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– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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Remarks by ACA's Peter Crail on The NPT Review Process

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The NPT Review Process: Renewing Momentum for 2015

Remarks by Peter Crail, Research Analyst, Arms Control Association, at the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies ASAN PLENUM 2011: Our Nuclear Future Conference
Panel: Evaluating the 2010 NPT Review Conference (Summary)
June 13-15, Seoul, South Korea

The 2010 NPT Review Conference was a major accomplishment. Overcoming multiple obstacles, the Conference reaffirmed the value of the NPT to international security by reiterating prior commitments to strengthen the treaty in 1995 and 2000, and by agreeing to a modest but forward-looking plan of action on the treaty’s three pillars.

Although the final document could have been stronger in many areas, the States Parties left the treaty in a better place than before the conference.

To a large extent the success of the conference was due to the positive momentum going into the meeting, allowing states parties to build upon recent successes in spite of challenges that have remained, or increased, since the collapse of the 2005 Review Conference. Much of this momentum came from a reinvigorated commitment by the United States to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons, a development many Review Conference participants recognized. Also important was the willingness of states to tackle new proliferation challenges, including issues related to nuclear security.

But the true measure of success of an NPT Review Conference is not just a matter of arriving at agreement on a final document. What matters is whether states can individually and collectively meet their commitments by meaningfully reducing the number and salience of nuclear weapons and by preventing their further spread.

Looking Forward

So one of the critical questions now is: what should be done looking forward to 2015 that will provide similar momentum to help the next conference strengthen the NPT? In this regard, the 64-point action plan of the 2010 Review Conference final document is important. The extent to which states will remain confident in the regime will depend largely on the extent to which NPT members follow-through on the steps they committed to pursue last year.

In my view, there are three sets of actions that will likely prove most important to the health of the NPT and to ensuring success in 2015:

  1. Advancing progress on nuclear disarmament by all nuclear-armed states;
  2. Improving the our ability to detect and deter proliferation; and
  3. Implementing the Resolution on the Middle East.

Nuclear Disarmament

The NWS have a key role to play in generating momentum towards a successful 2015 conference by following through on the commitments made in 2010.

Action 5 of the 2010 Review Conference final document presents both an important opportunity and measuring stick for progress on disarmament due to its wide-ranging nature and its call for a progress report at the 2014 PrepCom.

Many of the specific items called for in Action 5 will require steps to be taken by the United States and Russia.

Both still need to lead on deeper nuclear reductions, which does not require agreement on a new treaty in the near term to do so. The continued deployment of 1,550 strategic warheads far exceeds the requirements of nuclear deterrence in the post-Cold War era. Russia is already below New START warhead levels and should continue the ongoing process of retiring old strategic systems. Washington should incentivize and reciprocate this process by furthering its own reductions, recognizing that its existing nuclear missions can still be met with numbers below New START.

In order to address nuclear weapons stockpiles “of all types” and “regardless of their location,” NATO should acknowledge, as part of its Defense and Deterrence Posture Review due to be completed next year, that the 180 or so forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear weapons are not necessary for deterrence purposes and indicate its readiness to withdraw those weapons if Russia takes reciprocal measures.

Other NWS have important roles to play too.  The five countries should regularize the discussions held last September and to be held later this month with a view to increasing transparency regarding their nuclear weapon stockpiles, and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies.

Another key measure of the progress made on disarmament heading into 2015 will be the CTBT. NPT parties agreed last year that the NWS should ratify the CTBT “with all expediency.” On March 29, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon reiterated the Obama administration’s support for prompt U.S. ratification and entry into force, and Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher said last month that the administration has begun to explain the administration’s case to the Senate. It will take some time to lay the groundwork for ratification, but a sustained effort can achieve Senate approval before the 2015 conference.

Meanwhile, the United States is not alone. Beijing has said for many years that it had begun the ratification process and it should also seek to conclude that process with the expediency agreed in 2010.

Strengthening Proliferation Barriers

Just as greater progress needs to be made on disarmament, the safeguards regime needs to be strengthened, and all states need to take proliferation risks seriously.

The most important step NNWS can take in this regard is to ratify the additional protocol and support the principle that the protocol is the new safeguards standard with a view to reaching agreement on that principle at the 2015 conference.

The position held by some NNWS that they will not adopt or promote additional nonproliferation measures unless there is further progress on disarmament is a counter-productive approach that only increases reluctance on the disarmament front and abandons the principle that preventing proliferation is an important goal in its own right.

Perhaps more importantly, NNWS have every reason to be concerned about states that disregard their safeguards responsibilities. After all, the vast majority of NNWS are in compliance with their own safeguards agreements, and the few countries that violate those commitments only serve as spoilers for those following the rules.

The best way for NNWS to defend the inalienable rights enshrined in Article IV is to vigilantly protect against those seeking to abuse it.

The IAEA has highlighted for years the refusal of both Iran and Syria to cooperate with its investigations, and both have been found in noncompliance with their safeguards obligations. The agency should be given both the legal tools and the political backing to uncover the extent of any illicit nuclear activities.

More broadly, the understanding reached in 1995 that the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be pursued “in conformity with articles I, II, as well as III of the Treaty,” should be reaffirmed during the next review process. It is through the confidence built by safeguards that countries show that they are in compliance with their article II obligations.

NPT parties should also reaffirm the safeguards requirement to provide early design information regarding the construction of any new nuclear facilities, rejecting any unilateral reinterpretation of that responsibility.

The Middle East Resolution

The agreement to hold a conference on a Middle East WMD-Free zone was critical to the success of the 2010 Review Conference. Building on that decision will no doubt be vital to maintaining confidence in the regime in 2015.

In that light, merely holding the conference is not enough to show that progress has been made; nor should we expect the conference to chart a path to the zone’s establishment in one meeting. There is, however, plenty of room in between.

The most important contribution such a conference can make is the initiation of a process, with identified follow-on steps, to further discuss both definitional issues regarding elements of the zone and potential early confidence-building measures. For instance, all states should recognize that interim steps such as ratification of the CTBT, would contribute to regional stability and reduce nuclear dangers.

Naturally, the challenges to merely hold a conference will need to be surmounted before then. The attendance of all relevant countries will be crucial to any positive outcome, and the participants will need to ensure that there is an atmosphere conducive to constructive discussion, rather than an attempt to isolate Israel. Indeed, the 1995 Resolution creates obligations for all countries in the region to take “practical steps towards” a zone free of WMD and the means to deliver them, as well as refraining from actions that would preclude that objective. Unless such comprehensive responsibilities are recognized, the conference will be a wasted effort.

Building on Success

Last year NPT members reinvigorated the treaty that lies at the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime. But strengthening that regime is not simply a matter of agreements made every five years. What matters is what states do to carry out those agreements. Over the next four years, states will need to build on their latest success, and generate the momentum that can carry forward the disarmament and nonproliferation agenda once again in 2015.

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Remarks by Peter Crail, Research Analyst, Arms Control Association, at the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies ASAN PLENUM 2011: Our Nuclear Future conference, 2011 Panel: Evaluating the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Seoul, South Korea June 13-15,

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The “Military Option" for Countering Iran’s Nuclear Program

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ACA Briefing Series:
"Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle"

DATE/TIME: Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 9:00 am-10:30 am

LOCATION: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

  • Thomas R. Pickering, Career Ambassador, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and U.S. Representative to the United Nations
  • Jeffrey White, Defense Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former career analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Alireza Nader, International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation, lead author of: The Next Supreme Leader: Succession in the Islamic Republic of Iran (2011)
  • Greg Thielmann (Moderator), ACA Senior Fellow

It is commonly said by U.S. officials and Members of Congress that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and that the “military option” for preventing acquisition “should not be removed from the table.”  Given Iran’s continued progress in developing the nuclear infrastructure and material that could be used in developing and producing nuclear weapons, it is appropriate to consider carefully what exercising the military option would involve and what would be the full range of possible consequences.

This panel discussion (on the 30th anniversary of Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor) will provide informed perspectives on the consequences of any U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran designed to destroy Iran’s actual or potential nuclear weapons capabilities.

    This ACA policy briefing is the last in a four-part series: "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle." (Transcripts of the three previous briefings are available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/events )


     

     

    Transcript by Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    GREG THIELMANN:  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you for attending the Arms Control Association’s fourth panel discussion on “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle.”  My name is Greg Thielmann.  I’m a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association and will be the panel’s moderator.  ACA is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting public understanding and support for effective arms control policies.

    Today’s session will be on the record and transcribed.  We ask that you silence your electronic devices as a courtesy.  And I’m doing that myself.  We began this series last November with an elaboration on the status of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.  We then took a look at diplomatic pathways to a solution which was fortuitously or not just one day before the Istanbul round.

    The next section included an in-depth discussion on the impact and limitations of sanctions.  And today we examine the option of using or threatening to use force to physically prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  

    Let me clarify at the outset that when we talk about using the military option, we are not discussing the use of force in response to aggression or following authorization of the use by the U.N. Security Council, nor are we talking about preemptive or preemption in response to an imminent threat of attack.  

    We are talking about a preventive attack by Israel and/or the United States to deprive Iran of the ability to develop and deploy nuclear weapons.  U.S. military leaders and senior defense officials have been warning for some time about the downside of such an action, very conspicuously in the case of former CENTCOM commander, Admiral Fallon, but also quite clearly in the public remarks of Vice Admiral Cosgriff, former 5th Fleet commander in the Persian Gulf.  

    It is no secret that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have also expressed strong reservations about resort to the military option.  

    And in recent weeks, we’ve learned that Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad – Israel’s foreign intelligence service – believes that an Israel air force attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be, in his words, “the stupidest thing I have ever heard,” a view which is reportedly shared by Israel’s last military Chief of Staff and the just retired Director of Internal Security.  

    So while leaving all options on the table has become standard political trope in the United States with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, I would argue that military strikes are already effectively off the table, reduced now to a threat which is both empty and counterproductive.  Nonetheless, Iran continues to produce and stockpile low enriched uranium in spite of U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions.  

    Diplomatic efforts have so far been ineffectual and U.S. officials and politicians continue to proclaim that an Iran with nuclear weapons is, quote, “unacceptable,” unquote.  Many thus conclude that sooner or later, military force will be our only recourse.  

    As GW University Professor Marc Lynch recently wrote, “the debate over whether to use military force remains a crucial undercurrent in all strategy discussions about Iran’s nuclear program”; hence, the timeliness of today’s effort to probe more deeply into the consequences of a military attack.  

    In 2007, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security wrote an article on Iran’s nuclear program for Arms Control Today, which included an excursion on the military attack option.  He noted then that such a scenario was built on a false promise because it offers no assurance that an Iranian nuclear weapons program would be substantially or irreversibly set back.  

    Nearly four years later, Iran has made further progress enriching uranium and expanding its nuclear infrastructure and the military option’s promise is even more false.  Experts differ on how long an aerial assault would set Iran back from a couple of years to as much as five years.  There is little doubt, however, that Iran would retain its human capital and production base following an aerial attack and it would be able to reconstitute its nuclear program.  

    So today’s consideration of consequences will start with the realistic assumption that the benefit would be temporary, not long-lasting.  In this context, it is worth noting – worth reflecting on Iraq’s reaction to Israel’s successful raid on the Osirak reactor 30 years ago to this day.  

    Saddam’s nuclear bomb program was indeed delayed but Iraq’s determination to succeed was strengthened, its commitment of personnel and resources skyrocketed and its success at hiding the activities from the IAEA and Western intelligence collections increased.  

    Of course, 2011 is a far cry from 1981 and Iran is not Iraq.  Our experts will be able to elaborate fully on these differences.  Now, you will notice short versions of our speaker biographies in the back of the program handout.  So I will not take time for elaborate introductions.  

    Ambassador Thomas Pickering will lead off this morning by sharing his views on how other countries feel about the military option and how they might react to it being exercised.  Because the Ambassador will have to leave early for another commitment, we’ll break for questions after his presentation.  

    Then we will turn to Jeff White, defense fellow at the Washington Institute and former career analyst at DIA, to acquaint us with some of the military aspects which must be considered in planning an attack on Iran.  

    Our third speaker, RAND policy analyst and author, Alireza Nader, will help us understand how Iran might react to an attack.  And then finally we will open the floor to a second round of questions.  So, Ambassador Pickering, the floor is yours.

    THOMAS PICKERING:  Thank you very much.  Perhaps I could address you all from the high table here and do so informally.  I think that I come, as many of you know, as a cantankerous opponent of the idea that military force at present and perhaps for the longer term has much to offer us with respect to a solution to the problem.  And so I give my prejudice out on the table as a matter of opening the conversation.  

    Secondly, I think that while there are a number of options, none of them seem to be particularly good.  The one that looks like it might have the chance of having the most success is the one which has the highest risk for that return, which is a land invasion.  I can’t imagine even at St. Elizabeth’s there is anybody around advocating – (laughter) – this at the moment and that’s St. Elizabeth before it becomes Coast Guard headquarters.  

    I think it is also very important to know that the liabilities in an attack run beyond purely an in-and-out strike against a known target, as we’ve seen.  I won’t go into that in detail – others will – other than to say that I agree with the presenters’ and our chairman’s very effective and I think well-informed presentation of the problem initially, that it is difficult to foresee what the target set might actually be because of the problem of less than totally perfect intelligence.

    On the other hand, it does seem to me that as we look at this particular option, it has to be taken in the context of the fact that other actions including one that has been politely issued the label sabotage have had some significant effect for the moment and bought us some additional time.  

    By way of continued introduction but before I get to the question at hand, it seems to me something of a tragedy that we are not using this time effectively to open the diplomatic door but rather depending upon sanctions and containment but without even using what effect they may have created to do that.  

    And I see three obstacles in the way of opening the diplomatic door.  One, they are all summed up on the basis of, at least in one case, no preconditions for discussions.  

    One of them has to do with what I hope would be the future willingness of the United States to have a very broad dialogue with Iran, including Afghanistan and Iraq, but other issues on the agenda of both sides, something that now seems to be semi-preconditioned by the notion that we have to concentrate on, focus on or have exclusive conversations depending upon the time of day and the person who says it on the nuclear question, not that I have anything wrong with the nuclear question.  

    I think we have to be smart about this and open the door to the wider Iranian interest here. I think the second is much more dicey and more difficult because in a sense it runs up against the issue that I think I characterized politely as sabotage and that’s the question of can we persuade the Iranians that our objective with respect to them and their future is not regime change.  

    In effect, my own view is that regime change is the personal and private preserve of the people of Iran and it should not be something that foreigners intervene, interfere or try to manage or engineer.  And things that look like regime change are things that appear to Iran to be regime change and I think we have to find a way, as difficult as that is, to put regime change on the side if we’re going to get to conversations of any meaning on the nuclear question.

    I think the third question has to do with an article that I joined with others in writing three years ago which basically said that our principle objective in any conversation has to be to get the widest access for verification and monitoring of the Iran program, which is where the difficulty lies, and that we should be willing to trade enrichment for civil purposes under multinational authority or ownership or at least under intensive IAEA inspection in return for getting that particular benefit.

    And if we were to put that on the table as an opening position rather than as everybody in this says, the best fallback anybody has thought about, we would likely get further in diplomatic negotiations.

    Now, having gone through all of that, let me just say that I think there are two sets of problems that other countries see with the attack option on Iran, if I can put it that way.  One of those has been outlined already and is will we, in effect, achieve any measure of effectiveness consistent with the high degree of risk that we undertake.  

    And the question there is a very difficult one to answer but most of the opinion lies on the side that we will not, that there are uncertainties about the target list, there are uncertainties about what will be required actually to achieve an objective over a long period of time, which should be in my view more than a setback in the space of years.  We’ve already demonstrated we can do that at least at this time for the moment by other methods.

    I think the second set of questions, which is more important and more significant in the eyes of most people around the world – most countries who look at it – is sort of a calibration of Iranian reactions.  And the Iranian reactions can run a wide gamut and many have written about them.  Let me just focus for a minute on those that I think are the highlights which are widely shared.  

    By the way, I think that while no one has taken a poll, aside from Israel, I don’t believe there are any countries waiting in line to join us in this kind of exercise.  So I think we have to proceed in the conversation about other countries and their reaction and the reaction to the potential Iranian reactions on the basis of a significant note of skepticism that this will be universally applauded.  

    In addition, I believe that it will be uncertain as to whether we could get either an interpretation of such action as fitting under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter of Self-Defense or that we could, in fact, achieve UN Security Council support.  

    And increasingly but not perfectly, if you examine carefully the question of the use of force, we’re increasingly moving into an international state where the only two legitimate methods of using force fall into the purview of those two options – Article 51 or Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.  

    And I think that we need to keep that in mind.  I think the gamut of Iranian reactions and therefore the gamut of the reactions of other people to the idea is a very broad one.  

    I begin with the one that is among the least appetizing which is that from the Iranian perspective and the perspective of many in the Muslim world and many around the world, an unprovoked attack on a state which is heretofore at least in principle seeming to comply with its NPT obligations, if not in particular details, is something which could well drive them to make the final decision on creating a nuclear weapon and proceed to do so.  

    And that obviously is something that we are seeking to avoid by an attack and we wouldn’t want to have the results of an attack reinforce the notion that that’s the direction in which they’re prepared to go.  I think that secondly we have what I would call the active reactions in terms of reaching out to try to punish or castigate or indeed deal with the effects of the attack on Iran.  

    At the most latent end of that would be a strong sense, I think, in the Muslim world even though Iran is not held in universal esteem and certainly not by the Sunni population of the world.  Nevertheless, there would be a strong tendency, even if we were to find an effective way to cast the context for such an attack as one of extreme danger to the world.  

    There would be a strong, I think, and significant Islamic response against an attack, something that would not obviously suit either the United States or Israel or in fact our Western allies and friends or indeed most of the rest of the world.  And one could anticipate certainly but not necessarily have a certainty of this that there would be some violence against U.S. installations and activities and certainly U.S. people.  

    So it would raise really serious consequences for us in that regard.  Secondly, Iran has a highly developed and very well-organized capacity to create trouble.  It has relations with terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.  

    It has a well-known capacity as long as Syria remains in place the way it is and we see some uncertainty about that but no definitive, I think, indication that Syria will disappear from the horizon – that working with and through Syria it could directly attack certainly Israel, perhaps other areas in the Middle East in a way of a large buildup of apparently reserves and rocket forces, particularly in Hezbollah, with the capacity to attack Israel.  

    I think that while many distinguish between an American attack and an Israeli attack, I think the bulk of the world will assume that an Israeli attack is American-sponsored and supported.  

    And the bulk of the rest of the world would retaliate or try to retaliate against Israel for a purely American attack – some of the same thinking that has been going on with respect to this part of the world and with respect to Iraq – perhaps maybe another false analogy – but I don’t think so – since the 1990s, the early 1990s and that’s important.  

    So I think those kinds of questions are there – the broader capacity of Iran and others to use unconventional methods of attack in places as far afield as Germany or Southeast Asia is certainly not absent from the scene.  Whether this would drive Iran and al-Qaida or Iran and the Taliban closer together is an open question.  

    But it is well-known that Iran at least has enjoyed the opportunity to try to manipulate its – put it this way – non-relationships with al-Qaida and with the Taliban in the direction of building its own strength, and even under conditions of relatively benign non-relations between the U.S. and Iran, it could in my view likely move ahead and try to do that further.  

    I think that the other question that might well come up in this particular issue obviously could involve many other aspects of putting pressure back.  Some of the issue for the United States will be how to avoid mission creep in an attack.  

    If it is unsuccessful to begin with, and likely that to be the case, and if it requires a full-scale operation against Iran including the necessary prerequisite of taking out wide areas of defense arrangements inside Iran, how will the rest of the would respond to what is essentially a third or a fourth air war in the region.

    One that, as we look at the Libyan question is now producing significant frustration, that in fact the objective for the Libyan operation, which I take it to be whether it is couched in terms of protection of people in Libya is clearly going to be decided by the rest of the world on the basis of whether Gaddafi is there or not at the end of the day.  

    That particular set of activities, if translated to Iran, in my view is designed to produce many of the same frustrating reactions.  Why did you enter into a set of military activities that is producing no results, that requires that it be more broadly expanded and at the same time holds less promise?  

    So while this is a kind of secondary or tertiary reaction to the question, it’s important.  The effect of that is likely to be, as I think Iraq, to some extent Afghanistan and maybe in a growing way Libya will be – is that we have magnificent military forces but they’re engaged in ways that they don’t seem to be able to achieve in the timeframes that we set the objectives we would like to see on the scene.   

    That means in effect that we are beginning to run down, what I think is still very significant as a former American diplomat, the value of having great military potential in the minds of people you have to deal with in the diplomatic sphere, as is the value of having great economic potential, is that for good or ill it reinforces your negotiating potential.

    And having a situation in which the use of force proves itself increasingly ineffective to meet modern-day problems is in itself therefore a kind of undermining – a self-initiated undermining of the long-term capacity to benefit from these kinds of advantages, whether the financial crisis at its height or now and whether after Iraq and Afghanistan and potentially our semi-involvement in Libya produces the same result or not, I cannot say.  

    But Iran and a military activity by the United States might well move us in that direction.  So these are all there.  One is only limited by its imagination, the ramifications of each of these.  I’ve tried to hit the highlights in a condensed way rather than necessarily bore you with excruciating detail.  

    But I think that with a little imagination – and I suspect this room is full of it – one could see how various of these particular pieces of the puzzle could play out.  Let me end here, if I can, because others have important things to say.  And thank you for your time and attention.  (Applause.)

    MR. THIELMANN:  We should have about 20 minutes for questions.  Let me ask one to start off and then we’ll turn to the floor.  And let me ask us to give priority to members of the press, if they have questions at the outset.  

    One question that occurs to me, Ambassador Pickering, is related to Afghanistan.  We now have over 100,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan, an enormously long and elaborate logistics tale going through a northern route, through Russia and mostly through Pakistan.  So that raises the issue of if an attack on Iran occurred, how would Moscow react, how would Islamabad react.

    MR. PICKERING:  Well, I think that the first question, of course, is how would Iran react, and Afghanistan.  I didn’t go into it in detail but I think it’s self-evidently obvious that they have some capacity to be difficult there.  

    I also think that Moscow would react in general, not necessarily specifically with respect to Afghanistan.  Even though, as we all know, Moscow continues to have an interest in Afghanistan and one reads in the paper only in the last few days that we are setting up jointly a repair base for Russian helicopters in Afghanistan, something that quite a move forward since the early 1990s.  

    It seems to me, however, that they would not be pleased or happy with that.   I don’t know what they could do once the activity takes place and in the long run I think that their interest is not to make Afghanistan worse than it is.  They, like everyone else, have deep concerns about an Afghan problem that I think they believe is not being well-handled at the moment and it is only one of the many problems of Afghanistan and that’s drug trade.  

    But beyond that, obviously they’re deeply concerned about the penetration of Islamic fundamentalism into Central Asia, which they still see as if not their backyard, perhaps close to being their front garden and in many ways don’t want that infested by further Islamic radicalism or Islamic radicalism that might displace their friends who are in power there, whether it is like the Arab Spring or whether it is a more violent movement to replace those people.  

    They’ve been very concerned.  Certainly the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan is but one of a number of organizations which from time to time takes refuge in Afghanistan.  And if it were supported by an Iran in response to an attack on Iran, could prove to be difficult for Russia.  

    China has been very concerned over a long period of time about the Uighur problem, whether in fact anybody would train more Uighurs and unleash them against China purely as a result of an American attack on Iran is much more conjectural.  

    But I think that they might dislike the notion that there was further Islamic solidarity, that the U.S. was losing perhaps strength in its ability to deal with these difficult problems in places like Iran and Iraq and Libya and so on.  So I think all of that mounts up.  

    A lot of it is highly conjectural.  I don’t think it’s necessarily all straightforward.  And you have to pile some assumptions on other assumptions in order to get the bleakest of all possible views.  And I don’t want to do that.

    MR. THIELMANN:  (Chuckles.)  Okay, thank you.  Questions from the floor?  Avner?

    Q:  Ambassador Pickering, I’m Avner Cohen from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.  Your thought about – your thought about the use of the options of attack as a primarily, but obviously not explicitly, a bluffing strategy – that is to say, keeping it on the table even though if you know that probably under almost any certainty you’re not going to use it as opposed to saying ahead of we’re not going to use it under any circumstances.  

    I believe that Israel today is using it primarily just to keep it on the table, to push not so much to deter Iran but rather to make some pressure on others in terms of pressuring Iran.  What do you think of that kind of strategy?

    MR. PICKERING:  Well, I think that if you believe that diplomacy ought to be tried – I don’t know that diplomacy has the sovereign answer to this and if in my earlier remarks I tended to imply that, I’ll resile from that very quickly.  I think you have to try diplomacy and therefore diplomacy needs all the friends it can get.  

    And those friends including the potential of military force and given the level of paranoia in Tehran, not all of which we are alone capable of dismissing, one could assume that even if in fact people all over the United States said that military force wasn’t a very good option, I’m not sure they would necessarily believe it is totally off the table.

    So it has some – may be difficult to calculate, certainly not a preponderant of influence but it has some influence.  So I don’t necessarily think it’s wise to take it off the table and even if we were to try, I’m not sure we would succeed, given the uncertainties of the relationships we have with Tehran and their degree of suspicion and concern.  And so my view is, okay, you play cards with the hands that you’ve got and there’s no use running around tearing up even deuces if you have them.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Anne Penketh?

    Q:  Thank you.  Anne Penketh from BASIC – British American Security Information Council.  Ambassador, among the three obstacles, you didn’t mention a fourth towards opening the diplomatic door which is the domestic situation in Iran.  I’m wondering how you think the power struggle in Iran plays into that.  It seems to me the administration is just waiting until this is resolved one way or the other.

    MR. PICKERING:  Well, it’s like waiting for Godot.  We’ve been waiting for 40 years and maybe there is hope.  (Laughter.)  But I guess it was Albert Einstein said that continuing to do the same thing and expecting a definite result is the definition of insanity.  (Laughter.)  

    So my hope is that, as I said earlier, regime change is the province of the people of Iran. And if that can happen, that’s nothing that we can do to stop it.  But we ought to be very careful having the kind of sublime notion that we can manipulate it or operate it or make it go or somehow make it succeed.  I think we need to be very careful about that.  

    I think in part because regime change may be an inevitable long-term possibility in Iran but the dealing with the nuclear question is not necessarily in my view susceptible to total long-term thinking.  And so it has to come a little bit ahead of it and that’s the way in which I would order or juggle my priorities.  It’s an interesting point.  

    We’ve seen signs that the Green Movement, which came after June 12th two years ago was making progress.  But we’ve also seen the fact that very repressive measures in Tehran pushed it back.  It seems to be contained at the moment.  The Arab Spring doesn’t seem to have ignited in hearts of the people of Iran the notion that they can follow the same procedures and achieve something like the same results that were achieved in Cairo.  

    I don’t exclude it but I don’t see necessarily it part of the ongoing wave of change in the Arab world at the moment.  One could only hope.  But I think it’s in the nature of hope at the moment rather than something that one could count upon to change the process.  

    The second question is then who takes over. We have not seen, although we may like to believe, that Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi or others like them have abandoned the notion at least that the minimal requirement for Iranian aspirations in the nuclear area is to be able to enrich and that seems to be one of the problems at the present time in terms of the objectives of our policy.  

    I, as I said earlier, would be prepared to see enrichment under tight control provided we had the opportunity to have assurance and build the strongest possible firewall that other elements of a nuclear program leading toward a military result were not present in Iran and we should have hopefully as our negotiating objective the greatest – make the greatest possible effort to achieve that outcome.

    MR. THIELMANN:  On this side, go ahead, Andrew.

    Q:  Andrew Pierre, United States Institute of Peace.  You put a lot of emphasis, let’s say, on diplomacy and trying diplomacy a bit more than we have.  I think the history, briefly stated, is that the Europeans took the lead maybe five, six years ago now.  We were out of it for a long time.  We got into it.  We’ve tried various measures including a reactor – reprocessing arrangements and so on.

    You mentioned the – I think you sort of put a pitch in for direct U.S. contacts with Iran.  The Iranians seem to be saying we want to discuss everything on the table, not just the nuclear issue.  As the experienced diplomat that you are, do you see some real possibility if we can get our act together, along with the Europeans and the Russians, of making any headway with Iran or are we just – we just have to wait and wait this out and wait for regime change or some type of change in Tehran itself?

    MR. PICKERING:  Andrew, it’s a very good question and a fundamentally important one.  I think at the moment, for me, until we have exhausted the diplomatic route – and I don’t feel we have- it is not possible to say it won’t work.  Some Iranians – not all Iranians – have said in fact that some of the formulas that I have put forward would be useful in creating an engagement.  

    I think that that has to be tested.  Until it’s tested, we’re caught up in the position that we are in a sense increasing the pressure in the pressure cooker but we haven’t opened the valve we want to see the process go through, if I can put it that way.  (Chuckles.)  

    And so I would argue that.  I think that in the end, if that fails, at least we will know where we stand and we then have to face the prospects that we haven’t discussed yet which are on the table is the use of force then the only option left, do we have, in a sense, a live-with-deterrent option – not that I favor it, and everybody that I know who is deeply concerned about nonproliferation hates the idea of talking about it because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and that’s the last thing in the world we want to encourage people to do.

    Q:  Could I follow-up on that?

    MR. THIELMANN:  Let’s try to get other people.  The second row?

    Q:  My name is Carl Osgood.  I’m with Executive Intelligence Review.  Ambassador, last week there was an article in Haaretz warning that with Secretary Gates retiring at the end of this month and Admiral Mullen retiring at the end of September that during this period of transition at the Department of Defense is a greater risk of an Israeli strike against Iran, which of course would drag – the view being that that would of course drag the U.S. into it as well.  I wonder what your view of that risk during this period is.

    MR. PICKERING:  Having spent four years as ambassador to Israel, I know the capacity of the Israeli press to explore every – (laughter) – possible fault and crack, particularly because it sells papers.  I don’t think the thesis that we are changing leadership in the U.S. military establishment, both civil and military, suddenly means that we have opened this huge possibility for Israeli adventurism or whatever else you want to call it.  

    My own sense is that the Israeli attitude two, three, four years ago was, we have to go in the next six months.  The Israeli attitude now has calmed down a little bit and it sees time.  I also see many in Israel who comment on this particular issue and Israel is a wonderful place because you can have every conceivable comment on every problem.  

    But responsible people are commenting that the military option may not be as good.  We ought to see whether we in fact can through other methods achieve the same results, certainty if we have bought ourselves time and I think we have bought ourselves a little time.

    MR. THIELMANN:   Let’s try the back.  Very back row?

    Q:  Thanks.  Hi, Ambassador.  Tad Daley is my name from IPPNW.  You know, the topic of this event is the military option.  I would like to know if you would say a few words about the nuclear option and while that may seem far-fetched, I’d like to just remind you of two factoids.  

    One is Seymour Hersh in the spring of 2006 had this piece in The New Yorker that said, in the bowels of the Pentagon they are contemplating the possibility of a nuclear strike on Iran to take out their nascent nuclear capabilities.  

    And both President Bush and Secretary Rice were asked very directly about it by the media on more than one occasion and each time they said, all options are on the table.  Four years later is the release of the nuclear posture review and it had this new element in it which said, we promise never to attack any non-nuclear weapon state with nuclear weapons as long as they’re in compliance with the NPT.  

    And in the press conference announcing the NPR, Secretary Gates made it very explicit and said, we have consciously left Iran and North Korea out of that pledge.  I’m not so much asking you to tell me the likelihood that you think we’re going to attack them with nuclear weapons but – although welcome your views on that.  

    But I’m more interested in what do you think is the wisdom of explicitly stating that one of our options for dealing with states like Iran and North Korea is to attack them with nuclear weapons.

    MR. PICKERING:  Well you know, my own view is that nuclear threats in this day and age are perilous things that they may well drive people to believe that, as many seem to do, the only insurance policy you have against somebody else’s nuclear threats is your own nuclear arsenal.  That’s one thing.  

    The second is I’m not an expert in the utility aspects of various approaches to military attack.  But my feeling is that if you’re not sure of the target set a bigger hole in the ground in the wrong place doesn’t really make a lot of difference.  So you have to be careful about that.  

    I think that we all know Natanz is deep but I’m not sure yet, given Israeli interest in conventional methods of attacking or conventional weapons but the capability I guess of winkling out the centrifuge halls at places like Natanz if we necessarily are drawn into the question of the need to use the nuclear because it has utilitarian aspects.  

    Then we go back to my earlier discussion on threats and keeping threats on the table and I take it that at least some of this may well be we don’t want to deny ourselves the capacity to have the biggest threat on the block play a role, even if it doesn’t seem utilitarian and it seems to be counterproductive with respect to nonproliferation interests, at least at one level.  

    And I think that’s just my description of where we are and I think we’re there in a confused way.  And I’m not sure that taking what appears to be at least the latent we won’t take it off the table is necessarily going to resolve the problem either.  

    I think we’re stuck with where we are.  I think the change in that particular issue, unless it can buy us something pretty directly, is not something that I would spend a lot of time talking further about.  It’s been quiet for a long time.  I think probably that’s where it ought to stay.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I might add that digging nuclear holes in the ground tends to create a lot of fallout which doesn’t seem to respect national boundaries but maybe Jeff can comment on that later.  Barbara?

    Q:  Thanks.  Barbara Slavin from The Atlantic Council.  Ambassador Pickering, give us your best sense of how likely any kind of attack against Iran within the next two years, within the rest of the Obama presidency is.  I mean, given what Greg said, to my mind given what’s going on in the rest of the Middle East, I would rate it at zero.  But I just wondered where you would put it.  Thanks.

    MR. PICKERING:  It seems to me as close to zero as one can get it, for which I’m deeply happy at the moment.  I don’t know that there’s, you know, any way to go around that.  One could envisage things that happen that might increase the probability or the possibility.  At the moment I think those are in the realm of glorious imagination.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I think we have time for just one quick question.  Sir?

    Q:  Allen Keiswetter from Middle East Institute.  Mr. Ambassador, if I understood correctly, you see an attack on the Iranians as possibly encouraging proliferation when the other people who are more militant seem to see it as a deterrent.  Could you explain the logic, please?

    MR. PICKERING:  When I think that with respect to Iran, the logic that an attack might unleash those folks in Iran who are reported to be in favor of building nuclear weapons and give them the argument that they have been seeking that nuclear weapons are really the only guarantee that we have, that even big bad people like the United States in their view won’t attack us, is a palpable argument.  

    I also see unfortunately – and Allen, you know this area much better than most people in this room – that once Iran goes in that direction, we’re going to have a lot of trouble holding horses in a number of countries in the region, only in that view limited by your imagination, who would then move in the same direction.  

    And we will, as matter of fact, then have to do some things which I think Secretary Clinton has wisely begun to do, is to reinforce our support for our friends and allies to make clear that we are prepared to come to their assistance in the light of any new emerging threats in the region to do what we can to assure that we have a deterrent capacity.  

    There is always the loophole in deterrence that the weapon would be passed – or a weapon would be passed to some organization against which, because it has not territory and no population and no infrastructure, deterrence is less effective or maybe not effective.  

    My own view is that quite frankly people don’t hand out nuclear weapons once they achieve them like cotton candy and certainly not to – not among the loyal Shia – to Sunni organizations.  And so we need to be careful about believing that that would happen as a kind of absolute premise of the problem.  

    I wish I could say that I thought it would never happen but I think the value of making sure that we have the capacity to understand were God-forbid we or anybody ever attacked to do the forensics and know where it came from and hold those people responsible would be a very important part of creating the deterrent that I think is necessary, particularly in handing out weapons or facilitating other people to make weapons.  But we know in fact that that’s not necessarily an iron-bound, iron-clad prohibition.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Okay.  I think we better let Ambassadors Pickering go now.  But let’s thank him for his participation.  (Applause.)  And our next speaker will be Jeff White.  You can either come to the podium, Jeff, or stay where you are.  Whatever your choice.

    JEFFREY WHITE:  I think I’ll sit here.  I apologize if my voice sounds a little funny.  I’m fighting a sinus infection with drugs and lack of sleep. So I’m going to do my best here to address this pretty interesting topic.  You know, Greg asked me to look at a number of military-related issues.  So I’m going to kind of work through them in my discussion.  

    And the first issue in my mind is, you know, what kind of attack are we actually talking about in military terms.  The word attack is thrown out a lot.  Without getting into specifics about what an attack on Iran’s nuclear program would mean in terms of the actual military operations that would have to be conducted.  

    Greg asked me to assume that included in the attack would be air defense sites, the Iranian strategic missiles, the command and control system, naval and air facilities and of course the nuclear facilities.  If you make that assumption and we’re talking about an air campaign of days, maybe weeks, potentially at the upper end of necessity to achieve the goals, you know, may be longer than just a few weeks.  

    So this would be under these assumptions a very big event.  You could make an argument that maybe we would go for a very limited surgical attack on just nuclear facilities employing self-aircraft, employing cruise missiles and just try and take out that capability.  But I think that’s less likely than if we make the decision to do it then it’s going to be a big attack.  

    If in this kind of operation or air campaign you’re going to see a strike and supporting aircraft and cruise missiles would have to be allocated to each of the target systems.  That means you couldn’t employ all – all the weapons couldn’t go against just the nuclear facilities.  All these places would have to be struck.  The operations would have to be phased.  You could not hit all the targets all at the same time and that adds to the dimension of time.  

    And also it adds a complication in the sense that if you phase the attack, you can allow the Iranians to react to the attack and take measures to mitigate the consequences.  You’d have to plan for personal recovery, downed pilots and these could be large operations in their own right with their own – you know, in and of themselves with their own risks and potential for complicating the situation.  

    You would have to provide for air defense for the ships that were involved and the carrier strike groups and any airfields that we were using that were within range of Iranian capabilities.  And we’d have to collect intelligence to assess what was going on to figure out whether we were being effective and look at the Iranian reaction.

    So all these pieces of the attack require lots of assets, careful phasing and each one of them has their own complications or potential complication.  I think also that the start conditions would be very important and it’s hard to know what they would actually be.   You know, would this be an out-of-the-blue attack, sort of the classic bolt-from-the-blue scenario in which we achieved, you know, some substantial measure of surprise against the Iranians?

    Or would it be, you know, occurring after a period of tension when the Iranians were able to observe our movement of ships for preparations and therefore the Iranians would have a chance to begin again to set their own measures in place to mitigate the attach or to retaliate in the event of an attack?

    Also important – and the Ambassador mentioned this – would be what allies if any would we have.  You know, who’s going to war with us?  You know, the Brits, you know, they go with us everywhere, right?  You know, would they go with us, you know, in this situation?  You know, it’s an open question.  You know, my guess is we would probably want them to and they would be useful definitely to have involved.  But that would be a political think that would have to be, you know, taken care of.

    And how about the Gulf states?  You know, are they going to be unwilling, you know, participants?  Are we going to fly out of Gulf state airfields?  Are we going to mount, you know, personal recovery missions from them and so on?  

    So they would become de facto allies even if they didn’t fly a single, you know, mission.  You know, the other issues as well – the political and diplomatic legitimacy of a perceived attack both at home and, you know, abroad, you know, what the economic situation was in the U.S. and around the world.

    And all these factors I think could influence the shape and, you know, the size of the attack and the duration of the attack, make it shorter or longer or whatever.  So the attack itself is a complicated thing.  It’s not just simply, you know – it’s not something you can easily gloss over the complexities of.

    For Israel, you know, we’re talking I think about is quite a different attack, right?  Israel is not capable of waging an air campaign over Iran.  Israel is capable of a limited air operation over Iran, okay?  

    And that has - you know, that has a number of consequences in and of itself.  While I think we could strike – the U.S. could strike all of the targets in the Iranian nuclear structure 20, 25 – whatever it is, wherever we figure out – I know as well as the other targets if we go for the big option – Israel is going to have to be substantially, I think, more selective in what they strike.  

    So they are going to have to go for the highest value pieces, the key nodes in the Iranian nuclear infrastructure and go for those.  They would probably not attack other components of the Iranian military system.  Maybe some air defenses and so on just to expedite the missions but probably would have to not go after that.  

    The bigger the operation the Israelis mount, the more targets that could be hit and probably more importantly the more assured destruction they could achieve in any one place.  But the Israelis also have to be concerned about, you know, making sure their force is not discovered on the way in or eliminating the risk of that.  

    So a large force makes it easier or makes the likelihood of its being discovered greater and also they have to be concerned with the recovery of that force and getting it back to Israel, rearming, being prepared for any kind of retaliation or dealing with the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah or Syria, whatever.  

    So the Israelis are in a much more constrained operational environment than we would be.  The Israelis would also have to provide all the support forces that I’ve talked about for the U.S.  There would have to be some kind of intelligence collection.  Maybe they’d do that by satellites but they’d also have to be concerned about personal recovery and so on.  

    So I’m thinking the Israelis would go for this selective set of targets, not the whole system.  I don’t think the Israelis would lose any sleep over casualties at the facilities that were struck.  I don’t think we would lose any sleep over that either.  I’m not sure either we or the Israelis would make casualties, you know, killing scientists or whatever – people at the facilities – you know, per se an objective.  I don’t think they would be too concerned about it.  

    In terms of the levels of destruction, I think it’s unfair to ask the military – any military – to achieve complete destruction of the Iranian nuclear program or to permanently set it back.  It’s just not possible.  You can’t destroy knowledge and you can’t destroy the basic technology.  

    So I think in any case, U.S., Israeli attack, we’re talking about a situation where the setback to the program would be measured in, you know, years hopefully – maybe two years, maybe three years, maybe one year in the case of the Israeli attack, whatever.  So I think it’s not – it just isn’t a fair, you know, argument to make that we can achieve complete destruction of the program.  

    I don’t think that’s one the – you know, on the table in any reasonable way.  I think we especially – we can take – the targets we hit can be damaged to a very high degree.  I think we can achieve high levels of destruction even against buried facilities.  When they put them in a mountain, that’s the challenge, right?  

    You know, I think we’re working on that challenge with the massive ordinance penetrator and things like that.  But buying a facility in a mountain does raise some issues and it also raises the issues of nuclear – you know, using a nuclear weapon –a small tactical nuclear weapon against a deeply buried facility would be a military operation, right?  It would be a way to get at the mountain – (inaudible).  

    You can also go after air shafts.  You can go after the entrances and so on.  I think basically we have the – you know, we have the capability to do a lot of damage to these facilities and how much damage we did would be substantially dependent upon the decisions we made about sustaining the attacks, about restriking, you know, our willingness to persevere and carry the attacks through with some degree of determination and to go back in if we needed to.  

    So it’s not just a matter of, you know, one time in and out and whether we achieve destruction or not, it’s over.  We have the ability to go back.  We can restrike – much harder for the Israelis to do that.  I think it also depends upon, you know, how fast Iran could get back in the business.  It also depends on the Iranian decisions.  

    You know, a very broad attack by the United States on the types of target sets that we’re talking about here – the Iranians would have to factor that into their decision making about how and when and, you know, whether or not in fact they would rebuild the program.  I’m presuming they would not like to be struck like that again or they would see that as, you know, a potentially negative consequence.  

    So it could influence them.  They could in fact work on rebuilding it but they would have to think about the fact that they’d just been hit very hard.  The mobile missile problem issue – okay, the Iranians have the strategic mobile missiles and mobile missiles are very difficult target set to work.  

    This has been true since World War II and the German V weapons programs.  But in our experience in Iraq, for example, it took us a long time and we didn’t have a lot of effectiveness against mobile missiles in the first Gulf war.  

    But, you know, that may have changed over time and we may be a lot better at it.  We have broad-area surveillance, lots of reconnaissance systems that we didn’t have then – drones and so on.  So we might be able to deal with the mobile missile program, you know, more effectively and therefore limit Iranian ability to retaliate.  

    But it also depends on a number of factors, you know, how many – you know, how much of our strike effort, our assets, go into the mobile missile problem.  This was an issue in the Iraq war – the first Iraq war – because it detracts from other target sets that you want to hit, right?  It also depends very substantially on the state of your intelligence collection.  

    Before the battle begins or before the attacks occur, you have to know where they are, you know, where the garrisons are, where they’ve deployed to, you know, where the launch sites are.  Okay, you need good intelligence on that and once the battle is on then you need to be able to follow those around.  But all that requires quite a measure of effort.  

    And if you phase an attack – and mobile missiles aren’t in the first phase of the attack – the first bomb falls in Iran, they’re going to flush the mobile missile out of their normal garrison areas and deploy them to field or to launch sites.  

    So then you’ve got the issue of finding them.  So we have a lot of capability on against the mobile missile issue but we don’t have total capability against it.  We could not be 100 percent certain that we could get all those things in the event of a major attack.  Also when you’re talking about mobile missiles, you also have to consider the mobile coastal defense batteries that Iran has, okay?  

    These things would likely flush right away in the event of an attack and would be capable of really doing a lot of damage to shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and that would be an issue for the U.S. Navy to gout and find these things and since they’re truck-mounted, you can hide them in a house, do all kinds of things.  Again, that would be a challenge that we could simply not wish away, something that we would have to be prepared to deal with.  

    Another issue is the effectiveness of the antiballistic missile systems.  You know, could we stop – could the Israeli’s stop Iran from retaliating effectively with its Shahab-3 or whatever other system it has at the time of the attack.  Basically, you know, my judgment is that we would be – we would have a high degree of effectiveness against the Iranian strategic-type missiles – Shahab-3 and so on.  

    We would shoot down a lot of them.  If the Israelis were attacked, they would shoot down a lot of them and we would probably help do that.  But again, you could not guarantee that all the Iranian missiles would be shot down.  And it’s something that would have to be coped with by our forces or by the Israeli forces.  There would be no guarantee.  

    Another question here is what kind of attrition would occur relative for our forces during a battle.  I think in the first Gulf War in 40-some days of combat we lost like 20 aircraft.  I think roughly the same, you know, during a similar period or a longer period in Iraqi Freedom.  That’s not high rates of attrition.  I think attrition for our forces would be small.  

    You know, on the order of 1 to 2 percent and over a campaign of 30 to 45 days, that’s not very much, certainly not going to, you know, inhibit our ability to carry out the missions.  Attrition for the Israelis would probably be somewhat higher.  They might lose more because their attacks would be focused on few areas.  The Iranians could concentrate their response, you know, on those areas.  

    But Israel would also be engaging probably in a one-time operation, right, and if they could accept the high rate of attrition in a one-time operation, if the stakes are high enough, if the goals are high enough and I think in this case they would be.  So I think you could see the Israelis taking substantially more attrition than we would and still feeling, you know, comfortable with the outcome as long as they struck the targets, of course.  

    Okay, I’m getting the hook here, so – (laughter).  I think Ali is going to talk more about how the Iranians would respond.  So I’ll skip that, although I have views on that.  And I’ll just, you know, close out here on the mining threat, right?  One of the primary means that Iran would have to respond and cause trouble would be by mining in the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf.  And this would be a major problem I think.  

    We have, I think, four mine countermeasures ships in the Gulf now.  We have 14 total.  Presumably we could move more.  A lot of our potential allies or people who would be interested in demining, like the Japanese, have I think 30 mine countermeasures ships.  They might help.  

    But I think what you would see – we would strike Iran mine forces, both the storage areas and the major combatants that would be mine layers, the submarines and so on.  But in the Iranian doctrine, this ability to use small boats to mine, right, and they could dump floating mines into the Persian Gulf and let them drift down into the area.  

    And they have a lot of small boats and they have, you know, well over 2,000 mines of all types – modern technology, old technology and all that.  And I think recently we have the experience with the Libyan government effort to mine the harbor in Misrata which even in a pretty half-assed operation, right, it stopped ships going in and out of there for like three days.  They were swept and destroyed and all that.  

    So the mining threat I think is a real one and would have real consequences.  I think the mining threat could also be part of an Iranian anti-access and area denial strategy.  They would be capable, I think, of putting up a long protracted fight in the Strait of Hormuz and in that area and, you know, basically closing it off to oil transport with fairly significant economic, you know, consequences.  

    So I’ll just close out.  I think there are a lot of issues – important issues – related to an “attack,” in quotes, on Iran and so it would be very complicated, problematic in some ways.  I think the desired levels of destruction could be achieved, especially by us.  But it would not be an easy operation and it is, I think, in my mind kind of in a last resort category.  And with that, I’ll close.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you very much, Jeff.  And Alireza?

    ALIREZA NADER:  Good morning.  I want to just briefly talk about Iran’s potential reaction to a strike on its nuclear facilities.  And to do so I think we have to consider the domestic situation in Iran today.  The Islamic Republic right now faces more division than it has in the last 30 years of its existence.  And the 2009 presidential election, if you remember, laid bare a lot of these divisions where we saw millions of Iranians go out into the streets.  

    We saw the regime push out certain factions and personalities out of the political system which later coalesced into the Green Movement.  Of course, the Green Movement was largely crushed but it still exists.  There’s still the angst and frustration that facilitated the Green Movement’s creation.  

    Today, the biggest struggle in Iran, the biggest political struggle, is between the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  And I won’t go into too many details on that, although I think it’s a very interesting topic.  But suffice it to say is that these internal divisions in Iran really blunt Iran’s ability to project power in the Middle East and it keeps the Iranian regime very preoccupied.  It can’t focus its efforts outward.  

    And this potentially provides U.S. leverage in following more successful strategy toward Iran and pressuring Iran through sanctions, for example.  But a military strike on Iran could reverse all of that.  

    What a military strike could do is unite all Iran’s various factions and personalities around the supreme leader.  If you listen to the supreme leader’s speech yesterday on the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, he mentioned the word – (inaudible) – repeatedly.  

    And this is something he likes because an external enemy helps unite the system.  And when we look at the various personalities and factions in Iran, there actually – there’s a lot of disagreement on the nuclear program.

    Leaders like former Prime Minister Moussavi, the head of the Green Movement – or one of the ostensible leaders of the Green Movement – and former President Rafsanjani have really criticized Ahmadinejad’s handling of the nuclear program.  So the state in Iran is not necessarily unified on the nuclear issue itself.  

    But a nuclear strike can help to greater unification.  And a strike could also allow the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guard to go ahead and crush the Green Movement.  They haven’t been able to do so.  There have been problems in silencing the leadership.  They are under house arrest but there are limits in terms of how repressive the Iranian government can be.  

    And military attacks could facilitate Iran’s strategy of repression.  Indeed, I think a military strike on Iran could accelerate the political system toward a militarized system where you have the Revolutionary Guard making all important decisions.  We also have to consider the population’s reaction to a military strike.  There is a perception that Iranians are very pro-American and in some cases or in some sense they are.  

    I think they respect U.S. progress, technological knowhow but they don’t necessarily welcome a U.S. or Israeli or Western attack on their homeland.  Iranians are a very nationalistic people and like most people in the world they resent outside interference in their country.  

    RAND actually did a survey on Iranian public opinion which I authored and 87 percent of Iranians said that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program.  Forty-three percent actually supported nuclear weaponization.  And I realize that doing a survey in Iran is problematic and I discuss that in the survey.  

    But this – the results from this survey basically match what we know about the Iranian population, that they’re highly nationalistic.  If you look at the Iran-Iraq War after the revolution, the Iran-Iraq War helped the revolution, helped preserve the revolution because there was a lot of discord after the revolution and Iraq’s attack on Iran helped unify the country.  

    And the Iranian government facing a military attack has to respond somehow.  It can’t remain quiet because, again, it has to show that it is powerful, that it can maintain its legitimacy.  So an attack would lead to some sort of retaliation.  

    Now, we have to look at what kind of retaliatory options Iran has and I would categorize those into two strategies – overt or major military action or covert and asymmetric action.  Overt military action can take different forms.  Iran can – (inaudible, cough) – the hundreds of missiles it has created into GCC and U.S. bases – U.S. bases throughout the region and it has threatened to do so in the past.  

    Now, these missiles are not necessarily very accurate but they are accurate enough to do a lot of damage in the Persian Gulf region.  Iran can also interfere with shipping.  For the past several years, the Revolutionary Guard have formed this strategy of asymmetric attacks against U.S. and Western forces in the Persian Gulf.  

    And the idea is not to defeat the U.S. Navy.  Iran knows it can’t do that because of U.S. superiority, but to harass the U.S. Navy, to interfere with shipping in the Persian Gulf, to make sure that oil prices go high enough to apply enough pressure on the international community and the United States to stop an attack or even deter an attack.  Iran could also activate proxy forces in the region.  

    I put proxy in quotes because they’re groups are not always proxies.  They don’t always follow Iranian instructions to the letter. But they have very solid ties with the Iranian intelligence and the Iranian military.  And these groups include Hezbollah in Lebanon which is a very capable military and terrorist force, as we’ve seen.  It includes Hamas, Iraqi insurgents and especially Iraqi Shia insurgents, groups like Jaish al-Mahdi and if we look at Iraq today, there’s an increased instability in Iraq.  There are signs that Jaish al-Mahdi under Muqtada al-Sadr is reconsidering its freeze.  Recently tens of thousands of Jaish al-Mahdi members marched throughout Iraq.  

    So I think it’s a mistake to assume that Iraq is at this level of stability where we can conduct operations against Iran.  Iran has also provided measured support to the Taliban and I say measured because that support has not matched its support to Iraqi insurgents.  

    Iran has been providing small arms according to reports, has been providing some IEDs for the Taliban.  But if there’s an attack against Iran, Iran can step up its support of the Taliban.  It won’t be measured any longer.  Iran can provide very sophisticated explosively formed projectiles to the Taliban which were used effectively against U.S. troops in Iraq.  It can provide advanced surface-to-air missiles.  

    So Iran has really the capability to broaden the scope of the Afghan conflict and conduct a lot of attacks against U.S. forces.  And Iran can also conduct a global terrorist operations by using its own resources – the ministry of intelligence and the Revolutionary Guard.  And the list goes on and on.  I think covert or asymmetric actions make a lot of sense given Iran’s military doctrine.  

    Iran likes to keep the fight to its periphery.  It doesn’t want the homeland involved in a future conflict.  Iran in effect likes others to do its fighting for it.  But given the precarious internal situation in Iran, the Iranian government has to show that it’s taking some sort of action.  It has to demonstrate to the public that it is retaliating.  So it will be interesting to see how Iran would retaliate in the future.  It’s hard to tell but those are some of the options that it has.  

    And lastly, Iran may actually accelerate its nuclear program.  If we look at the rationale for Iran in pursuing a nuclear program, you can argue that there isn’t much of an economic rationale at this point for it to do so.  I think that the major reason that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program is the preservation of the regime.  

