countries to ratify.  And we certainly support those efforts.

Other than that, I really – I’m big on supporting the organization, also keeping up monetary support.  I mean, the United States has paid all its bills and then some and I think that’s another – it’s an argument that we have there sometimes, but in terms of contributions to the organization, keeping that organization and building out the organization is really of very high importance and something that we need to continue.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right, yeah.  I think we have time for one or two more questions.  Jennifer, why don’t you take the microphone?  Thanks.

Q:  Hi, I’m Jenifer Mackby and I served as secretary of the Group of Scientific Experts, not back in 1976, but more recently when the treaty was being negotiated, and also served on the negotiations for the treaty and then in Vienna and – on the verification work.  And I was just wondering just a technical thing, how far along you perceive the OSI manual is and how close to being finished that is.

And the other thing, at this next Article XIV Conference, Sweden and Mexico were the previous outgoing two coordinators on this.  They didn’t do a whole lot, quite honestly.  And I’m wondering if the next two could be prevailed upon by U.S. and the rest of the NGO community to do a little more.

MS. FRIEDT:  I support that.  In terms of the manual, now you really have – I’ve got my technical – I’ve technically advanced to some point, but not to the point where I know where the manual is.  But I know there are other people, including my colleagues here who can answer that maybe when we finish.

MR. KIMBALL:  Yeah, just what we’re talking about here is the finalization of the manual that will provide the protocols for the on-site inspections, which can only take place when the treaty enters into force and if there’s a challenge inspection authorized by the executive committee.

Any other questions from the audience?  None?  Yes, sir.  Yes, Mr. Ambassador.  Here we go.

Q:  I just want to comment saying that, you know, of course, probably it’s more theoretical thought, but of course if U.S. will show the leadership in ratifying the treaty, I think the other countries will follow.  And the – why I think so is that China, as you said, has already started to move.  And of course, they won’t do anything without having U.S. as a superpower just to move in that direction.  But if this is to be done, I’m sure that China will follow and India and Pakistan, you know, it’s again, the pair which is looking at each other.  And if one of the countries will follow, the other one also follow the suit.

And you know the position of India, which is actually for equal position for all other countries, especially P5 countries, if they go for the reduction of nuclear weapons, they will join NPT and they will be just, again, for all of this anti-nuclear movement.

So we have here a good situation when, if the West shows the leadership and as we hear today in the panel that there is no any reasons why U.S. has to kind of stop itself from ratifying the test ban because verification system is there, everything, technologically we have all the capabilities to check and verify.

So I think that at this point of time, U.S. should show the leadership.  And if that is done, then the rest of the countries will follow the suit.  Of course, I understand the internal political situation which does not permit it, but with all of this data, with all of this good information which you have, research and opinions, I think today is more probably in the hands of NGOs who can really galvanize the public opinion and make a bigger push on those in the Congress who really should be accountable to what is going on and what is the opinion of the public on this issue.

So I think that probably today we have to start from the other side, from the side of the public opinion to grow and just provide the conditions for Senate to go ahead and do that.  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  One thought about that, if I could actually comment on your remarks.  I would say that historically speaking, victory has 1,000 fathers and mothers.  It’s going to take all of us to make this happen.  And if you look throughout the history, prior to 1963, after 1963, just before 1991, there were a combination of people – local leaders, national leaders, legislators, doctors, physicians, ordinary mothers, NGOs, all together.

So it’s – we’re going to have to stitch together a campaign to achieve this.  As somebody who’s been working on this for a long time, I appreciate the support for the NGOs and the recognition of their importance, but we can’t do it alone either.

So one other thing I would just also mention that is important about the Article XIV Conference and non-governmental organizations – we’re going to mention this in our statement – is that there are powerful reasons for some countries in Central Asia, Iran in particular, to take steps towards ratification, too.