    This is a regime that has felt threatened and has been in a state of crisis since its birth in 1979.  And the Iranian regime, although the danger of a military attack I think has gone down as some of the previous speakers mentioned, it’s still worried about a potential U.S. invasion and a regime change.  

    And this is one major reason that it is pursuing a nuclear program and wants to have the options of creating nuclear weapons if need be.  And of course it’s pursuing a nuclear program also to enhance its regional image, to project power.  I don’t think these goals are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    RAND is actually putting out a study today looking at these issues.  It’s called “Iran’s Nuclear Future.”  It will be on our website but in the report we look at three distinct Iranian nuclear postures – a virtual posture, an ambiguous posture and a declared posture.  

    And each posture has its own uses for the Iranian regime.  And this is a regime that makes decisions on a cost-benefit calculation.  There is this assumption that Iran is going forward toward a nuclear bomb, that it wants to create one or two nuclear weapons as soon as possible.  

    And this is not true.  Iran makes decisions based on internal factors and external factors.  And one of the internal factors I mentioned is this internal debate in Iran between the various factions, this weighing of Iran’s interests when it comes to the international community.  Iran maintains very important ties with countries like China.  

    So although it is isolated from the United States and from Europe to a certain extent, it can’t risk completely isolating itself from countries like China and Russia.  If you look at China today, it’s investing a lot of money in Iran.  And the Chinese are doing this under the cover of Iran pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.  So if Iran does weaponize, the weaponization, having nuclear weapons basically poses risks to its overall interest.

    The Iranian foreign minister actually made a statement the other day saying the creation of nuclear weapons would be a strategic mistake.  And I think he really means it.  At this point Iran can’t believe that this is a strategic mistake to create nuclear weapons now and not in the future.  Again, Iran wants to have this nuclear option.  And finally, if there is an attack on Iran, on its nuclear facilities, it will make dealing with Iran in the future much harder.  

    If Iran accelerates its program, reaches the point where it develops nuclear weapons, we have to ask how will the U.S. deal with Iran then.  We have pursued a policy of engagement coupled with sanctions and we are considering containing a potentially nuclear Iran.  

    But I think that strategy could be imperiled if we strike Iran or if any other country like Israel strikes Iran.  And this I think could actually justify the Iranian government’s rationale for pursuing a nuclear capability.  If we attack them, they could argue, well, we were right in the first place.  Thank you.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you.  I might just follow up with one question concerning the overplay of religious issues on the question Ali raised and I’m recalling Ayatollah Khomeini’s views about WMD at the outset of the war with Iraq.  And as I recall, those views evolved partly as a result of the fighting.  But is there any kind of parallel there to how the current official position, which is that it’s haram to pursue nuclear weapons could be altered by an attack?

    MR. NADER:  Right.  Well, the theory is that Ayatollah Khomeini opposed nuclear weapons, that he shelved the shah’s nuclear program.  That was one of the reasons but also Iran didn’t have the resources or the energy to pursue a nuclear program.  

    And toward the end of the war, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard, General Rezaee, who is now the head of the expediency – or the secretary of the expediency counsel, wrote a letter to Khamenei saying, look, we can’t win this war.  We’ll need however many tanks, planes and we’ll also need nuclear weapons.  

    So Iran was at a point where it basically gave up and didn’t pursue nuclear weapons at that time but it accelerated its program after the Iran-Iraq War. Supposedly the current supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa on nuclear weapons saying it’s un-Islamic, I believe, to use nuclear weapons.  I haven’t seen any evidence of this fatwa.  

    People discus it but there isn’t much evidence as far as I know.  But he hasn’t issued a fatwa saying we can’t have a virtual nuclear capability.  So again, I don’t think religious issues really factor as much into Iranian thinking.  I think it looks at – Iran looks at its national interests like a lot of other states.  It makes decisions based on those interests rather than being focused on religious issues per se.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Good.  Okay, we’ve got 10 minutes or so for questions from the floor.  Yes, sir?

    Q:  Milton Hoenig.  Alireza, could you expand just a little bit on the tensions currently in Iran between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei?  I mean, it seems that Ahmadinejad’s position is rather precarious from what you read and also he seems to represent a more liberal viewpoint in the sense of wanting perhaps to open up talks with the P5+1.  This goes back to his support of the fuel swap back in October 2009.  Is that when it was?  And that was vetoed after he had already agreed to it.

    MR. NADER:  Well, there’s a lot of tension right now between Ahmadinejad and his supporters on one hand and Khamenei and his supporters.  And the reason for this is Ahmadinejad has directly challenged a supreme leader.  He’s done a lot of things in the last, what, five or six years to challenge Khamenei.  

    But I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was Ahmadinejad firing the minister of intelligence over Khamenei’s objections and he’s done other things to challenge the supreme leader.  He has advocated – he hasn’t advocated this directly but Mashaei, his chief of staff and in-law, has advocated Iranian Islam challenging the clergy in Iran.  And the clergy feels very threatened by Ahmadinejad and Mashaei and their brand if Islamic ideology.

    So I think matters have come to a head.  And Ahmadinejad has tried to groom Mashaei as his successor as president and a lot of figures in the system are not happy with this.  So you basically have not just Khamenei but the top echelon of the Revolutionary Guard challenging Ahmadinejad in a very serious way.  

    And I think Ahmadinejad is a very overconfident in his base of support. I think he’s losing his support within the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij and I don’t think he has as much popular support as he likes to assume he has.

    On the nuclear issue, yes, there have been reports that Ahmadinejad advocates engagement with P5+1 and there was this effort to swap Iran’s nuclear material.  But we have to look at this in the context of Iranian politics.  I think if Iran had found some sort of compromise, it might have looked good for Ahmadinejad at that point.  

    And if you look at the deal, it was rather a good deal for Iran as a political system because it gave it time.  It slowed down the sanctions regime against Iran.  But the system wasn’t able to function cohesively.  A lot of Ahmadinejad’s allies attacked him for this deal.  But again, the nuclear issue and Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 have become a political football in Iran.  

    So we have to watch out from rhetoric that’s coming from one side or another.  If we look at that deal, actually the leaders of the Green Movement were opposed to it.  Moussavi criticized it.  Rafsanjani criticized it.  And they’re supposed to be more amenable to potential compromise with the P5+1.  And I think they could be but, again, politics got in the way.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Yes, sir?

    Q:  Gerald Epstein at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  I’m interested in Iran’s choice of retaliatory options if it were to be attacked.  Presumably today Iran could close down the Strait of Hormuz.  It could unleash terrorism.  It could attack all the states.  It has no reason to do so.  It would not look very good in world opinion if it did.  

    If the U.S. were to attack it and it’s trying to decide what to do in return, to some extent it’s probably driven by domestic politics – (inaudible) – something.  But to some extent, it would, I think, have to decide this is a retaliatory action, we’re going to do it but at some point we’ll cross the line and the rest of the world will say, that’s not retaliation, that’s just like you attacked out of the blue.  

    Closing the Strait of Hormuz will massively disrupt the world system.  People will be upset at the U.S. but the world might not see that as retaliation to the U.S.  So how would Iranians think about the types of things they could justify as retaliation or would that enter their mind?

    MR. NADER:  I think with that option, Iran would lose more than any other player because if you shut down the Strait of Hormuz, that shuts off Iran’s energy exports and that’s very damaging to the Iranian economy.  I think that the Iranian government uses that option as a deterrent vis-à-vis the United States.  

    So it tells us that if you take military action against us, we’ll shut down this strait. This will increase oil prices, et cetera.  We can debate how serious Iran is regarding actually taking that option, if it views that only in terms of a deterrent option or in terms of deterrence or if it’s serious about going forth.  I think I can make an argument for both cases.  

    If you look at Iranian military exercises, there’s a huge focus on interfering with shipping in the Persian Gulf.  So I think they’re taking it very seriously and they’ve purchased a lot of small boats, sophisticated anti-ship cruise missiles, mines.  So I think this is a serious threat.  Again, who knows how the international community will look at it.  

    If the U.S. or Israel takes action against Iran – preemptive action – and Iran retaliates.  There is justification from the perspective of the international community in Iran taking those sort of actions and shutting down the Strait of Hormuz.  But again, everybody suffers.  Countries like China suffer.  So I can’t imagine if they’d be too happy about any sort of conflict in the Persian Gulf.

    MR. WHITE:  I think – just to add one comment – I think the – you know, an issue here is how the Iranians read the attack.  And if it’s a very large-scale U.S. attack, they may have trouble distinguishing, you know, just an attack on – basically on their nuclear program to an attack on the regime.  

    And if they think it’s, you know, the attack on the regime, that this is a prelude to all-out U.S. war on the regime, then they’re quite likely or could well, let’s say, implement lots of contingency plans, one of which is to close the – you know, close the strait, which as Ali said, they’re completely prepared to do from a military standpoint.  They have a lot of retaliatory options, you know, so.

    MR. THIELMANN:  And I’d only add to that that even now, there are some who argue that we should be doing something to cut off Iran’s oil commerce.  So it’s easy for me to imagine if we were engaged in a massive air campaign about Iran, there would be pressure to combine with that some way to cut off Iranian oil.  

    So from the Iranian perspective, would they tolerate U.S. military action to cut off all of their maritime oil commerce and they would leave the other commerce past the Strait of Hormuz unmolested?  That’s hard for me to believe, but Daryl?

    Q:  Hi.  Daryl Kimball with the Arms Control Association.  Thanks to both of you for your presentations.  Alireza, one question for you if you could clarify, you know, some commentators here in the United States have argued that sanctions are not being effective enough, diplomacy is not being effective enough.  They may not even get behind a military option.  But then they argue as a last resort.  

    So therefore we should, in order to solve the nuclear problem, help support the Green Movement and internal regime change.  Now, as Ambassador Pickering said earlier, regime change, he argued, should be the purview of the Iranian people.  

    But just to clarify, I mean, what are the views of those in the opposition, so to speak, regarding the nuclear program as a whole, not about pursuing nuclear weapons per se but the nuclear program and is that a realistic solution either.   

    And for Mr. White also, you know, you mentioned that theoretically the nuclear weapon strike option is theoretically on the table.  But, you know, in all your years of experience, I mean, given how the United States government looks at collateral damage as a political and diplomatic issue, I mean, could you just elaborate a little bit more on this issue?

    Because it seems to me that if the conventional military option is for all intents and purposes off the table, given all that you have said, the nuclear option is certainly not a realistic option for the President of the United States looking at this situation.  Thanks.

    MR. WHITE:  Just on the nuclear option, you know, we have pretty low yield nuclear weapons, right, and if the facility’s located out in the, you know, boondocks far enough, collateral damage, you know, could be pretty minimal, right?  

    My own view is we wouldn’t do it.  You know, I certainly can’t imagine the current administration doing it.  It’s hard for me to imagine, you know, any set of senior military commanders, you know, wanting to use a nuclear weapon, you know, short of the big one – you know, the big war kind of situation.  So I think as a military technical standpoint, the option is there.  But I don’t think – I just don’t think we would do it.

    MR. NADER:  I don’t think it’s too late to dissuade Iran from weaponizing.  I wouldn’t argue that sanctions and engagement have been completely ineffective.  I mean, Iran is progressing toward some sort of capability by enriching uranium.  

    But we don’t really know if the leadership in Iran has made up its mind as to develop nuclear weapons.  And this is the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, that Iran is developing the knowhow and infrastructure and technology but they haven’t necessarily made a decision to weaponize.  

    So I think there is still time to dissuade Iran from moving into this other nuclear posture from virtual, if it’s even at virtual now, into an ambiguous or a declared nuclear posture.  There is still – I think there is internal debate in Iran.  It’s hard to see evidence of it because the Iranian weapons program is not discussed publicly in Iran.  But if you look at the various groups and constituents in Iran, they each have their own interest in the political system.  

    So the Green Movement wants to reform the Iranian political system.  The pragmatic conservatives under Rafsanjani want to integrate Iran into the global economy and the nuclear program as pursued by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei has hurt their interests.  

    When we look at President Khatami’s administration, you can argue that Iran handled the nuclear program very differently, that it developed its capabilities but it also engaged the international community.  

    Iran’s former national security advisor under Khatami, a cleric by the name of Rohani, even stated in public that engagement is good because it buys us time so we can focus on other aspects of the nuclear program.  

    Of course, Ahmadinejad has called the nuclear program a train without brakes.  And this is dangerous for his political opponents like the Green Movement and Rafsanjani.  So I think that is potentially an avenue of exploitation by the United States.  

    But when I say exploitation I don’t mean regime change necessarily.  I think our understanding of Iran is very limited right now – what’s going on in Iran, how the regime is functioning or not functioning, how the people – the Iranian people feel about the regime, whether they support the Green Movement, whether they are ready for an entirely new system.  

    So I think given the lack of full U.S. understanding and the lack of our capabilities to affect change in Iran and the wider Middle East, frankly, I wouldn’t advocate regime change because, again, that hurts our chances with the Iranian government.  Having regime change as an option, having military attacks on the table basically constrains our diplomatic and economic policy toward Iran right now and in the future.

    MR. THIELMANN:  We probably can take one more question.  Miss?

    Q:  Hi, for Alireza, it’s Laura Rosen.  I’m curious what the Iranian reaction has been to Stuxnet, whatever the reality of it is and whoever was behind it.

    MR. NADER:  Well, they blamed it on the U.S. and Israel and otherwise I think they’re trying to repair the damage and contain it and protect their program from future attacks.  But in terms of their willingness, their intent, I don’t think it has slowed down Iran.  It may have caused technical problems for them.  

    But for the Iranian government, I think even a portion of the population, the nuclear program is a point of national pride.  The argument that Iran can have the uranium enrichment cycle really resonates in Iran, even among people who oppose the Islamic Republic.  I think I would argue that a majority of Iranians view Iran as having the right to developing a nuclear program where it pursues enrichment.  

    And so I think the Iranian government has been successful in convincing the people through its control of media and the information environment in Iran.  So an attack on Natanz is not seen as an attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.  That’s what we think in the United States and the West.  It is seen as an attack on Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

    MR. WHITE:  And to add one thing, I think the Stuxnet business probably increased their sense of vulnerability.  And my understanding is they were, you know, shocked, taken aback and had, you know, some difficulty coping with it.  

    And given their dependence on outside, you know, foreign technology and so on, they see that kind of vulnerability and, you know, this might be able to happen to them again.  So it did physical damage I think to their program but it also I think increased that sense of vulnerability.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you very much.  I have a couple of wrap-up comments but let’s thank our speakers for their contributions.  (Applause.)  I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath for the solution to Iran’s nuclear puzzle at the end of our four discussion panels.  I may be disappointing you slightly to say that we don’t have a simple answer to this.  

    There are a few tentative conclusions that I would offer based on what we’ve heard from experts in these four sessions.  First is the somewhat encouraging news that Iran is not an imminent nuclear weapons threat.  We would assess that they are years, not months, away from actually acquiring nuclear weapons.  

    Also it’s not clear that Iran has decided to go beyond building a nuclear infrastructure with a breakout capability or an actual nuclear arsenal and I think that reflects what Alireza was saying.  Iran can eventually have nuclear weapons if it wants them badly enough.  Only an invasion and occupation could physically prevent it.  

    A preventive aerial assault by Israel or the U.S. is not a viable option.  It would delay but then incentivize Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and it would be an economic and diplomatic disaster of the first order for the United States.  

    The only realistic solution to the Iran nuclear puzzle is to persuade Tehran to forego nuclear weapons and to accept transparency measures which demonstrate the absence of a weapons program.  Sanctions may be necessary to raise the cost of Iran defying the IAEA but they have to be accompanied by a willingness to give Iran something of value in return.  

    So that kind of sums up where we’re at having gone through in some depth some of the discussions.  I would remind you the transcripts from today’s session will be available by the end of this week on the Arms Control Association’s website.  And we will be releasing additional analyses based on the insights gained from these sessions and elsewhere in coming weeks.  So thank you very much for participating today.  (Applause.)

    (END)

    Description: 

    Transcript Available: This panel discussion (on the 30th anniversary of Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor) will provide informed perspectives on the consequences of any U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran designed to destroy Iran’s actual or potential nuclear weapons capabilities.

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    ACA Annual Meeting

    Sections:

    Body: 

    "Reducing the Nuclear Danger: Next Steps on the Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Arms Reductions"

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room
    1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

    9:15-9:30

    Welcome

    Daryl G. Kimball
    ACA Executive Director

    9:30-10:00
    Video
    Keynote 1
    Transcript

    Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania)
    Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    10:15-12:00
    Video


    Panel 1
    Transcript


    The Test Ban and National Security
    State Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox (R-Utah)
    Richard Garwin, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center (slides)
    Lynn R. Sykes, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia (slides)

    12:00

    Break



    12:30-1:30
    Video
    Keynote 2
    Transcript
    Ellen Tauscher
    Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
    1:30-2:30
    Video


    Panel 2
    Transcript


    Prospects for U.S.-NATO-Russian Nuclear Reductions
    Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution
    Catherine Kelleher, Center for International and Security Studies,
    Unversity of Maryland

    2:45-3:15
    Video
    Keynote 3
    Transcript
    Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire)
    Member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Arms Services Committee
    3:15-3:30 Close



    This year's annual meeting is in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Thanks to the Foundation and other ACA supporters, ACA is pleased to announce we are able to waive the registration fee for our 2011 Annual Meeting.

    Please keep in mind that our continued work, including the publication of Arms Control Today, still depends on the contributions of individuals like you. Please consider making a contribution online.

     


     

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    REDUCING THE NUCLEAR DANGER: NEXT STEPS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS

    KEYNOTE 1

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

    SPEAKER:
    SENATOR ROBERT P. CASEY (D-PA),
    MEMBER,
    SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE


    TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    DARYL KIMBALL: I’m Daryl Kimball. I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association, and I want to welcome everyone to the 2011 annual meeting. We’re going to have a full day this year of speakers and discussion. And I hope everyone is comfortable. There will be a few breaks through the course of the day.

    I want to also welcome those of you watching online. We’re webcasting the event today. So for those of you in the audience, be on guard to look your best. We’ll have thousands watching on the Web.

    This year marks the Arms Control Association’s 40th year as an independent, nongovernmental organization, and my 10th year as its director. And while we may be reaching middle age, we’re not slowing down, thanks to the members of the Arms Control Association, the many private foundations that support ACA, from the Ploughshares Fund to the Hewlett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and many others.

    And also thanks to the dedicated, hardworking staff of the Arms Control Association. We’ve got a small team but they work very hard and have done a great job pulling together today’s events.

    With nuclear arms control and nonproliferation back in the national and international spotlight, this past year has been one of the most productive and incredible and tiring in the organization’s entire history. We believe we’ve made a significant difference on multiple fronts, and I just want to recount some of these things that have taken place in the last year.

    ACA, along with many other organizations, were, I think, a pivotal force in the successful approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. When a treaty is approved by 71 votes, a relatively narrow margin, every bit of work makes a difference.

    ACA also worked with colleague organizations to push the Obama administration to adopt I think a more progressive nuclear posture review that reduces the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military strategy.

    We provided analysis and recommendations on measures to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty before the review conference last May, which, for the first time in a decade, produced a consensus action plan.

    Under the leadership of our senior fellow, Greg Thielmann and Peter Crail, we launched a series of briefings on solving the Iranian nuclear puzzle in the past year that we intend to expand in the coming year.

    With our international representative, Oliver Meier in Berlin, and the British American Security Information Council, and a grant from the Hewlett Foundation and the Böll Foundation, we sponsored a series of policy briefings in Europe in faraway places, including Tallinn, Brussels, Ankara, Warsaw and also here in Washington.

    And later this week – you might have noticed on the table we have a new publication on reducing the role of tactical nuclear weapons, the papers from several of those seminars that we’re going to be publishing on Thursday.

    Our deputy director, Jeff Abramson, has provided leadership on conventional arms control. We’re not just nuclear, chemical and biological but also conventional arms control, working on encouraging the United States to join the mine ban treaty and to support negotiation of the arms trade treaty.

    And through our Project for the CTBT that we’re working with – we’re working with many different organizations in Washington and across the country. I think we’ve brought together a diverse and strong network of organizations to encourage the Obama administration to take a more proactive role in reengaging the Senate on the treaty, and to encourage the Senate to take a look at the facts that speak for its ratification.

    And we do all this with, as I said, a very small staff of nine people, two fellows and our one part-time representative in Berlin. So, while a lot has been accomplished, we think there’s a lot more to do, and that’s what today’s event is about. We’re trying to look forward to the next steps on reducing the nuclear danger, on a test ban treaty, and on deeper nuclear arms reductions involving all types of nuclear arms.

    And we’re very thankful to the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their support for this particular event. We’ve worked with them in the past on the U.S.-India nuclear deal, on the conference that we held in this room last November on strategic nuclear reductions involving – I should say nuclear reductions involving strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.

    And we appreciate their support, which has helped us waive the registration fee that we usually have for our meetings and make more effective use of your contributions. And if you don’t know, the Böll Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes democracy and civil society, human rights, international understanding, and a health environment. And they’re based in Berlin and has more than 25 offices worldwide, including in Washington, D.C.

    So, I would ask you to give the Böll Foundation a quick round of applause. (Applause.) And, as I said, we have tucked away in your program a contribution form, if you feel so moved, if you haven’t already contributed as of late to the organization, because our work really does depend on our members.

    And I have been informed that Senator Casey is on his way but is about five minutes behind schedule, so my timing is a little bit off now. So what I would just like to invite you to do is to go back to your conversations very briefly. When Senator Casey comes, I’ll begin the introduction and we’ll get started. Thanks. (Applause.)

    (Pause.)

    MR. KIMBALL: Excuse me for breaking into your conversations. If I could ask everyone to take a seat. We’re going to begin the program in just a moment. If I could just remind you to turn off your cellphones to mute or silence, that would be very helpful.

    We’re going to get back on track this morning with the first part of our program. Senator Casey has just arrived and is on a tight schedule. So we’re going to start on a high note with Senator Casey. Come on in. Here we go. (Applause.)

    Thank you very much for coming.

    Senator Casey, as you may know – as many of you know, serves on the Foreign Relations Committee. And he played a key role in the ratification of the New START agreement last year, and has been a leader in promoting nuclear security and combating the threat of nuclear weapons posed by terrorists and the spread of nuclear weapons.

    Since joining the Senate in 2007, he created and became the co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Caucus on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism. He also introduced the Nuclear Trafficking Prevention Act to curb nuclear proliferation by establishing that the transfer of nuclear material or technology to terrorists is a crime against humanity.

    He has been a leader in the Senate on U.S. policy responses to the Iranian nuclear program, in introducing the bipartisan Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, and he co-sponsored the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which have both become law.

    On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he’s the chair of the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, where he has jurisdiction over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Middle East.

    So, Senator Casey is going to be a busy person over the next few weeks and months, I believe, and he is not afraid to take on tough issues, which is perhaps why he’s agreed to come to speak to us today and offer his perspectives on the longest-sought, hardest-fought arms control endeavor, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and the next steps on nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation.

    And if we still have time after your remarks, if you could – if the senator has time for a couple of questions, we’ll do that.

    So please join me in welcoming Senator Casey once again. (Applause.)

    SENATOR BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, thank you very much, and good morning. I’m aware of the fact that I’m the first speaker, which isn’t a bad position to be in. It’s the speaker right before lunch that has trouble and sometimes the speaker right after lunch. (Laughter.) And I’m grateful and I send my sympathy to those who are in that position.

    But I’m truly not only grateful but really honored to have this chance to be in a room with folks who have worked so long and so hard on these issues, but also that come together and work year in and year out to see us make some progress. And we’re able to report on some significant progress just in the last couple of months.

    But I do appreciate the opportunity to be with you this morning. I was noting about the history that since 1971 the Arms Control Association has played an indispensable role in informing policymakers in the public debate itself.

    And I especially want to thank Daryl for his introduction, and your staff for making this possible. Damien Murphy from my staff is right here. I wanted to make sure that folks knew where Damien was.

    And I have to say, in a broader sense, the impact of nongovernmental organizations on so many of these issues is critically important. Because of your work, senators who were voting on the New START Treaty were, in fact, better informed and I think more engaged than some may have expected.

    In the end, 71 United States senators made the right decision to support ratification of the treaty. And it was interesting – just parenthetically I’ll say interesting to see how it played out in the weeks leading up to the actual vote. For a while there it seemed like there wouldn’t be much of a debate, and then the debate became more engaged.

    And in some ways I was heartened by that. Even though you don’t – you don’t always want to have a tough fight, I think the fact that there was more engagement gave the American people a greater sense of the significance and importance, and really the gravity of not – of not ratifying New START.

    So that debate that we had – and it actually was at times a real debate, which is rare in the U.S. Senate these days because you tend to have speeches by one side or the other, kind of talking past each other. But there were actual debates and counterpoints and rebuttal speeches over the life – or I should say over the course of the weeks leading up to ratification.

    So today we stand at an important point in the debate over nonproliferation and arms control. President Obama set out a clear agenda to make America safer when he spoke in Prague. And in just two short years, the U.S. has made remarkable progress toward that vision.

    In April of 2009, the president hosted the largest gathering of heads of state since the establishment of the U.N. to discuss securing nuclear material which could fall into the hands of terrorists. Leaders from around the globe made tangible commitments to secure fissile material, and have agreed to continue dialogue next year in Seoul.

    And in December, as I mentioned, the Senate ratified New START, which will enhance the security of the United States by diminishing the number of nuclear weapons pointed at the United States.

    But this progress, in my judgment, is just the beginning, and just the beginning if we’re serious about making America and the world more safe and more secure. This came into sharp focus recently in Pakistan in light of the developments just in the last nine days or so.

    Based on the evidence gathered at his compound, we now understand that Osama bin Laden was actually more actively engaged in al-Qaida and its strategic planning than maybe we thought previously. We already know that – we already knew, I should say, that bin Laden had a declared interest in obtaining a nuclear weapon for use against Western targets.

    While the threat posed by al-Qaida or some shadowy terrorist network or their desire to acquire a nuclear device – while all that may be unimaginable and frightening, what we can do to address this significant threat is actually not remote or imaginary; it’s actually quite real and concrete.

    I believe we can and we must do more to secure fissile material. We can and we must do more to strengthen the international arms control framework and build political support for diminishing the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Let me start with the nuclear security summit.

    For years, countries around the world viewed the threat of nuclear terrorism as an American or simply a Western problem. As a result, political pressure within countries across the globe was not brought to bear to ensure that fissile material was secure, did not cross borders, and could not end up in the hands of terrorists.

    Recognizing the importance of political commitment to this issue, President Obama convened the nuclear security summit in 2010. The summit was a landmark achievement because countries, for the first time, have begun to acknowledge the gravity and the importance of securing fissile material.

    This is not, as we know, just a Western problem. A nuclear attack anywhere would have devastating consequences and impact on people everywhere. By placing the issue so high on the agenda, President Obama sent a clear message to the international community that the U.S. was willing to lead but that others need to participate.

    In preparation for the conference, government bureaucracies around the world committed resources and people to defining the threat within their borders and creating policies to share at the summit.

    Some brought what might be termed housewarming gifts to demonstrate their commitment to the issue, but over time, these policies have been refined, and we look forward to measuring progress when these leaders gather next year in Seoul.

    Nuclear security has historically been a bipartisan issue here in the United States and in the Congress. But recent concerns have arisen with respect to funding of these programs.

    As we completed the fiscal 2011 appropriations process – don’t remind us how long that took, you’re saying as I’m reminding you of this – I was very concerned, as many in this room and others were, that H.R. 1, the House bill, included severe cuts in funding for the Department of Energy’s programming on nuclear security – programming which was not defined as within the national security realm by the House leadership. They are wrong and they shouldn’t have come to that conclusion.

    This proposal and the cut that was entailed here was a step in the wrong direction, which I hope will not be repeated in the fiscal 2012 appropriations process since we’ve made serious commitments to international nuclear security, following the summit.

    NNSA administrator Tom D’Agostino has said that the 2012 request will provide, quote, “the resources required to meet commitments secured during the nuclear security summit, including removing all remaining highly enriched uranium from Belarus, Ukraine, Mexico, and working with the Defense Department to implement a nuclear security Center for Excellence in China and India,” unquote.

    As we move towards the next summit in Seoul in 2012, the U.S. needs to show its commitment through tangible action as we ask for more of that from our partners abroad. The only way we can make true progress on nuclear security is if our partners understand, acknowledge and have the resources and the political will to act.

    The bottom line is this: When it comes to preventing nuclear terrorism, we are truly in this together. As we encourage our friends abroad to take this issue more seriously, we must do the same here in the United States and ensure that the necessary funding is made available to do that.

    Let me talk for a moment about a piece of legislation that I have introduced previously and will be reintroducing this week, the Nuclear Prevention Trafficking Act. I think there are important legislative steps that can be taken to ensure that nuclear security remains a front-burner issue. I introduced this act in 2009 and a companion bill was introduced in the House by Congressman Adam Schiff.

    The bill will establish nuclear trafficking as a crime against humanity and make it easier to prosecute international nuclear traffickers in the United States federal courts. And it will strengthen penalties for trafficking in nuclear material.

    Just as the international community has agreed that such acts as slavery and genocide are crimes against humanity, so too should it come together to brand nuclear smuggling a crime against humanity. I’ll reintroduce the legislation this week and seek to bolster the consensus in the Senate that nuclear terrorism is the most serious threat to United States national security.

    The Senate has also – I should say also has an important legislative role in a more immediate sense. Last month, the Justice Department sent Congress implementation legislation for the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the so-called CPPNM Amendment, and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism – yet another – an acronym. ICSANT I guess we can call it – I-C-S-A-N-T.

    The Senate ratified these treaties in 2008, and this legislation would update the criminal code to fully investigate and prosecute acts of nuclear terrorism. This legislation provides an important opportunity for the Senate to help prevent nuclear terrorism and show our allies around the world that we’re committed to the principles outlined in the nuclear security summit.

    We need to adopt this legislation expeditiously. And I think it would convey a sense of urgency if we did this. We can’t just simply keep pointing back and saying that the New START Treaty is a great achievement. It is, but this is a new year and there are many challenges ahead of us. So this would be one way of demonstrating to the American people that the Senate is serious about moving forward on ways to prevent nuclear terrorism.

    Let me move to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. As we face proliferation threats around the world, in Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, as well as other places, we need to – we need, in my judgment, multiple tools to build international pressure for behavioral change.

    The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is one such tool that the United States needs in order to make ourselves safer and more secure. I look forward to debating this treaty in the Senate, but before that we have a lot of work to do. The administration recognizes this hard work that has to be done, and the administration will take steps to educate senators on the merits of the treaty and its importance to our national security.

    One of the biggest obstacles to support for CTBT is the lack of public awareness of the issue. Government officials have an obligation to talk to the American people about this treaty and about its significance and importance, and about how CTBT will enhance U.S. national security.

    I’m grateful that Undersecretary Tauscher will address CTBT in her speech to you today, and trust that this is the beginning of a sustained effort to discuss the merits of this important treaty. And let me say as well how much we appreciate her work in the State Department. We’re grateful for her leadership.

    On a positive note, senators are engaged in nonproliferation and arms control issues today in ways that were not apparent in the recent past. I enjoyed learning more about these important issues during the New START debate. And, believe it or not, once in a while senators learn something on the floor from each other sometimes. I know that’s maybe a well-kept secret but it’s true.

    And some of the leading voices on this, starting of course with Chairman Kerry and his team and others, but even some of the newer senators who were elected in 2006 or 2008 were taking in leadership roles on the debate.

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen – and I know you’ll hear from her later – was one of those voices. Jeanne emerged, I think, throughout this debate as a leader in this field, and one of a core group of members committed to raising the profile of arms control and nonproliferation. And she of course spoke with the authority and the clarity of a governor, which helps in a – which helps in a legislative body.

    But she’s someone I’ve gotten to know. We traveled to the Middle East this summer, and I’ve been so impressed by not just her knowledge but by her commitment on a whole range of foreign policy and security issues.

    As with respect to the treaty itself, there’s ample room for discussion. By the time we debate CTBT, the Senate membership will have changed significantly since 1999. Just consider this for just one example – I can say this personally. I’ve been in the Senate – I’m in my fifth year. In those roughly four years, I moved from 94 to 63 in seniority – 30 places in four years. And just by way of retirements, I know that I’ll be in the mid-50s after that.

    I don’t say that to brag about seniority because of course you get seniority only because others move on. You don’t get it based upon merit. But I mention that just to indicate how much the Senate has changed in just four years and then over five or six years you can just imagine the substantial turnaround – or turnover, I should say, in the course of more than a decade.

    So, moreover, I should say, in the same vein, international consensus in support of the treaty has grown. In 1999 when the Senate voted down ratification, only 51 countries had ratified CTBT. Today, 148 countries have done so.

    And I think we don’t have to look far and wide for analysis to indicate how important this treaty is. Sometimes you just have to mention a couple of places in the world – Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and China, just for – just by way of example.

    The White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, Gary Samore, recently said – and I’m quoting, that, “The risk of a conflict escalating to nuclear war is probably higher in South Asia than anywhere in the world,” unquote.

    CTBT serves as a – serves U.S. national security interests by providing a tool to constrain nuclear buildup in Asia. International approaches such as CTBT are likely to be more effective than a regional approach, particularly due to the rising tensions in South Asia. That’s an understatement of course.

    Some experts believe that U.S. ratification of CTBT would encourage – encourage China, India and Pakistan to ratify as well. The U.S. has not conducted – as many of you know, has not conducted a test for 19 years, yet we have been unable to benefit from the restrictions and verification that CTBT would place on others.

    As long as we’re confronted with the prospect of nuclear testing by other countries, the U.S. will face a potential of newer, more powerful and more sophisticated weapons that cause and could cause unimaginable damage.

    For example, testing would provide the Chinese an opportunity to miniaturize nuclear weapons to be placed on missiles. The same could be said of Iran. Without the ability to test, Iran would be under more pressure not to develop – not to develop a nuclear weapon. We need to erect as many barriers as possible to an Iranian nuclear bomb and to continue developments – and to continue developments in North Korea. CTBT can help in this regard as well.

    Despite its critics, CTBT will not jeopardize the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear arsenal. Significantly, advances in both stockpile stewardship and our ability to monitor explosions bolster the case for CTBT.

    After 1030 nuclear test explosions, it has become abundantly clear that the United States nuclear deterrent does not require testing to remain an effective tool for U.S. national security. Nuclear weapons laboratory directors have a deep understanding of the arsenal and a deeper understanding now than ever before.

    And President Obama’s unprecedented $85 billion commitment over 19 years for upgrading the nuclear weapons complex provides a long-term strategy and more than enough funding to continue to maintain the U.S. arsenal safety and effectively.

    Last year I had the opportunity to travel to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, where I met with the executive secretary and his team. I toured the command center, which oversees the International Monitoring System, the so-called IMS, of stations placed all around the world, a really impressive demonstration of technology and the comprehensive nature of that technology for monitoring all over the world.

    And we know that when the Senate voted on verification in 1999, verification was a central topic of debate. At the time, the monitoring system did not exist and so there were zero monitoring stations in place.

    To date, 264 of the system’s total 337 monitoring stations have been built and are certified. This includes monitoring sites in Russia and China, places where the U.S. simply cannot gain access to on its own.

    So, for those reasons and others I’ve mentioned, a lot has changed since 1999. A strong case can be made that a senator voting in 1999 against the treaty based upon concerns over verification could indeed vote yes today.

    So, I think that’s one of the challenges we have, not just educating senators generally and not simply engaging in a debate with the American people, but also making the case about how verification makes us safer and more secure. And we had to do that in New START as well. And that might – that wasn’t as easy as some may have thought, heading into the debate.

    In closing, I would like to underscore my ongoing concerns about Pakistan. Pakistan’s government claims that it did not know about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. In the Senate we continue to examine this claim.

    If true, this apparent incompetence does not inspire confidence in the ability of Pakistan’s governing or security institutions to oversee the nuclear weapons program. I look forward to holding the administration and Pakistani authorities accountable as we examine our assistance package to Pakistan and the overall nature of our relationship.

    But I do want to thank you again for your work, your very important work here in this city and throughout the debate, but also the impact that you have on the debate throughout the country. This is an important role that you play in promoting better arms control and nonproliferation policies, and I personally – personally relied upon your expertise and appreciated your nationwide advocacy on behalf of New START.

    Your efforts are valuable, and in the end necessary to ensure that we have the support required for ratification. I know this work is not easy, and many of you have been laboring in this vineyard for not just years but in some cases decades.

    In the ’50 and ’60s, nuclear fallout drills sensitized children and the population at large to the dangers of nuclear war. In the ’80s, a broad grassroots movement called for a nuclear freeze in the face of a U.S. nuclear arms buildup. Now, more than 20 years after the Cold War, I think that it is a – I think that it is tougher to engage the broader public in a discussion about these issues.

    We need to do so with more public officials, and we need to sensitize a new generation of Americans and actively engage them in this public debate. The organization and expertise represented in this room will help to facilitate this engagement, and for that I’m both grateful and inspired. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

    I know we’re somewhat limited on time, but I did want to take a few questions if we can.

    MR. KIMBALL: So, just please identify yourself. A microphone will come to you.

    Q: Yeah, hi. I’m Susan Cornwell with Reuters. I was wondering, in what timeframe do you think the Senate should act on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? Do you think it should take this vote before the 2012 elections?

    And can you give us a little bit of your assessment of how – of where the votes are? You must have thought about counting the votes now – you know, how likely that is, assuming you’d be dealing with this particular Senate for that vote. Thank you.

    SEN. CASEY: Thank you for the question. I’ll do should, will, and votes. (Laughter.)

    In my judgment, we should act before the 2012 elections. I don’t have a high degree of confidence that we will. I think that would obviously be preferable, but I don’t have great confidence that will happen.

    In terms of the vote count, I’m not paid to do that. There are others who do that as part of their job. So, even if I were – even if I wanted to hazard a guess, it would be – the margin of error would have to be substantial.

    So it’s hard to – it’s hard to predict. Obviously I don’t think you can – that any of us can overlay the votes on New START on this vote. It’s going to be a different debate in some ways, and frankly a more difficult debate, from my side of the debate.

    It’s going to be, I think, a longer and more difficult challenge to get the treaty passed. But what’s why I think it’s important to start now, as best we can, to keep the treaty in the news, so to speak, to begin the outreach and engagement and education process.

    But, you know, a lot of things have happened in the last 18 months about legislation that we didn’t think would happen. I think if you’d asked me about some things that were passed in 2009 and ’10, I would have said, well, that topic might be addressed but it might be a lot smaller than was ultimately passed.

    So, you never know, but – I don’t want to hazard a guess on votes but I think we’ve got some work to do. And when I say “we,” I mean the administration does. But I think the Senate does as well. And public officials and advocates and experts across the country I think will help us do that.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right, a couple more questions. In the middle, please.

    Q: Senator Casey, first as a Pennsylvanian in particular, I want to thank you for your leadership role in the Foreign Relations Committee and particularly in this area.

    SEN. CASEY: Thanks. What is your name, sir?

    Q: Ed Aguilar with the Project for Nuclear Awareness.

    SEN. CASEY: Thanks, Ed.

    Q: And the question I have is regarding – you mentioned that China, India and Pakistan, among others, have not yet ratified the treaty. What are the chances of negotiating with them, you know, perhaps quietly on the side, to perhaps agree to submit for ratification contemporaneously? Would that help domestically?

    SEN. CASEY: I don’t think there’s any question it could, and I would hope that we address this challenge like we do whenever we’re confronted with both the domestic – I should say either a domestic or international challenge. You can’t have one track and you can’t – for example, in the Senate, all the time you’ve got to try to have both a legislative track as well as other tracks.

    And I don’t think the time lag between now and when we actually have a fully engaged Senate debate, and hopefully when we’re on a path to ratification, I don’t think we should wait to take steps to convince other countries that it’s in not only their interest but the world that they should ratify.

    And that’s why I think it’s so important how – it’s so important to highlight how significant engagement is. You know, there are a lot of folks in this town with much more of a – sometimes a cowboy mentality that says, you know, on various security issues, we just have to be tough and act tough and everything will work out.

    And it’s important to be tough, but it’s also important to engage constantly. And if we continue to have kind of a multi-track approach, I think one of the ways that we can influence positively the debate will be taking steps as you’ve outlined.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right, I think there’s another person who has a question here in the middle. Please, Xiaodon. Thank you.

    Q: David Culp with Friends Committee on National Legislation. There’s lots of Quakers in Pennsylvania and they’re very proud of your leadership.

    SEN. CASEY: Our state was founded by Quakers.

    Q: That’s right.

    SEN. CASEY: Yeah.

    Q: You’ve got a roomful of test ban advocates. What are the three or four things that you think that they should be doing that would be the most effective to influence undecided senators? What are the things that influence you on issues where you’re undecided?

    SEN. CASEY: It’s a good question. And part of it is a simple answer. It’s just keep doing what you have been doing. And I don’t say that just to be – you know, just to tell you what you want to hear, because if this were a year ago, maybe I’d have more reason to give you advice, but in light of the work that was done prior to New START, you’ve demonstrated, collectively and individually, that you know how to get this message out.

    I think the main thing, though, that we have to do is always tie it to our security, and repeat that message as much as we can. It’s very hard to get any message out in Washington, even a very important message about something as profound as ratifying CTBT or any other security issue.

    Things that appear to us self-evident or that we think everyone should be concerned about, they’re not, and sometimes they’re not because they just don’t hear enough about it and the gravity of it is not brought to their front door, so to speak, or to their attention.

    So I’d say repetition helps in linking it to security. I thought that was very helpful in the debate on New START. I know in my floor statements I tried to go back to that as much as we could because too often the debate on this falls into the usual patterns of American politics, which is black and white, one side or the other, and it’s the – you know, the so-called tough guys over here and the folks over here seem something else, less tough or not as interested in security.

    And we can’t let them do that. We can’t allow them to frame the debate that way. I think that the more we can make the case that this is – this will make us more secure, this is better for our national security, that will help. But I know it helped enormously in the New START debate.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right, maybe one last question, towards the rear. Anyone? No takers. My goodness. Yes, sir?

    Q: Stephen Young with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Thank you, sir, for all your work. I really appreciate it.

    My question for you is on the big picture things of a budget. Budget is a big issue in D.C. right now, and thus far lot of money has been committed to the budget for new weapons programs. And this community essentially held its breath on the issue of budget. We didn’t support a general – the president’s large commitments for new funding for weapons complex. And in New START, he committed to modernizing the entire triad.

    Also, we think that it shouldn’t have been done, but – essentially it had been done but we think it was a mistake. How do we move forward on this? Is there a way to, I think strategically, reduce the costs of our nuclear complex by making sensible cuts in our stockpile without going down a treaty road – things the president could do with Russia, perhaps, to reduce our costs and make it safer at the same time?

    SEN. CASEY: Yeah, that’s a real tough one, the answer, in light of what we’re confronting overall. This challenge we have on the budget coming up, and the broader challenge, frankly, well beyond 2012 with regard to deficit and debt, makes the question you posed even harder because we’re going to be having – in other words, if we had that debate in isolation, we’d be in a better position.

    But because there are going to be so many – so many individual debates about various parts of the budget and where we should cut, where we should reduce, that it’s going to be – I think it’s just going to be real difficult to make the case that you’re making.

    But maybe as we get further into it and it comes down to a discussion about defense spending, maybe that can be – maybe that can be more of a robust part of the debate. But I think it’s going to be very hard because of the – because of all the other cutting and reforming and conversations that people have to get to some kind of a grand bargain on deficit and debt.

    But I’d be willing to sit down and listen to ideas about it because we’re not only at the beginning of the debate you raise, but we’re really in the early stages of the overall debate. We have kind of a framework about what the challenge is and what the shortfall will be if we don’t act with regard to deficit and debt. But we have a long way to go. So I think that this – it may be something that we could sit down and talk about.

    MR. KIMBALL: Well, Senator Casey, I want to thank you once again for speaking to us today. Please join me again in thanking Senator Robert Casey. (Applause.)

    We’ll be shifting to the next panel in just a couple minutes, so don’t go too far away.

    (END)Back to top

     

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    REDUCING THE NUCLEAR DANGER: NEXT STEPS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS

    PANEL 1: THE TEST BAN AND NATIONAL SECURITY

    INTRODUCTION:
    DARYL KIMBALL,
    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    SPEAKERS:
    RYAN D. WILCOX (R),
    STATE REPRESENTATIVE,
    HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF UTAH

    RICHARD GARWIN,
    FELLOW EMERITUS,
    THOMAS J. WATSON IBM RESEARCH CENTER

    LYNN R. SYKES,
    HIGGINS PROFESSOR EMERITUS,
    LAMONT-DOHERTY EARTH OBSERVATORY, COLUMBIA UNIV.

    TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    DARYL KIMBALL: All right, if I could ask everyone to wind up their conversations, find their seats again, we’re going to begin panel number one. (Pause.) All right, thank you, everyone. If you could get your coffee refill, have a seat, we’ll get started with the next phase of today’s program, which will now focus on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

    As Senator Casey said, many of you here in this room have been working for years to end nuclear test explosions. I know I certainly have. And it is, as I said before, the longest-fought, hardest-fought prize in arms control history. And the length of the campaign reminds me of something that was written 10 years ago by General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was asked to write a report on the test ban treaty in the aftermath of the 1999 vote.

    And I’m reminded of this, in part, because Ambassador Jim Goodby, who advised General Shalikashvili, is here in the room, in the front. And as you’ll recall, Jim, Shalikashvili concluded in that report that the advantages of the test ban treaty outweigh any disadvantages and ratification would increase national security. And for the sake of future generations, it would be unforgiveable to neglect any reasonable action that can help prevent nuclear proliferation, as the test ban treaty clearly would.

    And I think we heard that thought echoed in Senator Casey’s remarks about the necessity of putting together a bulwark of initiatives and barriers against proliferations and arms racing. And you know, because the test ban treaty is an oldie but a goodie, I think there is a growing bipartisan list of national security leaders supporting the treaty.

    And the Arms Control Association agrees with Senator Casey’s sentiments that there needs to be a serious, fact-based, high-level dialogue with the Senate on the value of the treaty. And that requires added energy on the part of the Obama administration. It requires that senators on both sides of the aisle thoroughly review the evidence that has accumulated since 1999 and since the Shalikashvili report of 2001.

    And when they do, I mean, I have faith – I think many of you have faith – that the outcome this time around will be different. And that’s because George Shultz – former secretary George Shultz captured this thought in remarks a couple of years ago: “Republicans may have been right in voting against the test ban treaty some years ago but they would be right voting for it now based upon new facts. There are new pieces of information that are very important and that should be made available to the Senate.”

    So that’s what we hope to begin to do with today’s conference, with today’s panel. We have, I think, a great set of speakers here today. First of all, we’re very pleased to have with us State Representative Ryan Wilcox who, I think it is safe to say, will be providing us with an outside-the-beltway perspective.

    He hails from Ogden, Utah. He is a Republican in the state legislature. And among his many accomplishments, he was the cosponsor of H.R. 4, which some of us noticed here in Washington, which was a resolution passed in 2010 unanimously by the Utah state legislature urging the Senate to approve the treaty.

    And because a lot of the debate about the test ban treaty is technical in nature – at least, you’ve got to dispense with the technical issues before you get to some of the political issues – we’ve also brought to the podium, or to the panel today, two of the world’s foremost experts on those technical issues. Dick Garwin is well-known to all of us. He’s been a guiding force in U.S. nuclear weapons policy for decades.

    I’ve looked at Dick’s resume a number of times over the years but I was just astounded to see that he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1949. So he has been a pillar on these issues for many, many decades. He’s been a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee under three presidents, the Defense Science Board. He’s a recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award, just to name a few of his many accomplishments.

    And he and our other panelist, Lynn Sykes, are active with the National Academy of Sciences and are members of the committee that has, for the past two years, been reviewing the technical issues related to the test ban treaty, a study that I understand is complete and is going through declassification review.

    Lynn Sykes, on stage right – I think that’s right – is with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia. He’s going to be our third panelist. He’s one of the world’s leading experts in the field of geophysics and the verification of nuclear testing. As I said, he’s also on the National Academy committee reviewing the test ban treaty. So we’re going to begin with Ryan Wilcox. And each speaker is going to speak, then we’ll have a chance for your questions and plenty of discussion. Ryan, thanks a lot for coming all this way today. (Applause.)

    RYAN D. WILCOX: You know, before we started here, I’m meeting some new friends and one of them began speaking to me about the Carter administration and some of the issues they worked on with the MX missile. And admittedly – and he could tell – I suppose that I look my age. I am the youngest member of the House of Representatives in the State of Utah.

    I’ve been there for some time working for other representatives and then – I believe I’m the only representative to serve as an intern and run for office in the same year. (Laughter.) And so beat that. No – (laughter). No, this is an interesting issue for Utah. And admittedly, there probably aren’t a lot of my colleagues in Utah that would understand why I would consider speaking at the Arms Control Association meeting.

    One of the things that Senator Casey highlighted this morning – and I wrote down some – I apologize but it’s critical to what I want to talk about today so we’re going to alter my comments somewhat – one of the biggest obstacles is the lack of knowledge by the public and that nuclear security has historically been a bipartisan issue.

    The Utah legislature has passed no less than three specific resolutions over the last decade calling for an end to the use of the Nevada test site. Utah has a long history with nuclear weapons, as you know. The down-winder issue, as it’s termed in our state, has taken over – you know, depending on the estimates that you look at – 250,000 to half-a-million residents from the period of 1945 up to the end of this last century.

    We all know someone that we’ve lost due to this nuclear testing. At least 25 percent of the above-ground tests were larger than Hiroshima. We were told forever by our government that there was nothing to worry about, that nuclear fallout wasn’t a risk, even as Geiger counters were held over children’s heads, their parents concerned about what the readings said and, at the same time, believing.

    I opposed – and I’m a nerd, I admit it; I followed this stuff as a young man – I opposed the original ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty with many of my Republican colleagues for many of the same reasons that I learned as a young man. Admittedly, my first president in my memory was President Ronald Reagan.

    And I followed his career. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between listening to him and listening to a sermon at church. That was my household, okay? I grew up in very conservative Utah. And one of the things that he said that has sort of formed my thinking, and I think a lot of Utahans on this, was that the only value in possessing nuclear weapons is to ensure that they can’t ever be used again.

    I know that I speak for the people everywhere when I say that our dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the earth. There is strength in having – you know, Senator Casey discussed this a little bit – there is at least a perceived strength in having a stockpile.

    Certainly, the threat of using the nuclear weapons has deterred much of the aggression of the Cold War. And I attended elementary school and I remembered seeing – and I’m sure that this was sort of a common experience for many here – the giant nuclear fallout shelter. My school was one of them.

    When I grew up in the mid-’80s, I remember asking my teachers what in the world that was. It wasn’t something that we practiced anymore but it had been something that the community had rallied to, that they’d – you know, the alarms would sound and everybody would run to the basement of the elementary school.

    It’s simply something that much of my generation doesn’t understand. It’s something that we’ve heard about, something that we’ve seen on the news, something that we’ve read about in history books. But for Utahans in general, it’s very different. And I think the key to – a large portion of the key to the successful ratification of the treaty is public education, as Senator Casey talked about. And that has to start – like a lot of other issues when they don’t happen quickly enough in Washington – has to start locally.

    We have to be able to tie the realities of the nuclear threat that we face with the lives of those whom they will affect. It’s not simply that there happens to be this in Utah because we’ve seen the research now. The research shows that the nuclear fallout has spread across every state in the lower 48. You can follow the pattern. Some of the research has been done.

    Ironically, my first Democratic opponent in my first campaign was a friend of mine and he taught at the university I graduated from there in Ogden, Utah, Weber State University. So if you’re seeing this, congratulations, I just called you out at the Arms Control [Association] meeting. (Laughter.) We were friends. He took a sabbatical one year to study this throughout the State of Utah. And so he went around the state meeting with – he’s a sociologist – meeting with the families of those who we’d lost, those who are continually suffering.

    One of our current congressmen right now, Jim Matheson, from Utah – a Democratic colleague there – lost his father. Our current senator who was just elected, Senator Mike Lee, lost his father due to the fallout. And his principal opponent in the primary, Tim Bridgewater, also lost his father, directly caused – and acknowledged that it was caused – by the fallout from this nuclear testing.

    We have to be able to tie the consequences to the citizens so they understand. That’s how they will understand, when they know the consequences. We understand cancer, right? It affects everyone, everywhere. When the rate doubles and triples in a community and it can be tied back to needless suffering, then we’ll get somewhere.

    Now, one of the things that’s been more difficult – and frankly, I didn’t quite expect as big of a challenge in the Utah legislature because of the history, because we’ve passed resolutions essentially – not calling explicitly for ratification of the test ban treaty but calling for the principal parts of it – that we would, ourselves, never again resume testing in Nevada.

    Because we had done that, I expected perhaps more of – naively – an easier ride on that issue. It came down to national security concerns. Utah also has a proud conservative tradition of supporting the military. We have – you know, Hill Air Force Base is an extremely important part not only of our community but our economy.

    Military service is a long, storied tradition in Utah, from the “triple-deuce” (222nd Battalion) in southern Utah and the stories that we learn about them growing up to the current, you know, Camp Williams. And we have so many – just like we have with this nuclear tradition, we also have a strong military tradition. And the last thing that we’d want to see is to put ourselves in a position, in Utah, where we are somehow subjected to the whims of a rogue state, the whims of a madman, as it was discussed dealing with Iran or North Korea.

    And that is principally why I, myself, felt inclined to lobby my own senators against signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty ratification in the ’90s. Since then, things have changed dramatically, specifically – and I’m glad that we have the experts that we have here tonight – the International Monitoring System. North Korea, as you know, detonated in 2006. I believe we had 20-plus stations register that test.

    In 2009, they did it again; this time, we had over 61 stations that registered that test. We’re at a point now where it’s demonstrably verifiable to identify, to locate, to react to appropriately any further testing. We’re in a position where we’ve detonated over 1,000 nuclear weapons in the Nevada test site alone and we have the data that we need to do that.

    Once Americans – once average citizens across the country understand that we are in fact strengthening our position, militarily; that we are preserving our superiority in this regard; and at the same time, preventing others from developing – rogue states from developing nuclear weapons, or at least testing them, then we’ll understand a world where perhaps we won’t have to worry about it someday.

    There are a lot of things that we could talk about and, frankly, I don’t know that I’m – I’m glad that we have other, you know, scientific experts here. What we did well in the Utah legislature is that we were able to communicate the reality of the consequences of nuclear weapons testing and the reassurance by speaking with – working with, you know, former, now, senator Jake Garn, Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to President Bush, Ambassador Linton Brooks, who came to Utah and helped us to discuss that with the public – that kind of support that is clearly bipartisan, that clearly communicates this is not a partisan issue, this is not a Republican-Democrat issue.

    I think that is the greatest risk politically for us, is when it falls into, oh, the Democrat administration wants this and so now this is bad for national security and Republicans must oppose. That kind of thinking will lead to a world where we are constantly under the gun, and that can’t be allowed to happen. So I understand this is difficult.

    Honestly, I came back out here in December to work with and try to lobby my own senators in support of New START. And I recognize, you know, Greg Thielmann back there and a few other faces that I can’t remember your names. I appreciate the work that you’ve done. I know it’s hard. Honestly, I didn’t know that it was going to work. (Chuckles.) We were hopeful. You know, we worked on it. We wrote about every op-ed piece and letter and phone call – made every phone call we could.

    But the bottom line is we have to stay on the ball. We can’t stop with New START. We have to see ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty. If that happens, if we continue to work like we have in the past and if we remember that it can’t just be a Washington thing – the pressure has to come from home; we have to start there. So I look forward to working with you in the future and, again, thank you for being here today. (Applause.)

    MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. Dick Garwin, you’re on. Thank you very much for being here with us. When you invite the world’s leading scientists, they bring you the world’s leading PowerPoint presentations. (Laughter.)

    RICHARD GARWIN: Actually, it’s a PDF.

    MR. KIMBALL: A PDF, I’m sorry. (Laughter.) Better than, better than –

    MR. GARWIN: I’m really glad to be here to talk about stockpile stewardship, about nuclear explosion testing. And this talk will be posted at my websites. Here they are.

    (Cross talk.)

    MR. GARWIN: If you don’t remember fas.org/rlg, you can remember www.garwin.us. So this is the mechanism for maintaining the reliability, safety and security of U.S. nuclear weapons without nuclear explosion testing. President Obama has stressed his dedication to this goal – that is, if we’re going to have nuclear weapons, they should be reliable, safe and secure – and also to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. But he didn’t expect that to be accomplished during his lifetime, or perhaps even the lifetime of his children. So we’ll have nuclear weapons for a long time.

    As this image of the destruction at Hiroshima reminds us, the avoidance of not only nuclear war but of accidental or terrorist nuclear explosions is of critical importance. This was a 20-kiloton nuclear explosion detonated at an altitude to maximize the destruction of buildings. But the devastation in the center of town is not nearly what it would have been, had it been a ground-level explosion. And there was essentially no fallout, which would be very different for a terrorist explosion on the ground.

    In this presentation, I rely heavily upon a paper of January 28th, 2010, posted on my website, “Reliability and Safety of U.S. Nuclear Weapons.” I prepared that for discussion with congressional staffs and posted it immediately after. The points I make in this talk are developed more thoroughly in that paper with references.

    The goals of stockpile stewardship may be summarized by a United Kingdom document of 2002, which, in addition to sketching the program on which the U.K. relies to address nuclear warhead assurance without nuclear test explosions, defines safety and reliability: A safe warhead is benign in all situations other than deliberate detonation. A reliable warhead will act in the prescribed manner when detonated.

    Well, those are absolute goals and we have more quantitative expression of those goals here. Now, all of this is old stuff. I wrote about it and it was on my website in 1995 in a paper with a Russian nuclear weapon developer. But we have to remind ourselves – and even I have to remind myself – of some of the things that go into this paper.

    And the reliability, the security and the safety of U.S. nuclear warheads is astonishing. A modern U.S. nuclear warhead consists of a primary nuclear explosive and a secondary explosive package enclosed in a single radiation case. You know, a nuclear explosive radiation case is smaller than I am, typically – sometimes much smaller.

    The primary obtains its yield from the total fission of a fraction of a kilogram of its plutonium, which energy is used to compress the secondary, which consists of uranium of various enrichments, together with solid thermonuclear fuel, often containing the light isotope of lithium – lithium-6 – and a heavy isotope of hydrogen – deuterium – in the form of lithium deuteride, dubbed “salt.”

    The secondary is in the form of a canned secondary assembly – so you can pick it up, carry it around – for ease of handling and storage and to reduce environmental influences on the materials of the secondary. The secondary provides almost all the yield of the weapon, say 100 kilotons or 350 kilotons or several megatons. The primary nuclear explosive, in turn, consists of a hollow metal shell of steel or other sturdy and heat-resistant material, encasing a shell of plutonium. The whole metal object is known as a pit.

    The pit itself is induced to provide nuclear yield by its implosion by means of high explosion surrounding the pit, which, in turn, is detonated by electrically or optically fired detonators, just like a stick of dynamite. But it costs a lot more – (laughter) – has better quality. At least two simultaneous detonators are required so that accidental detonation of the high-explosive, the HE, at a single point will not provide a nuclear yield.

    The design of the primary must ensure the single-point safety. The plutonium content of U.S. nuclear weapons averages about four kilograms per weapon – about nine pounds. In order to obtain adequate yield and light weight and confined space sufficient to compress and ignite the secondary charge, the primary explosion is boosted by having the hollow pit filled with some grams of deuterium-tritium mixture, which provides neutrons at a rate approximately 100 times that of the D-D – deuterium-deuterium reaction – at the temperatures achieved in a fission bomb.

    So after the plutonium is imploded and begins to make its nuclear yield, then the D-T gas goes off, produces lots of neutrons, which boosts the yield. Since the tritium has a half-life of only about 12 years, tritium gas is stored externally to the physics package in a steel bottle with automatic valves that allow the in-flight injection of deuterium and tritium into the pit, and also the scheduled replacement of the tritium bottles. So that can be done in the field.

    Now to discuss, in sequence, reliability, safety and security. Reliability: It’s entirely reasonable to expect that individual nuclear weapons will gradually or suddenly become less reliable as they age, like a light bulb burning out. Some nuclear weapon parts are routinely reset to zero age, as I’ve implied is the case with the substitution of refilled tritium bottles – screw in another light bulb.

    Other parts outside the physics package, outside the radiation case, can be thoroughly tested without destroying them. Or in some cases, samples are tested to destruction with retrofit to be made if the reliability is questionable. For instance, the arming, firing and fusing system, a responsibility of the Sandia National Laboratories, can be thoroughly tested without nuclear explosion and, in fact, was not ordinarily exercised in the case of underground nuclear explosion tests.

    And there’s also the opportunity, carefully, to install elements of new design if they can be thoroughly demonstrated by independent groups within NNSA and, by actual test not involving a nuclear explosion, to be, in turn, highly reliable. So we could substitute a solid-state radar set for a vacuum-tube radar set or a different power supply for the detonators and, obviously, can only improve the reliability if you haven’t made some foolish mistake.

    The fact that this can be done, of course, does not ensure that it will be done. And there have been and probably are now deficiencies in carrying out this entirely feasible activity. So if it ain’t broke, don’t change it – (chuckles) – is probably a good aphorism. Plutonium metal is highly reactive, chemically, avidly combining with water, air or hydrogen. But in U.S. nuclear weapons, it’s well-protected in the welded-metal-sealed pit.

    The pit, however, does not protect the plutonium against its inherent radioactive decay. Half of it converts, in 24,000 years, to uranium-235, or about .1 percent of the plutonium in 40 years. So if you took away .1 percent of the plutonium from the pit, it wouldn’t be significant loss but the radioactive decay, in itself, is a problem because the energetic helium nucleus – the alpha particle produced – gives substantial recoil to the U-235 product of radioactive decay.

    The recoil moves the uranium-235 many atomic positions in the plutonium metal crystal and, in the process, displaces about 2,000 plutonium atoms from their positions. Furthermore, the alpha particle instantly acquires two electrons from its surroundings, becomes a helium atom and the helium atoms can agglomerate into high-pressure micro-bubbles of helium.

    It was therefore a matter of some surprise and great relief when NNSA announced in 2006 that, so long after the 1999 CTBT debate, overall the weapons laboratory studies assessed that the majority of plutonium pits from most nuclear weapons have minimum lifetimes of at least 85 years. And also they said the JASON study concludes that most plutonium pit types have credible lifetimes of at least 100 years, while other pit types of less than 100 years of projected stability have mitigations either proposed or being implemented.

    And that compared with 45 years, which was the nominal lifetime that people were talking about at that time. So it gave us another 55 years from 40 years ago, which is a long time – long enough to have a CTBT. (Laughter.) The other metals of the pit – steel, perhaps beryllium, et cetera – do not have the special aging problem and are not a concern for aging for the 85 or 100 years for which the plutonium is expected to remain viable.

    But the metal pit is not the primary explosive package, by far. The high-explosive shell, itself, is not a single compound but a mixture, usually include plasticizer, and can, with time, crack, become inhomogeneous, emit vapors and the like. The crucial detonators can, fortunately, be tested and are. Identical detonators to those used in the nuclear weapons are routinely tested as they age – many, many of them each year.

    The ones in the nuclear weapons, within the physics package, are exposed to a somewhat different environment and those can be assessed by the detailed stockpile stewardship – stockpile surveillance in the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The program has long been designed to detect, with 90 percent probability, the potential failure of 10 percent of the nuclear weapons in a time less than two years.

    To do so, 11 samples of each type of nuclear explosive are temporarily removed from the inventory and brought back for inspection by radiography and partial disassembly. One example of each type is totally disassembled and cut up so that the detonators and high explosive and other parts can be assessed and even fired.

    As might be expected, there have been many so-called significant finding investigations – SFIs – most of them not within the physics package. About one-third of these become actionable findings. Some SFIs within the physics package itself, uncorrected, could have prevented proper operation of the nuclear explosive. Most of these have been design flaws, some discovered late in life, which contributed to unreliability from the time the weapons were put into service.

    Specifically, from a very useful 1996 Sandia report – and it’s puzzling that a more recent summary is not available – from 1958 to 1995, some 14,000 weapons were tested, assessed, yielding 1200 SFIs – one for every 12 weapons – from which there came 400 actionable finings – about 3 percent of the weapons tested.

    Of these, 300 related to the non-nuclear components and 110 to the nuclear explosive package – 13 to the secondary, 97 to the primary. Overall, some 118 of these 1200 SFIs resulted in retrofits and major design changes. Finally, from the GAO report of 1996, 1.3 percent of the 14,000 weapons had failures that would have prevented the weapon from operating as intended.

    Since 1996, the scientific basis for stockpile stewardship has been much strengthened with focused experiment, analyses and computer simulation so that it’s clear that the Stockpile Stewardship Program, with which we now have 17 years of experience in pretty much its current form, is doing a good job in maintaining the reliability of the nuclear weapons. We never did use nuclear testing for maintain reliability but for developing new types of nuclear weapons and other purposes.

    How about safety? It’s long been the criterion for U.S. nuclear weapons that, under ordinary operation, the probability of an unintended detonation should be less than one part per billion per weapon lifetime. And in an accident such as a fuel fire, the probability of detonation should be less than one in one million.

    Nuclear weapon design is strongly constrained by such requirements and nuclear weapon concepts have sometimes involved the separation of the plutonium core from the high explosive until the weapon is about to be used, as was the case with the Nagasaki plutonium-implosion bomb. Alternatively, the explosive could be extruded into place after the weapon is launched.

    The scattering of plutonium in an accident, although serious, is a far lesser concern than is the prevention of an unintended nuclear yield. To this end, U.S. nuclear weapons have long been fitted with enhanced nuclear detonation systems – ENDS – designed so that even a lightning strike on a nuclear weapon cannot produce nuclear yield.

    Evidently contributing to safety is a substitution of insensitive high explosive – so-called HIE – for conventional high explosive – CHE – in order to prevent detonation by shrapnel or a bullet if the weapon is fired upon in transit. Since the late 1950s, much effort has been expended in tests and analyses to ensure that U.S. nuclear weapons are one-point safe against detonation of the high explosive at the most unfavorable point. No matter where you shoot it with a bullet, it will not give a nuclear yield.

    It would be desirable, though, to ensure that the weapon is multi-point safe so that even several points of simultaneous detonation – firing all of the detonators in the high explosive – could not produce nuclear yield. In the extreme, it is of course feasible to make a nuclear weapon that will not produce yield, even against precision and simultaneous firing of the detonators, which could be done – and has been done – by filling the pit with enough inert material, such as wire or pellets, to keep the system even from reaching nuclear criticality.

    This is not done universally because of the tradeoff among risk mitigation, reliability and operational constraints. Nuclear weapons safety is a primary responsibility of the weapon laboratories – Los Alamos, Livermore and the Sandia National Laboratories at Albuquerque and at Livermore.

    Nuclear weapon surety is a term used to encompass both safety and security. Although the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons is the responsibility of U.S. DOE – and more specifically, the National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA – the actual use of nuclear weapons is a responsibility of the U.S. Strategic Command – STRATCOM – under a chain of command from the president through the secretary of defense.

    Indeed, physical control over nuclear weapons is transferred to the Department of Defense and its agencies until weapons are returned to NNSA control for refurbishing or dismantlement. NNSA and DOD have highly capable people involved in the planning and execution of nuclear weapon security tasks, about which there’s even more than the usual tension over public discussion.

    The introduction of the permissive action link – the PAL – to U.S. weapons in the 1960s is an example of a major improvement that could be implemented, evidently, without nuclear testing. But as the threat evolves, nuclear security measures must also change. Evidently, theft of U.S. nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union is no longer a leading concern for U.S. security measures.

    But the demonstrated willingness and goal of terrorist groups to inflict enormous damage on society, including the use of suicide as an enabler, has evidently demanded a response. Over the years, weapon safety has been improved by the substitution of insensitive high explosives for the conventional plastic-bonded explosives that have been the mainstay in nuclear weapon primaries.

    HIE has also enabled improved security, in principle allowing energetic measures to defeat attacks on the nuclear weapon itself. Serious evaluation of the weapon security situation compels a look at not only external but internal threats, including threats to kill or torture family members of those with legitimate access to nuclear weapons. There are examples during the Irish troubles over the years.

    And responses to security analyses must take into account the enormous range of consequences of terrorist access to a U.S. or other nuclear weapon, ranging from full-yield detonation in a city at a time and place of terrorist choice through detonation in place of a weapon in transit, perhaps resulting in a small fraction of the planned explosive yield to damage that might be done by the security measures themselves that successfully prevent terrorist access to an intact weapon.

    So how about the future of U.S. stockpile stewardship? The reliability, safety and security of U.S. nuclear weapons is satisfactory, as evidenced by the annual assessment letters of the heads of the U.S. nuclear weapon laboratories and the commander of STRATCOM. But to carry this forward in the future requires competent and dedicated personnel and facilities. The system can be imperiled in many ways, from being a political football to demands for ever-increasing capabilities that, paradoxically, might lead to less-safe nuclear weapons.

    As has happened in other major government programs, over-promising and over-commitment can imperil the more mundane goals of reliability, safety and security. To argue that enormous investments are required just because we know how to make nuclear weapons safer and more secure than they are now is to ignore not only the enormous marginal costs per unit of improvement in weapons safety and security, but also ignores feasible options for obtaining improved safety and security without significant modification of existing weapons.

    It is just such an analysis that is an essential responsibility of both Department of Defense and of NNSA, to which they seem to be committed. Thus far, I’ve discussed stockpile stewardship in the light of the four goals of reliability, safety, security and preserving the capability into the future.

    It’s also instructive to take a cross-cutting view and to illustrate some of the tools that might contribute to several of these goals. For instance, Livermore has built the National Ignition Facility – NIF. Los Alamos has developed and deployed the Dual-Access Radiographic Hydro Test Facility – DARHT. And Sandia has built, used and upgraded the z-pinch machine – ZR.

    The U.S. nuclear weapon program benefited from the very first by a capability to use short-pulse, high-voltage electron accelerators but you can’t do that for the full-up pit; it will explode. To image sectors of a pit or small-scale plates or shapes driven by high explosive involves no risk of nuclear yield but if done with plutonium, must confidently contain the plutonium so it’s not scattered to produce a radiological hazard.

    The proton radiography facility – PRAD – at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center can provide multiple x-ray-like images during a single implosion, as can DARHT, and is capable of using plutonium. Together with bench-scale experiments, these major facilities give valuable information on the properties of materials at the extreme conditions found only in nuclear weapons and also lead to understanding the difficult but crucial questions of the mixing of adjacent materials in the weapon.

    Many PRAD and DARHT images are of explosively driven implosions that use lead or other heavy metals, such as uranium, as a simulant for plutonium. The most powerful and flexible tool for stockpile stewardship, aside from the human mind, intuition and spirit, is advanced computer simulation, which has developed enormously over the past 15 years by a factor of a million, almost.
    However, experiment, peer review and images, in particular, help to keep both simulation and humans honest and contribute to the store of both information and humility in the program. So that’s the story – a considerable update since 1999. And more on my website and in other papers there. Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Dick. (Applause.) When I said that were we were going to pursue a fact-based analysis of the technical issues of the test ban treaty, I wasn’t kidding. Thank you very much for that thorough overview. And I’ll just take a moment to get Dr. Sykes set up here. Great. All right. Lynn Sykes, take it away.

    LYNN SYKES: Okay, thank you very much. Need to get this to move.

    MR. KIMBALL: We can maintain the nuclear arsenal, but I don’t know about this. (Laughter.)

    (Off-side conversation.)

    MR. KIMBALL: Shall we take a two-minute break, Jeff?

    MR. ABRAMSON(?) : Nope, it’s good now.

    MR. KIMBALL: Okay. Okay. Thank you.

    MR. SYKES: Okay, I would like to give you a sense that monitoring has gone on for 60 years. I’ve been part of that for about 55 years. I remind you that earthquake studies, seismology, is the main technology for detecting, locating and identifying underground tests. And it’s those that were not banned by the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

    I’d like to give you just a quick overview that much progress has been made in seismic detection and identification in the last decade and, for example, since the time the Senate last considered this in 1999. I’d also like to then show, or tell you, that no country that has signed the treaty is known to have tested since the treaty was signed in September, 1996.

    Of course, tests by other countries that did not sign the treaty – India, Pakistan and North Korea – have been easily identified. And I will show you some examples. First, I’d like to discuss two common misconceptions in the United States. And they’ve particularly been portrayed by those that are against the test ban treaty.

    And one is that the comprehensive test ban organization in Vienna and its International Monitoring System is responsible for identifying seismic events – and of course, there are many that are earthquakes – but identifying those that are nuclear explosions, earthquakes or chemical explosions. And a second misconception is that the international organization should deal with evasive testing, such as testing in a large underground cavity, called decoupling.

    And neither of these is correct. The treaty specifies that seismic event identification is the responsibility of national CTBT authorities. And of course, we have an active one in the United States. The United States does not rely upon the Vienna organization to decide if a particular event was a nuclear explosion or earthquake. However, of course, within an hour or so in Vienna, with the first North Korean explosion in 2006, there was no doubt that, that’s what it was to many people there.

    But nevertheless, this decision was, under the treaty, left to individual countries. The U.S., then, can concentrate on countries of particular concern to it, whereas the international organization has to take a world view. And of course, the United States has many other additional resources, satellite imagery being one of them and determinations using certain types of radar images as a new technology that Vienna does not employ for detecting very small changes, particularly in vertical motion.

    Okay. I just want to give you a sense of the huge number of stations that exist of various types. The red ones are seismic. And most of these are now installed and they have also been certified. I might mention that one thing that could be done – that India and Pakistan, not signing the treaty, have not allowed stations to operate by the Vienna group within their country and send data out.

    So at least one small step might be to try to move to get India and Pakistan to do this. And for example, if they did this, they’d be able to get data from the international monitoring station in Oman and many other stations. So I think there are benefits. They could then, of course, have the benefit of getting data from the other country more readily than monitoring it from their own territory.

    But this is not the only thing that exists. There are now hundreds of very sensitive seismic stations, both single stations and arrays of stations, that operate beyond the comprehensive test ban organization in Vienna. And this shows many of them here. These data are now transmitted in a different manner than the comprehensive test ban organization’s but to a central facility in which seismologists all over the world, and others that are interested, can get these data in nearly real time.

    And some of my colleagues, in fact, specialize in working up all of the moderate and larger spikes on a worldwide basis using these data. So it’s important to realize that for both of these types of data that I showed, we now have data not only from Russia and China, as Senator Casey mentioned, but two or three other very important countries – for example, stations in Mongolia, stations in Kazakhstan.

    And Kazakhstan, now of course being an independent country, has been very receptive to stations of various types within their country, and for more than a decade. There are many new stations that have been put in, in the Middle East, as well. Ukraine is another station. So in terms of monitoring, Russia and China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, other countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union have capabilities that are readily available.

    Here, I’d like to give you a sense of one of the things that has been accomplished, in this case with the first North Korean explosion. This was one that was quite small – somewhere a little bit less than one kiloton. There are three wiggly lines here of which the red is the first North Korean test. The two others are small earthquakes.

    And I merely point out to you that the waves over here marked SN and LG are very large for the earthquakes; they’re very small for the nuclear test, whereas the first waves over there are quite large for the nuclear test but not for the earthquakes – ones of about the same size, here. So this is something in which these high-frequency data have allowed us to extend down monitoring to a much smaller level.

    And it’s been particularly important for countries in which these waves are transmitted quite readily; they are not attenuated. And places that are like this include most of the – most of Russia, the Russian Arctic test site, the Chinese test site in western China, the Indian test site. So this is something that is a technology that is now very widely used. It just didn’t come on instantaneously, but it has gradually improved.

    I’d like to give you a snapshot, here, of monitoring of the Russian test site at Novaya Zemlya, the Arctic test site. You can see it’s at very high latitude, farther north, in fact, than the northernmost point in Alaska. But there are several arrays of stations that are part of the international monitoring system, but also, anyone can go online and, from the Norwegian center, you can get these data.

    They also locate many other events in Scandinavia, Finland and the adjacent parts of Russia, the Kola Peninsula – in fact, get data from Russian stations in the Kola Peninsula. But these are arrays of instruments, in which they can form a beam. And in fact, these beams are made something like every five minutes to monitor what the noise is like.

    And we can see – and I will come back to what magnitude two, or a little bit larger, is – that they, even though are at moderate distances from the Russian test site, they can monitor it down to magnitude two or a little bit larger than that. And this is, in fact, a technology that can be used for monitoring other places. You can monitor the Chinese test site using similar procedures. And this group in Norway has been quite instrumental in doing that. And the United States and Norway, as NATO allies, have worked very much on both submarine detection and also nuclear detection.

    Okay, and now this is a little bit a busy slide, but I’d like to give you the sense of where do we stand, particularly with the Soviet Union, of monitoring the area in the general vicinity of their test site, Arctic test site. This figure is from Ketterer, of data when the U.S. was testing in the early to mid-1980s showing the frequency of U.S. tests as a function of yield. I remind you that this is a logarithmic scale so it goes over a factor of 10,000, from the smallest number down there up to the limit of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty over here.

    So, as Ketterer argues, here is a very important peak in U.S. testing that was done. You can see a similar peak when you calibrate Russian testing, with a few other smaller tests that are smaller. And so up at the top represents events that have been shown to be – except for the Ukrainian 1979, all of those are earthquakes that are shown here in blue.

    So if we go back 40 years ago, there were a few events that were deemed difficult to identify out of the many thousands, in fact, that were picked up and recorded. And of course, the problem with monitoring underground explosions is dealing with all of the earthquakes that happen. So it’s making sure that you can identify that occasional explosion that could be buried like a needle in a haystack. And we are doing this very successfully.

    In the late 1960s, we did work on a series of events that were claimed to be difficult to identify and, with some special work, were able to show that all of those were earthquakes. The British group, in working on verification, has been very instrumental, also, in working and publishing. That Kara Sea event in 1986 was something that was leaked to the press as being a difficult-to-identify event.

    And I think there’s no question that the British work convinced, as far as I know, everyone that it was, in fact, an earthquake. And it was out in the Kara Sea. It was not at the Soviet test site. If we come down to the Kara Sea 1997 event, which, in fact, was claimed in the United States to be a Russian explosion at their test site, again, a lot of data and data provided largely by stations in Scandinavia and Finland had a lot to do with being able to positively identify those events as being earthquakes. And in fact, one was an aftershock of the other.

    Also, these high-frequency tests that I showed with the North Korean explosion have also been able to show, in addition, that these were earthquakes and that they were out in the Kara Sea and not the Soviet test site. Over the last 10 years, there have been two small events in Novaya Zemlya, one in the very far north, hundreds of miles north of the Russian test site, and one – a small event – that was in the general vicinity of the Russian test site.

    But these high-frequency techniques showed that, in fact, those were earthquakes and not explosions. This is, as far as I know, then, the first case in which these did not get leaked to the press as being possible or definitive Russian explosions.

    So I think that down to quite a small level – and that magnitude two or a little bit larger is what I’ve shown up there as Novaya Zemlya 2009 tamped, in which no attempt is made at evasion – we are now down at a very small level, using those special arrays, of monitoring that test site. And the others that are shown in green are the two explosions involved in the sinking of the Kursk submarine in the Barents Sea in this general area 11 years ago.

    Okay, I think in the interest of time, I will not say very much about the subject of evasion. The subject of decoupling always comes up. It’s not a new technology. It’s something, in fact, that was first proposed in 1959. And it’s amazing, in fact, of how little data there is of nuclear explosions that have been tested with the decoupling concept in mind.

    And one was the U.S. explosion Sterling in 1996. It was a .38-kiloton explosion, so it was much less than one kiloton. The vertical axis here is by how large a signal amplitude do you degrade the seismic signals by decoupling. That Sterling explosion achieved about a factor of 70.

    Down here at the bottom are two data points for one Russian partially decoupled explosion in an area called Azghir that’s now in Kazakhstan. And you can see that the decoupling factor there was much less. The horizontal axis that I’ve shown here is the yield divided by the yield that Albert Latter proposed 60 years ago for being what is needed to fully decouple an explosion. So we can see here that the data points, few as they are, indicate that there’s a very rapid fall-off so, in fact, you cannot use a fairly small hole and put a fairly large explosion in it.

    And so this is different than the two different code calculations that have been made that indicate that you could achieve a larger decoupling factor or muffling factor going out to numbers, here, that are larger than that number two for the Sterling explosion. And I think the reason for this is that the modelers have not adequately taken into account the material surrounding the cavities of cracks and joints and other things that geologists are well-familiar with.

    Okay. So I will leave it with this, with decoupling. But I think that it’s important to realize that a country that would attempt to do decoupling has to deal with a whole range of factors if they want to do a decoupled test, do it successfully without being detected. And in fact, then, of course, the seismic networks have improved down to the point in which it’s not going to be possible to do something of one kiloton or 10 kilotons and fully decouple it.

    We do not have data, for example, on a nuclear explosion in hard rock. It’s much more difficult to mine a cavity in hard rock and to ensure containment. So a very important factor with monitoring is having radiological monitoring that could detect, for example, xenon isotopes that could escape from a decoupled test. And in fact, many of the Russian tests that were not decoupled at their Arctic test site, in fact, are known to have leaked in the past. So thank you. (Applause.)

    MR. KIMBALL: Thanks to all of you for those presentations. We’ve got a lot of material before us. We have about 20, 25 minutes before we break for lunch for questions from the audience. And as you think of your questions and my staff gets the microphones ready to take your questions, let me just remind everybody that outside on the table, amongst the materials from the Arms Control Association, is a report that Tom Collina, our research director, led the way on that we published in February of 2010.

    That covers a lot of these issues relating to improvements in the Stockpile Stewardship Program and verification and monitoring and the effect of the test ban treaty on limiting the nuclear capabilities of other countries. So that’s out there on the table. There’s also a website that we created last year as part of the Project for the CTBT that I would encourage you all to check out if you didn’t see that the first time.

    It’s just www.projectforthectbt.org. And we use that to provide information about developments and news on the test ban treaty debate. So let me open up the floor to comments and questions from the distinguished audience out there. And we have someone in the middle. Yes, Nick, right there.

    Q: It’s Jim Ranney, the Project for Nuclear Awareness, Philadelphia. I have a question for Congressman Wilcox. I’m wondering if you shared your hero, Ronald Reagan’s, views on nuclear disarmament. And the reason it comes to mind, especially, by the way is that just yesterday I received a correspondence back – I’m writing a book review essay for the New York Review of Books on eliminating nuclear weapons.

    And I had a quotation that’s attributed to George Shultz, to the effect that, what’s so great about a world that can be blown up in 30 minutes, which is what he said when he was challenged by the neoconservatives when Reagan came back from Reykjavik. And so I was calling to find out where I could find the citation to that because I’d seen it numerous times, I’ve memorized it and so on.

    And the staff person responded yesterday and said that he couldn’t remember the book, either, but he knew it was something he had picked up – he knew it was repeating what Ronald Reagan had said numerous times, which was a new item of historical information for me. So I’m curious if you support his views in that respect.

    MR. WILCOX: I don’t know that I can give you the citation for that quote. (Laughter.) I’ve heard that before, as well. You know, I think that was one of his – you know, as he spent so much time negotiating with Gorbachev on this – you mentioned Reykjavik, specifically. The original genesis of the original START treaty, I think, was one of those things in his presidency that was a personal issue for him. It wasn’t just the political victory of the Cold War. He understood that.

    You know, the work that I have been able to do with former senator Jake Garn from Utah who was – I don’t know if you remember or not, but he was one of the – or I guess the first senator, I should say, to orbit earth from a space shuttle. Senator Garn talks about looking down upon the earth, and you don’t see borders, and about how, you know, he’s carried warheads.

    He fought – you know, he was a fighter pilot. And about the things that we do to one another – I think that President Reagan, when I read and listen to his speeches, and Senator Garn and that perspective of, really, the sort of world we’re left with from the nuclear legacy, I guess the short answer is yes.

    MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. Others, yes? Right over here, if you could identify yourself, please.

    Q: Hi, I’m Pete Sprunger. I’m currently unaffiliated but I’ll be starting with the Department of Energy in June. A question for Dr. Sykes regarding your very last slide: Could you give an estimate on the uncertainties on the data you showed relevant to the – of the models? And on top of that, you mentioned that there are – they didn’t take into account certain aspects of the cavity. Do you have an estimate of how small the uncertainties could get, considering some of the inherent unknowns of the cavity state and the cavity shape?

    MR. SYKES: Well, these crucial, partially decoupled Russian explosions – and I think we have good estimates that they’re somewhere – that one explosion between eight and 10 kilotons. Those red symbols represent, the size of those, about the uncertainty of making those measurements at large distance. There were some closer-in measurements that were made, up to 110 kilometers, but have more uncertainty. But those are indicated by those bars.

    So I think the important thing is that, given this very small amount of information we have on decoupled nuclear explosions, that this drops off very rapidly from full decoupling – so if you don’t have a cavity that’s suitable for full decoupling, you’re going to make larger seismic signals.

    And even, in fact, in 1976, there were many open stations that detected that partially decoupled explosion. And certainly today, it would be detected by many, many tens of stations. So this is quite some time ago that we have this data. One of the problems with decoupling is that proponents can argue that many things can be done – and do so – but it’s in fact based on a very small database of explosions.

    MR. KIMBALL: And Lynn, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think everyone should just remember, for context, that the Sterling test from 1966 was conducted near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is that not correct, in the Tatum Salt Dome, I think it was. I think that’s – so not all the nuclear test explosions were taking place in the Nevada test site. In 1966, I was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so I didn’t realize at the time, but it’s just a reminder that there have been as many nuclear test explosions in the State of Mississippi as in North Korea.

    MR. SYKES: Well – (laughter) – so it’s important, also, to remember these two explosions were set off in the cavities created by larger nuclear explosions – ones that had to be about 10 times larger to produce a cavity in salt. And we know about these larger explosions, or moderate-size ones, that happened in the Soviet Union that were part of their so-called peaceful explosion program. And many of those, in fact, were in Kazakhstan and no longer are in the Russian republic.

    So people have proposed setting off explosions in cavities that are mined in salt, particularly by solution mining, but we’ve not had the experience so I believe that any country attempting this has to take into account the very many unknowns, as well as the much better capabilities of monitoring today.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right. I think we’ve got a couple questions here. The gentleman – that gentleman will do, yes.

    Q: Nick Roth, Union of Concerned Scientists. My question is for Dr. Garwin. Last week at a Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, deputy administrator for defense programs Don Cook referenced a pit corrosion problem with the W78 warhead. My question for you is, how significant a problem is this and are the options that NNSA is looking at to address them, in your mind, appropriate?

    MR. GARWIN: So the question is pit corrosion in the particular W78 type of warhead. Well, I think that you will find out that it’s not a serious problem. We have, of course, reduced very greatly the number of nuclear weapons in our active stockpile. And the nuclear weapons no longer fly around so, from the point of view of safety and security, we are in much better shape. From the point of view of reliability, we have these assessment techniques. And I know about that problem and I predict that it will come out okay.

    MR. KIMBALL: We have a question here – Mr. Corden – a little further up here, Fredi.

    Q: Pierce Corden with the American Association for Advancement of Science. Two brief comments and then one question. The first comment is that, as far as the general value of the CTBT goes, I don’t think it should be ignored that at least two of the established nuclear weapon states, France and China, are not parties to the Limited Test Ban Treaty. So in particular, were China, at this point, to conclude that it really needed to do something in the atmosphere, it has no legal constraint against doing so.

    The second comment has to do with the decoupling issue and the role of the international – well, not really the International Monitoring System, itself, but the test ban organization. Data collected from any event – let’s say a seismic event in which there was some evidence collected from an otherwise seismically decoupled explosion – that data is, of course, provided to any state that wishes to have it, but there are other technical technologies available.

    And then as far as the treaty goes and pursuing something like that, you have the treaty’s provision that national technical means can be brought to bear in seeking an on-site inspection, as well as the data from the International Monitoring System, and both of those could lead to the resolution of that ambiguity, let’s say from a low-yield, decoupled evasion attempt. And finally, on that point, the treaty provides a mandatory requirement for consultation and clarification in a situation like that.

    The question, then, has to do with the utility of civil seismic data. And here, I’d be interested in Dr. Garwin and Dr. Sykes’ views. My impression is that there is no readily available estimate of the capabilities of the civil seismic stations that we have seen in the illustration from Dr. Sykes. We know there’s many, many stations but so far as I know, there’s no generally published calculation as to how good those stations actually are compared with, say, the understanding that we have of the capabilities of the International Monitoring System. So I’d be interested in your thoughts on that.

    MR. SYKES: Yes, let me address that latter point. For example, the 2009 North Korean explosion, the second one – very quickly, the U.S. Geological Survey got out an estimate of their location; the International Monitoring System did the same. They each had about 100 stations and most of them are not common stations. So you can see that the federation data were very good that got reported openly to the U.S. Geological Survey and were used there.

    Also, the identifications that were made there used data not from the IMS but from these international stations. So those wiggly lines that I showed you for the first North Korean explosion were from either a station in South Korea or the nearest station was in China, of which those data were available right away to the international community.

    MR. KIMBALL: Dick, did you want to comment on that?

    MR. GARWIN: Yeah. You know, it’s a large world and a lot of work to take all of these stations and ask what their capability is for any event of different sizes and various depths against noise. Now, if you would limit that to ask what is the capability of the informal networks against the test sites, that would be an easier question and that’s not something that the International Monitoring System is going to answer because they do not focus on the test sites. They look for explosions – try to characterize explosions anywhere in the world. So I suppose if somebody gave a small amount of money, people could study these for the test sites.

    MR. SYKES: I might say, in fact, that for the Vienna meeting in 2009, a colleague of mine, Meredith Nettles, and I were able to get the data from the International Monitoring System for nine years of recordings and reports from seven different test sites or former test sites, in which we got data on events that the International Monitoring System had located within 100 kilometers of these seven test sites.

    And we worked on these and we were able to identify each one of these as being an earthquake. That’s not the whole world, but very clearly, the United States is more interested in what China, India, Russia are doing than what El Salvador or Paraguay is doing.

    MR. KIMBALL: Really? Okay. (Laughter.)

    MR. GARWIN: In response to the question, China did sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty in September, 1996, although it has not ratified. So it’s in the same position with the LTBT as it is with the CTBT.

    MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. We’ve got a question right here. Yes, sir?

    Q: Dave Hafemeister from California. Just a historical comment: The NPT and the CTBT are inexorably linked. When the NPT was about to crash because it was running out of time in 1995, the P5 all promised that they would go ahead and ratify a treaty without a time limit. And of course, that hasn’t happened and so if you value the NPT then you have to think about how the CTBT couples in. Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. I think we have someone right in front of you, Freddy. Thank you. And then we’ll move over here.

    Q: I’m Kathy Robinson with Women’s Action for New Directions. And thank you, Representative Wilcox, for being here today and for lobbying hard on the START treaty. And I want to ask you about your very successful and impressive efforts, along with Representative Seelig’s. She’s one of our women state legislator members so I felt obligated to mention her. (Laughter.)

    But do you have any tips for us or ideas about how the debate happened when you had your resolution to encourage the ratification of the test ban treaty? So if we wanted other legislatures in Nevada or maybe Mississippi to do this, what should we do?

    MR. WILCOX: Thank you. Yeah, you know, I think that was probably one of those things I left out when I started quoting Senator Casey. And so it’s good that you mentioned Representative Seelig because she certainly would have punished me later. (Laughter.) No, to answer your question, I think that’s sort of what I was hoping that you would get out of my comments. (Chuckles.)

    You know, we were talking just a moment ago about some tests that – you know, was it Mississippi, you said – there have been as many there as in North Korea. The key to that, I think, is to recognize the political realities in each state. In our case, where we had this history of the down-winders, it was important for us to bring them to the committee hearings, those who are still surviving, who are still fighting their cancer battles, family members, et cetera.

    But again, the key wasn’t so much – and this sort of caught me off guard – it was recognizing that, including some key committee members there in the legislature – that they saw the sacrifices of their own family members – they reconciled it, in their own minds, as part of their sacrifice for the war effort. So my mother died and served her country by dying – by, you know, giving up – this was her part of the contribution.

    And there were things like that, that we just hadn’t considered. And as we addressed and sort of honored the sacrifice that had been laid out, recognizing, at the time, that it’s easy for us to say, well, the government just lied about the – what existed there at the time. Honestly, I think as a nation, we didn’t really understand it, either. We saw this new technology, this new weapon that would allow us to end World War II and virtually guaranteed superiority militarily with the Cold War and it was a hard thing for us to wrap our heads around.

    But the political reality in each state is very different. So those are the things we dealt with in Utah and had to adjust to. The debate has to be framed according to what reality exists in each individual state. So whether that’s a conservative Republican area where we need to talk a lot more about national security interests and how the CTBT strengthens our superiority, militarily, or whether that’s something, you know, in a completely different state – maybe California – where different personalities and different ideology hold sway. It has to be directed at that particular state.

    MR. KIMBALL: All politics is local, as they say. I think we’ve got time for a couple more questions. Why don’t we take these questions and then we’ll have the panelists answer. So I think, Nick, if you could come over here to the right side, over here. The gentleman in the front with the – right here. Raise your hand, Larry. Okay. Yeah, raise your hand so we know where to go. Thank you.

    Q: Larry Weiler. I’m a Utah native so I’d like to ask Representative Wilcox – I’d like to make a suggestion and ask a question. The suggestion is that you get the tombstone speech of Senator Dirksen that he made in the Senate ratification debate on the Limited Test Ban Treaty for all of your Republican colleagues to read. There’s a certain emotionalism in that speech that you don’t normally get in Senate speeches.

    The question to you is that – for two of us here who are negotiating the test ban in London half a century ago, never give up, so my question to you is what you think the chances are, given the particular background of the Utah view of this subject, of getting some votes out of your two senators?

    MR. KIMBALL: All right. You get a second to think about that. We’ve got another question over here, please. Please raise your hand so Nick can find you.

    Q: I’m Steve Kulecki with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Representative Wilcox, I was very taken with the kind of health argument wedded to the national security argument that was very effective. I’m also just wondering, as a religious leader, we also make arguments about the ultimate use of weapons – you know, about the indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of weapons.

    And I’m wondering what sway, sort of, moral arguments might have had in Utah, or that you think might have, or did any religious leaders in the state speak from a moral perspective of, you know, trying to move away from the threat of indiscriminate and disproportionate weapons?

    MR. WILCOX: Okay. Those are good questions, thank you. Larry, thank you for the suggestion. I’ll definitely look that up. But I think the second one is the key. And you know, right now, we have Senator Hatch and Senator Mike Lee who represent the State of Utah with very different political expectations and despite their similar ideology. Senator Lee is at the beginning of a six-year term. Senator Hatch is at the end of his, what, fourth? He was elected the year before I was born.

    So Senator Hatch wants to get re-elected and this is part of what I’m talking about when I answered the question earlier about the political reality in each state. If Senator Hatch feels enough momentum and pressure from his home state from his own constituents urging ratification of the treaty, then there’s a possibility of that happening. But until that happens – until that homegrown pressure, either from the legislature or from, simply, his own constituents – unfortunately, a lot of these decisions, I think, are based on those who want to keep their jobs, a lot of the time.

    Senator Lee is at the very beginning of this. He’s sent some mixed signals regarding, you know, New START and CTBT, et cetera. Publicly, there have been different positions. And that’s where policymakers like myself, who represent large chunks of his own constituency and groups who are interested and understand the intricacies of both the national security and health arguments that we’ve talked about need to come into play.

    We have to make our voices heard. It’s been fun – I’m from the same hometown as General Brent Scowcroft and so it’s been fun to use him – he’s an old friend of Senator Hatch – to put some pressure on with some of these issues. But it’s a difficult thing. Again, it has to be sort of an organic pressure from home, sort of a thing. They want to keep their jobs. And in the end, I think that kind of home pressure is what’s going to win the day.

    There are – to answer the second question, you know, I don’t know that I expected a lot of that, as far as the religious factor coming into play, other than it was effective personally for those – I mean, Utah is obviously predominantly LDS – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am an active member. Representative Seelig happens to be a Methodist and a Democrat and so it was important for us to stand together to show that it wasn’t a partisan issue.

    And that was specifically designed to show that it wasn’t a – you know, one religion or another religion or a Democrat-Republican. Though there weren’t any specific endorsements, religious groups were certainly active in supporting us and quite vocal in lobbying other legislators. We had a lot of support and I think that there is a significant contribution to be made on this issue by the religious community, so I’m glad that you’re here. But yeah, there wasn’t a specific endorsement, any sort of thing. But definitely behind the scenes, very, very much so.

    MR. KIMBALL: Well, I think that’s a great question and note to end on. We’re at the end of our time here before lunch. I want to really thank each of the panelists for the richness of this discussion. We all, in this room, have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of things to think about, about how we update and refresh and refine the arguments and the answers to the questions about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

    Representative Wilcox, I think, has brought us a fresh and important perspective and, Dick Garwin and Lynn Sykes, thank you always for your solid analysis, year in and year out. And we’re going to be needing your help in the months ahead as we take the case for this test ban treaty back, again, to the people who need to decide. So join me in thanking everybody.

    (Applause.)

    Just a couple of quick housekeeping items: We have a buffet lunch set up outside here on the south side. There is set up – there is another on the north side so form two lines, come back in, enjoy your lunch and your conversations. Undersecretary of State Tauscher should be with us a little before 12:30 so we’ll try to get moving again around 12:20, 12:25. So we’re adjourned until then. Thanks.

    (END) Back to top

     


    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    REDUCING THE NUCLEAR DANGER: NEXT STEPS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS

    KEYNOTE 2

    INTRODUCTION:
    DARYL KIMBALL,
    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    SPEAKER:
    ELLEN TAUSCHER,
    UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

    TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    DARYL KIMBALL: Ladies and gentlemen, if I could just ask you to wind up your conversations.

    Welcome back. Daryl Kimball from the Arms Control Association – I hope you enjoyed your lunch, your conversations with your colleagues.

    And as we heard this morning from State Representative Ryan Wilcox and Dr. Garwin and Dr. Sykes, the national security case for the test ban treaty would appear to be stronger than it ever was. And there’s growing recognition that – by Democrats and Republicans that it’s an essential part of a 21st century U.S. nonproliferation strategy.

    And you know, it’s been many years since the United States stopped nuclear test explosions, approaching 20. It was in 1996 when the treaty was was opened for signature. But the treaty will not enter into force without U.S. leadership. The U.S. was the first to sign the treaty. The remaining states in many cases are waiting for the United States to move forward. We’ve seen the beginnings of that with President Obama’s Prague speech in which he committed the United States once again to reconsider and pursue and try to enforce the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

    And just this past March, on March 29th I believe, President Obama’s national security advisor, Tom Donilon, reiterated that message when he said, and I quote, “We are committed to working with members of both parties in the Senate to ratify the CTBT just as we did with New START. We have no illusions that this will be easy but we intend to make our case to the Senate and to the American people,” unquote. So this meeting, as I said before, is the Arms Control Association’s effort – one of our efforts to begin that conversation.

    And we’re very pleased to have with us today somebody who has long recognized the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, who has been making the case for the CTBT for quite some time. As a member of Congress representing two national laboratories and as the chair of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Forces Committee, Ellen Tauscher was – as is often said – one of the handful of members of Congress with the deep knowledge and expertise on these weapons-related security issues that are out there.

    And this is just one of the reasons why she was asked by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to serve as her Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. So we’re very pleased to have with us Undersecretary Tauscher, who is well-informed and very dedicated and a very resilient person, who, as many of you know, has had to overcome a great deal this year, not just in the arms control field. So it’s with particular pleasure that we have with us Ellen Tauscher. Please join me in welcoming her today. (Applause.)

    ELLEN TAUSCHER: Thank you very, very much, Daryl. Good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank my very good friend Daryl for having me here today. The good news is that not only is the state of arms control in good shape but I am too and so I’m glad to be here.

    Let me just say that Daryl is of course one of the world’s most tireless advocates for arms control, especially banning nuclear testing. And his work over the last 10 years at the Arms Control Association was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation last year and it is tremendously important to our efforts to move forward on so many of these different issues. So thank you, Daryl, for your friendship and your leadership.

    Many of you have heard me speak, probably more than you’d like to recount, about what this administration intended to do and intended to accomplish. And now we know what we have accomplished. In the two years since President Obama’s Prague speech, the administration has taken significant steps and dedicated unprecedented financial, political and technical resources to prevent proliferation, to live up to our commitments and to move toward a world without nuclear weapons.

    Under President Obama’s leadership, we have achieved the entry into force of the New START agreement, adopted a nuclear posture review that promotes nonproliferation and reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy. And we have helped to achieve a consensus action plan at the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.

    And I think I saw Susan Burk here. There she is. Susan, of course, was indefatigable in traveling the world in preparation for the prep con and was absolutely – for the rev con and was absolutely instrumental to our achieving a consensus in May of last year in New York and I want to thank her publicly for all of her efforts. She is just really amazing. Under the president’s – (applause). That’s right. (Applause.) That’s right.

    The Obama administration also convened the successful 2010 Nuclear Security Summit to help secure and relocate vulnerable nuclear materials, led efforts to establish an international nuclear fuel bank and increased effective multilateral sanctions against both Iran and North Korea. And now I know why I’m tired. (Laughter.)

    But let me say that we have so many people that worked very hard, and as you know, at State Department we’re called T, and we have so many people – over 600 people – that work so hard on these issues. And let me tell you that it is wonderful to help lead that organization and to be in a place now where we have delivered over two years I think some very, very significant public policy initiatives with the leadership of both President Obama, Secretary Clinton and, in many cases, Secretary Gates.

    As for what’s next, our goal is to move our relationship with Russia from one based on mutually assured destruction to one that is based on mutually assured stability. We want Russia inside the missile defense tent so that it understands that missile defense is not about undermining Russia’s strategic deterrent. Even though this is a bipartisan goal – both President Reagan and President Bush both supported missile defense cooperation – it will not be easy.

    I know that many of you have opposed missile defenses. I have as well when the plans were not technically sound or the mission was wrong. But this administration is seeking to turn what has been an irritant to the United States and Russia relations into a shared interest.

    Cooperation between our militaries, scientists, diplomats and engineers will be more enduring and build greater confidence than any other type of assurances we can give. We are also preparing for the next steps in nuclear arms reduction, including, as the president has directed, reductions in strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed weapons. We are fully engaged with our allies in this process.

    But let me turn to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. President Obama vowed to pursue ratification and entry into force of the CTBT in his speech in Prague. In doing so, the United States is once again taking a leading role in supporting a test ban treaty just as it had when discussions first began more than 50 years ago. As you know, in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States ratified the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned all nuclear tests except those conducted underground.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, which was about as close as the world has ever come to a nuclear exchange, highlighted the instability of the arms race. Even though scholars have concluded that the United States acted rationally, that the Soviet Union acted rationally and even Fidel Castro acted rationally, we came perilously close to nuclear war. Luck certainly played a role in helping us avoid nuclear catastrophe.

    In the months after the crisis, President Kennedy used his newfound political capital and his political skill to persuade the military and the Senate to support a test ban treaty in the hopes of curbing a dangerous arms race. He achieved a Limited Test Ban Treaty but aspired to do more. Yet today, with more than 40 years of experience, wisdom and knowledge about global nuclear dangers, a legally binding ban on all nuclear explosive testing still eludes us.

    This being Washington, everything is seen through a political lens. So before discussing the merits of the treaty, let me talk about this in a political sense for a moment. I know that the conventional wisdom is that the ratification of New START has delayed or pushed aside consideration of the CTBT. I take the opposite view. The New START debate in many ways opened the door for the CTBT.

    Months of hearings and debate and nine long days of floor deliberations engaged the Senate – especially its newer members – in an extended seminar on the composition of our nuclear arsenal, the health of our stockpile and the relationship between nuclear weapons and our national security. When the Senate voted for the treaty, it inherently affirmed that our stockpile is safe, secure and effective and can be kept so without nuclear testing.

    More importantly, the New START debate helped cultivate emerging new arms control champions such as my friends, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Bob Casey, who I know Bob was here earlier today and Jean will be here this afternoon. Before the debate, there was not a lot of muscle memory on treaties, especially nuclear treaties, in the Senate and now there is. So we are in a strong position to make the case for the CTBT on its merits.

    To maintain and enhance that momentum, the Obama administration is preparing to engage the Senate and the public on an education campaign that we expect will lead to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In our engagement with the Senate, we want to leave aside the politics and explain why the CTBT will enhance our national security. Our case for treaty ratification consists of three primary arguments.

    One, the United States no longer needs to conduct nuclear explosive tests, plain and simple. Two, a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that has entered into force will obligate other states not to test and provide a disincentive for states to conduct such tests. And three, we now have a greater ability to catch those who cheat.

    Let me take these points one by one. From 1945 to 1992, the United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear explosive tests, more than all other nations combined. The cumulative data gathered from these tests have provided an impressive foundation of knowledge for us to base the continuing effectiveness of our arsenal. But historical data alone is insufficient.

    Well over a decade ago, we launched an extensive and rigorous stockpile stewardship program that has enabled our nuclear weapons laboratories to carry out the essential surveillance and warhead life extension programs to ensure the credibility of our deterrent. Every year for the past 15 years, the secretaries of Defense and Energy, from Democratic and Republican administration and the directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories have certified that our arsenal is safe, secure and effective.

    And each year, we have affirmed that we do not need to conduct explosive nuclear tests. The lab directors tell us that stockpile stewardship has provided deeper understanding of our arsenal than they had ever thought of when testing was commonplace. Think about that for a moment. Our current efforts go a step beyond explosive testing by enabling the labs to anticipate problems in advance and reduce their potential impact on our arsenal, something that nuclear testing could not do.

    I for one would not trade our successful approach based on world-class science and technology for a return to explosive testing. The Obama administration has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to safe, secure and effective arsenal so long as nuclear weapons exist. Despite the narrative put forward by some, the Obama administration inherited an underfunded and underappreciated nuclear complex.

    We have worked tirelessly to fix that situation and ensure our complex has every asset needed to achieve its mission. President Obama has committed $88 billion in funding over the next decade to maintain a modern nuclear arsenal, retain a modem nuclear weapons production complex and nurture a highly trained workforce. At a time when every part of the budget is under a microscope, this pledge demonstrates our commitment and should not be discounted.

    To those that doubt our commitment, I ask them to put their doubts aside and invest in the hard work to support our budget requests in the United States Congress. When it comes to the CTBT, the United States is in a curious position. We abide by the core prohibition of the treaty because we don’t need to test nuclear weapons.

    And we have contributed to the development of the international monitoring system. But the principal benefit of ratifying the treaty – constraining other states from testing – still eludes us. That doesn’t make sense to me and it shouldn’t make any sense to the members of the Senate. I do not believe that even the most vocal critics of the CTBT want to resume explosive nuclear testing.

    What they have chosen instead is a status quo where the United States refrains from testing without using the fact to lock in a legally binding global ban that would significantly benefit the United States’ national security.

    Secondly, a CTBT that is entered into force will hinder other states from advancing their nuclear weapons capabilities. Were the CTBT to enter into force, states interested in pursuing or advancing a nuclear weapons program would risk either deploying weapons that might not work or incur international condemnation and sanctions for testing.

    While states can build a crude first-generation nuclear weapon without conducting nuclear explosive tests, they would have trouble going further and they probably wouldn’t even know for certain the yield of the weapon they built. More established nuclear weapons states could not with any confidence deploy advanced nuclear weapons capabilities that deviated significantly from previously tested designs without explosive testing.

    Nowhere would these constrains be more relevant than in Asia where you see states building up and modernizing their forces. A legally binding prohibition on all nuclear explosive testing would help reduce the chances of a potential regional arms race in the years and decades to come. Finally, we have become very good at detecting potential cheaters.

    If you test, there is a very high risk of getting caught. Upon the treaty’s entry into force, the United States would use the international monitoring system to complement our own state-of-the-art national technical means to verify the treaty. In 1999, not a single certified IMS station or facility existed. We understand why some senators had some doubts about its future untested capabilities.

    But today, the IMS is more than 75 percent complete. Two hundred and fifty-four of the planned 321 monitoring stations are in place and functioning and 10 of the 16 projected radionuclide laboratories have been completed.

    The IMS detected both of North Korea’s two announced nuclear tests. While the IMS did not detect trace radioactive isotopes confirming that the 2009 event was in fact a nuclear explosive test, there was significant evidence to support an on-site inspection. On-site inspections are only permissible once the treaty enters into force.