And I know that Kazakhstan has a very good dialogue with Iran.  And President Nazarbayev just met recently with Hassan Rohani, the new Iranian president.  And you know, that Iranian ratification could be a useful step in proving that their program is for peaceful purposes.  And I say that reminds me of an incident in 1996 when I was in Geneva lobbying countries for the negotiation of CTBT.  And I was praising the Iranians for a draft treaty that they had just put down for negotiations.  And I came back to Washington and some people criticized me for giving the Iranians praise, in 1996, quoted in the Financial Times.  But, you know, they have played a role and they can play a helpful role in the future still on this issue.

Any other questions from the audience?  OK.  I think we are running out of time.  I want to thank everyone here for their remarkable contributions.  I want to thank, in particular, Karipbek for your inspiring testimony and your hard work.  I think everyone here has been moved and motivated to work harder on this.

I want to thank Roman and Linton and Anita for your contributions.  I think we’ve had a very diverse and rich discussion.  Our thanks to our friends at the Embassy of Kazakhstan for helping to make this possible, to Paul Walker and Global Green USA, and everyone here for your attention and your interest.  We look forward to seeing you again at some point in the future.

And let me just also note that the – there’s a video – there will be a video of this discussion and a transcript for those who want to go back and relive the experience.  So thanks everyone.  (Applause.)


The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding and effective policies to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons: nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as certain types of conventional weapons that pose a threat to noncombatants. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.


Concluded by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev only months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) was an historic first step toward reining in the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. The LTBT, which banned nuclear test explosions above ground, underwater, and in space, led to the end of the most visible and strongly opposed aspects of the arms race: hundreds of open-air explosions that spewed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination far beyond the test sites of the nuclear powers. Fifty years ago, the Senate debated and approved ratification of the LTBT.

Sept. 5 Event: Guarding Against A Nuclear-Armed Iran: Proliferation Risks and Diplomatic Options



Thursday, September 5, 2013
9:00-10:30 am

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

The recent election of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran provides a new and important opening for the United States and its P5+1 partners to secure an agreement that limits Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing tough international sanctions.

As Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities in the coming months and sanctions continue to undermine Iran's economy, it is in the interest of all sides to revise  earlier diplomatic proposals and to seize the opportunity to achieve progress in the next round of talks, which are expected to resume in September.

Join the Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for an assessment of Iran's nuclear capabilities and the elements required for a deal that could provide both sides with a "win-win" outcome.

Panelists are:

  • Dr. Colin Kahl, Senior Fellow; The Center for a New American Security;
  • George Perkovich, Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • David Albright, founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security;
  • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association (moderator).

Please RSVP online.

Digital copies of the newly updated edition of ACA's 44-page briefing book on "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle" will be available at the event.

# # #

The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.


The recent election of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran provides a new and important opening for the United States and its P5+1 partners to secure an agreement that limits Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing tough international sanctions.

Country Resources:

Summary of International Workshop on “Prospects for Russian-U.S. Arms Control”



May 16, 2013, Moscow

On May 16th, 2013 a roundtable workshop on prospects for the next round of nuclear arms control talks between Russia and the United States was jointly held by the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), Arms Control Association (ACA), the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy Hamburg (IFSH), with support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A group of 40 officials, diplomats, and experts from Russia, the United States, and NATO considered each party’s objectives, political and technical opportunities, and possible areas and ideas that could help advance progress for discussions and possible negotiations on strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons, as well as offensive and defensive ballistic missiles.

This conference report includes a summary of key points and issues discussed, the conference agenda, and many of the opening presentations.

This summary is published under the joint ACA/BASIC/IFSH project on “Reducing the role of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe” funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

More information on the project can be found at http://tacticalnuclearweapons.ifsh.de/ and http://www.basicint.org/issues/projects/natos-nuclear-posture.


On May 16th, 2013 a roundtable workshop on prospects for the next round of nuclear arms control talks between Russia and the United States was jointly held by the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), Arms Control Association (ACA), the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy Hamburg (IFSH), with support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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