    An on-site inspection could have clarified the ambiguity of that 2009 test. While the IMS continues to prove its value, our national technical means remains second to none and we continue to improve on them. Last week, our colleagues at the NNSA conducted the first of a series of source physics experiments at the Nevada nuclear security site. These experiments will allow the United States to validate and improve seismic models and the use of new generation technology to further monitor compliance with the CTBT.

    Senators can judge our overall capabilities for themselves by consulting the national intelligence estimate released last year. Taken together, these verification tools would make it difficult for any state to conduct nuclear tests that escape detection.

    In other words, a robust verification regime carries an important deterrent value in and of itself. Could we imagine a far-fetched scenario where a country might conduct a test so low that it would not be detected? Perhaps. But could a country be certain that it would not be caught? That is very unclear. Would a country be willing to risk being caught cheating? Doubtful because there are significant costs to pay for those countries that test. So we have a strong case for treaty ratification.

    In the coming months, we will build upon and flesh out these core arguments. We look forward to objective voices providing their opinions on this important issue. Soon, the National Academy of Sciences, a trusted and unbiased voice on scientific issues, will release an unclassified report examining the treaty from a technical perspective.

    The report will look at how the United States’ ratification would impact our ability to maintain our nuclear arsenal and our ability to detect and verify explosive nuclear tests. Let me conclude by saying that successful U.S. ratification of the CTBT will help facilitate greater international cooperation on other elements of the president’s Prague agenda. It will strengthen our leverage with the international community to pressure defiant regimes like those in Iran and North Korea as they engage in illicit nuclear activities.

    We will have greater credibility while encouraging other states to pursue nonproliferation objectives including universality of the additional protocol. In short, ratification helps us get more of what we want. We give up nothing to ratify the CTBT. We recognize that a Senate debate over ratification will be spirited, vigorous and likely contentious. The debate in 1999 unfortunately was too short and too politicized.

    The treaty was brought to the floor without the benefit of extensive committee hearings or significant input from administration officials and outside experts. We will not repeat those mistakes. But we will make a more forceful case when we are certain the facts have been carefully examined and reviewed in a thoughtful process. We are committed to taking a bipartisan and fact-based approach with the Senate.

    For my Republican friends who voted against the treaty in 1999 and might feel bound by that vote, I have one message: Don’t be. The times have changed. Stockpile stewardship works. We have made significant advances in our ability to detect nuclear testing. As my good friend and fellow Californian, George Shultz, likes to say – those who opposed the treaty in 1999 can say they were right. But they would be more right to vote for the treaty today.

    So we have a lot of work to do to build the political will be need to ratify the CTBT. Nuclear testing is not a front-burner issue in the minds of most Americans, in part because we have not tested in nearly 20 years. To understand the gap in public awareness, just think of the fact that in 1961, some 10,000 women walked off their job as mothers and housewives – just as we celebrated Mother’s Day just the other day – to protest the arms race and nuclear testing.

    Now, that strike did not have the same impact as the nonviolent marches and protests to further the cause of civil rights. But the actions of mothers taking a symbolic and dramatic step to recognize global nuclear dangers show that the issue has resonance beyond the Beltway, beyond the think-tank world and beyond the ivory tower. That level of concern is there today and we need your energy, your organizational skills and your creativity to tap into it.

    If we are to move safely and securely to a world without nuclear weapons, then we need to build the requisite political support that can only be done by people like you. I want to thank you very much for all of your support for many of the different issues that the president and others have espoused. And I would be very happy to entertain an easy question or two. (Laughter.) If it’s a hard question, I’m going to turn it to Daryl. (Laughter.)

    MR. KIMBALL: I think you can handle yourself, Ellen. (Laugher.) Thank you very much. Please join us – (applause). I think we can start out with a few questions from this table over here, which happens to be some interesting people who write for newspapers. So please raise your hand and Xiadon will give you a microphone.

    Q: Hi, I’m Susan Cornwell.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Hi, Susan.

    Q: Hi – with Reuters. What’s your timeline for ratification in the Senate? When would you like – would you like to get it done before 2012 and elections and do you think you can?

    MS. TAUSCHER: Both President Obama and Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton have made it very clear that there will be no action on the floor until the argument has been made and until we find ourselves in a position to go for ratification. We were greatly aided last December in the most unlikely time to ratify the New START treaty, during the most political time of the year, by the fact that 73 percent of the American people were for ratification of New START.

    There is a level of scrutiny for anybody that takes a vote. I did it for 13 years. You want your constituents with you. And it’s important that we bring the American people to a place where they can actually influence how the Senate votes. And so that will take some time.

    I cannot predict when we will bring – when the president will make the choice to send the treaty to a vote. But I will tell you that we intend to win that vote. And so whatever it takes to make that argument and how long it takes to make that argument, the president is committed to do that.

    MR. KIMBALL: Okay, anybody else on the reporters’ table? All right, then let’s go to the folks in the back. Xiadon, the gentleman right there, thank you.

    Q: Thank you. My name is Andrzej Sitkowski (sp). I’m with ITAR-TASS News Agency of Russia. Madame Secretary, thank you for your remarks. Can you update us on your recent meeting – meetings with your Russian counterpart, Mr. Ryabkov? Is there any progress on nuclear tactical weapons and when do you think you will start formal negotiations on this issue? Thank you.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Well, President Obama has said that within the next year – February of last year until February of next year –we would like to begin conversations with the Russians on a panoply of issues – missile defense cooperation. We’re currently talking to them and obviously strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed weapons.

    Right now, we are moving forward together in the implementation of the New START treaty. We’ve already had one exchange which is very important to get it off to a good start. And, you know, as the president has said, he is interested in beginning this conversation as soon as possible. My sense of it is that we will continue to work issues as they are coming forward and that we would look to go on to this next steps as we call it in arms control sometime later in the year.

    But what’s important to note here is that we start the New START treaty off on the right foot. I think we have. And what we believe with Russia, as I said earlier, is moving away from a time of mutually assured destruction to a time of mutually assured stability and we believe that cooperation and engagement is the best way for us to do that.

    On missile defense, for example, we no longer target each other. We haven’t targeted each other for a very long time. But there are still lingering doubts about whether our limited missile defenses, which are robust enough to deal with Iranian and North Korean threat, but certainly could not undercut Russia’s strategic deterrent, that that is actually the fact.

    So it’s important that we continue but I will tell you that the reset is not only successful and holding but has been a very important initiative for this administration and it has accrued benefits in national security to the American people and to our allies. But we have much more work to do.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right. Let’s go to the back, please. Take your pick, Fredi. I can’t quite see anyone there. Yes?

    Q: Thank you. Avis Bohlen, retired State Department former assistant secretary for arms control.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Good to see you.

    Q: Madame Secretary, thank you for your remarks. And I wonder if you could say – following up on the last question – a few words about the dynamics with our allies about the potential negotiations on nonstrategic weapons. Thank you.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Well, as you know, following on the strategic concept that was worked very successfully by Madeleine Albright and her team for NATO, we’re now going to what is called the defense and deterrence posture review for NATO.

    And what we have made clear to our allies, especially our NATO allies, is that we will not do anything unilaterally about these weapons – especially the tactical weapons – and that our engagement will be with them at NATO and directly and then with the Russians, but that we’re looking to move this issue forward after the NATO deterrence and defense posture review is completed.

    So we have made clear that we are very interested in engagement in this conversation. We believe that it’s important for our national security. The characterization of these weapons, being much smaller, being much more portable, causes us to be as concerned as we can be about their safety and security. But at the same time, while they are characterized often as political weapons by ourselves and many of our European allies, that has not achieved widespread agreement.

    And so what’s important is that we make clear that we’re not going to make our own decisions on this. This is part of the NATO strategic deterrent. We make those decisions at that very big table of 28 and then we will then engage the Russians.

    But I think you have to see that there are a number of different steps that have to be taken by others in concert with us before we get to the Russians. But this is a number one conversation that we intend to have with the Russians when the time is right and when we’re ready to do it.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right, I think there were a couple of other hands. Yes, right here in the middle, up front, Fredi, my esteemed member of the board of directors – (inaudible).

    Q: Thanks. I’m Chris Wing from the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. Thank you, Madame Secretary. Hello.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Hi, Chris. My pleasure.

    Q: This is actually back to the CTBT and the question about the Senate debate. How important do you think that the decisions of the other nonratifying Annex III countries will be in that debate?

    MS. TAUSCHER: No, I think that that – I didn’t mention that because it’s one of those things we talk about in conversation all the time. But I see people’s eyes glaze over when they say, well, isn’t that nice that all those other countries will go forward after we go and why should I be influenced by what somebody might do.

    And we all know that the math is very important here because having the treaty in force isn’t just about us, although we are the first domino that could cause everybody to go. So I think it is very important. We’ve also made clear to our allies and friends who are deeply interested in our ratification of CTBT because they’ve already been there and done that that this cannot be about international pressure. This cannot be about international influence.

    So we’ve kind of taken that whole issue off the table. This has to be about us. It has to be about our national security. It has to be about the safety and security and reliability of the stockpile. It has to be a science-based conversation. And it needs to be a less politicized, more bipartisan conversation. If we can keep our focus on those elements, I think we’ll be fine.

    We have lots of people that want to help influence us, lots of parliaments and lots of heads of state that want us to go and do it and want to let the American people know that they want us to do it. And I remind them that they don’t vote here, although that may be something we need to think about. (Laughter.) Only kidding.

    But this is about the American people and the Senate and the administration making the case. And I think that those are the grounds under which ratification will be perfected and that is where we need to go. But I take your point that this is – there is something fundamentally more important than just one more person ratifying because we do have tremendous influence and sway on the other states that would ratify and then bring the treaty into force.

    MR. KIMBALL: Okay, yes, again in the rear, towards the window, Fredi. Is that Anne? Yes?

    Q: Thank you. Hi. Thank you very much for your very encouraging remarks. It’s Anne Penketh from BASIC.

    MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, Anne, good to see you again.

    Q: And on the CTBT, would you expect President Obama to get personally involved in the CTBT ratification process as he did in START, and from what you just said about the parliaments, when he goes to Europe in the next week or so, would you expect him to talk about the CTBT and nuclear issues?

    MS. TAUSCHER: I don’t expect him to talk about it when he’s in Deauville, for example, next week or the week after. But you know, I am not in control of his conversations when they’re one-to-one with heads of state. But I will tell you that the president was enormously engaged and personally very, very impactful in the New START debate. And frankly, we couldn’t have done it without the president, the vice president, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.

    So it was very, very important that we keep that going. The president, when he makes the case, is so unambiguous and so very, very powerful that I expect that he will be part of this. But once again, the president is so busy. We can’t depend on the fact that he is going to be the guy that’s going to carry us over the finish line.

    So there are many people on this team, people in the White House, people in the State Department and we will – and people in the Energy Department, other places. And we will make this narrative as short and concise and understandable as it needs to be for the general public and for people that are interested in the debate and as opaque and complicated as it has to be for people that are scientists and others that really understand this.

    And so that’s the tension point. The tension point is to get it in the sweet spot where we can take it to the people in an understandable way, knowing that it is something that is enormously complicated. If you took – you know, I represented the 10th congressional district in California. Some of the smartest people in the world, not because they elected me seven times – that’s just a coincidence. (Laughter.)

    But they did work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They did work at Sandia, California, and the largest number of graduates from the University of California at Berkeley who liked the sun but didn’t go to school in the sun came to my district to live. So 65,000 of them – so really smart people and I think if you just took a bunch of them that weren’t necessarily involved in the labs and asked them whether the United States had ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or not, they’d probably say, of course.

    I think most Americans think we did. They take the fact that we have an executive order and we haven’t tested for nearly 20 years to be the law and it’s not. And they don’t understand what the impact of our ratification would mean on entry into force and what it means for bad guys and what it means for our ability to hold people accountable.

    And that’s the case we have to make. We have to do it on many different levels and many different levels of sophistication. But in the end, I’m sure the president will be involved because he is the best messenger we have.

    MR. KIMBALL: Undersecretary Tauscher, if I could just ask you to – let me redirect that question a little bit as a way of having you address what you mean by the process of engaging the Senate.

    And if you could just go back to the New START Treaty and just remind us what are the three, four, five key things that were required to get the Senate to the point where 71 votes are possible because we keep getting questions at the Arms Control Association about when the test ban treaty will come up about, okay, how many votes do you have, when do you think the vote is going to be. And I honestly have to say, well, I don’t know because the work has not begun. So if you could just remind us?

    MS. TAUSCHER: Sure.

    MR. KIMBALL: I mean, what are some of the things from a government perspective that have to be done in order to get a complex treaty through the United States Senate?

    MS. TAUSCHER: Sure. First of all, you have to deal with the fact that New START was harder than we expected. And if anybody was paying attention during December when during the most unlikely and most politicized time of the calendar year in that Congress, what we were actually, you know, able to debate because the president kept making sure that of the basket of issues that had to be completed by the end of that year, that New START was always in the mix. And that’s a key component to where we need to be.

    He did that because he believed in it and because he – we had I think done a very good job of negotiating it, but also because it was good for us for national security reasons, good for follow-up on his Prague speech. But he could also make the case for it. But New START didn’t have the kind of checkered career that CTBT does. And there weren’t a lot of people that already have a voting record saying, I’ve already said no once.

    So I think the key component right now is to get the facts out, and the way to do that is by having, frankly, others speak for us and having the National Academy – their study come out and then have others on the outside come out and talk – certainly people like Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and Sam Nunn, Steve Hadley and others that are out there working on many of these issues on a track two basis.

    It’s important to have folks that are not politically affiliated directly, have been in previous administrations but aren’t now carrying a D or an R, out there speaking for why they think this is important. And so part of this is to make the case on facts, not on politics, and not make the old case or rebut the old case. There’s so much different about what happened in 1999 for so many reasons. But for many people, we have to take that and put it aside.

    So there does have to be perhaps a conversation where you settle what happened in ’99 and push it aside and then bring people forward. And so as we’ve said, it’s the conversation about stockpile stewardship. It’s why science-based stockpile stewardship delivers for us what we need and what it has done to enhance our predictability and being able to certify the reliability and safety of the stockpile every year. The investments the president has made, both in the science and in the human capital and in the infrastructure, and talk about what the benefits of a CTBT ratification are, the fact that we have lived for all these years with the effective CTBT without any of the benefits.

    So we’ve lived under the strictures of CTBT voluntarily but we have none of the benefits. We can’t hold people accountable. We can’t do on-site inspections and our rhetoric doesn’t really provide us with the ability to whack people when we need to if they step out of line because the treaty is in force. So I think we have a good argument. We have to make that case.

    A number of the different things we did for New START was not only the briefings of staff and members. We had many, many briefings. I think that, you know, there were hundreds of briefings that we had both during the time of the negotiations and Senator Kyl and Senator Feinstein and a few others came actually to Geneva to be observers during the negotiations for New START.

    So that’s part of it. It’s the Hill campaign of having senators, both those that have voted on it in the past and those that have not – get them up to speed on what exactly it does and why it does it – keep the staff going.

    Hearings are very, very important, something missing from the 1999 debate. We need public hearings. We need to have a lot of them on the Hill and off. And then it’s engaging what we call influencers – editorial boards and other people that are considered to be influential in these debates but not necessarily partisan and have them speak out and kind of build that list.

    In the New START debate, we had very, very few people that came forward with any substantive problems with the treaty. Now, you know, it was a modest treaty and that I guess is something you can criticize. But it was still better than nothing and so I think in the end we didn’t really have any serious criticism about it and most of the editorials, even in red states with senators that were out there saying they would never vote for it, were positive.

    So I think that that’s part of the debate too. And engaging beyond just the intellectual elite, which I think is important to get because they do drive these debates and certainly people that are very informed by these issues, like all of you, is important. So it’s important for you to reach into your rolodex and write emails to people and tell them why you think it’s important.

    Ask them to write their senators and remember who lives in a red state or who lives in a blue state and really push them to engage because in the end it’s going to be people demanding that there be a vote on something that they want and the president making the political decision that it’s the time to go and then being sure we can win.

    And it’s not until the day of the vote or perhaps minutes before the vote that you actually know if you can actually win. And you know, very often these debates are not done in a vacuum where this is the only thing that’s being talked about. Very often these kind of issues are part of an amalgam of other things that are happening.

    And so you have to weigh whether this is going to be part of the trade space and whether it is, you know, really part of what you want and whether – what you’re willing to trade for it. And those are the kinds of negotiations that the White House is very good at.

    MR. KIMBALL: Well, thank you for that –

    MS. TAUSCHER: My pleasure.

    MR. KIMBALL: – that very important answer, and I want to thank you for coming once again to address us on the test ban treaty and to update us on the Prague agenda. Please join me, everybody, in thanking Ellen Tauscher. (Applause.)

    MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL: All right, we are going to take about a three- or four-minute break while we reshuffle the deck chairs on our ship and begin the second panel. Thank you.

    (END) Back to top

     


    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    REDUCING THE NUCLEAR DANGER: NEXT STEPS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS

    PANEL 2: PROSPECTS FOR US-NATO-RUSSIAN NUCLEAR REDUCTIONS

    INTRODUCTION:
    SEBASTIAN GRAEFE,
    PROGRAM DIRECTOR, FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY
    HEINRICH BÖLL FOUNDATION

    SPEAKERS:
    STEVEN PIFER,
    DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL INITIATIVE,
    THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

    CATHERINE KELLEHER,
    CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL AND SECURITY STUDIES,
    UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

    TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    SEBASTIAN GRAEFE: Welcome to the second panel discussion this afternoon here at the Carnegie Endowment.

    My name is Sebastian Graefe. I’m the program director for foreign and security policy with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is one of the German political foundations with offices here in D.C. And I think now I understand what Senator Casey this morning meant when he said that either the session before or after lunch is the most difficult one. So thanks for joining us again here.

    Before introducing the panel here, I just want to thank the Arms Control Association team for their cooperation. I want to mirror the warm words from Daryl this morning. It’s a great pleasure, a great experience to work with you on these topics.

    And actually, we have been working on those issues already for quite a long time, and Daryl pointed out the great conference last November here in this very same room on the New START Treaty. And I’m personally looking forward to future activities with you.

    Having mentioned our joint project, I want to mention also one product produced by the Heinrich Böll Foundation itself. I think we ran out of copies outside already, but you can still get electronic copies on our website, boll.org. It’s a publication we just launched called “The Myth of Nuclear Power.”

    Probably not surprising for you, as a German foundation we are – in this publication we are talking about the economics of nuclear power, but we also combine it with security questions. And probably you know, Henry Sokolski. He contributed the security part to this publication. I highly recommend you to take a look at it.

    Welcome to this panel here, where we are going to discuss further – well, progress for further steps on nuclear arms reduction. I think we have great speakers here this afternoon – to my left Steve Pifer, and to my right Catherine Kelleher. And both are great experts.

    Steve directs the Arms Control Initiative just next door at Brookings. And Catherine is College Park Professor at the University of Maryland just outside – well, actually still inside the beltway. Both served for the U.S. – for several U.S. administrations in various positions, including the National Security Council. Steve used to work for the State Department, Catherine for the Pentagon.

    Just yesterday I was happy to also join the launch of a new publication Steve just wrote on the – on his and others’ efforts in the early ’90s to remove the nuclear arsenal in Ukraine. I think there are also copies outside.

    And when I looked at Catherine’s résumé I was, of course, as a German, quite happy to see that you were also director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin for a couple of years at the end of the ’90s.

    But I think now I am about to break an unwritten law here in D.C., because I think you should not assault your audience, but in your résumé I also read that you are the first president of the Women in International Security. And I think also this room is evidence that we can have much more women actually in these security debates. And I think your efforts in this regard are really great, to support more women in those policy debates.

    So, let me know turn to Steve, who should start the discussion. I asked him to talk about the prospects for next steps on strategic and tactical nuclear weapons reduction. And I also would like to know from him how the NATO Deterrence and Defense Review plays into that.

    STEVEN PIFER: Thank you very much. And let me also thank the Arms Control Association for inviting me today. What I’m going to talk about would be next steps on U.S.-Russia and NATO nuclear reductions in the aftermath of the New START Treaty, which entered into force about three months ago.

    And I’ll begin by describing, I think, the American position, which is the United States is ready to proceed to a next step already back in April of 2010 when signing the New START Treaty. The president stated that he would like to move on to another step that would include non-strategic nuclear weapons but also non-deployed strategic warheads.

    And after what was, I think, a more difficult ratification debate than they expected, the administration has – the bureaucracy has turned its attention now to beginning to do its homework for that next round.

    So, for example, the interagency process began working in February. They stood up a non-strategic nuclear weapons group. There is a new working group on verification. So they’re beginning to do their homework.

    And then the White House is also beginning to work out guidance on nuclear employment policy, which will go to the military and lead to a judgment by the military as to, you know, what level of nuclear weapons might be required to support that policy.

    When you look at the Russian side, I think the position is not no, but it seems to be, right now, not yet. The Russians articulate a litany of issues that they would like to see addressed either in conjunction with or, some suggest, even before they move on to further reductions of nuclear forces.

    And those issues include missile defense. They include long-range conventional strike weapons, which some Russian analysts fear could in fact substitute for nuclear weapons. It includes conventional forces in Europe and the issue of weaponization in space.

    I think when you look at Russian commentary, it does seem that missile defense here is the key, and that will be an issue that I know Catherine is going to address in more detail. But the question is, if you could get progress in that area, would that begin to open up the space for a new nuclear negotiation?

    And part of this, I think, is going to be persuading the Russians to move from a sequential approach to the idea that these issues ought to be addressed in parallel. Realistically speaking, the next arms control treaty is not going to be a 10-month affair; it’s probably going to be a two- or three-year negotiation.

    And that does give the Russians time to see how other issues develop. If, at the end of the day, they’re unhappy about some other question, they always have the option to hold up conclusion of the arms reduction agreement, but that shouldn’t be a reason to start or to delay the start of a next negotiation.

    Now, if and when negotiations begin, I think several questions come up. You know, first of all, does the United States go for deeper gradual reductions? And I think it would not be hard, and I think most of the people in this room could probably design a stable U.S.-Russian nuclear balance at either a thousand or even 500 total nuclear warheads.

    But I suspect you’re going to see a much more incremental approach. First of all, if you look at Russian commentary, I think it’s pretty clear the Russians don’t want to go too far too fast in cutting nuclear weapons, in part because there’s a prestige factor here.

    You know, for Russia, being a nuclear superpower has political importance in the sense that it’s one of Moscow’s last claims to superpower status. And I think they don’t want to go too far too fast in terms of reductions without taking account of third country forces, but also with a better idea of what’s going to happen on missile defense.

    I suspect the U.S. military would probably prefer a more gradual approach. And one of the lessons of the debate over New START I think last year is that the Senate is going to look for a more incremental approach rather than a radical reduction. So my expectation is the next step is probably incremental.

    Now, if you do that, you know, what might you do in terms of cutting the strategic forces? If you look at deployed strategic warheads, I would suggest 1,000, not just because that’s a nice round number but I think in conversations I’ve had over the last couple of years with Russians, that seems to be kind of the bottom number that they’re comfortable talking about before they get really concerned about third countries and before they really begin to press hard on the question of missile defense.

    I think a thousand is an easily doable number. It still would allow for an American deterrent that would be survivable, robust and agile, and would still allow the United States to preserve a triad.

    Now, looking at reductions, I think it’s pretty clear the U.S. military plans to use all of the space allowed by New START. The United States will go down to 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers.

    The Russians are in a different situation, in part because they have a lot of aging systems. And over the last eight to 10 years, they have actually made relatively modest investments in procuring new ballistic missiles.

    So most analysts expect the Russians will actually go through 1,550 deployed warheads and keep going down. Some Russian analysts even suggest they may go down to 1,000 to 1,100. And then Moscow is going to have to face the question, does it make a decision then to build back up?

    And I think one of the worrisome discussions taking place in Moscow now is, would a heavy ICBM, or a successor to the SS-18, be a way to quickly build back up to 1,550? I don’t think a new Russian heavy ICBM would be good, in terms of our traditional concerns about the threat to our ICBMs and silos. It’s also not good, I think, in stability terms in terms of the Russians putting so many warheads on a relatively small number of launchers.

    So the question is, are there ways to, you know, help abort that decision in Moscow? Again, I think an American push to take the number down below 1,550 would help.

    A suggestion that was offered by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov about a month ago was that the United States might even consider stating that, as a matter of policy, it would go down below 1,550 down to a level of 1,300, which was supposedly the absolutely bottom line from the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, provided the Russians did not build back up above 1,300. But part of that is looking at ways to discourage Russians from making a decision to revive an SS-18 modernization.

    In terms of deployed strategic delivery vehicles, the Russians are likely to go below 500 under New START, so I think it can be expected that in a follow-on negotiation, the Russians will try to bring the level of 700 down because initially it would apply only to the United States. On the American side, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of enthusiasm for that, but at the end probably somebody needs to accept it in the context of an overall treaty.

    The next question would be, how do you handle non-strategic nuclear weapons? And, as I said, the administration wants to get into that, and they want to get into that in the next negotiation. And I think it’s going to be a tough issue for several reasons.

    First of all, there’s a significant numerical superiority. When you look at Russian forces and you count the – you don’t count the junk, probably Russia has about 2,000 deliverable non-strategic nuclear weapons to about 500 on the U.S. side. So, dealing with that kind of disparity is not going to be easy.

    Second, the Russians see non-strategic nuclear weapons as an important offset for what they regard as significant conventional force disadvantages vis-à-vis NATO and, I believe more importantly, vis-à-vis China. And that’s simply adopting NATO policy from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s is that nuclear weapons are a way to offset conventional inferiorities.

    Third, I think there is an asymmetry of interests between how NATO looks at nuclear weapons and the Russians do. American nuclear weapons in Europe – you know, when you talk to senior American military officials, they basically say these things have virtually no military utility. Their value is seen almost entirely in symbolic terms, as a symbol of the American link to European security.

    The Russians, on the other hand, I think do attach more military significance to non-strategic weapons, so that a symmetry of interests may complicate the negotiation. And then there’s also – and this will be a complicating factor, although it could also be helpful in the end.

    There is the NATO angle, which is the United States, while it’s beginning to prepare for a possible negotiation with Russia that would address non-strategic nuclear weapons, it has also initiated a new process with its NATO partners that’s a Deterrence and Defense Posture Review that’s looking at an array of questions, including what should NATO’s force posture be? And it’s doing that in a context where if you look at NATO, there really is a spectrum of uses. There really is no NATO position per se but a lot of different country views.

    I think even if one accepted the Russian rationale that Russia probably requires more non-strategic nuclear weapons than the United States does because Russia has a very different geopolitical situation – you know, we have Canada and Mexico, they have China; we have the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean – but I think even if you accept that position, it’s very difficult to understand the current number of weapons the Russians have.

    And I posed this question a couple of times to former Russian generals: How many tactical nuclear weapons would you drop on the Chinese Army invading in the Far East before you would go to the strategic level? And I suspect that number would be significantly below 2,000.

    And I think that’s actually a point that, you know – (laughter) – this is a point where I think actually European allies, I mean, in conversations as this negotiation hopefully gets going, is what people really ought to be hammering – I mean, I think European leaders, when they talk to people like President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, ought to just say, look, this number really is not reasonable. There’s no basis for it.

    In terms of getting into that discussion, I think a couple of principles are likely to emerge, although I’m not sure that the U.S. interagency process has yet come to specifics. One is I think you’re probably going to be talking about limits on weapons – I’m sorry, warheads and bombs, not on delivery systems, because most of the delivery systems have primarily conventional roles. I don’t think either the American or the Russian air forces are prepared to limit tactical fighter aircraft in its negotiation.

    Second, I would think there will probably be a preference for global limits versus a regional limit because these weapons are very transportable. There’s also, I think, for the United States – which needs to take a broader look than NATO on this – there’s a world angle here, which is that the United States needs to manage its negotiation in a way with Russia, and also the discussions in the consultations with the Europeans, in a way that also doesn’t alarm Asian allies. Certainly Asia does not want to see a regional limitation regime in Europe that pushes nuclear weapons to the east of the Urals into Asia. And so, the United States will keep that in mind.

    As National Security Advisor Donilon suggested about a month and a half ago, the process might begin with some transparency and some confidence-building measures. I think there are an array of possibilities in that area. There are also a number of unilateral steps going back to the 1991, 1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, but one complication with those factors is they’re probably going to, in most cases, fall more heavily on the United States. And ultimately I think the preferable way is to get these into a negotiation.

    Another question is what do you do about non-deployed strategic warheads? The Russians certainly are going to push the limit of those because they see those as an area of American advantage. And this is as the sides reduce under New START, the United States will download all of its ICBMs and most, if not all, of its submarine launch ballistic missiles, and store those warheads, which will give the United States the capability, if the Russians were to withdraw from the treaty, to put warheads back on missiles and go beyond the limits in New START.

    The Russians at this point do not appear to have that capability because they seem to be removing missiles, but the missiles that they retain, they’re keeping full warhead sets. So I suspect the Russians are going to push to address that, and the administration has already said that it is prepared, in fact, to get into that.

    Another question would be, is it now time for a single limit that would cover all nuclear weapons – deployed strategic warheads, non-deployed strategic warheads, and non-strategic nuclear weapons, put them all under a single limit. And maybe you could combine that with a sub-limit.

    A concept I’ve suggested in the past would be a total limit on each side of 2,500 total nuclear weapons, with a sub-ceiling of 1,000 deployed strategic warheads. And what that would do is perhaps create the possibility to offset the U.S. advantage in non-deployed strategic warheads against the Russian advantage in non-strategic nuclear weapons. And you might be able to get some negotiating leverage in that mechanism.

    And my sense is the U.S. government, as it looks at these questions, is actually leaning more towards that kind of approach as opposed to a negotiated approach that would have a discrete negotiation just on non-strategic nuclear weapons.

    I think in the interest of time, I’ll skip verification challenges other than to say that if you start talking about limits on non-deployed weapons and on non-strategic weapons, your verification challenge is to become much more difficult because you’re not going to be counting just warheads that are associated with large missiles and large known silos and on submarines. You’re going to have to talk about things like going into storage bunkers. And it’s going to raise questions that are not necessarily insurmountable, but it’s going to be new territory for both sides’ militaries.

    Just talking about what my goal for the next round would be, it would be aimed for a limit of about 2,500 total weapons on each side, a thousand deployed strategic warheads, and perhaps 550 to 600 deployed strategic delivery vehicles.

    You would have an intrusive – a more intrusive inspection regime under this agreement than you would have under New START, but it would not be a perfect regime. There would be significantly less confidence in your ability to monitor limits on non-deployed warheads, non-strategic weapons, the ability to monitor deployed strategic warheads.

    When I tossed these numbers out to a group a few months ago, they kind of said, gosh, it’s kind of hard to get excited over 2,500. That’s not very ambitious. And I guess I can accept that criticism, but I would make a couple of points in its defense.

    First of all, for the first time under this regime you would be talking about all nuclear weapons. Second, this proposal would represent about a 50-percent cut in the U.S. arsenal compared to where it was in September of 2009, and probably about a 65 to 70 percent cut in the Russian arsenal. And I think this is probably, again, as far as you might be able to go in one more round of negotiation that would be just the United States and Russia.

    I would go on to suggest that perhaps if you could get this negotiation done by 2014, complete that treaty, that would then position the United States and Russia, at the 2015 NPT Review Conference to begin to say, OK, it’s now time to expand the nuclear reductions process and bring in some other countries, beginning with Britain, France and China.

    Just a last question. I would hope that negotiations would begin sooner rather than later, but I’m not sure when this is going to happen. And part of this is because it’s hard to see where the impulse comes from.

    The Russians right now are not pushing for the negotiations. There doesn’t seem to be much of a push coming from Congress. And I think while some NATO countries would like to see negotiations sooner rather than later, NATO does not yet have a consensus view. I mean, there’s a spectrum of views in NATO on this question.

    And so, I guess one of the last questions would be is, is the president prepared to push to make this happen? And that probably gets into issues of time and bandwidth in terms of other things that he has to deal with. So this may be one way where outsiders may be helpful in terms of trying to give the process a push and getting this negotiation underway sooner rather than later.

    Thank you. (Applause.)

    MR. GRAEFE: Thank you. Thank you, Steve. I’m not only impressed by your – the content of your presentation but also by your notes, actually. I mean, I advise the audience to take a look at his notes. It looks like a mathematical problem. (Laughter.)

    MR. PIFER: It’s extremely big print so I can read it. (Laughter.)

    MR. GRAEFE: But let me now turn to Catherine. I know Ellen Tauscher and also Steve already mentioned the discussion about missile defense cooperation between NATO and Russia. Could you give us an update on that discussion?

    CATHERINE KELLEHER: I think I’ll start where Steve left off and say that as far as missile defense is concerned, it’s not a topic I ever expected to speak warmly about from this platform.

    But there seems to be a convergence of both opportunity and challenge over the next, I would say, six to seven months where in fact we may find that this is one area in which there is at least the possibility of progress towards an agreement that would lead to a different aspect of the reset than perhaps the president outlined, but one that I think might lead to some very interesting cooperation between Russia, European states and the United States, at levels and with intentions that haven’t been seen before.

    It is all too possible that electoral politics, particularly in Russia and the United States, will in fact mean that the opportunity is really not a real one, that very quickly, as we see both in Moscow and in Washington, the realities of the 2012 campaign season are well under way. And this might then turn out to be a poison chalice that nobody wants to go near.

    But let me at least talk about what seems to be an interesting confluence of opportunity and challenge. This comes really out of the NATO discussions at the end of last year. You may have missed some of it in the shadow thrown by the new Strategic Concept – thin but definitely definable – and really, I think, also out of what I hardly need to explain to this crowd, is not an interruption of the Bush European missile defense plans but a reworking under the European Phased Adaptive Approach, which changes both the character and the deployment footprints to a new Obama scheme.

    We’re just about to enter Phase 2 with an agreement that was concluded last week with Romania about stationing and deployment, and began really last spring and fall with the deployment of an Aegis-class vessel into the Mediterranean, the Monterey.

    What we are basically doing is conducting a very interesting public/private conversation, particularly with the Russians – but not only with the Russians, also with many European states – about how this phased approach, this Phased Adaptive Approach, is really going to work out.

    We’re doing it in terms of the U.S. in three bilateral channels that are being worked simultaneously and, I’m happy to say, as far as I can view from the outside, in very good coordination and in one multilateral venue, which is the NATO-Russia Council, which I’ll talk about a little bit later on.

    But those in the U.S. really have to do with the Jim Miller, Antonov discussions. Ellen Tauscher is meeting with Ryabkov, and Admiral Mullen is meeting less frequently with Makarov. And it will in fact be these sets of discussions about how we go forward with the cooperation that we all promised to one another in and around the NATO summit last fall. Embedded in the final communiqué is a promise of a cooperative solution to the question of missile defense.

    In the NATO-Russia Council we have the self-proclaimed but also occasionally anointed czar, Dmitry Rogozin, who is Mr. Medvedev’s pick to, in fact, run the missile defense side, and Ivo Daalder, ably assisted by Bob Bell.

    So that’s sort of the cast of characters that are talking about this issue. We also are having, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, virtual volleys of press releases and speeches that have been going on particularly as the negotiations season has wound up. We had, I think, four meetings on this topic alone last week in various locations in Europe.

    And all of this is because the two presidents at least have promised to take up this issue, the whole question of cooperation on the sidelines of another meeting that is taking place in Deauville at the end of this month. And this is before someplace that we’ll meet, the NATO-Russia Council, that will have a meeting in early June to, in fact, hear a report on initial progress towards a cooperative solution in this outcome.

    So, what is it that’s being discussed? Part of it – and part of this has to do with more the public campaign than the one that is going on behind the scenes – is a lot of, what shall we say, dreaming aloud in some cases, making domestic political points in others, yet in a third floating balloons that are more or less trial, as to what the nature of the system that will emerge from all of this really is.

    The Russians, and particularly Medvedev, started just after the NATO summit saying this was going to be an integrated system. We were going to all play together nicely. And we were going to have total coordination. The response back was – from the United States and from a number of the NATO allies was essentially, that’s not what we said and that’s not what we’ve agreed to.

    This will be two systems: a NATO system in Europe, which has to do with theater missile defense and short-range missile defense; and a Russian system already embodied in the Galosh system, which is, as you know, equipped with nuclear warheads still, that rings Moscow.

    And these two systems will in fact exist in parallel. So what we are talking about is looking at ways in which we could in fact share different procedures, perhaps share some information that would be helpful in the operation of these two systems, and through that exercise, that we would be able to reach a point where perhaps we would gain sufficient trust and confidence in one another’s system to move forward. And that is, I think, as far as I can tell – again, from the outside – is the view that has prevailed.

    So, although there are still echoes, particularly from the Russian side, of this earlier dream of an integrated system, particularly a system which might in fact take over sectoral responsibilities, which on any given day are defined differently but most often have to do with Russia somehow assuming responsibility for Northern Europe, and to the delight of the Balts, particularly the defense of the Baltic territories as well as Russian territory against the occasional intruding rogue missile.

    You can imagine how delighted the Balts were who immediately caused to come from the secretary general – himself very interested in this issue – the definition that the NATO will take care of the defense of NATO territory and Russia will take care of the defense of Russian territory. So you will occasionally hear sectoral floating in and floating out. Pay no mind. That one is off the table too.

    But what is being discussed is a set of rather interesting and somewhat reminiscence of earlier times, transparency, joint exercises, joint information sharing, and perhaps even early warning cooperation that I think would actually form a fairly interesting basis on which cooperation could go forward.

    On transparency, it would be a question of keeping both sides abreast – here I mean both sides, NATO and Russia, keeping abreast of precisely what’s happening in terms of deployments, and also the production of new systems.

    In addition to the Galosh of course, the Russians have the S-300, not exactly the newest item on the shelf, but certainly the S-400 now beginning to come out, and the dream, the S-500, all of which are important systems to keep track of.

    On the U.S. side, we have Aegis itself, a bit of a problem for the Navy that never expected quite this much success for that system. It’s in demand all over the world, and which is going to exist in both a sea-based and a land-based version, an update of an existing missile and then two versions of yet another missile, not yet deployed, not yet even tested, in some cases.

    But, anyway, a lot to talk about, and what the capabilities are, and why it is that we can in fact say, on the basis of capability analysis, that we are not threatening the Russian strategic force from European bases, on the NATO side at least.

    The major question is, that’s really not what this is about, although that’s what one hears. It’s really, I think, a combination, and it’s summed up in two battles that are also going on in public, or semi-public. One is what I would say the negotiating positions that both sides have taken in these various channels about what will be required even to get to the level of transparency, exercise cooperation, joint early warning, data exchange that’s foreseen.

    The U.S. is, in fact, insisting, as they have insisted at earlier points, that there has to be a cooperation agreement that allows the transmission of scientific and technological data to the Russians.

    The Russians in return, perhaps upping the ante more than slightly, said, and, oh, by the way, we’’d very much like legal guarantees perhaps in the form of a treaty or something else that would say that particularly in Phase 4 of the Phased Adaptive Approach, when in fact we foresee having intercontinental ballistic missiles defense, would in fact not result in any kind of scheme that would lead or endanger – raise the risk to Russian strategic forces – essentially guarantee against targeting but also break out from the existing program that the United States has put on the table.

    We also have what might be called rather amusing, if they weren’t so painful, protocol politics that are taking place both in the Duma and in the Senate and Republican letters about not doing things we’re already doing, and other good things that you’ve seen come out in the last couple of weeks.

    So, there’s a lot to be said about what in fact is happening. I think the major question is, what would be the benefit if we went ahead with, for example, the German invitation to have yet another – this would be the ninth exercise of joint missile defense since 2002.

    They only stopped at the time when we all stopped everything with regard to Georgia in 2008. So we’ve had tabletop exercises. We’ve had simulations. There’s even, believe it or not, a plan for a live fire exercise at some point. We’ll see if we get there. But there are, in other words, a plan of exercises.

    I think here – and now I’d like to cycle back, if I could, to the NATO-Russia Council idea because that is a new wedge in this process. Remember, Phase 3 is supposed to hit around 2015, and Phase 4, depending on whose crystal ball you like better, is 2018 or 2020 in terms of the Phased Adaptive Approach timetable.

    I think that the NATO-Russia discussion is, in some ways, an interesting barometer to watch, but it also represents perhaps the first time that we’ve had such direct involvement by the NATO states in this discussion altogether.

    Most of them are really not prepared for it, not prepared to take up some of the arcana that we all know and love about missile defense and what’s involved and what’s not involved. But there is much more understanding, I think, than certainly existed three years ago or at the time of the Bush third site proposal.

    And so that is turning out to be the excuse to have some discussions about whether missile defense might be the new form of at least something that used to be called deterrence or something like that, which is one discussion that’s going on right now. Maybe in the 21st century we’ve changed the requirements for deterrence, and certainly those of reassurance.

    So we’re really in a state, it seems to me, where, as I said, there’s an opportunity and certainly some enthusiasm to move ahead in this area. There are a number of non-governmental organizations including one that I’m involved in, a Carnegie commission, which is very much involved with pushing the idea that this is a vehicle for engagement of all three – Russia, Europe and the United States – in an issue of some concern where there can be demonstrated benefits from cooperation.

    But we’re not there yet. And as we go forward, certainly to Deauville, where there will be this side discussion on missile defense and the NATO-Russia meeting in June, you can imagine that there will be yet more volleys in the press, meetings semi-public, and a lot of serious head-scratching about what steps we take next. So, stay tuned. (Applause.)

    MR. GRAEFE: Thank you, Catherine.

    Before I’m going to open up for questions from your side, I want to use my position as moderator to ask a question which is related to my job and my background as someone working with a European institution, because I guess you are going to ask questions more related to the role of the U.S. in these discussions.

    Steve and Catherine, I would like to know how actually European allies, especially also Germany, can help in these negotiations. You’re aware of Foreign Minister Westerwelle’s initiative to withdraw the remaining tactical nukes in Germany. I mean, I would like to know, was this helpful at all? And where do you see the European partners in that whole discussion? A question to you both actually.

    MR. PIFER: Well, let me say, no, I think there is a very interesting discussion that started up maybe about a year and a half, two years ago in Europe on the nuclear weapons question, and it’s now reflected – and it’s been channeled into this NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review. And right now it’s just premature to say there’s a NATO position. I think you can define a spectrum.

    In the fall – and this is an oversimplification, and I state that at the outset, but, you know, the debate was seen framed by a French position on one side, which was very concerned with regards to considering changes in either NATO declaratory policy or NATO nuclear posture, and on the other side by Germany, which was seen as looking towards, you know, pushing for perhaps a radical reconsideration up to and including removal of American nuclear weapons from Europe.

    And then I think you could take the allies and sprinkle them between those two. I would put the Baltic States and Central Europe a little bit closer to the French position. I think Benelux, Norway, Denmark were probably more sympathetic to the German position and others were somewhere in between.

    The strategic concept was, I think, a success in the sense that it found a solution that everybody could sign up to, but it did it, I think, by then pushing those issues off into the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review. So, over the course of the coming months there may be, I think, a more difficult discussion within NATO on this.

    And what you see when you – I mean, talking to people that are in Washington, I think there’s sympathy for the range of viewpoints. I mean, the Washington interagency has a spectrum of views, just as you have in NATO.

    I think there’s some people who feel that, you know, the American nuclear commitment to Europe probably requires some presence of nuclear weapons in Europe, although in discussions I had in March with a number of people in the administration, I also found a lot of people in the administration saying that they could conceive of a possible negotiation outcome in which there would be no American nuclear weapons in Europe, but they said it was very condition-dependent on that and it depended on, you know, what the rest of the agreement looked like.

    They also made a couple other points. They were very, I think, sympathetic to as this process is managed, it needs to be managed in a way that the Central European states, those states that joined NATO since 1999, a number of whom I think joined in large part because they wanted that nuclear guarantee that you have to leave them reassured that the NATO commitment is there.

    There’s also a second point, which gets to – which I alluded to. When the United States thinks about its nuclear policy in Europe, it also has to think about what are the implications then for nuclear policy in Asia and the Middle East? And so that’s maybe a broader perspective. But, again, I think right now you have a range of views on both sides.

    I guess the one thing I think Europe can, and I hope would do, you know, once this discussion becomes more focused, is, again, there are a lot of European leaders who have direct channels to President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, and those conversations ought to be, I think, beginning to raise this question and say, look, you know, you can’t just say, not now, not now.

    You know, with the numbers of non-strategic weapons, it’s time to be getting a serious dialogue on this and get into a negotiation. I think pushing on that subject would be very helpful.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, Catherine, would you like to take that?

    MS. KELLEHER: I think there’s – as I said, there’s a European role in this discussion so far that’s very different from what the role has been in the past. And it’s something that I think should be taken seriously. Not every country has. But certainly I think the French alone have moved a number of notches along in their understanding both of what’s expected of them and in fact the refining of their own position as to what they see is required.

    I think the more important question – and this is something that I think really – because it was taken as a test particularly of U.S. intentions – I think the idea of greater transparency for everybody, more information about what’s going to happen and what’s been looked at is really something that has met a welcome ear in populations that aren’t particularly interested in this area at all, and where anybody who comes out for defense expertise tends to lose the next election, or something at least to cause some difficulty.

    So, I think in that sense there has been a mutually beneficial effect. I think the real question will be, if you set up something like a data fusion center, which is what we’re supposed to call it these days, not data exchange, but a data fusion center, we are in fact going to have, participating in those data fusion centers, at least all of the present members of NATO. And the question is, and then what?

    We have a number of oldie, somewhat worn out or at least thought to be old-fashioned schemes that already exist, like the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, or even, may I mention it, the Open Skies program, where we do have data exchanges and we have ways in which we can talk to one another.

    They even either have a treaty basis or there’s an agreement, and it’s a question as to how we perhaps knit together something that might be called a set of reinforcing, confidence-building measures that would also promote the same kind of transparency and trust that we’ve been looking for.

    And there I think one could find a very helpful role on the part, say – the Poles in particular have been pushing the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, as have the Finns, from a different perspective. Just saying what it is that they can contribute or they in fact are willing to pay for. And I think both of those things would make success with the Congress much more probable.

    MR. GRAEFE: Thank you, Catherine. And I guess the European diplomats among you took notice of what both our panelists just said and will send cables. (Laughter.)

    And now I open it up to you. Please identify yourself, as in the morning session. Daryl, if you’ll go first.

    Q: Daryl Kimball. Thank you very much. Thank you, Steve and Catherine, for your great presentations. I learned a lot listening to you.

    There are two questions that I want to put to each of you that I think get to – you touched upon, Steve, one of them – which is, if you could try to summarize the nature of the Russian concern about deeper offensive reductions absent some sort of understanding or framework regarding strategic missile defenses out in the future.

    As we’ve all heard, seeing the statements from the Russians over the years, I mean, sometimes it seems to be motivated, these stated concerns, to send messages to those inside Russia. But at the same time, I can see, if you look at the math, if you look at how many Russian launchers there are versus how many potential interceptors there might be, I can see how the math might make some Russian military planners worried.

    So, if you could each take a stab at just trying to summarize – and I know there’s a range of views – I mean, what the nature of that Russian concern is, and specifically why, Steve, you say reductions on both sides to about a thousand deployed offensive warheads could probably be achieved without this arrangement on missile defense, that would be very helpful. Thank you.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, I think we’ll take two more questions. I saw hands up somewhere in the back. Yes?

    Q: Robert Gard. The Russian concern over the missile defense issue – I’m a little confused because I’ve read two or three times that some Russian official has said, we now have a directable warhead that can defeat any of these so-called missile defense systems – as if to say, you know, we know how to defeat it.

    And then on the other hand, they want some kind of legal instrument that says our missile defense won’t threaten their nuclear deterrent. Well, I don’t think we have any ambition to threaten their nuclear deterrent. Why don’t we give them one?

    MR. GRAEFE: Very clear question.

    And the last question in the first round. Here.

    Q: Ward Wilson. I have a kind of a – maybe it’s an academic question.

    A friend of mine seems to think that the Chinese essentially don’t believe in deterrence. They have nuclear weapons because everyone else does, but fundamentally they don’t – they’re not really on board with, say, American notions of nuclear deterrence.

    And I wondered if you could review a little bit if you think there’s unanimity in Europe about beliefs about nuclear deterrence. Is everyone essentially talking about the same thing or do some people kind of have one notion and others another? Thank you.

    MR. GRAEFE: Great question. I think the first one – I mean, basically all were addressed to you both, maybe the first one only to you, Steve. Maybe you’ll start.

    MR. PIFER: Well, on the interconnection between offense and defense, I think the first point is, never underestimate how much credibility Russians give to American technology.

    I was posted at the embassy in Moscow from 1986 to 1988, and when I got there, I mean, they were still just totally obsessed with SDI and the fear that this would put them out of the ballistic missile business.

    Now, by ’87, ’88 you actually had people like Sardeis (ph) say, no, this really is rocket science; this is hard to do. But I think when the Russians look at the plans, I think the Russians assume that we are going to be dramatically more successful than may, in fact, be the case.

    So, they look at the system and they look at 30 ground-based interceptors, and as I understand the Phased Adaptive Approach, the total buy is about 550 of the four blocks of missiles. And they say, that’s 530 missiles; that’s a lot – particularly when they worry about Phase 4, where the Aegis is to have some capability against ICBMs. So I think that’s part of it.

    And you saw in the New START Treaty – I believe at the end of the day the Russians fell off the demand for having some mention in the treaty of at least missile defense as a reason for withdrawal from the treaty because they understood where the Phased Adaptive Approach was going to be in 2020.

    And the New START Treaty will expire in 2021. They’re comfortable with that. And then in 2021, if all of a sudden the American missile defense expands in a way that they see as a threat, you know, they’re then no longer limited by the treaty.

    I think it gets harder when you look at a next treaty because if you’re talking about a follow on that may go to 2025, 2030 or 2035, they don’t fully understand what American missile defenses might look like then, and that makes them then more reluctant, I think, to reduce.

    The thousand number is based – just in talking to some Russian analysts who told me that they thought a thousand was about as far as Moscow could go before it would really want to have some very concrete assurances on missile defense in terms of more reductions.

    And then I guess the last point is that the Russians just have a very different assessment, I think, of the ballistic missile threat from Iran, is they don’t see Iran developing a long-range missile that could reach the United States as quickly as the U.S. intelligence community – which I think is still – you know, with help they could achieve it by 2015. They don’t see that happening, you know, for – it’s a much slower assessment.

    And then there’s a certain, I think, Russian paranoia which says, well, if the Americans aren’t building this for Iran, why would they spend all this money to deal with an Iranian threat that we don’t see happening for a number of years. Aha, it must be about us.

    So there’s a certain amount of paranoia there but I think there also is a certain amount of real concern that American missile defenses could, at some point, threaten a portion of their strategic deterrent.

    On the question – it’s interesting because I think the Russians sometimes try to have it both ways, because on the one hand they do express concern about missile defense, but also I think in messages which I believe were targeted primarily at the Russian public, they try to be reassuring.

    So they do say, we have very capable ballistic missiles. We could penetrate any American missile defense. They make allusions, for example, to a maneuverable warhead and things like that. So, to some extent, there’s a certain schizophrenia there in how they talk about this issue that, at the end of the day, you may not be able to fully reconcile.

    Finally, the last question on Europeans and deterrence – and this may be a question for you – I guess the way I look at it – and I think one of the challenges that NATO and the United States have to think through when they’re looking at the question of the appropriate mix between missile defense and conventional and nuclear forces in Europe is a sort of rationale that we argued for back in the 1980s, for example, when I was involved in the debate on medium-range missiles.

    I’m not sure those arguments are going to have much resonance then. I mean, you don’t have a large – you know, first of all, you don’t have the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact anymore. You don’t have a large Russian conventional force in 2007, which is the last year that Russians provided data before they suspended their participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. They had 5,000 main battle tanks in the European part of Russia and at the same time NATO had about 12,000.

    So, you don’t see that conventional imbalance. I think that many European countries, I think Germany in particular, don’t regard Russia as a threat. And that’s not a uniform view. I think countries closer to Russia have a more worried view about Russia but they don’t see the threat.

    So, the sorts of arguments that I think succeeded in persuading people that we had to go through with what was a very controversial decision to deploy an intermediate-range missiles, which ultimately led to a treaty banning all intermediate-range missiles, I’m not sure those arguments would work now.

    I think there’s just a different sense in Europe. And that’s going to be, I think, a struggle for NATO as it thinks through how it comes up with a policy that will be sellable not only to European and American leads but also to the public.

    MS. KELLEHER: Maybe I would take a step to a more general level. I think whomever you speak to in Russia, wherever they are on the political spectrum at home, the major thing that strikes me is pervasive uncertainty about the future.

    They’re not as comfortable as I would have hoped they were by this point about what they’re going to become. And I think this real debate that I think took place when oil prices were down in the comfortable $80 a barrel range, you know, what is Russia going to be, is it just going to be a provider of oil? Don’t we need to diversify the economy? Don’t we need a different set of prospects?

    That debate still lurks around the edges. And whether you’re talking about the economic future or whether you’re talking about the political future, or you’re talking about specific military systems, as you part things away, at the bottom you hit uncertainty. And are we far enough along? Can we trust ourselves?

    It is all of a piece, I think, with the end of the Soviet Union, which mercifully happened without many shots being fired but without really much of a directing genius saying, and this is how we move to the next step. So it’s been bumps along, and maybe we haven’t finished bumping yet, which is what many people feel.

    I think on the question of what they want, I think what you’re hearing in terms of this demand, at least in the missile defense area, for a set of guarantees sounds an awful lot like the ABM Treaty, you know, and it’s not by accident, comrade – namely, they felt very much snookered by the United States over the ABM Treaty, and perhaps they were.

    And the fact that the U.S. seemed without compunction and without really much in the way of a justification, just ready to get up and leave whatever final agreement they had made. And they would like to demonstrate that the agreement is still needed. So there’s certainly a bit of, shall we say, payback nostalgia in that particular demand.

    I think the major question that I have is, I think, General Gard, like yours, namely we have – if you go through the panoply of guarantees and discussions that we’ve had with the Russians – we will not target, we will not do this, we will not do that – the question is, are we really giving up so much to say, and we will not – that no-targeting pledge on our part, renewed by every president, or however you’d like to play it, in fact of course includes also defensive systems as well as offensive systems on our side.

    I don’t think we’re going to really give much up. But this then takes us back to domestic politics, and that particular guarantee is one that I suspect – I don’t know if it would cost the president the election, but it would certainly be a rather heavy stone, and would be presented in a way that would be very damaging, I think, to President Obama by the opposition.

    And toward Wilson’s question, yes indeedy there are different views of deterrence, including a whole bunch of people who aren’t sure that deterrence ever worked, and that we were, in fact, confused, not they. And there are others who – and I quote only the most famous Polish statement of all time is, we want a separate guarantee from the United States, because who wants a NATO guarantee? That’s too slow. (Laughter.)

    It’s just – it’s all over the place. And the interesting thing is probably the closest conception, as Steve said in his alignment, the French and the Balts, the Central Europeans on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but not the other days – (laughter) – to say, you know, we want nuclear weapons in order to provide us with surety that in the old-fashioned – remember these debates – escalation, trigger, buckets of blood, whatever you want to remember those sets of arguments as – we have the means to blow everything up if it doesn’t go – you know, in order to convince somebody else not to do something bad.

    So, I think we don’t want to have that discussion. I don’t know how we’re going to get to the end of the NATO process without having that discussion because the fig leaves that we’ve gone through in the last 24 months are wearing thin, and we have to make sure that we get that report done by December, and that’s going to take a little bit of fancy penmanship, or wordsmanship to emerge from that.

    But, you know, it’s a hard question, including this new wrinkle that missile defense represents the new face of deterrence or something like deterrence in the 21st century.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, we have maybe 10 more minutes. I think that’s one more round of questions, so please raise your hands. I see Greg and – yeah, Greg, why don’t you start?

    Q: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association.

    I’m wondering how adaptive you think the European Phased Adaptive Approach is. And by that I mean, how adaptive to the actual threat – the Europeans are reluctant to name Iran, for reasons related to Turkey.

    MS. KELLEHER: Some. Some.

    Q: Some Europeans.

    MS. KELLEHER: Yes.

    Q: One of the surprises to many in the U.S. intelligence community from 10 years ago is that the Iranians do not now – have not now deployed the Taepodong-2. In fact, the North Koreans haven’t deployed the Taepodong-2.

    But at any rate, there is much less of a longer-range Iranian ballistic missile threat than there was thought to be. The Iranians seem much more interested in building or developing solid fuel medium-range missiles than moving to the next step, a liquid fuel missile.

    So, what if, five years from now, the Iranians are still not manifesting a desire to be able to put Berlin, London and Paris under their ballistic missile threats? Does that mean that the U.S. will not move to Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach?

    What happens then to the Russians, who already don’t believe the U.S. definition of the threat now – an ICBM possibly by 2015 – what do the Russians then say? Is the Lisbon commitment to territorial missile defense in Europe an automatic machine that will move up the Phased Adaptive Approach ladder sort of independent of an actual threat because it’s a political commitment from the United States?

    I just wondered if you can speculate a little bit about what the connection is between the actual threat and the course that we seem to be on.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, then there was one question in the back. Yes?

    Q: Dan Arnaudo. I’m interested in the data fusion concept that you mentioned earlier in terms of how it’s structured. You said there are some systems that we already rely upon that do similar things through data exchanges, but just if there are possibilities to create more modern approaches that might actually improve cooperation.

    I’m thinking along the lines of something like cloud computing where you distribute the network so that you don’t have any single space that you have to, you know, make kind of a political football. Do you have a data-sharing center in Russia or in Europe or in America?

    So, if you can distribute the information sharing, then perhaps you can create a system that is, you know, encouraging of cooperation and encouraging of trust building and these other measures. So, if you had heard of any concepts like that actually described.

    MR. GRAEFE: Catherine, do you want this part?

    MS. KELLEHER: Yes, OK.

    I think perhaps to the first question, Greg’s question, the automaticity side, I think this is where this NATO-Russia Council gambit becomes very important. It’s hard to imagine that if President Obama were to be re-elected, that he would feel comfortable going back to something going back to something that said, the U.S. is going to proceed with this despite the fact that that NATO-Russia Council doesn’t approve.

    And there are several countries – I think Germany certainly is one of them, but there are others as well – who would say, unless you prove something is actually threatening, why should we go ahead with, say, to Phase 4? Why don’t we stop at Phase 3, which is still territorial/theater defense?

    I think that brings in a whole different range where the Bush administration was happy to go ahead in the face of non-multilateral support with bilateral agreements and bilateral systems decisions with, say, the Poles and the Czechs and the Romanian, the Bulgarians.

    The question I think now is raised to the alliance level in a way that makes it very much more of a test of how responsive the U.S. is going to be to the ideas of others. So I think that’s one thing that’s really quite different.

    I would argue – and here I’m talking about something I don’t know the content of, but there is supposedly a threat assessment exercise that’s pretty close to conclusion, where everyone has been sitting around with the Russians included, talking about a common definition of the threat.

    I’ve not told you everything I know. But it’s supposed to be happening – that is, maybe at least being distributed internally – fairly soon. And publicly I don’t know if it ever will be, but it’s there. So that kind of exercise is the kind of thing that you can imagine the NATO-Russia Council definitely lapping up and saying, this is what we should be doing.

    I think, to answer the question of the gentleman in the rear, there’s a very interesting discussion that goes on. Under the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, what you have is essentially a system by which you report to one another about unusual aircraft, rogue aircraft, movements in the civilian space.

    It could also – it allows for extension eventually to the military airspace as well. And you essentially report to one another on any movement 150 kilometers on either side of the NATO-Russia border. And you do this by three data collection points and a center in Warsaw and one in Moscow.

    That’s in the process. The end of concept will come in June, at which point the Air Force, the U.S. Air Force, which is very much involved in this, would like to hand it over to the system that’s going to operate it. And that’s kind of a critical point at the moment. But the software that exists is compatible with the software that does general airspace management in Europe under Europol. So that’s one thing.

    There’s been a suggestion that we don’t have physical data fusion centers, that we have a virtual center to which people contribute and have access and take responsibility about its configuration and its control, but that it would not necessarily have to exist physically.

    There are lots of reasons, not the least of which is hacking, that suggest maybe you don’t want to do that, right? But the present suggestion to have a center in Moscow and one in Brussels is a feel-good solution rather than one that I think will get around the estimated six-to-10-year planning permission process in Brussels, right?

    That’s how long it takes. And unless you can figure out a way to put it in an existing something or other – and even then you’re going to have trouble – it’s going to slow the whole system down. And those people who see this as a good thing would like to have, as fast as possible, some kind of result that indeed allows people to fuse data on both historical records of missile launches and all, or some kind of commonly defined data that they can then show to skeptical publics and parliaments.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, Steve?

    MR. PIFER: Yeah, I’d just like to add, I just – I personally actually like – I think that there are other advantages also to having a physical scenario as opposed to a virtual scenario. One is, it does seem to me that there are advantages in terms of transparency if you have a physical location where NATO military officers and Russian military officers are in the room together 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    And it seems to me that hopefully the big advantage of missile defense cooperation is that you begin to build this layer of trust, but also that the interactions are a way to convey to the other side a lot of transparency about what U.S. and NATO missile defenses can and cannot do. So I think there’s an advantage to having that physical scenario.

    The other advantage – and this actually came from a retired Russian general. He said the other advantage he thought was that it would be a place where you could actually bring, you know, non-NATO and non-Russian country representatives.

    And he had particularly in mind China, in saying, you know, one of the potential risks that he saw to NATO-Russian missile defense cooperation was it creates suspicion in China that this is somehow directed against China.

    Again, he thought that there might be advantages to having a location where you can bring the Chinese military officers where they could actually observe what was going on and what it was doing, what potential threats were being looked at in a physical location that then might make it useful, a vehicle for greater transparency vis-à-vis China so that you did not provoke sudden concerns to Russia’s east about what NATO-Russian missile cooperation might entail.

    MR. GRAEFE: OK, thank you very much, Steve and Catherine. I think we have to stop here because the Senator Shaheen is about to join us. But please first join me in thanking our both panelists. (Applause.)

    MS. KELLEHER: Thank you. Thank you.

    (END) Back to top

     

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    REDUCING THE NUCLEAR DANGER: NEXT STEPS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS

    KEYNOTE 3

    INTRODUCTION:
    CHRISTINE WING,
    TREASURER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    SPEAKER:
    SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH)

    TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    CHRISTINE WING: Friends, we’re going to get started very soon because our next speaker is on a fairly tight schedule, and we want to be sure to have time to hear her. So may I ask you, please, to stop your conversations and sit down so we can get started? And then I get really bossy. Gentlemen? Thank you. Okay.

    (Off-side conversation.)

    MS. WING: Okay, having just been really bossy, I just discovered she’s doing an interview. (Laughter.) Just do not get up. You may talk to the person who’s sitting next to you. I should say, my name’s Chris Wing. I’m a member of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association, something that I really enjoy. Okay, we’re ready? Okay. Thank you – yes, please.

    And I would say that, as a member of the board of the Arms Control Association, it’s my sincere pleasure to introduce someone who has been, and I am sure will continue to be, a true champion for arms control and nonproliferation in the U.S. Senate. As a member of both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Senator Jeanne Shaheen has played a crucial role in support of the New START treaty last year, and she’s a strong supporter of President Obama’s agenda to reduce nuclear dangers to the United States.

    She also has a very impressive background. She’s the first woman in history to be elected a governor and a U.S. senator, and she’s been involved in all levels of New Hampshire life. She taught in a New Hampshire high school, which most of us know would probably prepare you to deal with the U.S. Senate – (laughter) – chaired the Town of Madbury zoning board and served three terms in the state senate.

    She became the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire, serving three terms from 1997 to 2003. In 2008, she became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from New Hampshire. We’re delighted that you can be here, Senator Shaheen. And please help me – (applause).

    SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Thank you very much, Dr. Wing, for that nice introduction. You know, as a politician, I understand that timing is everything and I’ve been around long enough to know that when you’re the last person on the agenda, that it’s always challenging because you’re never sure that people are awake and everything’s always been said before you get up to speak.

    So I will try and be brief this afternoon and understand that you’ve had a long but very constructive day. And I’m really honored to be part of the same lineup of speakers for you with Ellen Tauscher and Bob Casey, who, as you know, were both critical in passage of the New START treaty.

    I want to begin by thanking Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for hosting the event today and for all of your leadership on such a critically important issue for America’s security. So thank you all very much. I know that today’s theme is focused on the next steps in arms control and nonproliferation, but I think it’s important to begin – and I assume you’ve done some of this already today – by taking a step back and looking at where we’ve been as we’re trying to decide where we go next.

    It’s been a good two years, I think – and I assume that most of you would agree with that – since President Obama’s Prague agenda was first announced in April of 2009. The United States has re-established our global leadership on the nuclear agenda. We had a successful NPT review conference, which led to a consensus document for the first time in 10 years. The nuclear posture review reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.

    We successfully pressed for a fourth round of sanctions on Iran at the U.N. Security Council, something that many of us thought was not going to be possible. And certainly, we had a lot of debate in the Senate about whether that was going to be possible. The United States also convened the first-of-its-kind nuclear security summit, which rallied the international community to press for securing all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years. Now, obviously, at the top of the list of what we want to accomplish was the successful ratification of the New START treaty in the United States Senate.

    And I think most people looking at the treaty once it had been negotiated and thinking about getting it through the Senate really thought that this was going to be not too difficult – that this was low-hanging fruit – and didn’t really realize, at the beginning of the debate, just how difficult it would be because it linked together, ultimately, every possible interest tied to the nuclear agenda, including modernization, tactical nuclear weapons, missile defense, delivery systems and many other issues.

    Eventually, the obvious benefits of New START and the overwhelming support from the past seven presidential administrations won over enough senators to ratify the treaty. But I remember being in some of those hearings and listening to some of the debate on the floor of the Senate, thinking we’ve had every living secretary of state and secretary of defense on both sides of the aisle come in to say this was something we should do, so why is it so hard?

    Well, New START was a big triumph for our national security interests, and I was very pleased, personally, to play a small role in its passage. Being relatively new to these issues, I was especially proud to be one of those senators who went to the White House to watch President Obama sign the treaty.

    And then, also, I happened to be in Munich for the Munich international security conference and got a chance to see the exchange of the instruments of ratification. So that was also very exciting, to be there. And I really, again, want to thank all of you for your support throughout this process. All of the advocacy organizations, the think tanks, the NGO communities really came through in the end in a way that made a huge difference.

    Having witnessed it firsthand, you were absolutely critical for me and for my staff throughout the Senate debate, helping us with op-eds, letters to the editor, phone calls, rapid analysis, interviews – all of the kinds of things that helped win the argument, ultimately, for passage of New START. Because of your efforts, when it’s fully implemented, the United States and Russia will have the fewest warheads deployed – the fewest deployed warheads since the 1950s.

    Now, so that’s where we’ve been. As we look forward to future efforts in the Senate, I think it’s important to recognize some of the advantages we had during New START. We had strong bipartisan support, as I said, from nearly every living former national security official. We had the full support of the president and his entire administration, including 100 percent backing from the military, as well as the national labs. And that military backing was huge as we tried to convince our colleagues on the other side of the aisle that this was important to do.

    We were arguing, also, for the resumption of something that had expired, not something that was new. And we had a ticking clock on the inspections side. So it was great to be able to come back every time somebody talked about the challenge from Russia and whether we could really believe them as they signed their interest in New START. Our response could be, yeah, but we don’t have anybody on the ground and so we would be better off to have inspectors on the ground than to continue the current situation.

    So as we begin to think about future treaties or arms control agreements, it’s going to be very difficult to replicate all of those things that were in our favor as we began the discussion around New START. And I think that, then, raises the question of what next? Obviously, New START was a high-profile success. There are several equally high-profile treaties on our agenda, however, I think each of them will be difficult and will require some significant time and effort.

    The comprehensive test-ban treaty, for instance – and I know Ellen Tauscher spoke earlier today making the case for the CTBT – you all know the national security arguments in favor of the treaty. There’s no doubt that technical advances and new monitoring techniques have changed the contours of the debate since it was last considered in 1999.

    But like all Senate staffs, ours is pretty good at counting votes and we do have some work to do, as I’m sure all of you know. In 1999, when the treaty was taken up by the Senate, there were 48 yes votes. Only half of those senators are still, now, in the Senate. In addition, in 2013, at least 55 senators will have been newly elected since 2005 – so over half of the Senate. This means we really have some work to do on Capitol Hill if we’re going to make the case to a relatively young U.S. Senate.

    Another high-profile treaty that’s being discussed is a follow-on bilateral agreement with Russia. This, too, will require a heavy lift both from the administration and in the Senate. The outlines of such a follow-on treaty are still unclear. Both countries still maintain significant deployed, non-deployed and tactical nuclear weapons in their stockpiles. And as we saw during the debate on New START, all of these complex issues will play a role in the future negotiations.

    This, like CTBT, will be difficult. But for all of us who are optimists in the room that just means we need to start now. I think it’s also important to focus on the lower-profile but still valuable initiatives that will not require 67 Senate votes. For example, on the U.S.-Russia bilateral front, it would be prudent to explore some of the recommendations made by Secretary Albright in her recent op-ed.

    Ideas like accelerating New START reductions, de-alerting the status of some of our nuclear weapons, missile defense cooperation and re-energizing consultations on the Iranian threat should all be something to take a close look at in the coming year. In addition, I think it’s very important for us to shift more focus, time and resources onto nonproliferation and nuclear security in the months ahead.

    The threat of nuclear terrorism remains perhaps our greatest national security challenge today. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, and I quote, “Every senior leader, when you’re asked what keeps you awake at night, it’s the thought of a terrorist ending up with a weapon of mass destruction, especially nuclear.” I have to say it’s that thought that, for me, made the debate around New START so compelling and also so hard to understand why there was so much opposition to getting the votes to ratify the treaty.

    Estimates suggest that the global stockpile of highly enriched uranium in 2010 was enough to make more than 60,000 nuclear weapons. The fact that many of these stockpiles are growing and remain insecure is a sobering and alarming fact. And the discovery that Osama bin Laden, the global face of terrorism, was found to be hiding out in Pakistan, the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power, should keep all of us awake at night.

    Unfortunately, not everyone on the Hill seems to understand the urgency. We saw the House recommend a $600 million cut to critical nuclear nonproliferation programs in this year’s budget. Considering the threat posed by a single nuclear weapon falling into the wrong hands, this decision is incomprehensible. Even when fully funded, the U.S. nonproliferation efforts amount to far less than 1 percent of our national security spending.

    To change that, we will need your help in the coming budget cycles to make the case that nuclear nonproliferation remains a priority and should remain a priority. So we have accomplished a lot in the last two years. We’ve done much to, as President Eisenhower said, “help solve the fearful atomic dilemma and to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death but consecrated to his life.”

    I think Eisenhower’s quote is particularly appropriate, as New START will bring us back to the deployed levels seen during his day. However, as we all know, we have a long way to go to meet this challenge. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you during this effort. Thank you for your time today and for everything that you’ve done to get us to this point. (Applause.)

    MS. WING: Thank you. Are you willing to take a couple questions?

    SEN. SHAHEEN: Yes, I can take a few.

    MS. WING: So I think we have time for a couple of questions if there are questions people would like.

    SEN. SHAHEEN: One of the other things you realize, as a politician, that’s a challenge is that you never want to be in a room full of people who know more about the issue than you do. (Laughter.)

    MS. WING: Okay. So could you –

    SEN. SHAHEEN: And maybe I could just get you to identify yourself and tell me what organization you’re affiliated with.

    Q: Hi, thank you for coming, Senator. My name is Paul Walker with Global Green USA. And I’m a part-time resident of New Hampshire.

    SEN. SHAHEEN: Ah, good.

    Q: And I’m a full-time resident of Boston, but we’re up in the lakes region all the time so I know the politics you have to deal with very, very well. We asked Senator Casey this morning whether he thought a vote on the comprehensive test-ban treaty would be likely before the 2012 elections – I guess over the next 18 months sometime.

    And I’d just like to pose the same question to you. Do you think we know how tough it’s going to be? It was tough for the New START treaty. It’s been tough for every single arms control treaty we’ve tried to pass over the last couple decades in the Senate. But do you think it’s likely, at all, that we’ll have a vote in 2011 or 2012?

    SEN. SHAHEEN: I don’t think it’s likely for some of the reasons that I stated earlier – that we have a lot of members of the Senate who are new and who haven’t really engaged, in a meaningful way, in this debate, who still have questions about the New START treaty. And I also think – so I think our effort ought to be focused on educating people and also on trying to build support in the country for the need to address nonproliferation.

    You know, I was having a conversation earlier with somebody here – we were talking about working for Gary Hart back in the ’80s when Alan Cranston and the nuclear freeze movement and Gary Hart and all of the other people running for president were making that an issue. And it’s not an issue right now. It’s not an issue for the public. And one of the things we’ve got to do is to help people understand why this is so important.

    I mean, the idea of a nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist ought to scare all of us and we all ought to be very interested in what we can do to try and reduce that threat, but most people, whether it’s we can’t bear to think about it or whether people just don’t know about the threat , clearly it’s not an issue for people. And it needs to be.

    MS. WING: Other questions? Yes?

    Q: My name is Norman Wulf. I’m retired State Department. My question, Senator, is, as part of the ratification of just about any arms control, including the New START agreement, certain reassurances were necessary to persuade some senators to vote, such as the nuclear infrastructure. Could you speculate with us what type of reassurances may have to be considered in the context of a CTBT ratification? Thank you.

    SEN. SHAHEEN: I can’t even speculate, unfortunately. Again, partly because I think it’s just – we’re so far from the point where people are prepared to actually negotiate and we have an interest in even negotiating around that issue that it’s hard to think about what it would take to convince people.

    Q: I’m Richard Garwin. I’ve worked with nuclear weapons and arms control for 60 years and I have what may be a rather impolite question. This is a public session so you may not want to answer it.

    SEN. SHAHEEN: I’m used to impolite questions. (Laughter.)

    Q: Okay. So suppose you have a new senator coming in and they don’t have any understanding or opinion on this and they hear from all sides. Now, somehow, it seems that people with totally extraneous views and interests influence those elected representatives. They may want jobs in the state; they may want something else – you know, people who really know their business. They’re very intelligent, paid lobbyists.

    And so they provide some arguments and you don’t get the vote until those people get what they’re interested in getting, which may be couched as jobs or whatever. So my not-too-impolite question is, does this pressure come from your state – a person’s state – or does it come in general? And is this a reasonable understanding of the problem of getting people to look at the issues?

    SEN. SHAHEEN: I think it is. I think there are two issues there. One is, as you identify, there are powerful lobbying interests who may not be supportive of an agenda that moves the country in the direction of arms reduction. So that’s one challenge and that is related, often, both to an individual elected official’s constituencies, but it’s also related to money.

    The reality is that what drives so much of the debate that we have in the United States Senate has to do with money in campaigns. And that was made worse last year by the Supreme Court decision, which basically said there are no longer limits on who can spend money in campaigns.

    So that’s why I said I think, as we’re thinking about how do you move an agenda – a nonproliferation agenda in Congress, one of the things we need to do is to think about how to move it in the public because, ultimately, we respond, as elected officials, to our constituents. And it’s those constituents who need to begin – we need to help them make the case about why this is so important.

    MS. WING: I think we’re going to take one more question. Yes, right in the middle of the room.

    Q: Thank you. Charlie Day from the Project for Nuclear Awareness in Philadelphia. Senator, sometimes unpredictable events have a way of impacting what happens in public policy. And I’m thinking of one unpredictable event right now – Fukushima, the nuclear plant. It seems that it’s put the words nuclear and the words radiation back in the public awareness. And I wonder if you see any carryover into other nuclear issues, such as weapons and our nuclear future – nuclear security?

    SEN. SHAHEEN: Seabrook, you’re right. Some of you may remember that the last power plant licensed in the U.S. was Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant on the coast of New Hampshire. And there was quite a debate about that. And whether or not it was going to go forward was impacted dramatically by Chernobyl and what happened at Chernobyl because that happened at a critical time in the opening of Seabrook. So I personally very much appreciate the impact of those kinds of events.

    Unfortunately, I think most of the discussion around Fukushima and what happened in Japan has been around nuclear power and it has not gotten translated into how – nuclear issues, in general, and the fact that, you know, it can be damaging, both as nuclear power, but it can be even worse as nuclear weapons.

    MS. WING: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

    SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you all very much.

    (Audio break.)

    MS. WING: I’m going to hand this over to Daryl to close, but before doing that, I just wanted to take the opportunity, since I got here at the podium, to thank Daryl and the incredible staff of the Arms Control Association. It’s a privilege to serve on the board. I’ve known these folks for a while. They do really good work. We’re lucky we’ve got them. (Applause.)

    DARYL KIMBALL: And since – (inaudible, off mic) – Chris is the treasurer of our board – (laughter) – she would not be happy if I didn’t remind you all that, you know, the work that the Arms Control Association does, does depend on your contributions, the large and the small. There is a donation box outside and there are donation cards here. I know many of you have already given once or twice or many more times, but please keep that in mind.

    And I just want to really pay tribute to the staff and remind everybody about the volume of the work that this little staff does. I think of it as the little engine that could, you know. Just in the last 18 months, the organization has produced six major staff reports. One of the latest was co-written by our Scoville Peace Fellow Rob Golan-Vilella. That is – the cover is outside – it’s online on the nuclear security summit goals.

    As I said before, we’ve got a new report on the European debate about tactical nuclear weapons and NATO nuclear policy. Last year, in 2010, the staff produced, through Arms Control Today, 42 feature articles by leading experts, which takes a little bit of work editing and refining and making it better. So thanks to Dan Horner [our editor] and to Farrah [Zughni], our managing editor. And thanks to the rest of our staff – those are the people who have produced 145 original news articles in Arms Control Today. So just with the magazine, there’s an incredible output with reports.

    And then on top of that, last year, we produced 41 rapid-reaction issue briefs on hot-button topics, many of those about the New START treaty. So the staff works very hard. I want to thank all of them and I want to ask you to join me in thanking all of them for their hard work, please. (Applause.)

    And we are at the end of the public program, but for those of you who are dues-paying members of the Arms Control Association, or are thinking about it, I just want to let you know that we are going to give you an opportunity to have an informal discussion with the staff right after this session downstairs in the Butler Room, which is downstairs and to the rear, to have an informal conversation about the year ahead, some of the things that we’re doing on the issues that you’ve heard about and to give us your ideas about what we ought to be doing that we’re not already doing.

    So on behalf of the staff and the board, thanks for coming. It’s been a great day. All of the proceedings have been recorded. The video and a transcript will be available in just a couple of days. So thanks again, and have a good day. (Applause.)

    (END) Back to Schedule

    Description: 

    Transcript and Video Available. Keynote Speakers Include:  Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania), and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).

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    ACA Deputy Director Addresses CIFTA Consultative Committee

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    Improving CIFTA: A Nongovernmental Perspective

    Remarks by Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director, Arms Control Association, to the Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Material (CIFTA)

    April 15, 2011, OAS Headquarters, Washington DC

     

    Estimado representantes,

    Es un honor y un placer de estar aqui y presentar algunos comentarios en nombre de organizaciones de la sociedad civil de todo el continento americano. Muchas gracias por la invitacion.

    Lo siento, pero mi espanol no es perfecto. Entonces, voy a hablar ya en ingles.

    I’m Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington DC-based nongovernmental organization that promotes effective arms control agreements to address the dangers posed by nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons.

    Last year, we added our name to a letter on behalf of organizations throughout the region that was delivered at the 11th regular meeting of this consultative committee. The number of organizations endorsing this year’s letter has nearly doubled, comprised of 14 groups and regional coalitions that represent citizens throughout the hemisphere (see attached). This is indicative of the wide-ranging support from civil society for CIFTA, and the importance we place on seeing that it be a strong and useful agreement in reducing the human and security costs of the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, ammunitions, explosives, and other related materials.

    In my presentation, I’d like to do three things.

    First, share a sample of the work that civil society is doing.

    Second, reiterate a number of the main points you’ll find in our letter.

    And third, address some of the core issues of this meeting: marking and tracing, as well as stockpile management.

    Turning initially to some of the work civil society is doing, many of you are familiar with CLAVE (La Coalición Latinoamericana para la Prevención de la Violencia Armada) comprised of dozens of nongovernmental organizations who are working to prevent and reduce the impact of armed violence.

    More recently, a new network has formed that is particularly focused on measuring the impact of violence on development and the millennium goals, and supporting the rights of and assistance to victims of armed violence, named SEHLAC Seguridad Humana en Latinoamerica y el Caribe.

    Additionally, regional nongovernmental organizations are very active in supporting a robust Arms Trade Treaty and the global Control Arms coalition. In fact, organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica and the United States currently serve on the coalition’s steering board.

    Turning now to our letter… In it, we highlight that CIFTA faces two major challenges: one is the ratification by all members of the Organization of American States, and another is the need for real progress in its implementation. Concern about gun violence is at the heart of civil society interest in CIFTA and in the letter we underscore the need to recognize this issue. We also stress that effective control of firearms and ammunition is an international issue that therefore demands coordinated regional and international action.

    Flowing from these observations, our recommendations include that all countries ratify the agreement, that initiatives be undertaken to examine how information is shared in order to improve the agreement’s implementation, that OAS members states make a strong positive statement in support of global Arms Trade Treaty negotiations, that states carry out initiatives to increase understanding and measure the problem of gun violence in the region, in particular focusing on victims and survivors of gun violence, and that mechanisms be created for official participation of civil society within the OAS and CIFTA committee.

    Turning to the core topics of today’s meeting, let me first talk about marking and tracing.

    On marking, states should continue to develop methods for the proper and reasonable marking of ammunition, so as to improve their control. In Brazil, use of laser technology to mark bullets, not with individual numbers but with lot numbers, provides proof of possibilities and cost effectiveness of new approaches.

    Like CIFTA, we believe that a broader, global Arms Trade Treaty should take into account ammunition. Most OAS member states have stessed the necessity of including ammunition in any global norm-setting agreement because it is the supply of bullets that is essential to controlling armed violence, while the United States has argued against ammunition’s inclusion primarily citing logistical barriers. We encourage OAS members to use their experience to improve the debate on ammunition and work to overcome any disagreements so that the eventual ATT includes the bullets that are used for the majority of the violence perpetrated with conventional weapons.

    Next, the registration of the various transactions related to weapons, particularly for transfers, is one of the pillars of traceability. However, even when records are available, they often contain errors. Among others, the Asociacion para Politicas Publicas (APP) in Argentina has found this to be a particular problem, in part through exploring customs data using the COMTRADE system. Therefore, we recommend that you conduct a joint exercise to compare transfer records within and across borders and determine the reliability of those records.

    For tracing to work, cooperation and exchange of information within national agencies and between countries is essential. But civil society members see that capacity problems, jealousies and bureaucratic inertia conspire against the actual implementation of such cooperation. Therefore, we recommend an evaluation first to determine the real scope of cooperation and exchange of information, and second to identify obstacles and areas for improvement.

    Of course, there are also successes and at times large volumes of weapons are seized as part of efforts to combat their illicit trade. Those instances should be better publicized as well as used to measure how well marking, tracing and broader communication efforts are working. Each such incident could provide a data point into how well information was shared, how quickly cooperation occurred, and how existing records aided in understanding and stopping illicit trade routes and practices.

    Turning to stockpile management, states parties need to continue to work to improve mechanisms for accountability, which are essential for identifying and preventing the leakage of weapons into the illicit market.

    For example, we encourage all countries to examine problems, accidents, and safety failures that occur with their military and police stockpiles, and private security firms, and to concentrate on improving accountability systems. Parliaments and civil society members will need to be involved in this effort because in democracies they provide the ultimate oversight to the internal operations of government bodies.

    We also recommend that a mechanism be created for sharing information about stockpile losses and lapses. We recommend that this be done in a transparent manner, but at a minimum this sharing should occur at some level between governments. Lapses in stockpile security are not local problems, but regional ones, especially if large quantities of weapons and ammunition enter into illicit use.

    At times, states have argued that such transparency would affect national security and secrecy concerns, but such arguments simply provide cover for government inefficiency or corruption. Reasonable systems can and should be put in place that do not compromise national security goals.

    Speaking personally, as a citizen of and someone who works in the United States, I know that my country provides support to the CIFTA process, and has signed but has not ratified it. States parties should continue to make the case and press the United States to ratify the accord. I am also keenly aware that U.S. laws allow for loopholes that make it easy to obtain weapons near the Mexican border and illegally traffic them into that country, often in exchange for drugs. This only exacerbates the problems of illicit trafficking. While we are here today talking about CIFTA, we must not be afraid to point out where actions undermine the basic goals of the agreement.

    Finally, as highlighted at the start of today’s meeting, CIFTA member states are engaged in a questionnaire about the implementation and effectiveness of the agreement. We encourage all countries to engage in this exercise. But that exercise should not result in a document that lists the number of countries that are filing reports and perhaps some details about what they are doing at a national level. We have seen the limits of those reports, for example, in official evaluations of the UN Program of Action and the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The real measures of effectiveness, however, have to be related back to the problems the agreements are meant to address. In CIFTA’s case, that’s the illicit trafficking of weapons and ammunition. We must ask the basic questions of how do we measure that problem? Is trafficking now more rampant, or is it declining? Is CIFTA truly working to address those issues?

    We encourage all states to use the CIFTA agreement as a mechanism that holds every nation accountable and raises everyone’s efforts to fight the illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related material, because ultimately, doing so is essential to saving and improving the lives of all us living together, here, in the American states.

    Muchas gracias por su atencion.

    Description: 

    Remarks by Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director,  to the Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Material (CIFTA).

    ACA New Voices Fellow Presents at International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference

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    Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Time for Practical Steps

    Prepared Remarks by Alfred Nurja, New Voices Nonproliferation Fellow, Arms Control Association
    At the International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference:
    “The 2011 North America Nuclear Policy Dialogue”
    March 27, 2010

    When I was selected to present a few thoughts on the 2012 Conference on the WMDFZ in the Middle East and international efforts to shape a constructive outcome from that conference, I was asked to focus on generating new insights on how to answer some of the tough questions on the matter.

    I believe you will all agree with me that my presentation, by default, meets the second criteria. The question of a WMDFZ in the Middle East, an objective of the international community since the late 70s, is a very tough issue indeed as both the lack of progress and the persistence of the issue in the international agenda can attest.

    Before I attempt to address the question of the 2012 conference and what a constructive outcome would look like, a quick sum-up of the issue may be appropriate.

    The UN General Assembly first endorsed the concept of a NWFZ in 1974. In 1980, Israel first accepted the idea and a resolution to that effect has been passed annually by the GA without a vote.

    NWFZ are, of course, well-known nonproliferation mechanisms. There are currently five in existence - with four of them covering the entire southern hemisphere. They help fence off entire regions from nuclear weapons. They also reinforce the non-proliferation regime’s normative value and provide a vehicle for securing legally binding negative security assurances from the nuclear weapons states.

    In 1990, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak expanded upon the concept by proposing the establishment of a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone (WMDFZ). Such a proposal was intended to respond to Israel’s concern over the biological and chemical threat in the region. It would also formally link Arab accession to CWC and BWC to Israel’s accession to the NPT.

    This proposal was officially endorsed by the 1995 NPT Review Conference Middle East resolution, which “called on states in the region to take practical steps in appropriate forums aimed at making progress towards, the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems, and to refrain from taking any measures that preclude the achievement of this objective.” Consensus on that resolution, it is worth remembering, is seen by many as instrumental to securing consensus on the indefinite extension of the NPT.

    Following some intense discussions at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, state parties to the treaty were able to endorse for the first time practical steps toward implementing the 1995 Middle East Resolution. It is important to recall that the 2010 final document “emphasizes the importance of a process leading to full implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.”

    At the 2010 meeting, the United States, Russia and Great Britain, committed to work together with the UN Secretary General to convene a regional conference in 2012, appoint a facilitator and identify a host country for the conference. The conference will take as its terms of reference the 1995 Middle East resolution.

    Developments since May 2010

    The United States and the UK announced late last year that consultations to identify a facilitator as well as a host country for the conference had already begun. Speaking at a London conference on the topic, Ambassador Burks also said that there is broad agreement on the qualifications the facilitator must meet, including some put forth by Egypt.[1]

    Arms Control Today reported (in the March 2011 issue) that selection of a facilitator and host country may be achieved before summer. According to the same report, Israel has also said that it is examining the question of the conference and consulting with the United States, a marked departure from its earlier statement that it would take no part in the implementation of the steps agreed upon at the 2010 NPT Rev/Conf.

    The European Union had also agreed to host a seminar, a follow-up on the one organized in Paris in 2008, to discuss steps that would facilitate work on establishing the zone ahead of the 2012 Conference. According to the same sources, that seminar may now take place this summer.

    Regional perspective

    The particular challenge of establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East is driven home by the fact that, unlike other regions of the world where such zones have already been created, nuclear weapons as well as other WMD are already an established reality in the region.

    Open source reports indicate at least four Middle Eastern countries may already have chemical weapons capabilities. Out of these four, three may also have biological weapons capabilities. Up to eight countries in the region possess missile capabilities of ranges relevant to the WMDFZ. Further, Israel is widely recognized as already possessing a sophisticated nuclear arsenal and is the only country in the region not to have signed and ratified the NPT.

    Despite formal endorsement by all countries in the region for a WMDFZ, deep divisions on what that entails have precluded any concrete steps forward. These positions also reflect differing perceptions of the role of arms control and disarmament mechanisms and how they affect state relations.

    Arab and Iranian policy has been motivated by the overriding objective to get Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state and accept full-scope safeguards.

    Likewise, Arab governments and Iran tied agreement to the indefinite extension of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1995, with endorsement of practical steps toward the creation of a WMDFZ in the region.

    To date, Arab states also have generally rejected any linkage between the question of establishing peaceful relations with Israel and the NWFZ.

    Israel, on the other side, insists that any WMDFZ agreement can come only as a consequence of [not a precursor to] a comprehensive and durable peace in the region. Israel also stipulates that any future agreement must also address the question of conventional forces asymmetry existing in the region.

    In addition to this [often referred to as] “the chicken and the egg” question, Israel’s position on the need for “stringent mutual verification mechanisms” point to an equally challenging problem of ensuring compliance with international obligations in the Middle East.

    Identifying a constructive outcome for the conference

    With this background in mind, the challenge of discussing a WMDFZ in the Middle East does not lie necessarily in developing new thinking on the subject but rather with recognizing what shifts are now affecting the region, the impact they have on the non-proliferation regime, and various states’ perceptions of their security interests.

    As a 1975 UN study on nuclear weapons free zones put it, “the premise upon which [a] nuclear weapon free zone must be based will be the conviction of states that their vital security interests would be enhanced and not jeopardized by participation.” This principle should, I believe, also serve as a departure point for international efforts to move forward towards a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

    In considering this question, I would posit at least three key developments impacting the region today and present my reasons for how such events could provide an impetus for overcoming the long-standing positions of some key parties and forging a path forward:

    1. Iran’s nuclear program. Since the revelation in 2002 of Iran’s ambitious nuclear program, this issue has preoccupied the attention of the region and risen to the top of international concerns. Iran continues to defy UN Security Council resolutions and refuses to provide the IAEA with the access it needs to verify the nature of its nuclear program. To date, it has produced more than 3,700 kg of 3.5 % LEU as well over to 40 kg of 20 % enriched uranium.

    Iran still has not clarified what the IAEA has identified as  “outstanding issues that give rise to concerns about a potential military dimension to its nuclear program.” While continuing to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material from Iran’s safeguarded nuclear facilities, the IAEA can not verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

    Even though Iran is several years away from mastering longer-range missile capabilities, the progress of its missile program adds to concerns within the region and the wider international community over Iran’s nuclear program. Despite the mounting impact of international sanctions on the program and the Iranian economy, there is still little sign that Iran is seriously engaging in efforts to find a negotiated solution to the issue.

    2. Proliferation of interest in nuclear power production programs. I will not dwell much on this subject, since it was discussed in more detail yesterday, other than to note again that since the mid-2000’s the region is experiencing a marked increase in nuclear power generation with about a dozen other countries who have already signed agreements or expressed interest in building new nuclear power reactors.

    (Japan’s on-going nuclear crises will undoubtedly affect thinking in the Middle East about nuclear power but it is not clear to what extent.)

    While no country in the region has yet indicated an intention to pursue sensitive fuel cycle technologies, there is little enthusiasm for limitations, such as those the UAE has accepted on its programs.

    (Again, the subject was discussed yesterday in greater detail and I would only note that very few countries in the region have accepted an Additional Protocol—to date the AP is applied only in Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, and Jordan.)

    Correlation does not equal causation, but the recent uptick in interest in nuclear energy cannot be explained by energy needs and global warming concerns alone. Security and public perception interests [in view of Iran’s nuclear program] also provide equal explenatory power for such policy decisions, especially when considering the economic cost and negative feasibility studies that many such projects in the region have.

    While fears of the region reaching a nuclear tipping point are, in my view, perhaps overstated, these two developments do point to the fact that the longstanding nuclear status quo in the region may not be tenable and that, unless mitigating steps are taken, the region may be headed towards a more unstable nuclear future.

    3. Since the beginning of this year, the region has been undergoing some unprecedented developments. It is indeed near impossible to predict what the repercussions will be and what possible impact it will have on the Middle East’s nonproliferation agenda. I would want to point out a few clues however, that may already be visible.

    From a WMD security perspective, as the Libyan example attests, developments in the region raise concerns about the security of WMD-related materials and dual use technology. As the current wave of unrest continues, these concerns will only increase.

    Second, in the welcomed event that such developments lead to more representative forms of government, the impact of behavioral norms and domestic politics on a state’s decision making process will introduce a new element that requires close attention.

    What is clear to date is that the explanatory power of older security models will need to take into account the potential impact that these changes might have on the policies of various Arab states. The more representative forms of government will most likely also lead to an increased role for public opinion both in shaping government policies as well as the political rhetoric in key Arab states. [As to how this may affect future nuclear projects in the region remains to be seen. The popular support that the nuclear program enjoys in Iran can perhaps, however, provide a few clues.]

    A third insight that these developments drive home (I think belatedly for a number of former leaders in the region) is the value of getting ahead and taking anticipatory measures.

    In view of regional developments, this lesson could also be equally applied to our subject of discussion. The 2012 conference presents the international community and certain countries in the region with an opportunity, an important venue for locking each of the players into a regional process at a highly critical time. It is important that out of this process a dynamic of forward movement can develop.

    Practical Steps Forward

    Now turning our attention to what would constitute criteria for a constructive conference.

    The United States has emphasized that “the conference … would have to be a discussion aimed at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, including regional security issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.”

    To ensure forward movement, however, the conference must go further than that. In the words of a senior British official “we must be prepared to manage expectations over what the conference will achieve…But similarly, we must not set the bar so low that we leave the NPT Review Conference again paralyzed by this issue."

    Proceeding from this basic understanding, we could then look at some steps that key states in the region could consider taking—at or in connection to the conference—that come at no cost to their security and which could lay the ground for progress toward a WMDFZ. The list below is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. It’s merely meant to illustrate issues where the parties could identify some commonalities.

    “No First Use” Agreement

    • Pledges to actively consider negotiations of a WMD “no first use” zone in the Middle East. Whether initially embodied in the form of declaratory statements or taking the form of a legal treaty, the establishment of a no first use zone as a precursor to a WMDFZ could be a measure that provides security benefits as well as an important step in the direction of a WMDFZ.

      In this context, Israel’s longstanding affirmation that “it would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East” could take legal value without directly requiring an overhaul of its longstanding policy of opacity. Whether this is possible again requires further thought.

      Reinforcing the longstanding customary norms that already prohibit the use of chemical or biological weapons in a region where chemical weapons have been used at least twice already could also mark a reciprocating measure in this respect.

      CTBT

      • Regional commitment to signing and/or ratifying the CTBT by a certain deadline. In a recent meeting on this subject, ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball set 2015, the year of the next NPT review conference, as the target deadline for completing this process. Without resorting to nuclear weapons testing, states in the region would have trouble validating the warhead designs they need for ballistic missile delivery, a development that could contribute to reducing tension.

      Multilateral Nuclear Fuel Supply / Nuclear Enrichment-Free Zone? FMCT

      • Other topics that could be discussed include multilateral nuclear fuel supply arrangements; perhaps even consideration of an enrichment- and processing-free region.

      • In this regard, Israel’s agreement to place its already aged Dimona nuclear facility under voluntary safeguards offer could provide an important incentive for engaging in these discussions.

      WMD Security

      • Increasing cooperation in the field of WMD security could also provide a useful starting platform for improving trust among the parties. Sharing best practices on securing vulnerable WMD-related materials and dual use technology and preventing them from falling into the hands of terrorist and non-state groups could be a non-contentious item in the 2012 conference agenda.

      Practical steps for each of the three key parties:

      To be possible however, such steps would also call for specific action from key parties.

      Arab League States: Egypt, as well as other Arab League states could greatly improve the chances of a constructive outcome from the conference by giving credible indications of a constructive approach. Recognizing the link that exists between peaceful relations and the WMDFZ would provide a step in that direction.

      Israel: From Israel’s perspective, the conference provides an opportunity to not only gain tacit recognition as a state party to the region but also voice Israel’s position that the problems associated with the creation of a WMD-free zone are not just nuclear and that arms control discussions can contribute to an effective reduction of tensions in the region.

      Little noticed is Israel’s statement in the context of the now defunct ACRS talks “that it would be ready to begin negotiations on the WMDFZ two years from the signing of peace agreements with all countries in the region [including Iran].” Reconsidering this policy position with the view of introducing greater flexibility to it could be another such important step.

      Potential Spoilers:

      I will only mention in passing two issues that could act as potential spoilers for progress at the conference, namely the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the question of Iran’s nuclear program.

      I would be in no way qualified to discuss the first topic but I would only point to the fact that we can all recognize that the chances of a constructive 2012 conference are directly linked to the issue of progress in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority. Negative developments in this regard would also raise immediate questions for the viability of the conference.

      Meanwhile, the question of Iran’s participation at the 2012 conference under current circumstances raises significant challenges for reaching any agreement. I would only point out three points:

      First, the place for addressing concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program remains the P5+1.

      From the Israeli and Arab perspective, the conference could also provide an opportunity to drive home Iran’s regional isolation. Perhaps recent developments may have contributed to Arab willingness to voice officially the views they really have on the subject that are now already known publicly.

      The conference could also provide an opportunity for taking Iran up on their past proposals to play a role in hosting a multilateral fuel supply project in the region.

      While I recognize that there are many questions that require addressing when considering each and any of these measures, the scheduled summer seminar to be hosted by the European Union could provide the venue for examining some of these points as well as identifying other green light arms control measures that each of the key parties in the region could consider.

      Conclusion

      I wanted to close with the words of former British Defense Secretary Des Browne, who speaking about this subject last year, said, “the long term options for the Middle East may not include the nuclear status quo… For Israel and other states of the region[,] the long term choice may be between living in an unstable nuclear neighborhood or taking part in [a] serious attempt to build a nuclear free region.”

      Concerns over the health of the nonproliferation regime in the Middle East cannot be separated from the issue of making progress towards the establishment of a WMDFZ in the region.

      Toward that end, agreement on a number of practical steps and the launching of a credible regional process—where issues related to the state of the nonproliferation regime, Israel’s legitimate security interests and its nuclear program are addressed—could mark the criteria for a successful conference.


      [1] According to criteria put forth last year by the Egyptian Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, the facilitator could not come from a P-5 country; it would obviously have to have good relations with all the states in the region and that individual would need to be at a ministerial level.

      Description: 

      Prepared Remarks by Alfred Nurja, New Voices Nonproliferation Fellow, Arms Control Association at the International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference: "The 2011 North America Nuclear Policy Dialogue” on March 27, 2010.

      Subject Resources:

      ACA Senior Fellow Discusses Next Steps in Arms Control

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      What’s Up Next in Arms Control?

      Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
      Grinnell College Roundtable
      March 14, 2011

      In order to answer the question I have posed, I will first turn to what the Obama administration has said it would do and recall what it has done so far.

      The First Two Years

      Three months into his term, President Obama delivered a speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, laying out an ambitious agenda to move the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them entirely.

      Over its first two years, the Obama administration has been extraordinarily busy pushing a number of concrete steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, secure fissile material, and strengthen implementation of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

      In April 2010 the administration completed a new Nuclear Posture Review that narrows the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and rules out the need for new types of nuclear warheads.

      Later that month, Obama hosted an international Nuclear Security Summit that produced an action plan for securing the most vulnerable nuclear materials within four years instead of the eight years that had been planned.

      In May, the U.S. led the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion with a 64-point action plan.  This was in contrast to a disastrous NPT Review Conference in 2005, which could not agree on any action plan, leaving many in despair for the future of the treaty.

      At the UN, the administration pushed through a tougher set of targeted sanctions on Iran in response to NPT safeguards violations.  UN and unilateral sanctions have slowed down Iran’s nuclear program, buying some time and leverage for the pursuit of a deal to establish sufficient transparency to ensure the program is not used to produce weapons.

      The biggest achievement so far has been negotiating and ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  The President and his team negotiated the treaty with the Russians within the first year, and then, just in time for Christmas 2010, won Senate approval, turning back treaty-killing amendments that would have required renegotiation with Russia.

      New START eventually won bipartisan support, passing 71-26.  Put simply it sets new, modestly lower limits on Russian and U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems and re-establishes a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance.  Later this month, a significant amount of data on strategic forces will be exchanged between the US and Russia.  45 days later, teams of inspectors will travel to sensitive strategic sites in both countries for the first time since the original START treaty expired in December 2009.

      New START will increase predictability and transparency through enhanced on-site inspections that will provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

      New START has already helped reset U.S.-Russian relations and boosted U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and of course it opens the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

      By any measure, there has been considerable progress toward the longstanding U.S. goal—as reiterated by the President in Prague—of peace and security in a “world without nuclear weapons.”

      But New START and these other initiatives are just that—a start. There is much more that needs to be done to reduce the nuclear weapons danger.

      What’s Now?

      Deeper, Broader, and Faster Nuclear Reductions

      New START is a vital step, but it will leave the United States and Russia with far more strategic warheads, missiles and bombers than is needed to deter nuclear attack.  In fact, even after New START reductions are implemented, there will still be roughly 19,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, most of which are held by the two treaty signatories.

      President Obama and his team have said the United States and Russia can and should pursue further verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed.

      Informal, early discussions are now underway. We believe the two sides can and should initiate formal talks before the end of this year.

      The goal should be to establish a single, verifiable limit on the total number of nuclear weapons for each nation.  This overall limit would be in addition to a sublimit on the number of deployed strategic weapons—the traditional focus of reductions. This overall limit is important.  As the numbers of deployed strategic weapons shrink, nondeployed and nonstrategic warheads and their delivery systems have to be addressed.  It is also important that the most advanced nuclear arms control process establishes useful precedents for ultimately involving all nuclear-armed states – for example, by adopting a simple unit of measure that can facilitate transparency, accounting, and controls.

      How low can U.S. and Russia go in the next round now that the sides have agreed to limits of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons?  From a geo-strategic standpoint, neither Russia nor the United States can justify more than a few hundred nuclear warheads each (including both strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed) to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.

      ACA published a study in 2005 (“What Are Nuclear Weapons For?”) that outlines the rationale for a smaller nuclear force, 500 deployed strategic and 500 nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad. In a recent Foreign Affairs article, others have also argued that it is possible to get down to 1,000 warheads without weakening security on either side.

      Of course there is the intriguing article in Strategic Studies Quarterly that concludes the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." Those authors argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

      My own wish is that lower numbers will induce the U.S. military to push for movement away from the triad to a diad.  If we can give up the nuclear bomber leg of the triad, relying on the two most responsive and reliable legs, Navy SLBMs and Air Force ICBMs, we will save a lot of money and more easily move to lower numbers.  Of course many Members of Congress and nuclear theologians seem to confuse the triad with the Holy Trinity, but I note with satisfaction that even the Air Force Association recently argued that bombers should give up their nuclear weapons delivery mission.

      For Russia such a negotiation would help address its concerns about the relatively larger U.S. upload potential that exists due to our larger number of delivery systems and reserve strategic warheads.

      For the United States, such a negotiation would finally lead to an accounting of and reduction in Russia’s relatively larger and possibly insecure stockpile of stored and deployed tactical nuclear bombs.

      Such reductions should, ideally, be secured through a New START follow-on treaty with robust verification methods.

      However, given that the next round of talks will likely be more complex and time consuming and the new Congress is generally more suspicious of arms control, there are other nuclear risk reduction steps that should be pursued at the same time. For example:

      • The United States and Russia can achieve the reductions mandated by New START well ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; and
      • President Obama needs to make good on promises to phase-out obsolete Cold War nuclear targeting plans and prompt launch requirements, which help perpetuate excessive deployments and raise the risk of catastrophic nuclear miscalculation. In a September 2009 Q & A published in Arms Control Today, then-candidate Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

      The NPR recommends consideration of measures to maximize the time the Commander-In-Chief has to make a decision to use nuclear weapons.  A reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately, but only the assurance that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems would survive an attack. Now is the time to implement these measures.

      The Obama administration and NATO must also work through two other issues that could complicate further, deeper U.S.-Russian nuclear force reductions.

      First, Russia is and will likely remain resistant to meaningful limits on tactical nuclear weapons so long as the U.S. continues to deploy even a small number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.  As the new NATO Strategic Concept and U.S. military commanders acknowledge, these weapons have no military role in the defense of NATO.  Some may believe these weapons have a function as a bargaining chip or are symbols of the United States commitment to NATO.  Whether they are or are not, they are clearly obsolete relics of the Cold War.

      To clear the way for a potential agreement with Russia on reciprocal measures to account for and reduce tactical nuclear weapons, the United States and NATO should agree to eliminate any formal alliance requirement for U.S. tactical nuclear warheads in Europe.

      Second, Washington and NATO must work with Moscow to achieve meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense.  Otherwise, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. missile defense interceptors targeting Russian strategic missiles could undermine the prospects for future nuclear reductions and exacerbate East-West tensions.

      New START sidesteps long-standing U.S. and Russian differences over strategic missile defense – the parties essentially agree to disagree.  But the next agreement cannot avoid the realities of the offense-defense relationship.

      When Obama shelved Bush administration plans to deploy an untested strategic interceptor system in Poland within five years, he was attacked by critics for placating Russia.  However Obama’s alternative, the “Phased, Adaptive Approach,” made far more sense from the perspective of Europe and the United States, as well as Russia.  It would provide a better capability to address current threats to southeastern Europe from Iran’s short- and medium-range conventional missiles and would obviously not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear retaliatory potential through the current decade.  Because the plan is coherent, it automatically raises less Russian suspicions and thus creates the potential for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia.

      However, unless there is meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense or limits on future deployment of U.S. interceptors, we will be forced to make a trade-off:  Either future reductions in eliminating real U.S. and Russian strategic weapons or nominal gains in defending against future imagined Iranian missiles.

      Let there be no mistake, in the nuclear arms race, we are mostly racing with ourselves.  The only potential adversary, other than Russia, with nuclear-tipped strategic missiles is China and we have about 30 times more deployed strategic warheads.  Clearly we can go lower, and if we do, we can start engaging with the other nuclear powers in multilateral reductions.

      CTBT and FMCT

      Not only must the U.S. and Russia further build down their own arsenals, they must work harder to prevent the nuclear arsenals of other states from being built up. To succeed, the United States needs to solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty and to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production.

      In Prague, President Obama called for ratification of the CTBT.  Today, the national security case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999.  Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing.  We have invested heavily in ensuring the reliability of our existing warheads without explosive testing. Over the past decade, life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads.  Last December, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote that the administration’s $85 billion funding plan provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal indefinitely.  The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTBT.

      Moreover, we know that further testing by other nuclear weapons states—including China, India, Pakistan—could help improve their nuclear capabilities.  We know that nuclear proliferants like North Korea or Iran cannot develop a reliable arsenal without testing.  So we are essentially abiding by the requirements of the CTBT without accruing the nonproliferation and security benefits.

      Reasonable Senators should be able to understand this logic and be able to understand that the old arguments against the CTBT no longer hold water.  As former Secretary of State George Shultz said in 2009, “Republican Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

      It is time that the Obama administration seriously engage the Senate on the subject so that the Senate can reconsider and vote on the treaty at the appropriate time—something the White House has not yet done.

      In 2009, Obama also pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT. The problem is that the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) where this negotiation occurs operates on the basis of consensus.  The FMCT is currently blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

      If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years.

      To hasten progress, the Obama administration should be prepared to act more boldly by proposing that all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production pending the conclusion of the FMCT.

      Conclusion

      The next steps in arms control will not be easy but none of the previous steps were either.  The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat.  Additional pragmatic steps to reduce nuclear risk are essential and urgent.  Doing nothing is not an option.

       

      Description: 

      Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association at Grinnell College Roundtable.

      The Impact of Sanctions on Iran's Nuclear Program

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      ACA Briefing Series:
      "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle"

      DATE/TIME: Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 9:00 am - 11:00 am

      LOCATION:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

      • Robert J. Einhorn (Keynote), Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Department of State
      • Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, Congressional Research Service
      • Kimberly Elliot, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
      • John Limbert, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
      • Greg Thielmann, (Moderator), ACA Senior Fellow

      After four rounds of UN sanctions and on-going discussion of introducing additional measures by the United States and its allies, the effectiveness of sanctions in constraining Iran's nuclear program has come under increased international scrutiny. With an Iranian regime accustomed to withstanding deprivations in the past and increasing political turmoil in the Middle East, measuring the impact of sanctions on the Iranian decision-making process remains a difficult challenge.

      This panel is intended to provide an informed perspective on the Obama administration's policy regarding Iran sanctions and the role they play as part of an overall strategy to address Iran's nuclear program.

      • What impact have the international and unilateral sanctions on Iran had?
      • Under what conditions are sanctions likely to affect behavioral change in Iran?
      • How do reactions differ between Iran's ruling elite and the general public?
      • What effect will the current political turbulence in the Middle East have on the effectiveness of sanctions?

      The briefing is the third in a four-part series of ACA policy briefings "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle." (Transcripts from the first briefing available online here. Transcript from the second briefing available online here)


       

      Transcript by Federal News Service
      Washington, D.C.

      GREG THIELMANN:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m glad you made it through the Mardi Gras revelries, and I’m sure many of you came directly here this morning.  We appreciate your presence.

      Welcome to the third in a series of Arms Control Association panels on the Iranian nuclear puzzle.  My name is Greg Thielmann.  I’m a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, so that gives you an idea of what a youthful organization we have.

      Today our focus is the impact of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.  Sanctions constitute a very important part of the international community’s strategy to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.  We have had four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions and various unilateral measures undertaken by the United States and other nations.  Additional measures are being considered by the U.S. Congress.

      I need to mention at the outset one time constraint on our discussion this morning.  Our keynote speaker will not be able to stay until the bitter end, so we will be moving, after his presentation, directly to questions and answers.  Then we will resume our other speakers and have a second round of questions later on.

      Everything will be on the record this morning.  There will be a transcript of this session available in a few days.  And, as usual, we request that you silence your electronic devices, but I understand from the technicians that we have to answer you to – ask you to turn them off completely so that we have no interference.  And that’s a reminder to myself as well.

      There is broad support in the United States for the general concept of imposing sanctions on Iran, but there is some controversy on their goals, on the prospects for their success, and what success really means.

      I can’t think of anyone who can offer a more informed and authoritative commentary on these issues than our keynote speaker.  Robert Einhorn has been at the center of U.S. nonproliferation and arms control policy implementation for many years.  You have a summary of his impressive career on our biosheet.

      I would only add, from personal knowledge in the State Department, that Bob’s expertise and professionalism are legendary.  We’re honored to have him lead off our program.  Over to Bob.

      ROBERT J. EINHORN:  Great, thank you very much for those nice remarks.  I don’t think you’re – you know, you’re not too old to be in the Arms Control Association; I wouldn’t worry about that.  (Laughter.)

      Daryl, thank you very much, the Arms Control Association, for inviting me to speak about sanctions and Iran.  The U.S., along with its partners in the P5+1 have been pursuing a – what we call a “dual-track strategy” toward Iran to – seeking to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.  And as part of that strategy the Obama administration from the outset has sought to engage Iran.

      Regrettably, the administration’s early efforts to reach out to Iran were not reciprocated.  Iran rejected a balanced proposal to refuel its Tehran Research Reactor.  It only accepted key elements of that proposal after the passage of time and the accumulation of enriched uranium by Iran had diminished the confidence-building value of the original proposal.

      Iran continued during 2010 its fuel cycle programs in defiance of a variety of U.N. Security Council resolutions and it stonewalled the IAEA’s investigations, including of the origins of the covert enrichment facility near Qom as well as of the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.

      And given Iran’s failure to engage seriously, we and our partners were left with no alternative but to place greater emphasis on the other complementary component of our dual-track strategy; that is, political and economic pressure.

      In June last year, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1929.  1929 was the strongest of the Chapter 7 Resolutions imposed against Iran.  But perhaps more important its broad coverage of the financial, commercial, transportation and other sectors provided a platform on which U.N. members could build in implementing their own sanctions.

      Soon after Resolution 1929 was adopted, the European Union announced a comprehensive set of measures against Iran, including a full prohibition of new investment in Iran’s energy sector, bans on the transfer of key technologies and strict steps against Iran’s banks in correspondent banking relationships.

      Before long, Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan, South Korea and others followed with their own measures aimed at building upon and complementing the measures contained in Resolution 1929.  Russia voted for 1929, which banned the sale of major categories of conventional arms to Iran.  And Iran had been a major market of Iran's – I’m sorry, of Russia’s arms industry and so this was a significant sacrifice for Russia.  And in particular, the Russians cancelled the sale of the S-300 air defense system.

      China also voted for Resolution 1929.  And although we continue to have concerns about the transfer of proliferation-sensitive equipment and materials to Iran by Chinese companies, there is substantial evidence that Beijing has taken a cautious, go-slow approach toward its energy cooperation with Iran.  The United Arab Emirates, which has long been a financial and trans-shipment hub for Iran, has also taken strong steps in recent months to curtail illicit Iranian activities.

      The United States, of course, has also acted.  Last July, the president signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act, also known as CISADA.  CISADA expanded the scope of existing Iran sanctions to cover refined petroleum products, a wide range of financial transactions and abuses of human rights.  Altogether, this emerged a powerful coalition of states that are willing to impose substantial costs on Iran in the hope of getting it to negotiate seriously over its nuclear program.

      It’s clear that the sanctions have begun to have an impact.  Iran is increasingly isolated from the international financial system, with limited access to financial services from reputable banks.  Major banks like HSBC and Deutsche Bank have pulled out, deciding that the reputational risk of aiding Iran’s illicit transactions is just not worth it.  And without access to financial services, Iran has found that it’s much more difficult to conduct commercial transactions of any sort.

      Iran is increasingly unable to secure needed foreign investment, financing and technology to modernize its aging energy infrastructure.  Major European and Asian firms, such as Shell, Eni, Total and Inpex, have decided to end all of their dealings with Iran.  As a result, Iran may be losing as much as 50 to $60 billion in potential energy investments.  This threatens Iran’s oil and gas production and export capacity over the long term, which is a serious problem for a country that relies so heavily on oil and gas revenues for its government expenditures.

      In addition, major energy traders like Lukoil, Reliance, Vitol, Glencore, IPG, Tüpra and Trafigura have stepped up – have stopped wholesales of refined petroleum products to Iran.

      Jet fuel providers for IranAir have also been affected by CISADA.  Six major fuel providers have terminated some or all of its IranAir contracts.  This is – this has effectively reduced servicing points and routes available to IranAir.  The U.K. and the Netherlands are just two among several places where Iran can no longer refuel its aircraft.

      Iran’s shipping is also impaired.  Large shipping companies like Hong Kong-based NYK are withdrawing from the Iranian market, and reputable insurers and reinsurers such as Lloyd’s of London no longer ensure Iranian shipping.

      IRISL, Iran’s shipping line, has been especially hard-hit.  The U.N.’s Iran Sanctions Committee has noted IRISL’s involvement in the shipment of goods in violation of Security Council resolutions.  And IRISL has been sanctioned by the United States, the EU countries, Japan, South Korea and others.

      As a result, it’s had difficulty repaying loans and maintaining insurance coverage, and this has recently led to the detention of at least seven of IRISL’s ships.  Major shipbuilding companies are refusing to build ships for IRISL and IRISL is finding that it no longer is welcome in the world’s major ports, especially in Europe.

      Major European and Asian businesses are also distancing themselves from Iran.  To name just a few, Daimler, Toyota and Kia have stopped exporting cars to Iran.

      Iran is also being sanctioned on the human rights front.  Individuals responsible for egregious human rights abuses in Iran are subject to travel and financial restrictions.  A key goal of sanctions is to drive up the cost of intransigence and bring Iran’s leaders to the conclusion that unless they accept constraints on their nuclear program, their future will look a lot dimmer.  But sanctions are also meant to impede Iran’s access to the equipment, materials and technology it needs for its WMD delivery programs.

      Aided by the dual-use restrictions and inspection provisions of 1929, we have alerted potential sources of sensitive items and have stepped up our efforts to interdict sensitive shipments.  We believe Iran has had difficulty in acquiring some key technologies and we judge this has had an effect of slowing some of its programs.

      These various sanctions are clearly registering with Iran’s leaders.  We can see it clearly from the very active efforts Iran has mounted around the world to circumvent the sanctions.  While the high price of oil has at least temporarily cushioned Iran from some of the effects of sanctions, the sanctions are already taking a significant toll and the impact will only increase over time.

      But while Iran’s leaders are feeling the pressure, the sanctions have not yet produced a change in Iran’s strategic thinking about its nuclear program.  So far, they seem only to have made a tactical adjustment.  They may believe that by making superficial gestures, such as simply showing up at P5+1 meetings, they can reduce international support for sanctions.  We saw this in recent P5+1 meetings with the Iranians.  They certainly didn’t come to the Geneva meetings in December or the Istanbul meetings in January prepared to negotiate seriously.

      For their part, the P5+1 countries outlined their approach resolving the nuclear issue.  They pointed out that given current levels of mistrust, it would not be visible to go directly to negotiations on a long-term final agreement.  Instead, they favored a phased approach in which confidence could be built incrementally.  In Istanbul, they outlined key elements of initial – of an initial confidence-building phase, an updated version of the fuel-supply arrangement for the Tehran Research Reactor and several transparency measures which would give the IAEA greater access to Iran’s program.

      The P5+1 countries made clear that Iran can have a civil nuclear-energy program but with that right comes the responsibility to demonstrate convincingly and verifiably that Iran’s nuclear program is devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes.

      Unfortunately, Iran refused to discuss these ideas or any other substantive ideas.  Instead, they set two preconditions.  One was that the P5+1 countries had to publicly and explicitly acknowledge an Iranian right to enrich uranium.  The second was that the P1 countries – P5+1 countries had to lift all sanctions from the outset of the negotiations.

      The P5+1 countries collectively rejected these preconditions as unreasonable and unacceptable and the Istanbul meeting ended without fixing a date and venue for another meeting.  One of the silver linings of this disappointing Istanbul meeting was that Iran’s behavior, and especially the preconditions, has reinforced the unity of the six.

      We have determined that in the wake of Istanbul we have no choice but to increase the cost to Iran of refusing to engage seriously.  This will mean tightening existing sanctions and developing new ones.  It will mean unilateral steps as well as steps agreed with or coordinated with other countries.  It will mean staying a step ahead of Iran as it seeks to set up new front companies, establish new banking relationships, reflag ships and otherwise circumvent sanctions, and it will require a very broad and active campaign.

      But as Secretary Clinton has said, sanctions are not an end in themselves but a means to build leverage toward a negotiated solution.  Even as we sharpen the choice for Iran’s leaders, we’ve left the door open for diplomacy if Iran is prepared to engage in serious discussions.

      We’ve shown Iran that we’re serious about negotiations, and now it’s up to Iran to demonstrate that it’s serious as well.  Thank you very much.  I’m prepared to take questions, hear your comments.

      MR. THIELMANN:  And if we could – if we could start with the press to make sure that they have had a chance.  Yes, sir.  We’ll have microphones going around.  Please give your name and affiliation as well before your short question.

      We’ll go over here.

      Q:  Arshad Mohammed of Reuters.  Mr. Einhorn, what is your – can you shed any light on where things stand in the payments issue that has arisen between India and Iran over Iranian crude exports to India?  It’s my understanding that the Indian central bank barred the use of the payments mechanism that had been used to settle that account at the end of last year, and that while Iran has kept delivering fuel, India has built up a couple of billion dollars in arrears.

      And essentially, I have two questions.  One, is it indeed the U.S. administration’s desire that India not be able to use the previous payments mechanism?  And, two, are you, in a certain sense, moving either deliberately or accidently toward a circumstance where you are actually seeking to disrupt Iran’s ability to make transactions for its oil exports?

      MR. EINHORN:  Frankly, I don’t know the exact state of play between Iran and India in terms of payments for India’s oil imports.  The Indian authorities on their own, without prodding from the United States, decided no longer to use the Asian Clearing Union as a vehicle for paying for Iranian crude.  We think that was a good thing.  We think that the ACU mechanism was not a very transparent mechanism and provided opportunities for abuse, and so we think it’s a good idea that they’re looking for an alternative payment mechanism.

      We know that discussions have been ongoing between India and Iran to try to find an acceptable means of payment but I don’t know that they’ve reached any final conclusions at this stage.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Over here.

      Q:  Thank you.  Indira Lakshmanan from Bloomberg News.  Mr. Einhorn, could you tell us – you said at the end that the U.S. has no choice but to increase the cost to Iran of pursuing a suspected nuclear weapons program – tell us a little bit about the timeframe and what exactly you’re thinking of that could go beyond the unilateral steps the United States Treasury has already taken and beyond the multilateral steps that have already been taken?  What more can be done?

      MR. EINHORN:  Well, a variety of things can be done.  We can tighten the implementation of existing sanctions.  Many countries have adopted these measures, but implementation is not uniform and we will, you know, seek, through consultations with a variety of partners, to get countries to implement existing sanctions effectively.  But we can also expand sanctions in a variety of ways.  And we’re in the process of doing that.  A number of alternatives are under consideration.  I don’t want to itemize them right here.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the middle – AP.

      Q:  Doug Birch, Associated Press.  First, what is the administration’s assessment of Iran’s intentions with its nuclear program?  Is it that you believe that they’re going to – that they intend to build a bomb, that they have not yet decided whether or not to build a bomb?  Which is it, if I could ask?  And if you’re going to – are you going to go for another round of sanctions through the Security Council?  And if so, how are you going to persuade countries like China and Russia, which have shown reluctance to agree to the existing sanctions?

      MR. EINHORN:  In terms of Iranian intent, obviously, we can only speculate on their intent.  And it may not be clear to Iranian leaders what their intent is, in the sense that they – you know, each of the leaders may have a different view of the motivations for this nuclear program and the end state of this program.

      We believe that, at a minimum, Iran is moving to the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability.  They are clearly acquiring all the necessary elements of a nuclear weapons capability, whether it’s the fissile material they would need, whether it’s the delivery systems they would need – they’ve pursued a very active ballistic missile testing program – and also with respect to the weaponization activities that would be required.

      We think that they are consciously moving each of these elements to, kind of, a threshold to give them – at a minimum, to give them the option to acquire nuclear weapons if they, in the future, were to decide to do that.  In terms of prospects for additional Security Council action, right now, we’re not seeking further action by the Security Council.  We believe there are a wide range of steps that can be taken by the international community to increase pressures on Iran before having to go to the Security Council again.  But if Iran’s intransigence continues, and especially if they take further provocative steps, like further boosting their enrichment level, then we would always have the option of returning to the Security Council.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the back.

      Q:  Thank you.  Yong-ho Kim (ph) with Voice of America.  I’d like to ask you about the loophole issues and, a little bit, focus on the twin brother of Iran on the sanctions issues, which is North Korea.  Some experts say that because of their experience in 2005, North Korea may have a very good idea of how to deal with the financial sanctions by the United States and some financial institutions may still want to do business with North Korea.  And also, we have the China factor, which is also related to the Iran issue.  So all these kind of barriers – how do you deal with it?  What’s your response to this, you know –

      MR. EINHORN:  I don’t understand your question.

      Q:  I’m basically asking about the efficiency of the U.S. sanctions on North Korea, specifically.

      MR. EINHORN:  We believe that the measures we’ve adopted toward North Korea – and not just the United States, but other U.N. members in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions – have been effective.  You know, clearly, it’s become very difficult for North Korea to engage in much commercial activity.  It’s become even harder for North Korea to continue to pursue a range of illicit activities that are banned by the Security Council, including the sale of conventional arms.

      A number of shipments have been stopped, have been interdicted, because of Security Council resolutions.  North Korea essentially has no access to international financial centers.  So we believe that these measures have been effective.  But there’s a big difference between Iran and North Korea.  North Korea’s needs are much less than Iran.

      North Korea’s need to engage with the rest of the international community are much less than Iran’s needs.  And if you have a neighboring country that is prepared to meet, you know, many of your needs – many of your relatively small needs, in terms of fuel, in terms of food – then it becomes more difficult to put effective pressure on.  And North Korea has such a neighbor.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the very back.

      Q:  Thank you, Mr. Einhorn.  My question is a follow-up to the previous question.  How are you trying to overcome the challenge that you just mentioned, that China is actually baffling all your efforts to stop the transaction with Iran and North Korea?  Would you touch on the challenges you are trying to overcome with Chinese cooperations toward these two countries?

      MR. EINHORN:  I’m going to stick with Iran at this meeting.  We can do North Korea some other time.  You know, China’s position has been – ever since adopting Resolution 1929 – that they’re prepared to live up to the terms of 1929, but they’re not prepared to go beyond to what they call unilateral sanctions that a number of countries have adopted with respect to Iran.  But nonetheless, they have been responsive, we believe, in their own way, to concerns about China’s engagement with Iran’s energy sector.

      Clearly, they have some investments in Iran.  China places a high priority on energy security.  But we believe, for whatever reasons, they have exercised voluntary restraint.  They’ve adopted what we call a “go-slow” approach.  Now, again, we can only speculate on the reasons for that.  I think a good explanation for this is that Chinese energy companies have learned what all the major European and Japanese companies have learned, and that is Iran is not a good or reliable business partner.

      They’re difficult in contract negotiations.  You know, things take a long time to develop there.  China has very broad energy interests all over the world, and I think China has learned that it’s not good business to place their bets on Iran and that there are other opportunities, including in the United States, available for them to promote their energy security needs.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Back in the corner here.

      Q:  Thank you.  Carey Lynn (ph), Le Monde.  What’s the status of the new national intelligence estimate that’s been mentioned in the press?  And do you feel any – what is the impact, if any, of the global context – the Arab turmoil right now – on the standoff with Iran?  Thank you.

      MR. EINHORN:  The first was the status of the NIE and the second was what?

      Q:  The impact, if any, of the global context – the turmoil in the Arab world – on the standoff with Iran’s nuclear program.  Thank you.

      MR. EINHORN:  The status of the NIE is that it’s a classified document.  (Laughter.)  On the implications of the turmoil in the Middle East, it’s too soon to tell.  We have been hearing a lot of triumphalist rhetoric from Iran’s leaders about developments in the Middle East suggesting that there’s an Islamic wave sweeping across the Middle East, that these protesters have been inspired by Iran’s own revolution.

      I think these statements really distort reality.  As some Egyptians have said, this is an Egyptian revolution; this is not an Islamic revolution.  Clearly, they don’t see themselves as having been inspired by Iran in 1979.  So even though – and it’s very interesting that Iran praises protesters in the Middle East for taking actions that they brutally repress at home.

      I don’t think this irony has escaped anybody that Iran engages in a brutal crackdown on any dissent even while it’s, you know, talking about how noble the protesters are elsewhere.  It’s too early to tell but I think Iran’s leaders are much more concerned about these developments and the implications for Iran’s domestic situation than they let on.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Daryl?

      Q:  Daryl Kimball.  Thank you again, Bob, for being with us here for this discussion of these important issues.  A lot of the attention over the last few months has been on the confidence-building measures, the TRR proposal on sanctions.

      You mentioned that one of the issues that the P5+1 tried to bring up at the Istanbul talks were the transparency measures – safeguards and measures that Iran needs to take that are referenced in Security Council resolutions.  Could you just remind us about what those issues are, what the P5+1 was bringing up, again, at Istanbul and why those are important from a nonproliferation standpoint, given where Iran’s sort of fuel-cycle activities are today?

      MR. EINHORN:  On this Tehran Research Reactor proposal – TRR, I’ll call it – back in summer of 2010, the U.S. came up with an idea for a confidence-building measure.  Iran, in June of 2010, had – I’m sorry, 2009, 2009 – had written to the IAEA and said this Tehran Research Reactor, which was supplied by the United States during the “Atoms for Peace” era was running out of fuel; could you help us?

      The IAEA sent notes to the United States and Russia.  We, in the U.S., in December of 2009, came up with an idea that we thought was a win-win proposition.  We spoke to the Russians.  They agreed.  We spoke to Mohamed ElBaradei, then director-general of the IAEA, and he agreed and took it on as his own proposal.

      And the idea was that Iran would ship out of the country 1200 kilos of enriched uranium – enriched to 3.5 percent, enough to power, you know, a light water reactor.  It would be turned into reactor fuel.  And actually, by Russia it would be enriched up to near 20 percent, sent to France.  France would produce reactor-fuel elements, send it back to Iran to fuel this reactor, which is used to produce isotopes for the treatment of cancer.

      We saw this as a win-win proposition.  The idea – at the time, Iran had roughly 1500 kilos of enriched uranium.  If you send 1200 out, then they’re left with far less than they would need for a single nuclear weapon.  And it would – they could continue to enrich, but it would take them a year or so to build back up.  And we thought that this way, first of all, both sides would have an opportunity to gain confidence in the ability of the other side to deliver.

      And you know, some countries in the Middle East who are concerned about the accumulation of enriched uranium could rest easy because it would take a year or so to build up to the level necessary to produce a bomb.  So we thought it was a win-win proposition.  ElBaradei liked it very much.  He thought it was a great idea.  He pitched it to the Iranians.  He actually pitched it to Ali Salehi, who is now foreign minister.

      And October 1st, 2009, we had the first Obama administration engagement with Iran in the P5+1.  At that meeting on October 1st, there was a lot of sterile plenary statements and then a few of us, led by Undersecretary Bill Burns, asked to see the Iranians privately.  And so we spent about an hour on the side and we had a very good exchange.  And the Iranians agreed to this proposal.  They agreed to a number of other proposals, too – that we would meet again before the end of the month, that Iran would cooperate fully with the IAEA’s investigation of the Qom enrichment facility.

      But within two weeks after that, the Iranians walked back.  They could no longer accept this.  And they had a variety of reasons for it.  But then in May of 2010, Iran, Turkey and Brazil came up with what they called the “Tehran Declaration,” and at that point, they accepted the 1200 kilos leaving the country, which was a good thing, but in the interim period, they had produced a lot more enriched uranium.  You know, they had about 3000 kilos by then, so allowing 1200 to leave the country no longer would have produced the same confidence-building value as the original proposal.

      So it was no longer good enough.  So what we tried to do in Istanbul, just a couple of months ago in January – January 21st, 22nd – was not to move the goalposts, but to, you know, reset the proposal to what it was originally.  So the idea was Iran would have to stop producing enriched uranium at the near-20-percent level.  In February of 2010 it had upped its enrichment level to 19.75, near 20 percent.

      They would have stop producing at that level and ship out the new material produced then.  They would also have to ship out a large amount of material produced at the 3.5 percent level.  We didn’t provide a specific number, but basically, roughly what we were after was, after shipping out that material, they would be left with roughly the amount of material that they would have been left with, had they accepted the original proposal.

      So our idea was to kind of, you know, set the clock back to the original idea and restore the confidence-building value.  So they would be significantly below the amount required for a single nuclear weapon.  So we put these ideas to the Iranians in Istanbul.  We put a number of what we call transparency measures, as well.  And these were measures which, mostly, Iran had accepted before.

      If you recall, in the 2003-to-2005 period, Iran had provisionally accepted the IAEA Additional Protocol.  It wasn’t formally bound by it, but they said that they would act as if they were bound.  And they adopted a number of measures – for example, they allowed the IAEA to visit factories where centrifuge components were produced.  So what we suggested was that they return to some of these measures that they had previously practiced – not to adopt the whole Additional Protocol.  We realized at this stage, they weren’t prepared to do that – but some of these measures.

      And we thought that the combination of this updated Tehran Research Reactor proposal, plus these transparency steps would be important ways of building confidence.  We knew that, you know, this was not the solution to the issue.  This doesn’t get at the heart of the problem.  But it would be an important confidence-building step and, we thought, could be built upon as we pursue a long-term solution.  But unfortunately, the Iranians were not prepared to discuss it.  They insisted that we first accept these preconditions, which I mentioned earlier.

      MR. THIELMANN:  We are getting to the end, here, but maybe a couple more questions.  And you don’t have to be a journalist to ask them.  Sandy?

      Q:  I’m Sandy Spector.  Bob, earlier, you mentioned the progress that Iran was making toward the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.  And you mentioned three areas where progress was being made – I think that was the phrase you used – fissile material production, where they’re continuing the accumulation of low-enriched uranium, missile developments, which you mentioned and then the third area you said was weaponization.  So is it the U.S. view, now, that weaponization activities have restarted?

      MR. EINHORN:  Let me refer to the IAEA Director General’s report, in which he suggested that nuclear weapons-related activities may have continued beyond 2003.  The NIE addresses this issue, but as I mentioned before, it remains classified.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the back – James.

      Q:  Thank you.  James Acton from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  Bob, I wanted to ask you a bit about the new centrifuges – the IR-2m and the IR-4 – that Iran is testing in the pilot plant.

      Would the installation of these centrifuges in the fuel-enrichment plant constitute one of these provocations by Iran that could lead the U.S. trying to get a new Security Council resolution?  And given the IR-2m and the IR-4 use distinctly different materials from the IR-1, do you think the sanctions regime for the control of those new materials is sufficiently robust to prevent Iran manufacturing them in large numbers?

      MR. EINHORN:  Clearly, taking down the P-1 machines, which are pretty inefficient, and replacing them with more advanced machines would enhance Iran’s capability.  I don’t know where I’d put them on the provocation chart and what steps would be warranted.

      But in terms of verification, I mean, clearly, as long as Iran continues to permit IAEA inspectors to go both to the Natanz pilot facility and Qom – and you know, the Iranians have told the IAEA that they plan to install a few cascades of advanced centrifuges for R&D purposes at Qom – as long as they permit access, we’d have a pretty good handle on what they’re doing with their – with these advanced centrifuges.

      Our understanding is that these advanced centrifuges are not yet ready for mass production.  The Iranians don’t yet have sufficient confidence in them to produce them on a large scale and using them for, you know, production of enriched uranium.  You know, it’s taken them quite a long time to graduate from the P-1s, to more advanced centrifuges.  And that’s fortunate.  It’s lengthened the period of time that Iran could break out in a meaningful way.  It’s given us some more time for diplomacy, which is a fortunate thing.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Maybe one more question.  I see Michael in the back.

      Q:  Hi Bob.  Michael Adler from the Wilson Center.  Just following up on James’ question, is the reason that they’re not ready to break out into advanced production because they lack the raw materials or is there a design problem?  And one other technical question:  If they were going to give more LEU as part of a TRR deal, what would the LEU – where would it go?

      Would it be bought by the Western countries or would it be used to make fuel for something else?  And then one overall question:  You have confidence that sanctions will eventually work.  Could you explain, down the line, how sanction would eventually convince the Iranians to come around?

      MR. EINHORN:  No, I can’t answer that question – how they’re – can you answer that question?  (Laughter.)  In terms of breakout, you know, the main determinant of breakout is not, you know, the design of the machine or whether they can have access to, you know, carbon fibers or whatever.  The main determinant is a political one – a decision by Iran to break out.  And you know, we just can’t calculate how they would see their interests.

      But breaking out, leaving the NPT, kicking out inspectors and so forth would be an incredibly provocative action and very risky for Iran to undertake.  And doing that when you have only a very inefficient machine, like the P-1, makes very little sense.  And that’s provided some confidence that they’re not going to break out soon because it would make no sense for them to break out with a machine that produces material so inefficiently.  So I think, the pacing factor – I mean, it’s a political factor.  And you know, we don’t see breakout as imminent at this stage.

      You know, where would the enriched uranium go, that might be sent out under a TRR deal?  There are all kinds of options.  There are all kinds of ways it could be done.  I don’t want to go through all of them but there are many different combinations of it.  And you know, I don’t have any good answer on your third, speculative question.  I mean, we hope that, as the costs mount, that thoughtful Iranians will recognize that things are going to look a lot worse for them.

      As I mentioned in my remarks, they depend very significantly on revenues from sale of oil and gas, you know, to run their government, to run their country.  Production of oil is declining, actually, in their country.  And it’s not going to pick up without lots of capital and lots of technology, both of which they’re having a difficult time getting.  So if you’re a thoughtful Iranian and looking at the future of your country, you see things are not going very well.

      You know, the price of oil is, for them, a nice near-term cushion but it’s not a solution to the problem.  And the only way that Iran can become a successful and prosperous country is for them to get out from under the sanctions.  And the only way to get out from under the sanctions is to address the concerns of the international community about their nuclear program.  So you know, when will they be convinced?  When will they come to the calculation that they have to start cooperating?  I don’t know.  All we can do is try to sharpen the choice for them, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

      GREG THIELMANN:  Bob, thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thanks very much for this.

      MR. EINHORN:  OK.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the remainder of our time we’re going to hear from three experts on the different aspects of our sanctions topic, and the speakers can either remain seated or come to the podium, whichever is more comfortable.

      First we’re going to hear from Dr. Kenneth Katzman, a Congressional Research Service specialist on the Middle East, who should make every member of Congress grateful for their easy access to him.  Then from Kimberly Elliot, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, whose research and writing on the uses of economic leverage will provide an invaluable empirical grounding to our discussion.

      And finally, from Ambassador John Limbert, diplomat, scholar and distinguished professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, whose linguistic, cultural and political encounters with Iranians have helped us all to understand better the task before us.

      After all have spoken, we will then return to taking questions from the floor.  Ken?

      KENNETH KATZMAN:  Thank you, Greg, and the Arms Control Association, for inviting me.  My comments are my own, not that of CRS or any member or committee of Congress.

      As usual, I’m not a diplomat.  I’ve never been a diplomat.  And my comments tend to not be particularly diplomatic.  My goal today is to clear up the confusion over the multiple overlapping sets of sanctions now enforced against Iran.

      Let me say at the outset, with the exception of the United States, which has a comprehensive ban, there is no broad international ban on civilian trade with Iran.  Ambassador Einhorn mentioned that Daimler, Mercedes, basically Hyundai and – was it Toyota? – Toyota also have pulled out, stopped selling automobiles to Iran.

      There is no – there is no international sanction that sanctions the sale of automobiles to Iran.  There is no international ban on buying crude oil from Iran or natural gas from Iran.  The United States has a ban.  The United States has had a comprehensive trade ban on Iran since 1995.  There was a temporary loophole allowed from 2000 until the CISADA law, which Ambassador Einhorn mentioned.

      There was a loophole that allowed the import of Iranian carpets, caviar, nuts, pistachios, pomegranates.  The CISADA law that was enacted last July has now closed that loophole, so no imports from – we’re back to the original trade ban of ’95 to 2001.

      Before I continue further, I just wanted to answer the Reuters gentleman.  It’s my understanding actually that India and Iran have found a new payment mechanism for the Asia Clearing Union.  He’s got his headphones on.  (Laughter.)  Hello?  Well, for the floor anyway, they’ve agreed to use a bank in Germany –

      (Cross talk.)

      MR. KATZMAN:  OK.  They’ve agreed to use the Europäish-Iranische Handelsbank of Hamburg, EIH, which is a bank that is actually sanctioned by the United States under various executive orders, but it is not sanctioned by Germany and it is allowed to operate in Germany, much to the consternation of some around town.

      But anyway, EIH has accounts with NIOC, the National Iranian Oil Company, and therefore it is a mechanism that India and Iran have agreed to deposit Indian payments for crude oil to this bank, which then go to NIOC.  So that addresses that issue.

      Let me also say, to get back to the original theme, there was legislation in the last U.S. Congress to sanction foreign purchases of long-term – long-term purchases of Iranian crude oil, but that measure was not enacted.  That would be payments where a buyer would pay upfront for a large amount of Iranian oil, a year’s worth of oil, give Iran a big upfront payment.  But that legislation was not enacted in the last Congress.

      To obtain a consensus at the United Nations, the U.N. sanctions adopted since 2006 – and, remember, the U.S. – the United States has had fairly stiff sanctions on Iran since pretty much – really since 1984, I would say, when Iran was put on the U.S. terrorism list for the bombings of the Marine barracks – Hezbollah – in Lebanon and the U.S. embassy there.  But there have been no international – no U.N. sanctions until very recently, 2006.

      The U.N. sanctions are intended to be fairly surgical.  In other words, to stop Iran from acquiring WMD-related material – parts, components, et cetera, but not to harm the Iranian population, not to affect the civilian economy, and Russia still to this day – there was discussion of a possible new U.N. resolution, although Ambassador Einhorn seemed to downplay that for now – but Russia’s position is, we do not want to cross the threshold from sanctions at the international level that sanction WMD and move to sanctioning the civilian economy and hurt the Iranian people.

      However, as Iran has, as we’ve heard, balked at – you know, idea after idea Iran has rejected.  There has been on agreement.  Other countries’ national measures have expanded and they are beginning to touch the Iranian civilian economy, particularly the energy sector and the banking sector.

      Iran, I would say, is now viewed by international businessmen, international CEOs as third rail.  If you touch it, you die.  There is simply no economic percentage return to investing in Iran, dealing with Iran will affect your business with the EU and the United States.

      And the sanctions are beginning – have given multinational corporations a stark choice:  You either do business with Iran or you do business with the United States and the EU.  And just for points of comparison, Iran’s GDP is $850 billion a year.  The combined GDP of the United States and the EU is almost $30 trillion a year.  So you have less than 1-to-30.  It’s not a close call who you’re going to choose.

      Sanctions on the energy sector are not mandated by U.N. resolutions but they are authorized by the language in Resolution 1929, passed last year, which basically draws a connection between Iran’s oil revenues and its WMD program.  Very little new investment in Iran is evident.  Many oil and gas projects are stalled, even where there has been memoranda of understanding agreed to.

      These projects do not seem to be moving forward.  Many companies have now agreed to wind down their business and certainly not make any new investments.  There are some European companies that were given an exemption from sanctions recently in September and November.  It’s because they have agreed to not do any new business.

      But they cannot sort of pull out precipitously because under their arrangements with Iran, these companies make the up-front investments.  They find the oil, bring the oil out of the ground, start pumping the oil, and they get paid back as the oil is sold.

      So, if they left today, they would be out all this money that they’ve invested.  So their argument is we need to stay in until we are paid back and then we can leave.  So that’s why these companies, they’ve been given a pass on sanctions but they’re still there for now, but they are winding down their business but not precipitously ending their business.

      The new law, CISADA, has had the intended effect of dramatically reducing gasoline sales to Iran.  We’re talking 75, 80 percent reduction in sales to Iran of gasoline.  Iran, however, is trying to compensate.  And, actually, the law actually enabled Ahmadinejad to get, finally, agreement on reducing subsidies for gasoline.  He was able to argue that the international sanctions are reducing sales to us.  We need to curb consumption of gasoline.  We need to have the price of gasoline rise.

      And this is how the Majlis then adopted the subsidy reduction and oil prices, gas prices in Iran are now closer to the world price and consumption is decreasing.  We have not seen – not clear evidence of any gasoline shortages in Iran.  They have held up some gasoline shipments that they were selling to Afghanistan, possibly because they were fearing some shortages, but no long gas lines like we had in the ’70s here with the oil embargo.

      Further steps, to just wind up.  What are various Iranian Green Movement activists – what do some of them want?  Some of them want a comprehensive worldwide ban on buying oil from Iran.  The downsides are obvious.  We now have oil prices back over $100 a barrel.  If there is a ban on oil sales by Iran, the price will rise dramatically.  It would be – you know.

      Now Libya is somewhat off the market, or half off.  If you take another 2.6 million barrels a day out of the market, the price is going to spike dramatically at a time when the Western economies are trying to recover.  So, it’s very difficult to sell that idea.

      Other opposition.  Activists say mandating or sanctioning oil service companies; in other words, applying U.S. sanctions to oil service firms that are helping Iran explore for oil.  That is a choke point because Iran does not have the capability to exploit difficult fields.

      If it’s a simple field where you just put a drill in the ground, yes, the Iranians can do it.  If it’s a fractured field, a difficult field, crossing geological boundaries – I’m not an oil expert; this was explained to me – the Iranians and even the Chinese and other companies do not have the skills.  That comes from the West.  If these Western oil service companies leave, then that would be very difficult on the Iranian energy sector.

      What many are talking about is economic sanctions have been well-ploughed.  We’ve done a lot internationally, nationally, U.N., and the time – it’s time to look at other areas.  Human rights – some talk about trying to get our European partners to reduce their diplomatic representation in Iran, ask Iran to reduce the size of its embassies in Europe, some talk about asking the – you know, basically dis-inviting Iranian officials not to visit Europe; you know, the visit’s off, this type of thing.

      There’s talk of expelling Iran from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which it acceded to in 2009 and which sort of was a head-scratcher how they got on there in the first place.  Others talk about such things as, you know, World Cup soccer matches, even talk about sanctioning Iran air flights.

      So, there are other areas that people want to explore other than economic sanctions, and I expect these other type of ideas to get more discussion in the coming year.  Thank you.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you, Ken.  Kim?

      KIMBERLY ELLIOT:  Thank you, Greg, and thanks also again to the ACA for inviting me to join this panel.  As Greg said, I’m here not as an Iran expert and so I, you know, rely on Ken’s reports, like everybody else in town, and I’m eager to hear what the ambassador has to say as well, specifically about Iran.  So I’m sort of here to, A, provide some sort of historical and empirical evidence on sanctions in general, and then I’ll offer a few thoughts on how those might apply in the case of Iran.

      Just so you know,– this was work that was done with Gary Hufbauer and Jeff Schott and others when I was at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, right across the street before I moved to the Center for Global Development.  As I said, our approach was empirical.  Our aim was to try and find every case of economic sanctions that we could in the 20th century.  So we have 200 episodes of sanctions, starting with World War I up to 2000.

      And just to give you a couple of – just again, so you know – understand sort of where I’m coming from in terms of talking about success of sanctions, first of all, we looked at a broad range of foreign policy goals – not commercial disputes, not fights over trade with China, but foreign policy but a broad range within foreign policy, from relatively modest, like getting a particular political prisoner released up to, you know, Gulf War I, and trying to get Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or Iran now, or North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.

      So, a broad range of goals, but with success measured against an instrumental standard.  That is, we recognize that sanctions are frequently used for important political signaling, symbolic reasons, but you would use a different standard in terms of assessing success there.  So what we were looking at is, can we identify a change in the behavior or the policy or even the regime itself in the target country?

      And then the third important thing is that in terms of trying to then assess the sanctions contribution to a given foreign policy outcome, we looked at whether or not it contributed importantly.  But in order to call it a success for sanctions, we didn’t require that the sanctions be the only or even the primary factor in a particular case.

      And what you often find – and Ken was talking about now some of the diplomatic things that might be used vis-à-vis Iran – particularly in these very big and difficult cases, it is a range of tools that need to be engaged in order to produce success, including, in some cases, military or covert action.

      So, to get to the bottom line, across these 200 – oh, and one other thing I should say – and I’ll get to the U.S. results, but the 200 episodes are not just the U.S.  We, again, tried to be as comprehensive as possible.  I’m sure we missed some cases that were only reported in foreign language among smaller countries, but about two-thirds of the 200 do involve the U.S.

      Overall, for the 200, about 1in 3, by our standard, we judge to have been somewhat successful.  For the U.S., the overall – again, because it does dominate the dataset – for the U.S. overall was about 1 in 3, but very big changes over the course of the post-war period.

      So in the early post-World War II period, roughly 1945 through the 1960s, half of U.S. sanctions, by our standard, achieved some degree of success – 60 percent, actually, when the U.S. acted unilaterally.  Those things plunged after the 1970s to around – just a little bit below the overall average of a third for all U.S. sanctions, but to less than 20 percent for U.S. unilateral sanctions.

      So, Ken’s point about the U.S., you know, having comprehensive sanctions for 20 years, you know, not surprising that those didn’t have very much impact in Iran.  What we’re seeing now is the result of getting the U.N. on board, getting the EU to act very strongly.  So I think that’s a very important thing to note, that U.S. unilateral actions have not been very effective over the last several decades.

      So what are the conditions under which sanction are relatively more likely to be effective?  I think this is not going to be a happy message for anyone in the room, but also not surprising when you think about it.

      The first is they’re relatively more successful when the sanctioner’s goals are relatively limited and clearly defined.  It’s important that the target knows what it needs to do and that the sanctioner isn’t moving the goal posts.  It’s sort of what we call our modest category of goal cases – modest goal category.  Sanctions had about a 50-percent success rate to 30 percent in all other cases.

      The second condition was that they’re relatively more likely to work against allies than against enemies – sorry, but that’s what the evidence suggests – and more likely against democracies than autocracies, which, again, isn’t surprising, right?  You have more trade, more aid, more investment, broader relations.  You know, diplomatic relations are more important with your friends than with your enemies.

      And the final one is that the costs have to be in line with the goals.  So when you’re talking about a major ambitious goal, the average impact on the target’s GNP, by our estimation, was 5.5 percent.  That’s a lot – 5.5 percent of GNP.  So, you have to be able to have a pretty big impact, again, when your goals are ambitious.

      So that suggests a not-very-promising outlook for sanctions vis-à-vis Iran.  But I don’t want to leave it on such a pessimistic note, so what I did was to go back, and I looked at the results for sanctions against Libya, because we have – I mean, these have been going on a while so we’ve done – even when the cases are not totally finished we do interim assessments, and some of these are finished, but Libya, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

      And against those four targets over the last 30 years or so, we found – we have nine discrete episodes of sanctions.  And of those nine, against those tough targets, we judged five of them actually, so just over half, to have been somewhat successful.  And you wouldn’t have expected that because they do all involve ambitious goals of dealing with trying to deter weapons of mass destruction, regime change.  These are all autocratic regimes.

      The U.S., as a lead sanctioner, but others as well, often had hostile relations with these governments.  And in most of these cases, with the exception of Iraq, you know, our estimates of the economic costs were not that high, in part because a lot of them were unilateral U.S. or the sanctions by the international community were quite limited.

      Now I think that’s changed.  We have an update and we’re in the process of updating the Iran case right now, so we don’t have new estimates.  But I think Ken’s right that with CISADA and the U.N. Resolution 1929, the impact clearly is growing.  So that’s one element there that’s sort of moving in the right direction.

      But sort of what are those lessons from the episodes that were successful?  I think there are several for Iran, and they probably also apply in North Korea as well.  And the first is simply to be patient.  I know that with Iran, from the U.S. perspective, we’ve already been involved in, you know, trying to change their behavior for three decades.

      But for the U.N. and for the international community, as Ken said, those sanctions are relatively new.  And these things, they do take time.  And I don’t have all of the numbers here, but in our database we have, you know, how long in these other cases.  You know, Libya, the sanctions were in place for 20 years.  Iraq, you know, was a decade or more.

      So, being patient is one thing.  I think, you know, Ambassador Einhorn talked about the first sort of phase of what do we do now being tightening – I mean, those pretty tough sanctions that are CISADA and 1929 have only been in place less than a year, and some countries are still – a lot of countries don’t have the legal machinery to quickly implement, or the enforcement machinery that the United States does.

      So I think giving the existing sanctions a little bit of time to be implemented, to be better enforced is one thing.  I think the other lesson here is it seems to me that regime change is probably off the table now as a goal, but there has been some confusion about that off and on the table in Iran.  That wasn’t achieved in any of these cases.

      I think achievement of other goals is possible.  One, I was interested that the ambassador didn’t really very directly answer the questions about whether or not the sanctions are denying materials for these more advanced centrifuges, but that’s at least – clearly the sanctions are raising the cost to Iran of the program.

      And, you know, it’s hard to know without access to classified information the degree to which they’re slowing it down or impeding the development of these more sophisticated technologies, but that’s certainly possible.

      And then the final thing I would say is, don’t focus only on the cost side.  The kind of framework that we use for assessing sanctions – very simplistic but I think useful is that the costs to the target country of defying the sanctioner’s demands if sanctions are to be successful have to be higher than the cost to the target of complying with those demands.

      And so that’s really – that’s where Iranian intentions come in.  I mean, if they really believe that nuclear weapons are essential to their national security or regime’s survival, they’re probably not going to give them up for any price.  And so then you get into questions about the Green Movement and opposition and divisions with Iran and whether or not sanctions can in any way contribute to deepening those fissures.

      But I think a couple of cautions here.  One is clearly that we don’t want to do anything that would contribute to a rally around the flag, in fact, in Iran rather than feeding the – helping the opposition to the degree we can.

      And, secondly, this issue of unilateral versus multilateral.  And I think that the administration has just done a fantastic job in getting, you know, the international coalition and getting the U.N. to go along with 1929 last year.  But the Russians have sort of said, you know, enough already.  You know, we’ve done the sanctions that we think are appropriate.  We’re not going to do anymore.

      And I think we have to be careful about not starting now to unwind or to undermine that international coalition, which is what I think is really having this isolating effect on Iran that could be quite helpful.

      So I’ll stop there.  Thanks.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you very much.  John?

      JOHN LIMBERT:  Could I –

      MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

      MR. LIMBERT:  Well, thank you very much.

      First of all, let me thank Bob Einhorn, in absentia, for his service.  I worked with him during my brief stint in 2009, 2010 when I was back at State Department.  As you can tell, he has undertaken a very tough issue and he is working at it with a lot of patience, a lot of forbearance, a lot of creativity to work – to help us work our way out of this current impasse.  So he has a lot – he certainly has my respect and my thanks.

      I’d like to pose three questions on this issue of sanctions.  The first is why has – why has the United States used sanctions as a policy tool?  Second, will sanctions bring the Iranian – the Islamic Republic of Iran to follow different policies on nuclear issues and other things?  And, three, in the long term, will sanctions contribute to breaking the current deadlock in U.S.-Iranian relations?

      On the first issue, why have we used sanctions; well, we use sanctions because it is tool that we know – Katzman mentioned since 1984 – actually since 1979, in some unpleasantness that I was involved in back then, we’ve used sanctions against Iran since then.

      They’re something we know.  They’re something with which we have experience, not that they’re easy but we know how to apply them, we know how to negotiate them, we know how to negotiate with the Russians or with the Chinese or with the P5+1 or the E-10 or whatever other groups they are.  We know how to get them through the U.N.

      So, it’s something we’re familiar with, and we’ve had a lot of sanctions.  We can put on new ones.  We can change them.  We can intensify them.  But it’s something that we know how to do.  On the other hand, changing the unproductive relationship what we’ve had with Iran for the last 30 years, now that we do not know how to do.  That’s hard.  That is very hard.  That is very hard.

      We don’t have a lot of experience with that.  Efforts at outreach, as Ambassador Einhorn mentioned, have not been very – have not been successful.  I mean, since President Obama took office now, it’s been over two – it’s been over two years and there’s been exactly one high-level meeting officially between American and Iranian officials bilateral.  And the results of that, as we know, were disappointing.

      So, faced with frustration – and it has been a very frustrating process, and you hear words like Iranian intransigence, Iranian this, Iranian unwillingness to act, and so forth and so on.  Faced with that, our first reaction has been to say, well, we tried.  We tried.  But they are so unreasonable and so stubborn and so irrational and so intransigent that we’ll have to go back to what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years because that’s what we know how to do.

      Now, we heard about a dual-track program.  Well, with apologies to my friends, I’ve never seen a train that could run on two tracks at the same time.  Frankly, the problem with sanctions is they took – they overtook this idea of engagement.  They simply sucked all the air out of the room.

      We heard about the May 2010 tripartite deal.  It wasn’t perfect.  It had flaws.  Maybe it was 80 percent of what was in the original 2009 reactor deal.  But because it came at the very same time that resolution 1929 was tabled, we could not consider it seriously.  Sanctions – this is the whole sanction process.  This sanction train, sanction juggernaut, whatever you want to call it, had pretty much tied our hands.

      And we ended up looking like, unfortunately – this was very unfortunate – we ended up looking like we could not take yes for an answer, although that agreement did – as I said, gave about 80 percent of what we had agreed to less than a year earlier.  Maybe it was six or seven months earlier.

      OK, the second question, will sanctions bring the Iranians to follow different policies?  Well, they might; they might, in the sense – but maybe not from an economic standpoint but from a psychological and political standpoint.

      You know, we talked – some people mentioned North Korea.  You know, it belabors the point to say Iran is North Korea.  Obviously Iran is not North Korea.  Obviously Iran is not North Korea.  But for the Iranians, as I read the policies, they do not like being in the position of international pariahs or polecats.  They do not like being in the same position as the Sudanese or the Libyans.  The Libyans, they go back a little bit.

      But being in that kind of category is somehow at variance with their own view of themselves and their place in the world – place in the world.  And being singled out as somehow international malefactors, violators, whatever they are, is not pleasing to them, whatever the economic – whatever the economic effects.

      The other question about the link to human rights is a very interesting question – a very interesting question, a very sensitive one.  But what I do – what I have heard from some – from Iranian friends is if you can – to say, look, if you, the Americans and others, can do this right and do something that visibly penalizes the people that are beating us, imprisoning us, torturing us, intimidating us, we’re all for it, if you can do that.

      But these things – I mean, these things in general are a pretty blunt instrument, but if this can be done, it would be, I think, seen as constructive internally in Iran.  It brings me to my last question:  Will sanctions bring the Iranians – will sanctions help break the deadlock?

      Well, as I mentioned, they haven’t in 30 years.  You know, for 30 years the Iranians have been defying the experts, who have said, well, all of this economic mismanagement, all this blind ideology, all this inept diplomacy, all of this failure to invest in infrastructure, the failure to make deals being so difficult over in negotiations, it’s got to bring this government – either bring it down or bring it to its senses.  It can’t last.

      Well, guess what?  It has.  The experts have been almost universally wrong on this particular issue.  I’m reminded of what an Iranian political scientist once told me.  He said, look – he said, we Iranians, we never give in to pressure.  We only give in to a lot of pressure.  (Laughter.)

      And, you know, what is a lot of pressure in this case?  Well, judging by history, judging by what happened back in the ’80s, the decisive factor was not sanctions, which were already there – which were already there and had been there for a long time.  The decisive factor was price of oil.  It’s pretty – I mean, people have pointed out it’s pretty difficult to make these things work if oil is $70 a barrel or now a hundred dollars a barrel, but $70 a barrel.

      On the other hand, in the late 1980s when oil was, what, $12 a barrel, the situation was very different and we saw – that was the period when the Islamic Republic did what it said it would never do and agreed to an end to the Iran-Iraq War and a ceasefire.  And one of the reasons it did so, basically because it was broke and its oil was that.

      Now, can we – can we do that?  Can we get that?  Well, you know, I doubt it, politically.  If we could cut our consumption – our own consumption, or others could cut their consumption to the point where it would bring the price of oil down, it might have some effects on our Saudi friends as well.

      But that is what I say falls into the category of a lot of pressure, and that’s what we may be looking at.  But until then, we’re looking at a situation where Iran has essentially defied all of these sanctions for 30 years and takes a certain pride in doing so and is very likely to continue to take a pride in doing so.

      So, on that note, as I say, we do – just to sum up, we do sanctions because we know how to do them.  We have not been able to work other ways.  I am looking for – I still am looking for that second track and that engagement track.  But once the sanctions got going, it was very difficult to get any attention or focus on doing something else.

      Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

      MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you, John.  There is much food for thought here, and I know many of you have questions.  Let me just ask one quick question.  And I think this might be more a question for Kim.  But I’m wondering if you can tell us anything historically about how sanctions are unwound because some of the North Korea actions convinced me that sometimes even when we decide to stop doing sanctions, it doesn’t kind of turn off as quickly as we would like.

      Kim, do you have any comments on that?

      MS. ELLIOT:  I actually have an RA right now.  He’s going through and trying to put together all of the sanctions that we have currently against Sudan, so that, you know, if things sort of – if this partition goes well, the independence in the south, and we want to start to change our relationship with Sudan, what would it take to do it?

      So, we’re in the process of, in part, to sort of explore this question.  And I at one point did a chart of sort of every five-year period, all of the outstanding U.S. sanctions, and it just goes up and up and up because they almost never get lifted.  And it does become – I think it’s a general pattern that it is very difficult to unwind these things.

      I think there were some particular reasons in the North Korea case in terms of sort of the particular provisions against – I assume you’re talking about the Banco Delta Asia.  But it’s a general thing that you often have – go back to what I said, that it’s very seldom that we have sort of very clean, clear-cut results, a clear, you know, victory.

      You can see this in Cuba, you know, sort of – well, that’s a clear failure, I would argue, but you almost always have some constituency there that is very, very committed to maintaining the sanctions because there aren’t 100 percent success – I guess sort of an amorphous, you know, unorganized group that may want to lift the sanctions, and that political dynamic is it’s the basic collective action problem that’s very hard to overcome.

      So, I think the unwinding of sanctions, in part because in almost all of these big cases there is – I mean, the list is going to be, you know, pages long of the Sudan sanctions.  We pile on – and you can see this very much in Iran, and Ken knows this very well, having tracked all of the various legislation.  So part of it is just the legal process of unwinding all this stuff, but then you also have the political dynamics can be very difficult.  So it is an issue.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you.  Let me just mention that I know that Ken Katzman has a hard stop at 10:45.  We may be able to go a few minutes beyond that, but we welcome your questions.  Yes?

      Q:  Thanks.  It’s Indira Lakshmanan.  I’m from Bloomberg.

      Ambassador Limbert, I wanted to ask you – very provocative comments you made, and I would like to ask, it sounds like your implication is that since two tracks aren’t working, that the sanction track would have to be lifted for the engagement track to work.  So I’m asking if that’s what you’re suggesting, and what is the logical conclusion of the three questions and answers that you offered us?

      MR. LIMBERT:  No, it isn’t that you – you know, that you lift one or the other, but the point being that, again, just simply based on experience and the laws of – the iron laws of bureaucracy, it’s difficult – it’s very difficult to do more than one thing at a time.

      And when sanctions came under discussion, we met – think about this:  After 2009, when we started – after October of 2009 and the collapse of the first TRR deal, when we started discussing – in the lead-up to the resolution of 1929, I mean, how many times did we speak to the Russians?  How many times did we speak to the Chinese?

      How many times did we speak to the various other members of the P5+1, to the nonpermanent members of the Security Council and so forth and so on?  How many times did our Secretary of State speak to her counterpart and how many times did the President have to get involved and so forth?

      Compare that to the number of times we spoke to the Iranians, who were the subject of this whole thing.  This whole thing was supposed to be about Iran.  How many – after 2000, in that whole period after Ambassador Burns and Jalili met in Geneva, as Ambassador Einhorn spoke – zero.  Now, that, to me, suggests a certain imbalance in where our attention is – where our intention is going.

      But we did that, as I suggested, because that’s what we knew how to do.  And what we did not know how to do was to keep this and get this engagement policy with the Iranians going – not that the Iranians, of course, were going to make it easy for us.

      Q:  (Off mic.)

      MR. LIMBERT:  Well, I’ve always said – to echo Kim here – patience, patience and more patience.  You are – you’re going to – there’s a place at Esfahan called the Ali Qapu.  It’s the big gate.  It’s the big gate – famous historical – and I’ve always said, if the Ali Qapu, if the big gate is closed, you look for what our Hungarian friends call the kiskapu, the little gate, or the loophole – to look for that and not give –

      I mean, we said yes.  We said we were interested in engagement.  We said we were – engagement was still on the table.  But it was, frankly, difficult to tell that from our actions.  And I think we needed to – we need to pursue it with patience, with forbearance, and knowing that you’re not going to have immediate success or quick success, and to measure your – you know, to measure your progress in very small steps.

      MS. ELLIOT:  Could I add to that quickly?

      MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

      MS. ELLIOT:  Just going back to sort of the little framework, I think, you know, it’s bridging that gap between the cost of defiance, which is sort of where we are now with sanctions, and the cost to Iran of compliance.

      And so we’ve put a lot of effort on the sanction side, I think as the ambassador was saying, and the question is, you know, are we really paying enough attention to what can we do in terms of, you know, identifying Iran’s red lines.  What do they really need out of this bargain and can we achieve it?

      Where I’m maybe a little bit more pessimistic is – and I would like to ask maybe both Ken and the ambassador if they have any comments – is not being an Iran expert, my impression is it’s much harder – I mean, I think the Obama administration did try to engage, and then that was right around the time of the election.

      And now they’re in a much – I think they’re feeling vulnerable, is my impression.  And so, the question really is, are the Iranians able to engage with us at this point, given what’s going on politically, and even more so now with what’s going on in the broader Middle East and how that may interact with Iran.

      So that’s my kind of concern is that we may have missed a window of opportunity to engage with Iran, and there’s lots of water under the bridge in terms of the enrichment going forward, increasing to 20 percent, and it’s just getting harder and harder to identify what’s the package that’s going to be acceptable to both parties.

      MR. THIELMANN:  And anything for Ken in particular, who’s got to leave in a couple of minutes?  Yes, Harry?

      Q:  I’d like to ask a question –

      MR. THIELMANN:  We’ll get a mic to you.

      Q:  Sorry.  Harry Blaney, Center for International Policy, National Security Program.

      I’d like to ask Ken – if he wants to go off the record, given the circumstances – the same question that John named:  Do you have thoughts about how a strategy might work that is not necessarily the one which we are on now, or ideas about things that you know about – if you want to put it that way – that you would like to reflect on and share with us.  Thank you.

      MR. KATZMAN:  There’s things I know about that I cannot share with you, unfortunately.  But I did lay out some – you know, some ideas of my own, and talking with opposition people.  You know, I did talk to people in the Green Movement quite a bit.  They are very active.

      And they actually – you know, one of the arguments against sort of a lot of the sanctions has been they will cause people in Iran to rally around Ahmadinejad.  It has been really the opposite.  The Green Movement’s message is that Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader are doing exactly what John, I think, said the Iranians do not want to happen – becoming a malefactor, becoming a pariah, becoming an outcast.

      And this is really what the Green Movement challenge to the regime is, is to say, we do not want to be outcasts.  We are not North Korea.  We will not accept a situation where we cannot visit the West, where we cannot integrate, where we cannot get on the Internet, where we cannot interact with global ideas.

      And the sanctions really have reinforced, in many ways, that message.  They’ve made the Green Movement’s case in many ways that the regime is bringing this isolation down upon them.  This is why I think, you know, the sanctions that are in place are starting to really, really work.

      And I did lay out some ideas that are sort of floating around about, you know, the next phase maybe – you know, some of these human rights issues, “name and shame,” diplomatic sanctions – sanctions that don’t bite the economy necessarily but show that it’s not business as usual with Iran.

      Now, you know, I appreciate, obviously – you know, I agree; I think, you know, the Obama administration did have a sincere approach to engagement with Iran.  There were sanctions also, but there was a different tone in President Obama’s – particularly his early statements, saying we are ready to turn the page; we do want to pursue consistent engagement, not just attend one meeting, you know, and then not others, but we will be at the table at every meeting.  And it really was a different tone.

      And then, you know, things intervened.  You know, we have the – you know, we have these two kids who wander across the border and are there for more than one year.  We have Mr. Levinson, who we now learn is alive and probably was taken by Iran, even though they said they had no information – you know, the Iranians do things – they are their own worst enemy, I would say.

      They are extremely hard to deal with, and I think, you know, it certainly reinforces those who are in the camp of saying there really is no discernable deal to be – to be had with this regime.  There is no way anyone can envision a deal with this regime because they just don’t seem to be obeying international norms of behavior.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Daryl?

      Q: Thanks, everyone, for your great presentations – very rich discussion.  I have a question for John Limbert about the longer-term, broader solution that may be out there.

      It seems as though, as Bob Einhorn has said and several of you have said, the conditions may not be there right now, and that sanctions may help change Iran’s calculus.  But, I mean, if we look back at the negotiations that the Europeans had with Iran that broke up in 2005, and we look at the statements that are being made today by the secretary of state, Ms. Clinton, and the Iranians about the broad parameters of their issues and concerns –

      I mean, could you just outline whether, you know, you, based upon your experience, see the possibility for a resolution that allows the Iranians to continue to pursue a peaceful program under some sort of safeguards – enhanced safeguard system, and that addresses the lingering concerns about the weaponization activities, you know, and how, from a diplomat’s standpoint, you get to the stage in those discussions where you’re getting beyond the specific confidence-building issues and measures like the TRR proposal and you finally get to the discussion about the broader deal that may be out there?

      So, I mean, this is more of a philosophical, theoretical question, but you’ve got real-world experience, and I think that’s a question that many people are wondering as we see this process drag on.  Thanks.

      MR. LIMBERT:  Yeah.  No, it’s a good question, and the question that comes up – I mean, behind it I think is this idea of, is there space for a deal at all?  And maybe there is not.  There may not be.

      But, in a situation like this you use – you fall back on – I guess you call them the traditional tools of diplomacy, which is patience, forbearance and listening.  Some people in this room I think were also witnesses to this.  I cite my favorite authority in this issue, and that’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said at one point – and I say others can correct my memory if I didn’t hear this correctly, but he was asked – at an off-the-record session he was asked, is Iran seeking a nuclear weapon?

      And his answer was – I thought his answer was very interesting.  He said, no, we are not.  We oppose nuclear weapons on ideological grounds.  They are weapons of murder.  We oppose them on political grounds.  They do not serve our political purpose.  They are expensive, they are dangerous, and so forth and so on.

      Now, you can believe him or not.  That’s up to you.  That’s up to you.  The evidence may point the other way.  But this was what was interesting:  He said, so we oppose them, but the decision to build nuclear weapons or not build nuclear weapons is our decision.  It is for us, Iran, to make, not the IAEA, not the United States, not the Security Council, not the United Nations.

      Now, anyone who has ever had an adolescent at home will recognize this kind of reasoning, but it’s very – to me it’s very revealing of sort of the way that at least this particular Iranian looked at the issue.  It was not an issue of HEU or LUE or the additional protocol.  It was a matter of national rights and position in the world and who decides what Iran is going to do.

      MR. KATZMAN:  (Off mic.)

      MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

      MR. KATZMAN:  Yeah, I certainly take that point.  And, you know, I’m not a proliferation expert, but Iran is a party to the – the problem is Iran is a party to an international agreement whereby they’ve agreed to give up that right in exchange for certain integration.  And so, for them to now say it’s up to us whether we’re building a nuclear weapon or not seems to, you know, make it even more difficult to find a common-ground framework.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Diane?

      Q:  Yes.  Diane Perlman, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason.

      I mean, on that point, according to the law of opposites, the more we pressure them, the more value we put on it and the more they want them.  So, what we’re doing is having the opposite effect, which also goes along with the research on sanctions, which can be, you know, humiliating, intimidating, backing into a corner, if you understand conflict dynamics.

      So, anyway, like after 9/11, I understand there were a million Iranians having candlelight vigils for us, and there was a peace offering in 2003, and then Bush called them, you know, “the axis of evil” and started threatening them.

      And, John Limbert, you said that sanctions is what we do, and our primary approaches are coercive, punitive, isolating, backing into a corner, which, as you suggest, are likely to provoke defiance in what Johan Galtung called in 1967 the “naïve theory of sanctions.”  And also, what we mean by engagement a lot is by pressuring them, except with smiling while we’re doing it, which still can be humiliating.

      So I’m wondering also about other – balancing punitive, coercive e approaches with positive inducements, like we did with the Cuban missile crisis – a face-saving way out, tension reduction, or figuring out what they want.  And you can hold – the punitive stuff can be sort of more quiet, not in their face, in the background.  And I imagine the research on – have you looked at the research on positive inducements?

      MR. THIELMANN:  OK, I think that was a comment, but if you have a response –

      MR. LIMBERT:  Not really.

      MS. ELLIOT:  I have maybe just a quick one, which is I think there’s a lot more attention now to positive inducements.  I guess my own take is it’s carrots and sticks, not either/or – in most cases are going to be what you need to try to deploy.

      But I will also mention there’s a book that’s going to be coming out I hope later this year by – organized by Etel Solingen, UC – I think she’s at Irvine.  I forget.  But anyway, with a series of chapters and case studies on trying to look at positive inducements.  So, there is some ongoing research.  Marc Noland, my former colleague at PIIE, with Steph Haggard, is doing the North Korea chapter.  And I think there’s one on Iran.  I forget who’s doing it.

      So I think that they’re trying to really systematically explore the positive inducement side of these things, so that should be really interesting.

      MR. THIELMANN:  In the front row?

      Q:  Hi, Sameera Daniels (sp).  I lived in Iran for a bit at one point.  And in the ’70s, the one thing that I remember very vividly is that at the time, Iran was very – was looking forward in terms of its energy production, and I remember a comment where one oil representative, Iranian, said, you know, we’re not going to have oil – you know, that is going to drop off.   This is, you know, a theory – I mean, they understood their situation over the long term.

      And as a consequence, I – you know, we focus on Ahmadinejad, but, you know, there are rational – there are others, and it’s always an issue of, you know, who are you going to privilege?  And in that context, don’t you think that it is looking – it has been intermittently or continuously looking at its energy, you know, situation and maybe acting rationally and realizing that, you know, maybe the United States and other countries may want its oil as well, or may invade it.  I mean, some may – I mean, that kind of irrational, you know, or rational variable sets in.

      And in consequence of that, what do you think – how can you – I mean, is that a potential scenario that they’re considering?

      MR. THIELMANN:  John, do you want to take that?

      MR. LIMBERT:  Well, just on the energy, you know, experts who are much more knowledgeable than I – and I cite people like Stern at Princeton and Farudin Feshar Aqin (ph) and others – who, you know, for years have been saying, look, this can’t last.

      Their consumption is going like this.  Their production is flat.  They’re not investing as they should.  They are not investing as they should.  They are not making the deals that – even when they were not under the kinds of sanctions that they are today, they were not unwilling to make the deals that they should, and they’ve all been wrong.

      Why?  Maybe they’ve been lucky.  At one point I think they discovered – made a gas discovery that got them 500,000 barrels a day of condensates that they were not counting – not counting on.  Now they can sell their oil for $110 a barrel where they couldn’t – where it was 60 (dollars) or 70 (dollars) before.

      But, for whatever reason, these predictions have not panned out.  But the basic fact that you mention is true, that – I mean, look at – you know, look at Iran’s economy.  Other than oil, what do they have?  Pistachios and carpets.  That’s essentially the same thing they had in the 17th century.  You know, and economically that hasn’t gone – that hasn’t gone anywhere.  But, again, the question that it leads to, you know, politically:  So what?  What has that led to?

      And I should also say that I think every statement that the secretary – the Secretary of State, for example, was asked at one point about the Bushir reactor, when the Iranians announced that they were starting the Bushir reactor.

      The Bushir reactor was there when you were in Iran – when you were in Iran, and it was obsolete then.  The best damn thing they could – the best thing they could do with that is scrap it, sell it for scrap.  But, anyway, it’s a matter of national pride.

      But, anyway, she was asked, what do you think about the Bushir reactor, and she said, we have no problem with it.  There are safeguards, and it’s a civilian – and what was the Iranian reaction?  Ah, there’s got to be a trick.  (Laughter.)  She’s obviously up to something.  You can’t trust – you know, can’t trust her.  But the statement was quite matter of – is a matter – you know, was quite matter of fact.

      MR. THIELMANN:  One more question?  Is that all the questions?

      If so, let me just say that – I guess my answer, John, to the dual-track question is I grew up with NATO’s dual-track decision of 1979, which was both a negotiating approach and sort of the stick of deploying new INF missiles in Europe.

      But, to your point, we had a very well-established diplomatic and multiple diplomatic engagement throughout with the Soviet Union, so that’s certainly a significant difference between then and this case.

      Several themes have emerged from our discussions today.  I think they’ve been very rich.  Certainly sanctions do make nuclear weapons and missile developments more difficult and more time-consuming.  Sanctions do raise the political and economic costs for Iran’s leadership of withholding cooperation from the IAEA and defying the U.N. Security Council.

      But the sanctions are also means to an end, not the end itself, or as Secretary Clinton said, means to achieve leverage.  The sanctions alone will not force Iran’s compliance, so we have more work to do than just the more effective implementation of sanctions.  Our crystal ball is still very clouded on the thinking of Iran’s leadership and what exactly the best way or the portal – to use Esfahan metaphor – through which pass.

      Thank you very much for attending today.  And please stay tuned for the next panel discussion that ACA will host.  And this one will focus on the military option.  And we are talking about Iran, not Libya at this session.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

       

      (END)

      Description: 

      Transcript Available. After four rounds of UN sanctions and on-going discussion of introducing additional measures by the United States and its allies, the effectiveness of sanctions in constraining Iran's nuclear program has come under increased international scrutiny. With an Iranian regime accustomed to withstanding deprivations in the past and increasing political turmoil in the Middle East, measuring the impact of sanctions on the Iranian decision-making process remains a difficult challenge.

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      ACA Senior Fellow Talks Missile Defense at Penn State

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      Siren Song: Strategic Missile Defense

      Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
      Penn State University
      March 3, 2011

      Most of you in this audience will recognize sirens as mythical creatures from the Greek classics, dangerous bird-women, who lured passing sailors with their enchanting voices to shipwreck on the rocky shore.  Here is the encounter of Odysseus.  Warned in advance, Odysseus had his men stuff wax in their ears and had himself bound to the mast so that he could hear the sublime singing without dooming his crew to destruction.  Those with a more Germanic bent may visualize the maiden depicted by Heinrich Heine in his famous poem “Die Lorelei” -- Ihr gold'nes Geschmeide blitzet, and so forth.   The message is the same.  The girl’s face and voice are lovely, but if we don’t take our eyes off her and pay attention to the rocks, we’re all going down.  That is the thrust of my message today with regard to strategic missile defense – a siren song of our era.

      Short Course

      Before making my case, let me provide some context with a crash course on the weapons we’re talking about and a short review of the arms control treaties that have been reducing our bloated nuclear arsenals from their Cold War peak

      First, The Weapons

      Strategic offensive missiles are the ICBMs and SLBMs that can be launched from Russia to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental U.S. or vice versa, traveling 5,500 km in some 30 minutes.  The United States has only one missile defense system today that is designed to intercept such weapons, the Ground-Based Interceptor.  The so-called “GBI.” is a large multi-stage missile that destroys an incoming warhead by crashing a refrigerator-sized kill vehicle into it at extremely high speed.  The interceptor is guided by a variety of sensors -- one on the missile itself and others on satellites in space and in radars on the ground, like the Sea-Based X-Band Radar.  By 2020, current plans call for the U.S. to deploy a second type of interceptor missile, which can destroy ICBMs, the Aegis SM-3 IIB.  The other missile defense systems you read and hear about are for tactical or theater threats; they do not offer a means to defend against ICBMs.

      Now, the Treaties

      Less than one month ago, a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called “New START,” entered into force between Russia and the United States.  This was the latest way station on the long and rocky journey toward a safer and saner world.  Some would say the journey began in 1963 when the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union signed a treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere (LTBT).  That historic milestone was reached shortly after the world came to the brink of the abyss in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  It also followed the circulation of reports showing that fission bi-products from atmospheric nuclear testing, such as Strontium 90, were showing up in mother’s milk and baby teeth, all over the world.   Others would point to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the starting point.  This treaty required the five countries which then had nuclear weapons to start getting rid of them and the states which did not to forego the nuclear option.  While both of these treaties are in New START’s “family tree,” the first binding bilateral limit on strategic arms was the 1972 Interim Agreement coming out of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and known as SALT I.  The parent of New START is the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), signed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhael Gorbachev.  This treaty marked the first time the sides had agreed to specific numerical reductions in their strategic arsenals, to be accompanied by on-site inspections.

      …and the Dead Ends

      The journey to New START has also been marked by some detours and dead-ends.  The Carter Administration’s intention of ratifying the SALT II agreement of June 1979 became politically untenable once the Soviets invaded Afghanistan a few months later.  The START II agreement reached in 1994 was ultimately doomed by George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which had been in effect for 30 years.  And then there was the 2002 Moscow Treaty (aka SORT).  Although this treaty was ratified, it was deeply flawed, lacking verification provisions, a definition of the items being limited, a timetable for reductions, and durability.  (It was, in fact only scheduled to last one day at the end of 2012.)  Good riddance to that one!

      The Sound of the Siren

      Throughout the long and arduous quest to reduce nuclear arsenals, the strategic defense siren has been singing.  In listening to that song – like the boatman on the Rhine or the heroes of Greek mythology – Americans have been diverted from the deep water channel that provides an eventual way out of our existential dilemma.  Moreover, our boat is taking on water, and may, even now, be heading for the rocks.

      The most successful communicator for strategic missile defense was the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.  Here are some excerpts from his famous “Star Wars” speech in March 2003:

      “…rely[ing] on the specter of retaliation, on mutual threat [is] a sad commentary on the human condition. Wouldn't it be better to save lives than to avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability?

      “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

      ”…isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war?

      “I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.

      “… tonight we're launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history.”

      Adding to the impact of these stirring words, the Pentagon later provided film footage of ballistic missile interceptors smashing into target warheads at incredible closing speeds, producing brilliant explosions against the blackness of space.  Commentators contributed the powerful metaphor of “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”  A lobbying organization called “High Frontier” offered animated videos showing U.S. x-ray lasers in space zapping swarms of warheads careening toward the American homeland.  These fantasy scenarios were picked up by the mainstream media and run whenever the subject of advanced missile defenses was in the news. When the Cold War deflated the perceptions of nuclear danger, the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission on Foreign Ballistic Missile Threats and a 1999 National Intelligence Estimate picked up the slack.   Each offered shrill warnings about the rapidly growing ballistic missile threat to the United States and its allies from “rogue” states.  And for a quarter century, a cheering squad of missile defense enthusiasts has been nourished by Congressional appropriation of some $5-10 billion/year to universities, research labs, and weapons manufacturers.

      Physics Lesson

      I think it’s now time in my narrative to impart a few observations about rocket science and physics.  The first technical challenge with strategic missile defense is related to the extremely high velocity of warheads once the propulsion phase ends.

      Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) travel on a ballistic trajectory like an artillery shell.  Their “boost phase,” when the rocket engines are firing, lasts only 5-7 minutes.  Then, the warheads’ carrier, or “bus” separates from the large booster stages.  At burnout, the ICBM warheads are traveling 7 kilometers per second through the void of space—much faster than shorter-range ballistic missiles that have been deployed by the North Koreans and Iranians.  ICBM warheads are therefore much harder to intercept.  They even travel faster than the defensive missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California.  With our current system “architecture,” we would probably get just one chance to look and shoot, before it was too late.

      As the warheads travel through the mid-course phase in the vacuum of space, they are relatively small and have no heat signature, which could otherwise reveal their presence to infra-red sensors.  So very powerful radars must be used to detect and track these objects from thousands of kilometers away.  These very expensive and huge tracking radars themselves become very lucrative strategic targets in a crisis, because their destruction renders the entire missile defense system ineffective.  The U.S. system relies heavily on the Shemya radar located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain and a sea-based X-band radar floating off Alaska in the North Pacific.  Whether or not they can survive at the outset of hostilities is a largely ignored issue.  Moreover, in a nuclear conflict, the radars’ performance can be significantly degraded by detonating a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.

      But the real glass jaw of strategic missile defense comes from the ease of spoofing the sensors.  The “bus” carrying the warheads can emit a cloud of chaff (composed of highly-reflective foil) as it releases one or more warheads so that the exact location of actual warheads is obscured. The bus can also deploy decoys (basically, mylar-coated balloons) along with the warheads.  During the warheads’ flight through space, most of their flight time, these decoys look the same as actual warheads to the radar.  There is much open testimony over the years about their effectiveness from those involved in designing ways to defeat Moscow’s strategic ballistic missile defense system in the late 60s and 70s.  There has been almost no operational testing of the current systems’ ability to discriminate warheads from decoys.

      As if the problem were not difficult enough, the offense has another trick up its sleeve to defeat the defense. The warheads can be made to maneuver.  So to return to the earlier metaphor, it’s even harder to hit a bullet with a bullet when the first bullet starts to bob and weave.  Even though the U.S. has conducted flight tests with maneuverable re-entry vehicles, known as “MaRVs,” we never actually deployed any because other penetration aids were judged sufficiently effective.

      My bottom line:  Missile defenses against ballistic missiles with conventional warheads may, in certain situations, contribute to national security, whether they are 20% or 80% reliable.  Missile defenses against nuclear-tipped intercontinental range ballistic missiles are worthless in deterring attack – think about “only” 20-40% of nuclear warheads getting through -- and disastrous in curbing the arms race.

      The U.S. defense community has not been deaf to the lure of the siren song, but through most of the Cold War, it ultimately turned away.  It first gave up trying to protect the U.S. population from a deliberate Soviet missile attack, changing the mission of its ABM in the mid-sixties to protecting against a deliberate Chinese or accidental Soviet launch.  Then in the late-sixties it gave up population defense entirely by deploying interceptors around ICBM fields.  This was done in the hope of strengthening deterrence by affecting the exchange ratio in the Soviet calculus – how many attacking warheads would be needed to attack warheads in silos.  Finally, the U.S. won limits on the number and location of strategic defense radars and interceptors through the 1972 ABM Treaty, completely banning systems designed to provide ballistic missile defense of national territory.  The Pentagon and Congress later judged that even the U.S. ABM system allowed under the treaty was not worth the effort, and closed it down after only a few months of operation.  Indeed, it ultimately abandoned President Reagan’s “Star Wars” fantasy because Special Advisor Paul Nitze’s criterion could not be satisfied -- missile defense systems would have to be “cost effective at the margin,” meaning that they made no sense if an enemy could more cheaply counter a missile defense interceptor by adding an additional offensive warhead.

      But alas, our ship of state did not make it free to open waters.

      --  Spooked by a North Korean missile launch, the U.S. Congress passed the 1999 Missile Defense Act, which provided the legislative imprimatur to deploying a strategic missile defense system to defend U.S. territory against limited attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)…”  Senate passage was almost unanimous; the House bill passed by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.

      --  In 2001 President George W. Bush announced U.S. withdraws from the ABM Treaty, which had served for 30 years as a linch-pin of strategic arms control.  Previous UN General Assembly voting had shown strong international support for retention of the treaty.

      -- At Bush’s direction, the Pentagon rushed to deploy strategic defenses in Alaska and California by 2004, even before they had been operationally tested.

      --  This Alaska- and California-based system remain largely irrelevant in defending against the huge potential intercontinental ballistic missile threat we face today (from Russia and China).  And the threat against which they were designed to defend is still not even on the near horizon, seven years after deployment.

      --  The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty acknowledges in its preamble the interrelationship between strategic offences and defenses, but the treaty text itself remained missile-defense-friendly – leaving U.S. missile defense plans unaffected and papering over a significant difference between the parties on the impact of strategic defenses.

      -- The Senate’s Resolution of Ratification decrees that there will be no negotiation on US missile defenses.

      We have thus bought time for implementing New START as the next step in nuclear arms reductions, but we’ve made negotiating follow-on reductions virtually impossible until our divergent views on missile defense are reconciled.

      The View from Moscow

      Russian reactions to the New START treaty and the U.S. missile defense program are complicated and conflicted. Moscow appears satisfied that it can proceed safely with modest reductions in strategic offensive systems under New START and has accepted NATO’s stated intention to develop territorial missile defenses for Europe.

      However, Russian officials continue to voice concerns about future improvements in U.S. missile defense systems, as they did in Russia’s unilateral statement to New START, warning against a “quantitative and qualitative” buildup.  Moscow has been dubious for a long time about U.S. portrayals of a potential strategic threat from Iran and North Korea – in public and in confidential dialogue with the United States.[1] Even after Russia’s acceptance of NATO’s offer to cooperate on missile defense, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin openly declared, “Russia does not see any missile threats in northern Europe, so the [US] defense systems should not be deployed there.”[2]

      Moscow appears to accept the logic of U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense, but remains skeptical such cooperation could ever lead to a safe and truly equitable joint relationship.  Russia demands full equality in the control of any cooperative approach to missile defense.  According to Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov, “We also want to ensure that Russia participates as an equal partner. Only then can a missile defense system be created that satisfies all sides.”[3]

      In spite of President Medvedev’s upbeat rhetoric about his conversations at the November 2010 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, his emphasis on “absolute equality” and endorsement of a side-by-side “sector-based” missile defense system appear to go far beyond the evolving concept articulated by NATO.  In fact, Medvedev’s characterization of his discussions does not seem consistent with the territorial defense plan outlined by NATO.  Moreover, his emphasis on the interrelationship between European missile defenses and Russian strategic offenses gives little support for the notion of a fundamental change in Russian strategic thinking.  According to Medvedev: “…countries still have their nuclear forces in place today, and when we look at missile defence we have to look too at the possible effects a European missile defence system could have on our nuclear forces.”[4]

      So why are the Russians so paranoid?  The Cold War is over.  We’re both threatened by those crazy people in Iran and North Korea.  Why not cooperate to defend ourselves against the real potential enemy?

      The Limits of Cooperation

      It is possible that disparate U.S. and Russian assessments of the Iranian threat will begin to merge if the threat grows – and that continually improving US-Russian relations will permit an unprecedented level of missile defense cooperation.  Yet, there is reason to question whether such efforts will bear enough fruit to satisfy Russia’s concerns about the potential long-term effect of U.S. strategic missile defenses on Russia’s deterrent.  Consider the view from Moscow.  The U.S. internal debate on New START revealed great sensitivity within the executive and legislative branches of the US Government to granting Russia access to telemetry involving missile defense flight tests.  (Congress prohibits it.)  The United States has made clear that cooperation does not mean building a “dual key” system, requiring the involvement of each side to operate.  Sergey Rogov, Director of Russia’s USA and Canada Institute, comments that: “Russia and the United States hardly are ready to agree to create a joint missile defense.”[5] Both sides would likely wish to retain their ability to operate missile defenses independently of the other. This independence might actually contribute to stability in a crisis because each side would be confident of the ability to control its own assets, but it would not foster arms race stability because suspicions of intent would linger.

      The most compelling reason to believe that cooperation will be insufficient is to imagine the United States in a position similar to Russia’s today.  Remember that the U.S. Senate had trouble even consenting to a nuclear arms control agreement that leaves U.S. missile defenses unlimited.  Unlike past strategic arms reduction treaties, New START did not pass overwhelmingly, even though it was a very good deal for us.  (It requires only modest reductions in U.S. offensive forces; it leaves force structures allowing the US to dominate treaty breakout contingencies; and it requires intrusive inspections that provide the US with critical information on Russian strategic forces otherwise unavailable.)  To expect the Russians to accept additional reductions in their strategic offensive forces without constraining U.S. options for expanding strategic missile defenses is unrealistic.

      The Enduring Reality of the Interrelationship Between Missile Offense and Defense

      The nuclear age carries a consistent core message concerning the interrelationship between strategic missile offense and strategic missile defense: a defensive buildup creates pressures for offensive countermeasures – and in such a competition, offenses are likely to cancel out the intended benefits of the defenses.  The offensive response occurs for two reasons:  First, because of the obvious need to compensate for the potential degradation in target coverage that could result from the other side’s ability to intercept incoming warheads; And second, because the missile defense programs tend to arouse suspicions about motives.  When the Soviets started deploying missile defenses around Moscow in the 1960s, the US found it “intensely threatening to our security,” according to distinguished scientist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, writing in 1964, “The fear of Soviet ABM[s]…seems to be more deeply felt than the fear of Soviet offensive forces.… This logic …led many people … to consider the Soviet ABM program as primarily intended to allow the Soviet Union to attack the U.S. without fear of retaliation.”[6]

      A contemporary reference to the offense-defense interrelationship can be found in September 2010 remarks of U.S. Strategic Forces Commander Gen. Kevin Chilton: “As we develop missile defense capability, we don’t want to develop it in such a manner that the Chinese would feel that their assured response, their deterrent, is put at risk, because that would encourage them to build more intercontinental missiles or capabilities.”[7]

      More Shields; More Swords

      Although many missile defense advocates contend that missile defenses discourage the proliferation of offensive missiles, empirical evidence shows just the opposite.  Missile defense systems encourage opponents to hold on to their offensive missiles or create more of them.  This is what happened with the U.S. response to the Moscow ABM system in the 1960s; with the Soviet Union’s response to Reagan’s “Star Wars” in the 1980s; with China’s response to Taiwan’s deployment of Patriot anti-tactical missile defenses in the 1990s.  During the last decade, Iran’s considerable build-up of medium-range missiles has occurred in the face of Israel’s extensive build-up of missile defenses; Pakistan’s continuing build-up of nuclear tipped missiles has occurred as India launched its own missile defense effort.

      The end of the Cold War and rapprochement between the US and Russia have helped convince the last four U.S. Administrations to alter the original mission of missile defense.  Instead of protecting against a catastrophic potential attack from Russia, the current objective is to protect against much more limited threats from “rogue” states.[8] Technical and budgetary obstacles have kept a lid on some of the more fanciful visions of the Reagan administration regarding lasers, particle-beam weapons, and space-based systems, narrowing the focus to more down-to-earth capabilities such as the GBI missiles currently deployed and a souped-up version of the SM-3 theater system (the Block IIB) that would give it anti-ICBM capabilities.  This system is in early development and is planned for deployment in 2020 under President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach.  [Slide 5] Both systems are likely to be in the spotlight during negotiations of a post-New START agreement.

      Some, like former Secretary of State Condi Rice, believe that the offense-defense dynamic was broken by U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002.[9] Yet, this interrelationship cannot be severed by unilateral action or simply dismissed as an attribute of the Cold War, for it flows not from history or treaty language, but from physics and psychology.

      The governments in Washington and Moscow, which control the vast majority of the world’s long-range ballistic missiles, demonstrate today the same dynamic on strategic missile defense they have demonstrated for decades.  One side pursues a major missile defense program; the other side seeks to limit it through negotiations and mitigate its impact through improvements in its own offensive forces.  However, there is one major difference: Moscow and Washington have changed sides.

      The Siren Song Surges

      During a long period of equilibrium under the conceptual foundation of the ABM Treaty, the sides were able to cut in half their huge offensive arsenals.  But the siren song surged and safe passage around the rocks is again threatened.

      Following passage of the Missile Defense Act of 1999 and U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty three years later, the conventional wisdom appears to have hardened around the notion that missile defenses should forever remain outside the arms control realm.  The 2010 elections would appear to have increased congressional determination to reject any limits on missile defenses. Changes in the New START resolution of approval constitute evidence of increased Senate resistance to such limits.

      If we want further reductions in nuclear weapons and better protection against them spreading to other countries, we need to tone down or tune out the siren song of strategic missile defense.

      One Approach

      One approach to tackling this dilemma would be simply to create a strategic missile defense interceptor limit in parallel with limits on offenses, for example, reducing to a ceiling of 1,000 strategic offensive warheads and 100 strategic defense interceptors. The limit also could be geographical because the vulnerability of Russian ICBMs to interception by SM-3 IIBs would be affected significantly by the location of deployments.  Limits on the number deployed near Russia’s borders would be superficially similar to the numerical and geographical limits on strategic ABM interceptors in the ABM Treaty.  But the purpose of that treaty was to prevent the deployment of nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses, principally through qualitative limits on radar construction.  Breakout potential then was controlled further by quantitative limits on strategic interceptors—200 in the original treaty, lowered to 100 in 1974—and by clearly demarking the performance characteristics of strategic and nonstrategic interceptors as was done in a 1997 agreement.[10]

      In contrast to their position when the ABM Treaty was in force, the Russians now have conceded the principle of permitting nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses.  They acknowledged in New START’s preamble that “current defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the parties.”  Indeed, the number of strategic interceptors that were allowed even under the amended ABM Treaty was much higher than the number of U.S. ground-based strategic interceptors deployed today and it’s probably in the vicinity of the number needed for the US to cope with likely contingencies from Iran and North Korea in the 2020s. Even after adding the upgraded SM-3 IIB systems envisioned for the end of the decade under Obama’s plan, total numbers still would be within the limits on strategic missile interceptors last enumerated in the ABM Treaty.  In 1997, Russia agreed that the performance of the original SM-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)  interceptors were “non-strategic” and therefore should not create an obstacle to continued reductions in strategic nuclear forces as they become operational over the next five years.

      We need to begin opening up a public dialogue on the real-world opportunity costs of opposing all missile defense limits. This dialogue should extend to U.S. NATO allies in Europe and the Pacific who directly face shorter-range ballistic missile threats from hostile states.  Let’s check this out.  Consider whether you would be able to answer yes to each of these questions:

      -- Is a highly reliable missile defense potential likely to be affordable in the decade ahead, even assuming that it is technically achievable?

      -- Is the value of unconstrained U.S. strategic missile defenses superior to the value of achieving additional reductions in Russian strategic offensive systems and of adding strategic nondeployed and tactical systems to the list of weapons to be cut?

      -- Is keeping missile defenses unconstrained worth risking the chance of limiting the growth in Chinese strategic forces?

      --  Indeed, can one even contemplate successful pursuit of nonproliferation if efforts to stem vertical proliferation grind to a halt as a result of missile defense deployments?

      Unless we can confidently answer “yes” to each of these questions, it’s time to consider realistic alternatives to unconstrained growth in strategic missile defenses.  Put some wax in your ears to block out the siren song and let’s head for open water!

       


      [1] A February 24, 2010, Department of State cable, released by WikiLeaks, reporting on December 22, 2009, talks on missile threat assessments between U.S.-Russian delegations in Washington revealed significant differences in the two countries’ official, classified assessments of Iranian and North Korean ballistic missile capabilities.

      [2] Mikhail Fomichev, “European Missile Defense System Either With Russia or Against Russia – NATO Envoy,” RIA Novosti, December 2, 2010.

      [3] “Moscow Wants to ‘Participate as an Equal Partner,’” Der Spiegel, October 27, 2010.

      [4] Ibid.

      [5] Sergey Mikhaylovich Rogov, “The ‘Window of Opportunity’ Is Open,” Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, May 28, 2010.

      [6] Freeman J. Dyson, “Ballistic Missiles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 1964, p. 18.

      [7] Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, “Nuclear Deterrence, START, Arms Control, Missile Defense and Defense Policy,” Presentation at the NDU Foundation Congressional Breakfast Seminar Series, September 13, 2010.

      [8] A small but increasingly influential minority of missile defense advocates, such as Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), have explicitly called for broadening the objectives of missile defense to include providing territorial defense against Russia and China.

      [9] See, for example, Condoleezza Rice, “New Start: Ratify, With Caveats,” The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2010.

      [10] The “New York Agreements on Theater Missile Defense and ABM Treaty Successor States,” signed by the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine on September 26, 1997, included two “Agreed Statements on Demarcation,” identifying 3 kilometers per second as the critical performance parameter separating prohibited “higher velocity” theater missile defenses from permitted “lower velocity” theater missile defenses. For the text of the agreements and statements, see www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc1.htm and www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc2.htm. For a summary of the agreements and statements, see

      www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/pack.

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      Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association at Penn State University.

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      After New START, What’s Next? Remarks at 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit”

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      Prepared Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” Crystal City, VA

      It’s a pleasure and honor to appear once again at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit. Once again Ed Helminski and his Exchange Monitor Publications team have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers and we’re glad to be able to be part of this importance dialogue.

      The organizers have asked me to address what can and should be done to reduce nuclear dangers now that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has been approved.

      First, it is important to recall what the Obama administration has said it would do and recall what it has done so far.

      Over its first two years, the Obama administration has been extraordinarily busy pushing a number of concrete steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, secure fissile material, and strengthen compliance and implementation with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

      In April 2010 the administration completed a new Nuclear Posture Review that somewhat narrows the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and rules out the need for new types of warheads.

      Later that month, Obama hosted the historic international Nuclear Security Summit that produced an action plan securing the most vulnerable materials within four years.

      In May, the U.S. led the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion with a 64-point action plan, negotiated, and hosted the historic nuclear security summit.

      At the UN, the administration pushed through a tougher set of targeted sanctions on Iran and North Korea in response to the NPT safeguards violations, which have improved U.S. and P-5 leverage vis-à-vis Iran, somewhat hindered Iran’s enrichment capabilities and bought some time for the pursuit of a deal to establish some reasonable and more verifiable limits on the Iranian program to ensure it is not used to produce weapons.

      Among the biggest, if not the biggest achievements is New START. The President and his team negotiated the treaty with the Russians within a year, and then with the support of key Republican leaders successfully turned back treaty-killing amendments that would have required renegotiation with Russia and won bipartisan Senate support for the treaty and

      New START won 71-26 because it increases U.S. security. Put simply it sets new, modestly lower limits on Russian and U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems and re-establishes a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance.

      In fact, New START will increase predictability and transparency through enhanced on-site inspections that will provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

      New START has already helped reset U.S.-Russian relations and boosted U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and of course it opens the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

      New START is Just a START

      By any measure, there has been considerable progress toward the goal of the United States’ longstanding goal—as reiterated by the President in Prague in 2009—of peace and security of a “world without nuclear weapons.”

      But New START and these other initiatives are just that—a start. There is much more that needs to be done to reduce the nuclear weapons danger.

      So, what comes next?

      Deeper nuclear reductions: New START is vital, but it will leave the United States and Russia with far more strategic warheads and strategic missiles and bombers than is needed to deter nuclear attack. In fact, even after New START, there will still be roughly 19,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, most of which are held by the United States and Russia.

      I think President Obama and his team have it right when they say the United States and Russia can and should pursue further verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed.

      Informal, early discussions are now underway. We believe the two sides can and should initiate formal talks before the end of this year.

      The goal should be to establish a single, verifiable limit on the total number of nuclear weapons for each nation. This overall limit would be in addition to a sublimit on the number of deployed strategic weapons. Establishing such an approach is important given that as strategic deployed arsenals shrink, nondeployed and nonstrategic warheads and their delivery systems have to be addressed. It is also important that the nuclear arms control process establishes a simple unit of measure that can be applied to future efforts for transparency, accounting, and ultimately controls and reductions involving all nuclear-armed states.

      How low can U.S. and Russian negotiators go in the next round? From a geostrategic standpoint, neither Russia nor the United States need a total stockpile of any more than 500 to 1,000 nuclear warheads (including both strategic and tactical and deployed and non-deployed) to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.  1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons far outstrips any realistic deterrence requirements.

      ACA published a study in 2005, “What Are Nuclear Weapons For?,” that outlines the rationale for such a smaller “500+500” U.S. nuclear force of deployed strategic and nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad. In an article in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Foreign Affairs others have also argued that it is possible to get down to 1,000 warheads without weakening security on either side.

      Of course there is the intriguing article in Strategic Studies Quarterly that concludes that the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." Those authors argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

      Other than Russia, no other nuclear-armed adversary possesses more than 40 nuclear weapons on strategic missiles. Clearly we can go lower.

      For Russia such a negotiation would help address its concerns about the relatively larger U.S. upload potential that exists due to our larger number of delivery systems and reserve strategic warheads.

      For the United States, such a negotiation would finally lead to an accounting and reduction of Russia’s relatively larger and possibly insecure stockpile of stored and deployed tactical nuclear bombs.

      Such reductions should, ideally, be secured through a follow-on treaty with robust verification methods.

      However, given that the next round of talks will likely be more complex and time consuming, there are other nuclear risk reduction steps that should be pursued at the same time. For example:

      • The United States and Russia can achieve the reductions mandated by New START ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; and
      • President Obama needs to make good on promises to phase-out obsolete Cold War nuclear targeting plans and prompt launch requirements, which help perpetuate excessive deployments and raise the risk of catastrophic nuclear miscalculation. In a September 2009 Q & A published in Arms Control Today, then-candidate Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

      The NPR recommends calls for taking measures to maximize the time the Commander-In-Chief has to make a decision to use nuclear weapons. A reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately but only the assurance that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems would survive an attack. Now is the time to implement these steps.

      The Obama administration and along with NATO must also work through two other issues that could complicate further, deeper U.S.-Russian nuclear force reductions.

      First, Russia is and will likely remain resistant to meaningful limits on tactical nuclear weapons so long as the U.S. continues to deploy even a small number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. As the new NATO Strategic Concept and U.S. military commanders acknowledge, these weapons have no military role in the defense of NATO. Some may believe these weapons have a function as a bargaining chip or are symbols of the United States commitment to NATO.  Whether they are or are not, they are clearly obsolete relics of the Cold War.

      To clear the way for a potential agreement with Russia on reciprocal measures to account for and reduce tactical nuclear weapons, the United States should, in the context of the ongoing NATO deterrence review, agree with our NATO partners to eliminate any formal alliance requirement for U.S. tactical nuclear warheads to be stationed in Europe.

      Second, Washington and NATO must work with Moscow to achieve meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense. Otherwise, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors with nominal strategic capabilities could undermine the prospects for future nuclear reductions and exacerbate East-West tensions.

      New START sidesteps long-standing U.S. and Russian tension over strategic missile defense, but the next agreement cannot avoid the realities of the offense-defense relationship.

      Contrary to the view that Obama has abandoned strategic missile interceptors in Europe to placate Russia, the administration shelved the untested and unproven Bush-era Ground-based Mid-Course system mainly because its effectiveness was extremely limited and because Iran is still years away from fielding long-range missiles.

      Clearly the new U.S. “phased, adaptive approach” for missile SM-3 interceptors over the next decade provides a better, though still limited, capability to address Iran’s short- and medium-range missile threats as they emerge. For now, it does not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear retaliatory potential. The approach creates the potential for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia.

      However, unless there is meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors will provide only nominal strategic capabilities against Iranian missiles while increasing Russia’s determination to deploy larger numbers of more capable ICBMs.

      CTBT and FMCT: Not only must the United States and Russia further reduce their arsenals, they must work harder to prevent other states from building up and improving their nuclear arsenals. To succeed, the United States needs to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production for weapons and solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the CTBT.

      In April 2009, President Obama called for reconsideration and ratification of the CTBT and put into motion technical studies to update the case for the treaty, one of which—from the National Academies of Science—will soon be published. It is time to take another, sober, fact-based look at the CTBT and it is time that the Obama administration seriously engage the Senate on the subject so that the Senate can reconsider and vote on the treaty at the appropriate time—something they have not yet done.

      Today, the national security case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999. Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing and further testing by other states—including China, India, Pakistan, or someday, Iran—could help improve their nuclear capabilities.

      We are essentially abiding by the requirements of the CTBT without accruing the nonproliferation and security benefits.

      Reasonable Senators should be able to understand that logic and bea able to understand that the old arguments against the CTBT no longer hold water.

      As former Secretary of State George Shultz said in 2009, “Republican Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

      For instance, on June 4, 1992, Rep. Jon Kyl, spoke in opposition to the proposal to establish a 9-month U.S. test moratorium to match the Soviet moratorium. He argued: “… as long as we have a nuclear deterrent, we have got to test it in order to ensure that it is safe and it is reliable.” The same argument was used against the CTBT in 1999.

      Now we know that argument is just not correct.

      Over the past decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads and can continue to do so indefinitely.

      On December 1, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote that they are "very pleased" with the $85 billion, 10-year plan to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex. The said the funding plan provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

      The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTBT.

      Senators of both parties should also recognize that delaying reconsideration of the Test Ban Treaty will create uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy and jeopardize the fragile political consensus to increase funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.

      By any common-sense definition, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex already has the necessary resources to maintain the shrinking U.S. nuclear arsenal. Even if the new Congress reduces some of the requested additional funding for the NNSA weapons complex there is more than enough funding for the NNSA and the nuclear weapons labs sustain core programs necessary to maintain and refurbish the existing warhead types.

      And I would also caution those who might seek even greater funding for new projects and facilities—such as “scaled experiments,” which is the subject of a forthcoming JASON study--that projects not in the Obama administration “Section 1251” report on upgrading the weapons complex will be hard to justify, particularly in today’s tight budget environment.

      In 2009, Obama also pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT, but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

      If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years.

      To hasten progress, the Obama administration should be prepared to act more boldly by proposing that all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production pending the conclusion of the FMCT.

      Conclusion

      These next steps will not be easy but nothing in this business ever is.

      The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat. Doing nothing or delaying action on pragmatic nuclear risk-reduction steps is not an option.

      Thank you.

      Description: 

      Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball spoke at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” on what's next after New START.

      Country Resources:

      Toward a Negotiated Solution - Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle Briefing Series

      Sections:

      Body: 

      DATE/TIME: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 9:30 am - 11:00 am

      LOCATION:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room,

      1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

      Multilateral “P-5+1” talks with Iran over its nuclear program are expected to resume in Istanbul on January 21. While efforts to reach a negotiated resolution to the Iranian nuclear challenge are likely to require a prolonged negotiating process, both sides continue to maintain a diplomatic resolution is possible. Now the challenge is to make tangible progress in that direction.

      Please join the Arms Control Association on Thursday, January 20 for expert perspectives and recommendations on the path forward.

      • How can the Istanbul talks contribute to progress toward a negotiated agreement?
      • What are the key elements and steps of such a deal?
      • What kind of ongoing verification and monitoring regime will be necessary to address concerns about secret Iranian uranium enrichment and/or weapons-related research in the years ahead?

      Panelists include:

      • Barry Blechman, co-founder of the HenryL.StimsonCenter and chair of the Stimson-U.S. Institute of Peace joint study group on Engagement, Coercion, and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge;
      • Charles Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists;
      • Greg Thielmann, ACA Senior Fellow and former professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and official with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research;
      • Daryl G. Kimball, ACA Executive Director will moderate.

      The briefing is the second in a four-part series of ACA policy briefings "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle." A transcript of the first briefing, “The Status of Iran's Nuclear and Missile Programs,” is online: www.armscontrol.org/events/IranNuclearStatus

       



      Transcript by Federal News Service
      Washington, D.C.



      DARYL G. KIMBALL:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m Daryl Kimball.  I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association.  I want to welcome you to the second in our series of briefings on “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle.”

      As you all know, tomorrow multilateral P5+1 talks with Iran over its nuclear program are scheduled to resume in Turkey.  And efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear challenge are likely to require more than just one more round of meetings.  It’s going to require prolonged, multilateral negotiations.  

      But this meeting, we believe – and this is why we are meeting here today – presents a very important restarting point for the diplomatic process, which is clearly the most effective and practical way forward.

      As we’ll discuss this morning with our three expert speakers, the challenge now is going to be how to overcome the distrust that’s built up between the different parties, how to find pragmatic ways to build confidence and move towards a framework agreement that, among other things, provides stronger assurances and safeguards that Iran’s ongoing nuclear program and activities are not used for weapons purposes.

      As our three panelists are going to explain in much more detail, diplomacy remains the best option.  And it’s now imperative, we believe, for the United States to leverage this opportunity and to make progress while there is time to make progress.  Sanctions have bought time and can increase negotiating leverage, but they are, at best, a means to an end.  And the end goal can only be achieved through persistent engagement and diplomacy, as difficult as that has been and will continue to be.

      And as the experts at the first briefing in this series made clear back in November, Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to answer outstanding IAEA questions about its activities are troubling.  

      But due to the technical challenges they’re facing and perhaps outside interference – I’m referring to Stuxnet, of course – it still remains years away from having enough working centrifuges to produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium for a viable nuclear arsenal, let alone perfect a warhead design that can be effectively delivered.  And now, as was seen in recent days and weeks, U.S. and Israeli officials are publicly making similar assessments about the status of Iran’s nuclear program.

      So to put the latest round of talks into perspective, a broader perspective, we’re pleased to have with us Barry Blechman, colleague for many years and cofounder of the Henry L. Stimson Center.  He is also the chair of the recently completed Stimson Center-U.S. Institute for Peace joint study group titled “Engagement, Coercion and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge,” which just came out in early December, right?

      He’s going to be outlining some of the key findings and recommendations for the United States and the other P5+1 countries concerning the role and impact of sanctions, the risks and dangers of military options, and the longer-term diplomatic objectives vis-à-vis Iran.

      And I would just add that – I want to underscore that as Barry and his colleagues noted in that report – and I agree – turning Iran away from the nuclear weapons path requires recalibrating what Washington and our partners are seeking to achieve through the current pressure and engagement approach.

      For example, we have to consider that it’s been five years since the last serious round of talks with Iran.  And since then, it’s built up its centrifuge capacity at Natanz and begun work on another facility at Qom.  And while a temporary suspension of enrichment and other fuel-cycle activities as the U.N. Security Council has demanded would certainly help restore confidence, it would appear unrealistic to expect that Iran would agree permanently to terminate enrichment activities at those two known facilities.

      So even while – even though there are risks involved with any working, spinning centrifuges in Iran, given its history, we need to remember that the greatest risk for an Iranian nuclear weapons program probably comes from its possible undetected activities – unsafeguarded enrichment, weapons and development facilities – and not so much from the known knowns, the safeguarded facilities that are at Natanz.

      That’s why as Charles Ferguson is going to discuss, it’s important that we focus on how we can improve IAEA monitoring and verification over the long term so that we can have sufficient confidence that Iran’s nuclear fuel-cycle activities are not used for weapons purpose.    So he’s going to describe a bit what such a system might look like, how much confidence would it provide.  Charles Ferguson is the president, of course, of the Federation of American Scientists.  He’s worked for many years on this problem.

      And then finally, how can this particular round of talks and follow-on discussions contribute to the longer-term process of achieving a negotiated agreement?  What are some of the initial confidence-building steps that can be achieved that might be discussed at this round?  What steps could the United States and the other parties and Iran undertake that would enhance the prospects for a lasting diplomatic solution?

      To address those questions, we have with us Arms Control Association’s own senior fellow and former INR analyst Greg Thielmann.  And he will close out the panelists’ presentations.  And after each of them is done, we will take your questions and have a discussion about these and many other issues that are on the table with the Iranian nuclear program.

      So with that, I’d like to invite Barry up to the podium to start us off.  Thanks for being with us, Barry.  And before we get rolling, if you could all just remember to put your cell phones on vibrate.  Thank you.

      BARRY BLECHMAN:  Good idea.  I had a friend who was speaking to a group of fire chiefs, actually.  And he made that announcement.  And two minutes later, his phone went off and three guys in the back of the room – (chuckles) – just broke down in laughter.

      It was my privilege to co-chair, I should say, this study group.  Dan Brumberg was the other co-chair.  We had about 40 people working on it – two-thirds, Iranian experts, and about a third of us, people that work on U.S. political-military policies.  And the work was done mainly over the summer and fall.  But so far, at least it looks like our analysis and conclusions are holding up, and in fact, being reinforced.  

      The group concluded generally that there was an opportunity for diplomacy to work to stop the Iranian program short of a weapons capability.  We noted first that there had been – and this was obvious even over the summer – a slowdown in their progress, in their nuclear program.  And this has been confirmed just the last few weeks both by the Israelis, which is a big shock – I guess they were so proud of their cyberwarfare that they felt like bragging about it – and also by Secretary Clinton.

      And the Israeli forecast now is that Iran won’t have a weapons capability until at least 2015.  So that gives us several years to see if the diplomatic engagement can work.  The slowdown is due, of course, both to industrial sabotage and the cyberattacks, as well as to the sanctions.  The sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to acquire some of the specialized materials and equipment needed for their program.  So they seemed to have had a very positive effect  in a direct way.

      In addition, the sanctions are having strong impact on the Iranian economy.  And I would say it’s been a real triumph of U.S. diplomacy to build a coalition willing to enforce not only the U.N. sanctions but the additional sanctions that we and the EU and the Japanese and a handful of other countries have – important countries have been willing to put on Iran.

      All the Western oil companies have withdrawn from Iran.  Lukoil, the Russian company, has withdrawn as well.  Development has stopped – or plans for development that they had to grow their natural-gas production particularly, but also oil production, have ceased.  The Chinese have signed some contracts, but work doesn’t seem to be moving on that.  And the Chinese may be cooperating more than they like to let on publicly.  

      Production in the old Iranian fields is declining because they don’t have access to the technologies they need to improve their efficiency.  So in that sense, the sanctions have been a great success.

      The other success has come from the financial sanctions, the additional ones that the U.S. and the EU and these other countries have put on, which have made companies reluctant to do business with Iran for fear of losing access to much larger markets in the U.S. and other advanced countries.

      And so Iran is having a great deal of difficulty getting insurance for their oil shipments, for example, or to conduct other transactions.  Their currency is devalued.  They – you know, suffering substantial inflation.  

      Countries on the Gulf in the past year have started cooperating much more in terms of shutting down the front companies that Iran had used to circumvent sanctions in the past.  Dubai particularly has been cooperative.  The Saudis have been selling oil to China at a lower price – lower than market price – in order to supplant some of the Iranian sales.  

      So generally there is a lot of economic pressure being placed on Iran, so much so that you begin to see comments from Iranians about the danger that this situation could lead to political unrest within the country, and not just from the Westernized, secularized students that we saw in the streets following the fraudulent election, but from the so-called real Iranians – the working-class and poor Iranians who are the backbone of support for the Ahmadinejad regime.  

      And so the economic pressures are feeding what’s been a persistent political conflict among the Iranian elites.  Essentially, Ahmadinejad has brought in a new generation of leaders.  That’s kind of reminiscent of when Andrew Jackson was elected U.S. president and brought all these kind of rural westerners in, and the Washington establishment was just up in arms at these rubes that were trying to take over the government.  

      He’s brought in a lot of veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, and people not from the Westernized Tehran elites but from other parts of the country.  And he’s been trying to take over, or exert greater influence over the traditional bastions of power within Iran, and has come into conflict with the foreign ministry, with the Majlis, with the courts and even within some of the ruling religious bodies.

      The supreme leader generally has tended to favor Ahmadinejad to back him in these conflicts, but not always.  And sometimes, he’s been forced to back down when the supreme leader followed the more traditional and perhaps more pragmatic elites.  

      So our recommendation – the recommendation of the study group – was to try to take advantage of this conflict and to shift, to the degree that we can have influence, the balance among the elites to those who might want nuclear weapons but see the price of gaining them to be excessive and believe that the course of better wisdom would be to reach a compromise with the West.   

      And the way we suggest doing this is, one, to continue the pressure both through sanctions and through covert operations.  Secondly, we believe it’s important to accelerate, if possible or as possible, security cooperation with the Arab nations on the Gulf, including intelligence sharing, joint planning, military exercises, training and military sales.  We believe there could be a much greater emphasis on missile defenses.  

      And it would be nice if the Gulf countries would – you know, they claim – or in the leaked cables, we see that they’re very concerned about the Iranian program.  Yet their concern doesn’t go so far as to overcome some of their internal conflicts among themselves.  They find it difficult to cooperate.  Certainly, establishing an effective missile defense system would go much better – a regional system – if the Gulf Cooperative Council (sic) countries were able, in fact, to cooperate and resolve their conflicts.  

      The benefits of this is both to show Iran that its actions, its unwillingness to reach a compromise is only isolating it further within its region, and also drawing the U.S. in militarily through cooperation with these countries, resulting in just what it doesn’t want to see – a greater U.S. military presence in the region.

      Thirdly and most importantly, we believe it’s important to rebalance U.S. policy to put greater emphasis on the positive inducements to Iran to reach compromise.  You know, we’ve had this two-track policy for many years beginning with Clinton.  It’s gone back and forth.  When Obama came in, he emphasized engagement; he was rebuffed.  It was a difficult time politically, internally for Iran, which might help to explain it, possibly.

      And we shifted to the diplomacy to strengthen the sanctions and so forth that emphasize the coercive element.  At this point, stressing the coercive element in our diplomacy and our public statements reminding them of the military option has negative effects.  It only strengthens the hands of the hardliners, those who would not want to compromise – weakens the position of those who might want to reach an agreement.

      So we need to make clear, we believe, in our diplomacy that the potential benefits to Iran of reaching an agreement on the nuclear issue and on other issues are commensurate with the very substantial demand we are placing on them, which is to give up their aspirations for a nuclear weapons capability.  And I have no doubt that they have such aspirations at this point.

      To implement this kind of more positive aspect, most importantly we believe we have to, as Daryl had said, accept Iran’s right to enrichment.  And I noted in December, Secretary Clinton made a statement suggesting the U.S. position was moving in that direction, which I think would be a positive.  

      An enrichment conducted under very strict conditions of monitoring and verification, including implementation of the Additional Protocol, could, we believe – and Charles will speak more to this – permit them to continue what they say is a peaceful program while providing a substantial warning to other countries, should they in the future change their mind and go back to seeking a weapons capability.  

      Secondly, or in additionally, we believe we should establish a separate bilateral track of negotiations with Iran on a variety of security issues in which we have a joint concern, like Afghanistan, like drug trafficking – which is a huge problem in Iran and so forth.  

      We should stick to the P5-plus-1 for the nuclear issue, but in addition, establish this separate track.  The separate track, or progress in that, can’t be permitted to substitute for movement on the nuclear issue, but the two can proceed in tandem.

      Third – or fourth, whatever it is – I think we – we think we should permit normal interaction between American and Iranian diplomats in third countries and international organizations.  This is not gone now, but there’s no reason why in a U.N., multilateral organization, for example, when the American ambassador has instructions to do something, he or she shouldn’t also carry them out with his or her Iranian counterpart.  

      And finally, we should hold out the possibility, at least, of down the road, if Iran does reach compromise on the nuclear issue, that the benefits to them would not only include a lifting of the sanctions – so an end to the punishment – but more positive economic benefits of cooperation and helping them to develop their oil and gas industry, which is in a mess, getting them to work with other countries in the region on solution to common problems like water shortages and energy distribution and so forth.

      Again, I would repeat, the nuclear talks are the most urgent and we can’t allow these other things to go too far without progress on the nuclear issue.  But a more complete package of incentives can or might, we believe, lead Iran to reach a compromise on the nuclear issue.

      Finally, I’d note that the group, which included people who served in Defense and State in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and some former military were unanimous in stating that attacking Iran, attacking its nuclear infrastructure, would be very counterproductive and is not a good idea.  And these deliberations were done at a time when the Israelis were working very hard, saying that Iran’s on the threshold and the U.S. needs to take a military action against them.

      The U.S. certainly could do grave damage and set back their nuclear program quite substantially.  It would not be a kind of pin-prick attack.  As I understand, the planning that has been done – we not only would attack the complete nuclear infrastructure, or much of it, but also try to attrite Iran’s capability to retaliate militarily.  

      Anthony Cordesman has done some estimates of the number of airstrikes that would be required for various levels of attack and it’s quite substantial.  It’s a question of hundreds or even thousands of strikes over a period of days or even weeks, depending on how ambitious the plan turned out to be.

      This would likely lead to continuing military conflict on the Gulf and on Israel’s borders.  Iran has means to cause a great deal of havoc in the region.  It would certainly break up the coalition we built.  China and Russia would leave in a flash.  Many European countries would not want to have anything to do with this.

      It would have very negative effects among developing countries, particularly Muslim – moderate Muslim countries.  If the U.S. attacked a third Muslim country in 10 or 12 years, and we say we’re not on a crusade against Islam, it just – it would provide fertile ground for recruitment of terrorists and so forth.

      It could have severe economic effects if the military conflict persisted and there were disruptions in oil deliveries.  And finally, the effect in Iran would be negative.  It would unify the country.  It would assure the complete repression of any democratic elements and so forth.

      So to conclude, there’s no guarantee that this strategy would work.  We laughingly refer to it as the least bad option.  There are no brilliant, you know, solutions to the problem.  But the fortunate thing is there is time to give diplomacy a chance and the strengthening of the positive component, we think, would be helpful.

      I have a couple of copies of the report if anyone wants them.  And it’s on the Stimson website as well.  Thank you very much.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Great, thank you, Barry.  Charles Ferguson on the verification and monitoring challenge.  Charles?

      CHARLES FERGUSON:  Well, thank you, Daryl.  And thank you, everyone, for being here this morning.  And when Daryl and Peter Crail contacted me about this, I said, your timing is impeccable.  And of course, they consulted with the Iranian and U.S. and others – other sides to make sure that we have this event today, right on the eve of the next round of discussion – I won’t say round of negotiations, but we’re just – as Daryl said, we’re just now getting back into discussions with the Iranians.

      So I’m going to be the science guy here.  So pay attention.  There’s going to be a quiz at the end of this briefing.  (Chuckles.)  Make sure you know all the elements of a nuclear fuel cycle and the possible diversion pathways.  And outside – I think most of you probably grabbed it – there was a one-sheet handout with a rough diagram of the nuclear fuel cycle and just showing a couple of the major possible diversion pathways.

      It’s worth emphasizing that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Iran is pursuing a dual track – uranium enrichment and a possible plutonium pathway – to nuclear weapons.  Now, of course Iran says they don’t have a weapons program.  They don’t intend to have a nuclear weapons program.  Nonetheless, a lot of the elements are basically in place.

      Go back to the NIE from three or four years ago and it clearly said there are three components to a nuclear weapons program.  You need to be able to produce the fissile material – the stuff that goes boom.  You need a workable warhead.  And you need a workable delivery system, like a ballistic missile.

      Well, the NIE said there was some evidence that Iran may have placed the warhead component of it on the side – maybe.  That’s one thing we need to get to the bottom of.  And that’s one issue – and if we have greater openness and accessibility from Iran, that the IAEA should further investigate.

      Clearly, they’re still continuing the ballistic missile development, so that leg continues.  And they’re also continuing with fissile material development, although there may have been some setbacks recently through Stuxnet and other means.  But as an analysis by FAS will show that will be released tomorrow morning, looks like over the past year there actually may have been some improvements in the centrifuge plant as well.

      So the news may not be as sanguine as we may hope.  So we still have to – we don’t want to be complacent and say, oh, we’ve got plenty of time for diplomacy – and I’m all for diplomacy – we’ve got to make sure we make the best use of that time.  So keep in sight these two different tracks, but I’m going to focus on the uranium enrichment pathway in the interest of time and because that’s the most urgent issue before us right now.

      Now, of course the best situation for the United States would be for Iran to say, this is all a mistake.  We don’t need to pursue this uranium enrichment program.  We’re going to call a halt to it.  Well, that’s fantasy land.  I think – practically, I think, all of us in this panel agree that Iran will continue with some kind of enrichment program.

      So the next best thing we can hope for is to keep it limited, to keep the number of centrifuges spinning and enriching uranium rather – relatively small.  Well, we’ll see what we can do on that – on that behalf, but let’s look at the three possible means of diversion – three pathways of diversion into a nuclear weapons program.

      So a state could divert weapons-usable material and technologies from a declared – I emphasize “declared” – safeguarded program into a weapons program.  Secondly, it could operate a clandestine program, as Daryl indicated in his opening remarks and that program would be as much as possible, parallel and separate to the declared program.

      And then finally, a state could say – cite a supreme national security interest and say, we’re out of here, we’re going to leave the NPT, give 90 days’ notice and leave the safeguard system.

      Of those pathways, number three is probably the least likely for Iran, at least in the foreseeable future, as long as Iran appears to derive some benefit from staying inside the NPT because if it leaves it’s clearly indicating to the U.S. and certainly states in the region its intentions to proceed with a weapons program.

      And so there are various options.  I’m going to now explore and walk you through briefly for the interest of time.  And hopefully we’ll get time to talk about them more in depth in the Q&A.  And it’s important to keep in mind that what we want is a defense in-depth type of safeguards and inspection system.

      So not any one element of it is going to be perfect, is going to be a so-called silver bullet to say, a-ha, we can have confidence to detect the clandestine program through that particular option.  But it’s the layering of the options, having multiple means of detection that allows us to develop a more effective monitoring and safeguard system.

      And of course the second pathway mentioned is the most worrisome because right now under the current safeguard system, the IAEA has limited access to only declared facilities.  As we saw back in 2009, in September, it was announced that there was a clandestine enrichment facility near Qom, the so-called Fordow plant.  And then the big question is, are there others?  And Iran indicates they have interest in developing other enrichment plants.  So how can we possibly detect the other activity going on?

      So the next major step that Iran could take to instill greater confidence would be for it to ratify and apply the Additional Protocol to Comprehensive Safeguards.  Now, as most of you probably know, some years back Iran was voluntarily applying the Additional Protocol, and then it backed away from that once it felt more pressure coming on it.

      So if we can get the Additional Protocol, what would be the benefit of that?  Well, the Additional Protocol was developed out of the first Gulf War with Iraq.  Think back to 1991, and then U.S. forces and – coalition forces, I should say, drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.  And then, as part of the condition that – that UNSCOM was developed and the IAEA inspectors came in to look at Iran’s nuclear activities.

      And it was discovered that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear scientists were getting somewhat close to developing a nuclear weapons program.  And they did this even though throughout the 1980s and into 1990 that the IAEA inspectors had been continually going in there and inspecting declared facilities.  And sometimes literally next door to a declared facility, there was an undeclared activity going on.

      So then that was a wake-up call.  And the result of that was by the mid-1990s, the IAEA had developed what was called the model additional protocol to safeguards.  And the big evolution – revolution in that system was that now it requires inspectors to determine whether there are undeclared facilities and to look at, basically, the entire nuclear fuel cycle.

      And it also requires a new mindset for inspectors to not just be the green-eyeshade-wearing accountants and looking over the books and making sure that all the declared material’s accounted for.  And I know that’s a caricature – I don’t want to belittle that – belittle that system too much.  But the innovation is that now under the Additional Protocol the inspectors are required to have a new mindset, to be more like a Sherlock Holmes, to ask those probing questions, to figure out whether there are any undeclared activities or materials present in that state.

      The Additional Protocol offers a complementary and managed access.  And it would be a huge step, as I said, for Iran to take.  And what we can say is this is not something that’s without precedent.  The majority of the states, who are non-nuclear weapon states, have signed on to the Additional Protocol.  Some major non-nuclear weapon states like Japan and South Korea have implemented the Additional Protocol.

      So when Iranian leaders sometimes say, we want to be like Japan – great.  Be like Japan and implement the Additional Protocol.  And it will give the world more confidence that what you’re doing is peaceful.

      So I’m going to walk through, like I said, pretty quickly some major options that we can consider.  And so once – and what I’m going to do is then grade these in terms of low, medium and high in terms of the cost of implementation and low, medium and high in terms of the increase in confidence by implementing that particular option, and then talk about whether it’s compatible with the Comprehensive Safeguard system – what’s called INFCIRC/153-type safeguards and then ask if it’s compatible with the Additional Protocol safeguards.

      So we could apply physical containment measures at uranium mines and uranium mills where what comes out of that is yellowcake – uranium ore concentrate.  And you could try to do that, but the cost of implementation would probably be high.  The increase in confidence would probably be low.  And under the Comprehensive Safeguards, that’s not required.  And under Additional Protocol, there’s no precedent for that type of activity.

      You could then consider having material accountancy at the mines and mills, keeping track of all the atoms of uranium going through.  That would have a high cost of implementation, a low increase in confidence.  And that’s not required under the Comprehensive Safeguards.  But the Additional Protocol does specify a state must submit information on mining and milling activities.  But there’s no precedent for a detailed accountancy.

      You can move the starting point of safeguards further upstream.  So you can look at applying safeguards right as the material goes into a conversion plant – a conversion facility.  The cost of implementation there would be probably medium.  Increase in confidence, probably medium to high.  

      Under this – the Comprehensive Safeguards, it says you must apply safeguards at a point at which nuclear material is suitable for fuel manufacture or enrichment.  But there’s little precedent for actually applying the safeguards on uranium yellowcake.  Under the Additional Protocol, you could use complementary access to try to implement some of that – that safeguards activity.

      You could try to increase the information that’s provided about the IAEA safeguards – publish more of that out in the open.  Now, as you know, every three months or so the IAEA does publish a rather detailed report.  We could try to publish some more information.  The cost of implementing that would be relatively low.  Increase of confidence might be anywhere from low to medium.  

      And under the Comprehensive Safeguard system, that’s considered – safeguards confidential information, so there’s not a precedent for releasing more of that.  And to do that under Additional Protocol, you have to do it in consultation with Iran.  And they would probably object to publishing that kind of detailed information.

      You could move the timeliness detection goal.  You could lower that.  And that sounds very – kind of jargony.  And basically what I mean by that is to try to increase the ability to detect a possible diversion of nuclear material much faster and do it more – more frequent times of inspection of where the nuclear material is.

      Right now, there’s a physical inventory that’s done annually.  And that’s under the Comprehensive Safeguards system.  Under Additional Protocol, you could try to deploy a number of practical measures to try to increase confidence about timeliness.  The cost of implementing that would probably be about medium.  And increase in confidence would probably be high.

      You could try to lower the – or, excuse me, increase the detection probability of a nuclear materials diversion.  To implement that, the cost would probably be low.  Increase of confidence would arguably be – also be low.  And the IAEA typically tries to aim for a 90-percent confidence level to try to keep the false-alarm rate relatively low.  Under Additional Protocol, you’d have to work that out in consultation between the IAEA and Iran.

      You could change the short-notice inspections.  You can increase the frequency of short-notice inspections.  To try to implement that, the cost would be about medium.  Increase in confidence, arguably high.  Under the Comprehensive Safeguards, that’s not permitted.  Under Additional Protocol, it says that you usually need to give at least 24 hours’ notice if you’re off-site or two hours’ notice of inspection if you’re actually on-site and you have evidence that something is going on at a particular facility.  And you would have to work this out in agreement with Iran.

      You could try to enhance the safeguards on an enrichment plant.  And there’s been some work done in trying to move beyond what’s called the hexapartite agreement, to try to have more information about material flows inside an enrichment facility.  To try to implement that, the cost is probably about medium.  You could increase the confidence to medium or high.  

      Under the current safeguard system, that’s currently not permitted, although I said it’s under investigation.  And so if the IAEA can develop a new model safeguards for enrichment plants, Iran could be an important test case for that activity.

      You could try to deploy wide-area monitoring.  You could have sniffers and samplers trying to figure out other clandestine enrichment or reprocessing plants inside Iran.  It’s a relatively big country.  To implement that, you’d probably need several hundred, maybe a thousand – a few thousand of the sampling devices.  

      To implement that, the cost would be relatively high.  Increase in confidence might be around medium.  Under Comprehensive Safeguards, there’s no precedent for that activity.  Under the Additional Protocol, it says it’s permitted but under the conditions that the IAEA Board of Governors gives approval if the method is technically proven.  So it’s kind of a catch-22.

      So yes, we can consider wide-area sampling – wide-area environmental monitoring only if we can prove this technically.  But you might not be able to get it proved technically unless you get, really, a go-ahead from the board of governors.

      You could try to – try to get better verification of centrifuge production, ideally to get access to the companies in Iran or the suppliers of the centrifuge machines and try to account for all the machines that are being produced, or could be produced.  The cost to implement that will probably be at least medium, maybe high.  But the increase in confidence would be high.

      And there’s no precedent under Comprehensive Safeguards to do that kind of activity.  On Additional Protocol, it says that a state could provide general information on that kind of activity.  But this would require a specific agreement for detailed accounting.  So there’s really no, you know, specific precedent under Additional Protocol for getting that kind of detailed access.  

      You could develop a special protocol for inspections.  And Pierre Goldschmidt has recently written about this on the Carnegie Endowment website, so I recommend you take a look at his article.  The cost to implement that would arguably be low.  The increase in confidence would be relatively high.  

      And you can say there has been some precedent for that because Romania, back in the early 1990s, they voluntarily invited the IAEA in to do a special inspection.  There was also a special inspection done on North Korea – I think it was around 1993.  But that was involuntary.  And then there’s been some discussion about doing such an inspection with Syria because of the suspicious activities going on in Syria in recent years.

      And then one of the final things to consider is to do interviews with Iranian scientists and officials, and also with other scientists at universities.  And the cost of implementing that would be relatively low.  And you might be able to increase confidence anywhere from medium to high.  

      Under the Additional – under the current Comprehensive Safeguards, it’s not permitted.  But under the Additional Protocol, you would have to try to work out some kind of agreement with Iran as to what people you want to get access to.  And so far, Iran has been seriously resisting that type of option.

      I’m out of time, Daryl?  Okay, good.  I know – like I said, a lot of options to consider.  And like I said, there will be a quiz at the end.  So I will step off the stage at this time and let Greg Thielmann come up.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Charles.  And as Greg comes up, just to clarify, when you were saying that the cost of this option is low or medium or high, you’re referring to the resource costs, the monetary costs of that particular operation?

      MR. FERGUSON:  That’s correct.  I should have made that clear.  And of course, the political cost could be relatively high for almost all of those.

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  That’s all.  Greg Thielmann – thank you very much.  

      GREG THIELMANN:  Thank you.  And I appreciate the interest of the audience in this important subject.  I wanted to offer a few thoughts on negotiating tactics.  So it’s a little bit narrower focus than in Barry’s presentation.

      The first point I wanted to make is, the time is right for talks.  We now have leverage.  The fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions are in place.  And their implementation is increasingly effective.  Unilaterally, U.S. and European measures are intensifying the economic impact of the Security Council sanctions.  And I think Barry had a good summary of the different categories of sanctions and how that is working.  

      Moreover, Iranian diplomatic efforts to divert attention from Tehran’s noncompliance with its NPT obligations have basically fizzled.  They were not successful in their last-minute effort to derail the sanctions in the spring.  The last-minute tour that they offered of Iranian facilities just a few days ago also seemed to be not very convincing to the international community.

      And I think it’s also important to emphasize that at least as far as we know from reading statements of intelligence service officials, Iran still has not made a decision to ultimately take that final step to develop, test and deploy nuclear weapons.  So another encouraging aspect, which has already been mentioned, is that the estimates of the time required for weaponization are moving outward.  

      For some months, the Obama administration has been signaling that it would take at least a couple of years to develop a nuclear weapon, even assuming the quickest and least likely path, which would be to use the centrifuges and stored low-enriched uranium that Iran now possesses to enrich to weapons-grade level.  And of course, even the Israelis are now projecting at least three to four years rather than 12 to 18 months for Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.  

      And U.S. officials acknowledged in the fall of 2009, that they had overestimated the speed of Iran’s long-range ballistic missile development program.  Missile experts like Michael Elleman of the International Institute of Strategic Studies argues that Iran’s missile option for threatening regional targets with nuclear weapons is most likely the solid-propellant Sejil-2, which is still, in his view, several years away from being deployed.

      And reports of technical problems in Iran’s nuclear program and more realistic assessments of Iran’s missile capabilities have muffled the beating of the war drums in the U.S. Congress and in Israel.  I would encourage you to recall that Jeffrey Goldberg was predicting only four months ago in his Atlantic article that an Israeli attack was likely in the spring of this year.

      And I second the comments made by Barry that the talk of the military option makes it harder, not easier, to reach agreement.  This is a basic disagreement with others who have opined that we really need to hold the threat of a military option out or wave it around in order to convince the Iranians to negotiate seriously.  I disagree.

      With regard to North Korea, the U.S. has called for strategic patience.  But with regard to Iran, I would suggest something like patient persistence as an appropriate watchword.  Since the end of the Iranian hostage crisis – exactly 30 years ago today, by the way – direct meetings between Iranian and U.S. officials have been rare.  And of course, there is much bad blood to overcome.

      There is also the risk that compromise by Iran will open up the Iranian leadership to attacks from both hardliners and reform elements.  And I think we’ve already seen an example of this in the U.S. suggestion for a fuel swap last October.

      Negotiating on nuclear issues with Iran, we should anticipate setbacks and half-steps.  Arriving at a satisfactory agreement will take months, but we must be persistent in the pursuit.  We cannot passively wait for Iran to run up a white flag and announce capitulation to the P5+1 demands.  So instead of wasting time pushing desirable but non-attainable positions, we should recalibrate our objectives.

      Forget about the zero-enrichment solution.  Pursuit of this objective could have been more productively pursued in years past through persistent diplomacy.  It is not a realistic option today.  We must use our current leverage and the time available to reach a negotiated solution, but a solution that nonetheless diminishes the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons.

      So let me talk about, in a little bit greater detail, some realistic objectives.  Political impediments to fruitful negotiations lurk in the background.  The very success of sanctions in raising the cost of defying the international community can encourage an overreach by U.S. and European negotiators – for example, setting sights on abandonment of the full nuclear fuel cycle or Iranian regime change, both very much in the air whenever we look at our sanctions working.

      We must make sure that the core issue with Iran’s nuclear program is clearly understood and articulated, giving the IAEA sufficient leeway to ensure that the program is peaceful.  Our objective is not to deny rights granted to others or to keep Iran weak.  This may be a part of our negotiating leverage; it is not what we are seeking in negotiations with Iran.

      The U.S. should stress that for Iran to enjoy full privileges under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it must do no less than what is expected of other non-nuclear weapon state signatories.  And I very much enjoyed Charles’ comment about Japan.  Indeed, let’s treat Iran like Japan – or let’s say, Iran should behave like Japan in order to be treated like Japan.

      While the NPT establishes no unconditional right to uranium enrichment, neither does it prohibit uranium enrichment.  And the U.N. resolution calls for suspension, not abandonment, of enrichment.  Secretary Clinton made clear in a December 2010 BBC interview that the United States was not inalterably opposed to Iran’s enrichment of uranium.  

      In her words, “Iran can enrich uranium at some future date once they have demonstrated that they can do so in a responsible manner in accordance with international obligations,” unquote.  This must be repeated often and loudly.  It is rarely said by the U.S. government or many other parties.  

      Realism also requires that we separate our distaste of personalities and regime characteristics with the task at hand.  Negotiating with Iran means negotiating with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran as it is, not as we wish for it to be – and I apologize for sounding like Donald Rumsfeld.  (Laughter.)  One would think we had learned this basic principle from our nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union, hardly our favorite interlocutor or our bosom buddy.  

      Let’s talk about some small steps that are needed initially to build confidence because I think in the route to a negotiated agreement, small steps are absolutely essential for making larger steps possible later.  One small step is an agreement to meet again after the talks in Istanbul.  This may be setting a very low bar for success, but I will be satisfied if the talks starting tomorrow lead to a firm commitment for another round.

      Initiating bilateral conversations on the margins at Istanbul between American and Iranian delegates would be another constructive small step – it did not happen at the last meeting; establishing procedures and venues for future talks – and by that, I mean for regular, substantive, detailed and confidential exchanges on all nuclear issues; identifying common interests outside the nuclear portfolio and opportunities to open up parallel discussions in these other areas.

      And as Barry said, one important piece of this subject is to drop the current restrictions on diplomatic contacts between the United States and Iranian diplomats.  This is very counterproductive to our pursuit for a constructive diplomatic engagement.  

      So thinking a little bit beyond the small first steps, I think we do have to think about creative approaches.  The ultimate requirement for resolution of our current impasse is Iran’s acceptance of IAEA measures, such as those outlined by Charles, to ensure sufficient confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

      But there is room for interim steps in the meantime.  Even though it wasn’t successful, the proposal for swapping Iranian low-enriched uranium for the manufacture of plates to refuel the Tehran research reactor was a creative and positive attempt to create a win-win, confidence-building measure.  And indeed, this basic formula continues to be a real option even now.  

      As a more direct interim confidence-building measure, the P5+1 could offer to freeze future tightening of sanctions in exchange for Iran capping the current number of working centrifuges.  This is sometimes called a “freeze-for-freeze.”  And this could perhaps be coupled with relaxation of certain categories of currently prohibited trade goods.  There is a list of things that would not break sanctions, but it would be a significant contribution to lowering the heat of the tension between Iran and other countries.

      Another confidence-building measure and one, by the way, which was previously proposed by Tehran, would be for Iran to ship low-enriched uranium to other countries for manufacturing fuel pellets to be used in Iranian civilian-power reactors.  

      So these are a number of creative possibilities.  There are many more, obviously.  This is something worthy of more attention.  In the pursuit of such opportunities, I would just like to say that I think the U.S. has to take full advantage of collective efforts, exploiting the good offices of other countries.  

      We should be wary – and I’m particularly talking here about the U.S. Congress – should be wary of passing more stringent unilateral measures that could end up subverting the overall sanctions regime.  The last thing we want is to create fissures between the United States and other countries in the enforcement of these sanctions that the U.N. Security Council has endorsed.

      And I would say the potential contributions of other countries such as Turkey and Brazil should not be ignored or dismissed or denigrated.  Both of these countries can help us solve the Iranian nuclear puzzle.  Accepting Turkey’s offer to host the Istanbul talks is a good start.  I don’t expect dramatic progress at the talks.  But let’s hope that Istanbul becomes another step in the patient and persistent pursuit of a negotiated outcome.  Thank you.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Greg.  Now, it is the audience’s turn.  We have ample time for questions and discussions.  We have a couple of gentlemen from the Arms Control Association with microphones who are ready to come to you if you raise your hand with a question.  So FredI, if you could come up here.  If you could just identify yourself.  And please state your question as a question.  That would be great – thanks.

      Q:  Yeah, Hugh Haskell from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.  My question is for Charles.  You talked about the confidence levels of the inspections as being set at 90 percent in order to reduce the false-alarm rate.  Does that mean that the earlier confidence levels were lower?  Because it seems to me if you’re reducing the confidence levels from a higher – you’re actually going to increase the false-alarm rate.

      MR. FERGUSON:  Right.  Maybe I misspoke, Hugh.  But typically, IAEA, whether it’s inspecting Iran or other places under Comprehensive Safeguards, seeks a 90 percent confidence level.  And that’s a balancing act between trying to keep the false-alarm rate relatively low, but also having fairly high confidence that you could detect a diversion of nuclear material.  

      So what I meant to say – maybe I didn’t say it correctly up there – is that if you want – just so you’re saying – if you want to increase the confidence, say, from 90 to 95 percent, that’s going to increase the false-alarm rate.  But that could give you more confidence that you could detect a diversion of material.  But I was basically arguing against – did I say that wrong or no.

      Q:  (Off mic.)

      MR. FERGUSON:  No.  Maybe it’s discussed offline.  Yeah.  I don’t think it’s such an important point because basically, I was trying to downplay that option.  I don’t think it’s really going to – I think its cost – it will cost too many resources to implement.  And increasing in overall confidence – the detection, something – isn’t really worth that price.  Okay.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Yes, sir.  Right here, in the middle.  And then we’ll move over here.  And then to the back.

      Q:  Yeah, Dan Lieberman (ph).  Iran has greatly improved its relations with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and also with Venezuela and Brazil.  Now, will this new arrangement help Iraq as a safety valve against all of the sanctions imposed upon them by the West?  Will it provide relief to Iran to gain both the materials and know-how that it will need and not be dependent upon the West anymore?

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  And Barry, do you want to address that?  I’m sure your study group looked at all these different issues.

      MR. BLECHMAN:  We had a working group that looked at Iran’s relations with other countries.  And there are – particularly, Turkey – some banks and companies in Turkey have, in the past, helped Iran in the recent past to kind of slide past some of the sanctions.  The U.S. is working on them through the Treasury Department to make clear to them the cost of continuing to do that, as well as the EU representatives.

      MR. BLECHMAN:  You know, much of their diplomatic gains with countries who have their own beefs with the U.S., like Venezuela, are – you know, it helps Ahmadinejad and his stature in a way, but there’s no tangible benefit to it.  So probably the most troubling is Iran’s influence in Lebanon through Hezbollah, and that situation is a very dangerous one.  But the – you know, the globetrotting, visits to Latin America and so forth, I think that’s all theater and not very important.  

      MR. KIMBALL:  Greg or Charles, anything on this question?  If not – or yes?  

      MR. THIELMANN:  I would just say that most of the countries – I think Barry identified some of the dangers, but in terms of acquiring materials and know-how, these are not the countries that Iran most needs help from.  

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right. Paul Kerr with Congressional Research Service, your question.  

      Q:  This question is directed at Barry.  Did your – I was wondering if your report looked at the – or your group looked at the question of sort of the history of U.N. Security Council sanctions related to proliferation, because it’s a fairly ugly history.  I mean, in the case of Iraq, they started to comply; we invaded them anyway.  In the case of India and Pakistan, they are – did not comply with Security Council Resolution 1172 and, to say the least, haven’t suffered because of it.  

      It seems like because of that, a reasonable strategy for Iran – and I’m reasonably sure they’re thinking about this, based on some of their statements – is to simply wait out the sanctions, or to progress to the point where people will say, well, we need to change our strategy because Iran is now nuclear-capable or whatever.  So it seems to me that there are some potential limits to how long we can enforce sanctions.  We can’t do it for it perpetuity.  So I was wondering how that factored into your analysis, or if it did.

      MR. BLECHMAN:  Yes, we did look at that. And the history of sanctions more broadly is not very effective.  The Peterson Institute has done a study looking back decades at sanctions for various purposes, and they work best when core national security issues are not at stake.  They tend to work poorly when something like nuclear program is at stake.  

      One change is this development over the past few years of enforcing these financial sanctions and raising the danger to potential violators of sanctions, that they’ll be barred from operating within the U.S. market or other advanced markets.  So they have – really have something to lose by violating the sanctions.  

      Nonetheless, we don’t – I think we state explicitly we don’t believe that sanctions in themselves can cause Iran to drop its program or to reach a compromise on it.  That’s why we say the sanctions are putting this pressure on them, accentuating the political conflict.  Now, let’s take advantage of that and try to bolster those who are more pragmatic, might wish to reach compromise by showing them more positive incentives to reach agreement.  

      But I think certainly – there – we’re really just starting to tighten enforcement of the sanctions during the past year, so I think there’s time to go on that.  

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right. Over here, please.  

      Q:  Hi.  I’m Adam Melkitz, in Georgetown Security Studies program.  I have one for Mr. Thielmann.  There’s like – Paul Bracken had the concept of the second nuclear age, and obviously we’re going to have a lot of more counterproliferation challenges in the future.  Is Iran’s case providing any sort of lessons for nuclear diplomacy in the future with these types of states?  Or is it just so sui generis that we can’t generalize anything out of it?  

      MR. THIELMANN:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  I would say both.  It does have lessons, and it’s sui generis, as with most things, I guess, in the realm of international affairs.  I think we’ve clearly learned things.  We’ve learned things from our Iraq experience, with direct applicability to Iran.  One hopes, anyway, that our learning curve is not flat, that every time the world confronts a crisis we figure out what works and what doesn’t work as well.  

      I think one of the things that we realize a lot more deeply or thoroughly now is that some of the encouragement that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the whole IAEA operation for nuclear power, that if we could renegotiate the NPT it would have included additional protocol right off the bat, that there would be more safeguards for – to prevent the diversion of nuclear weapons.  

      And we have seen in the Iranian case how far a country can go professing adherence to the NPT as a signatory and claiming to be operating consistent with its safeguard agreements, but actually doing something very differently.  So I think some of these things – obviously the additional protocol came about as a result of trying to make up for some of our mistakes at an earlier era.  And I think we’re still learning.  

      I think it’s important all the way along not just to get to a negotiated solution with Iran but to always be conscious of what other signals are being sent around the world to other countries, to potential Irans, to countries of proliferation concern, to see that we’re not actually rewarding Iran for bad behavior.  And that’s one of the dilemmas in trying to construct a policy:  How do you make proposals that can be perceived, as Iran, to somehow benefit them or give them a solution that is also to their advantage without, then, compromising the international standards and the message to other countries?  

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right, I think we had a couple questions here.  And if – Howard, and then we’ll go in the back, and then we’ll come back over here.  

      Q:  It’s Howard Morland.  This is the usual question I ask at these things.  If it’s okay for Israel to have a nuclear arsenal, why is it not okay for Iran?  And does your – how persuasive is your answer to this question to the other nations of the region?

      MR. KIMBALL:  Okay, I can take a crack at that, unless others of you have a more clever –

      MR.    :  Please.  (Laughter.)  (Inaudible.)

      MR. KIMBALL:  Well, because we’ve heard this question before, Howard.  It’s a good question.  And it is one that, you know, we do need to address in the context of the broader Middle East.  It is not okay for anyone to have a nuclear weapon.  All countries are obligated to support the – not just the pursuit of but the achievement of total nuclear disarmament.  But we’re at a point in history where there is one country in the region, Israel, that has nuclear weapons.  It’s had a secret program for many years.

      And, you know, the Iranian program I think we all – we all have to recognize is not there simply because of Israel.  There are other historical reasons why the Iranians have pursued nuclear research.  So, you know – plus, of course, the fact that Iran has – is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Israel, unfortunately, is not.  And so there are different obligations – legal obligations, international obligations – that Iran is obligated to pursue that it has not been fully pursuing.

      So the – you know, the broader question of how we’re going to deal with the other countries in the region with nuclear programs, you know, it – that is also a longer-term question.  There is a unique opportunity, I think, coming up in 2012 with the agreement on a meeting about the pursuit of a – zone-free weapons of mass destruction in – Middle East.  And that is – that – the planning for that is on the very early stages.  It’s a very tenuous opportunity, but it’s an opportunity that all the countries in the region should look at as a way to increase their own security and the region’s security, including Israel.  And so there’s an event next week at which I’ll be talking about that particular issue.  And maybe you can ask your question again, and I can answer it a little bit better now that I’ve rehearsed it.  (Laughter.)  So we’ve got a couple other questions.  In the rear, please.  

      Q:  Harry Blaney, Center for National Policy.  Daryl kind of raised what I was going to ask a little bit about.  My assumption is that Iran does not want to give up the chance of having nuclear weapons, that in some way this is a fundamental element of their national security policy in the present context.  The second element that’s at work, it seems, is that what we are doing, either in carrots or sticks, in that context is probably not sufficient to change their mind.  

      And the question I want to ask is the macro question, which Daryl, in some ways, brought up:  What is – could be put on the table in a macro way to change the game and to change the assessment?  And of course, one possibility is what Daryl mentioned, and that is a larger agreement in the region and in other elements.  

      So I’d like to ask particularly Barry and Greg what their thoughts might be.  Would it be a game changer, essentially, beyond what we are doing now, the bits and pieces that might change the environmental landscape that would induce, either by carrots or sticks – carrots or sticks, that game changer?  Thank you.

      MR. BLECHMAN:  Well, I agree with your assessment that Iran has desires – or the Iranian elite desires to acquire nuclear-weapons capability.  The question – the purpose of our policy should be to persuade them that the cost of doing that is too great – not only the cost being imposed by sanctions and covert ops and so forth, and isolation – diplomatic isolation, more or less – but also the opportunity cost in terms of what they’re forgoing in terms of improving the economic well-being of their people and of themselves.  

      Iran is not a happy place.  There’s, you know, 25- to 40-percent unemployment, there’s terrible drug problems.  The economy is going nowhere.  And, you know, one, just have to shift the calculus, the weight of opinion within these elites so that they can say, well, yes, we still want nuclear weapons, but let’s put that off for a while.  For now, let’s come to some agreement that satisfies the West that is not humiliating to us, you know, by permitting us to continue enrichment and so forth; and let’s see what – you know, what the West can deliver to us.  

      And that buys you more time, and hopefully then you can reach a broader regional solution to the problem, or we could move down the road toward disarmament more broadly in the world, so.

      MR. THIELMANN:  I would only add a couple things to that.  Game changers are a little bit hard to articulate before the game has changed.  I do think that it’s worth noting that, looking over the long term, there are a lot – there are a lot of interests in common on the part of the United States and Iran.  It’s just – it’s just sort of in the – in the nature of international affairs and geopolitics that there are a lot of things that Iran and the U.S. could pursue in common.  

      And so I don’t think that we’re in a situation where here are two countries that are destined to always be adversaries all across the board.  So I think if one considers that that is in the background context, I think it’s possible to hope for a change in the game, even if it’s not dramatic and quick.  

      The other thing I would mention is that there are things related to nuclear disarmament and arms control which I think one should also keep in mind.  If more progress is made on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty – and I think more progress is possible in the next – in the next few years – that will create a higher barrier to one of the things that Iran would need to do, which is to test nuclear weapons.  Iran does not want to be a North Korea.  And the higher the barrier – the obstacle is to actually lighting off a nuclear explosion and then Iran explaining to its people why the fatwa meant nothing, and all the other things that they would have to do in order to do that, this suggests that progress on the CTBT would help with the Iran situation.  

      And I’m – I don’t rule out – I can imagine an Israel that could accept a CTBT.  That would also be a step which would make it that much harder for Iran actually to test nuclear weapons.  So I don’t think it’s – things are quite as glum as they always seem to appear.  

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right, we had a question over here.  

      Q:  Mark Gubrud, University of Maryland.  Barry, part of your proposed strategy was to increase emphasis on ballistic-missile defense.  You blamed the Gulf states for not cooperating and creating an effective missile defense, but you didn’t tell us what you meant by effective or what kind of missile defense you thought would be effective.  

      One thing we do know is that the systems that the United States is selling to NATO, and would probably push on the Gulf states, will have at most a limited impact on Iran’s ability to threaten Europe and those states with its current conventional ballistic missiles without countermeasures; would have essentially no effectiveness against future nuclear missiles with simple countermeasures that are well known.  

      So there are other concepts out there for potentially more effective forms of missile defense.  But these are also – we have to consider perhaps that they would create a more dangerous situation, a greater confrontation by forward-deployed interceptors and so on – interceptors on aircraft.  

      Well, while you’re thinking of an answer to that, I have a second question I can throw out for the entire panel, which is, when we hear that Iran will have a nuclear weapon next year, and then a few months later some of the same people tell us, well, it’s going to be four years in the future, you have to wonder about political manipulation of these numbers.  And I wonder if the administration is taking advantage of the recent publicity about Stuxnet just to try to throw some cold water on the need for immediate nuclear attack.

      MR. KIMBALL:  So Barry, if you could deal with the first issue, please?  

      MR. BLECHMAN:  Yes; I was – what I was talking about was a sort of regional defense system for the Gulf countries – I wasn’t think of a European context – something that would give the Gulf countries some confidence to help us avoid additional proliferation should we fail in our efforts to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  And thinking of the sort of system we’re developing with Japan, and probably will with South Korea, against the North Korean attack that might involve some land-based missiles like THAAD and the Aegis system on U.S. warships, all internetted and dependent on U.S. early-warning and tracking systems.  

      On the second question, I think it was the Israelis that were manipulating the threat.  The U.S. has been pretty consistent.  In recent years, General Cartwright, back in June, said they were two to five years away.  And the big change was the Israeli announcement from the retiring head of Mossad that they were in the same ballpark.  So I don’t think that’s being manipulated by the U.S., the greater thing.

      MR. KIMBALL:  And I would – on this threat-assessment issue – I don’t want to interrupt you, Charles – but there is an op-ed that Greg Thielmann and Peter Crail, our nonproliferation analyst at ACA, did for the Christian Science Monitor, that’s out on the table, that tracks what some of these past threat assessments were.  I mean, I would just say that, you know, the mainstream-media discussion on the threat assessment has not tracked with what the credible government and credible nongovernmental estimates have been.  

      And so that’s one of the reasons why we continue to try to reiterate the point that, while the program – Iran’s program and its lack of cooperation with the IAEA is troubling, we do have time.  And it will be certainly some time, some years, before Iran has the capability that we’re worried about.  But Charles, you were going to comment on that.  

      MR. FERGUSON:  Yeah, basically, I was going to just amplify what Daryl just said.  And it’s kind of – I’ll take it and almost treat it as a softball question – (chuckles) – saying that’s why we need organizations like the Arms Control Association and Federation of American Scientists to do those independent credible assessments.  And I don’t want to preempt too much:  The report is going to be posted tomorrow morning on FAS’s website.  But Ivanka Barzashka, who’s a Bulgarian physicist, she’s done the calculations.  She’s set up the computer model, done the math, solved differential equations, et cetera.  

      And you know, her analysis a year and a half ago indicated that the centrifuges were underperforming by about a quarter.  They’re about a quarter as effective as the mainstream news media was saying they were.  And so then that was good news, in effect, in terms of diplomacy.

      But now, her latest calculations show that, you know, it looks like Iran has made some progress in the past 12 months, putting aside Stuxnet and also their covert ops aside.  So we have to continually be doing these assessments.  We need to do the peer review of what the government and other sources say.

      MR. THIELMANN:  Just to state the obvious:  that intelligence assessments are very difficult for the public to absorb.  For one thing, they’re secret – (laughter) – and so you’re absorbing usually leaked or carefully scripted summaries of complicated intelligence assessments.  And it’s hard for the press to capture the essence and headlines without losing some of the important qualifications and so forth.  

      I would certainly never want to imply that any governments ever distort intelligence assessments for political gain.  That would be far too cynical.  (Laughter.)  But the public and interested public like the people who are here need to read things carefully to make sure that you understand the qualifications of intelligence assessments as given when there is information available.  

      And I think that means, also, however enthusiastic one can be about the success of industrial sabotage, to disabuse yourself that we can sabotage our way to a satisfactory solution to the Iran nuclear problem.  The National Intelligence Estimate, as reported, that – our last glimpse of this pointed out that Iran can develop nuclear weapons if that is what it decides to do.  And so I take that as a reality, and that sabotage and sanctions are a way to delay that outcome and not to prevent that outcome, if Iran is ultimately determined to achieve it.

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right, we’ve got some other questions.  Yes, sir?  Any others?  Okay, thank you.

      Q:  Alan Krass, formerly with the State Department.  Last week, I attended an event at which David Albright talked about the potential Iranian program.  His claim is that they have a design – this is relevant to Greg’s statement about testing being necessary – that they have a design which they feel confident can be deployed, I guess, without testing.  

      Now, the Israelis, of course, have developed what everybody believes to be a very credible nuclear-weapons capability without testing.  Do you – do you really believe that somehow it’s going to be necessary for the Iranians to test in order for them to convince the world or persuade significant parts of the world that they have a capability?  Or would they reserve testing as a different – actually, a more political kind of statement, that they would, in fact, handle it in a very – that would cause them to come out in a very, very different way?  Thank you.

      MR. THIELMANN:  My quick answer is yes, I believe that Iran would want to test a nuclear weapon before it deployed systems that it wanted to rely on as a nuclear deterrent.  That’s just my opinion.  I think you can respectably argue the opposite.  And I listened to what David Albright said; I raised my eyebrow; I wondered.  

      But some of the things that you are saying I’m not sure are generally accepted.  I mean, I personally believe Israel did test a nuclear weapon in the south Atlantic.  That’s a divided opinion, but there are a lot of experts who believe that they did.  So how many countries have deployed a nuclear arsenal and have not tested nuclear weapons?  I mean, if I’m right about Israel, then I can’t think of any, right offhand.  So I think it’s a reasonable assumption.  

      The other thing I would say is that if one looks at the Iranians with regard to their ballistic-missile program, one sees a very different approach than that of North Korea.  You know, we heard from everyone in the late ’90s that we had to completely rethink our view about ballistic-missile testing, because the North Koreans had only one successful test of the Nodong missile and then started deploying them.  And so I think that we all over-recalibrated our thinking to say, oh, well, that’s what emerging countries do.  

      But then we watch Iran, and Iran tests and tests and tests, spends years improving the Shahab-3 before they deployed it, before it was operational.  So the way Iran approaches its ballistic-missile program and some aspects of its nuclear program, I think they’re very serious and sober about how they do things.  They are not a North Korea.  So I think that they would want to do that.  And having said that, I would just acknowledge the final point is, it is true that you don’t have to have a nuclear potential that everyone knows would work to achieve the gains of nuclear deterrence.  And that means both for Iran and for the other countries reacting to Iran.  

      The example I often give is, if a – the national security advisor to the U.S. president, in a crisis with Iran, assures him that we are 80 percent confident that Iran has no nuclear threat against the United States, the president will act as if there’s a hundred-percent chance of a nuclear threat against the United States.  

      So yes, you can accomplish a lot without nuclear testing.  It’s just my own reading that Iran, if they – if they wanted to – if they wanted to benefit from – if you want to call it that, “benefit” – and be penalized by an open nuclear deterrent, that they would want to make sure that they had a nuclear deterrent.

      MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just add quickly that, you know, we – as we look at Iran and the Middle East and the second nuclear age, I mean, we need to think about, how do we increase the barriers that help prevent – “help” prevent, but not totally prevent – countries from acquiring more fissile material and more sophisticated capabilities.  

      The test-ban treaty has been and continues to be one of those barriers, because even if Iran could build a – manufacture a device based upon a design that someone else may have tested, that may be – you know, that – it would be useful if that would be the limit of its capabilities.  A decade later, if it could conduct a nuclear – a series of nuclear test explosions, it could produce a second-generation device that’s smaller, more compact, and could more confidently be delivered on a – you know, on a medium- or a long-range ballistic missile.  

      So we can’t just be thinking about, you know, what’s going to happen in 2015.  We got to think about what the situation might be in 2020, ’25 and beyond.  

      All right.  We had a couple more questions.  What I want to try to do is take those two questions and pair them, and then our panelists will answer.  

      Go ahead, ma’am.

      Q:  Is this working?

      MR. KIMBALL:  It is working.

      Q:  I’m Samira Daniels (ph).  I’m interested in negotiation capacity.  And the question that I have in these last 14 years, 15 years is whether – and this – probably Greg Thielmann can respond to this, and anyone – whether you see the emergence of a – in terms of nuclear diplomacy, real progress.  I mean, do you – do you see countries or these international bodies looking to really improve the quality of negotiations, given that you have a – as one person said, this cacophony of voices within the United States, you know, some very strident towards Iran and so forth.  And there’s got to be more, you know, research in terms of how to really improve, you know, diplomacy, you know, given that Ahmadinejad is, you know, responding and reacting to one person one day, another person –  you know, this is a problem I see.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Right.  Okay.  All right.  

      And then we had one other question in – yes, sir.

      Q:  My question is about the sanctions.  Firsa Kiafa (NOT) (ph) at the State Department – about the sanctions and the role of Turkey.  Specifically, you mentioned that we have finally gotten the Europeans on board and the Japanese and the South Koreans and some of the Gulf countries, especially the UAE, where the Iranians did the bulk of their business with the – with the front companies.

      But the question that I have is about Turkey, given the fact that they have a government in power there with the AQ party, which, you know, given what happened during the Gaza crisis and trying to get the ship over there, they’re not very pro-Israel, and they have their own issues with Israel.  And so there’s some kind of a sympathy now with Iran, and this alliance that has been building between Tehran and Ankara.  How difficult is it – I mean, okay, given the fact that you know, again, Turkey being a NATO ally – but I guess the question is, how we do – how do we convince the Turks to cooperate more with us when it comes to the sanctions?  Because I honestly look at Turkey as a – as a big sort of hole that the Iranians are taking advantage of.  

      MR. KIMBALL:  Okay.  All right.

      Q:  Before, it was Dubai, and now it’s Turkey.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Barry, maybe Greg, if you could address those questions?  And then we invite each of you also just to make any concluding – closing comments.

      MR. BLECHMAN:  Turkey certainly is a problem.  And Turkish policy has changed dramatically in recent years, not only with regard to Israel but with regard to its stance toward the Middle East overall.  It’s – has this no-enemies policy now, and – in part a reaction to Europe’s rejection of it, in part because of the growth of greater religious spirit and political power of the religious elements within Turkey.

      And it is a problem for Iranian sanctions.  I don’t think it’s capable of negating the effects of the sanctions; it’s just kind of a loophole.  And I believe Mr. Levey from Treasury is working to see Turks have a lot of interest in U.S. economic relationships.  So hopefully the worst of it can be controlled.  But it’s certainly a problem.  But as Greg said, we can use Turkey also as a conduit, and should use them as a way to improve communications with Iran.

      On the broader question, I’d say there has been positive movement on the nuclear issue, broadly, over the last 15, more years.  Nuclear weapons increasingly are marginalized, and it’s in part because of the no-testing moratorium, in part because of the progress the U.S. and Russia have made, in part because of concerns of nuclear terrorism and the progress made in securing nuclear materials.

      So we have these bad actors, but they’re very isolated.  It’s North Korea, it’s Iran, it’s – maybe it’s Burma – not really, but possibly.  And although progress has come slowly in terms of what’s acceptable, what’s considered acceptable international behavior, nuclear threats and nuclear aspirations I think are increasingly being pushed to the margin.

      And if I take any comfort from what’s happened in the nuclear field over the years I’ve been in it, it is this marginalization of nuclear options and thinking of nuclear weapons, which I think has much to do with the test ban and the treaty and the moratorium on testing.

      MR. THIELMANN:  I’ll try to respond briefly on both questions.  First of all, since I spent 25 years as a diplomat, I can only applaud any study of diplomacy as worthy of attention.  I think case studies on – particularly on arms-control negotiations are very worthwhile.  I mean, we do – we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few decades negotiating things that ultimately determine the survival of the planet.

      We need to pay close attention to what we have learned and what happened in previous circumstances when the world was really on the brink.  So what’s out there, we have to study and be aware of it.  And I think one of our – one of our great needs is for Congress to have more of an appetite to do some of that studying.  

      And one of the ways is for the Congress to be involved in study groups, arms-control study groups, actually spend time with negotiators, talking to them about the task at the hand and talking to the foreigners with whom we’re negotiating to make them more aware of the complexities of the issues.  So I certainly endorse that.

      On Turkey, let me make a brief point about both Turkey and Brazil, since I think they got a lot of bad press from their efforts last spring to come up with a way out of the impasse on the swap issue.  Turkey does have a no-enemies policy now, as I understand it.  They want to improve relations with all of their neighbors, which doesn’t seem to me a bad thing.

      And Turkey is also – has provided us with an example of a country that mixes democracy, prosperity and Islam.  That also seems like a very good thing in our current times.  And in the case of Brazil, you have a country that has a conspicuous effort of success, historically, at helping facilitate serious border disputes in South America.  And you have a country with a world-class diplomatic corps.

      It seems like with the characteristics of these two countries, this should be an asset for us, that these two countries are both much more trusted by Iran than we are.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have complaints with Turkey and Brazil.  And I’m very sorry that both countries could not at least have abstained in the sanctions vote rather than voting against sanctions.  

      But nonetheless, there’s a lot to work with here and I think it would be very foolish for us not to take advantage of it.

      MR. KIMBALL:  Charles, any final thoughts?

      MR. FERGUSON:  Well, if there’s any hope for any of the increased technical measures I talked about in terms of increased competence of monitoring safeguards, it’s through what Barry and you and Greg have been talking about in trying to develop better relations with Iran, but not necessarily just letting them have what they want.

      But you know, sanctions can play a role, but coercion alone is not going to get us to increased confidence in Iran’s nuclear program.  So we have to offer clear incentives that play to Iran’s interest and also support our interests as well.

      MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, I want to thank all of our panelists for their short, smart and insightful comments at this critical time.  And we’ve had a very rich discussion on issues beyond what we planned to talk about.  

      Let me just remind everybody that this is the second in our series of briefings on “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle,” and there’s a transcript of the first briefing, which was about the status of Iran’s nuclear-missile program.  So that’s online at armscontrol.org.  And there’ll be a transcript of today’s session online early next week.  

      And next month, we plan to pull together the third session in the series, and that one will be focusing on the effect and the limits of sanctions and where to take that in the months ahead.  So thanks, all, for coming, and please join me in thanking our expert panelists.  (Applause.)

      (END)

       

      Description: 

      Transcript available. The Arms Control Association on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 hosted the second in a series of briefings on Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle with panelists Barry Blechman, Charles Ferguson, Greg Thielmann and moderated by ACA's Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball. The panel examined what a viable diplomatic solution with Iran would look like and ways to achieve it.

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