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Strategic Policy

Press Briefing: The Trump Administration's New Nuclear Posture Review

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Description: 

The Arms Control Association will host a briefing with a group of top experts to analyze the implications of the new Trump nuclear strategy.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018
1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC

The transcript of the event is posted below.


Press Briefing with Thomas Countryman, Joan Rohlfing, Jon Wolfsthal, and Kingston Reif. (Photo: Arms Control Association/ ALLEN HARRIS)The Trump administration will soon formally release its revised strategy document on the role and composition of U.S. nuclear forces, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

According to a leaked draft of the 64-page document, the administration calls for expanding the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use nuclear weapons—including in response to a major cyberattack—and it proposes the development of new nuclear weapons and capabilities for “tailored” war scenarios.

The document also reaffirms support for replacing and upgrading all three legs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to cost in excess of $1.25 trillion over the next 30 years and walks back U.S. commitments to pursue measures to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons.

The independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association hosted a briefing with top experts to analyze the implications of the Trump administration's nuclear strategy. The transcript and audio recording is below.

Speakers included:

  • Jon Wolfsthal, former Senior Director, National Security Council
  • Thomas Countryman, Chairman of the Board; and
  • Joan Rohlfing, President, Nuclear Threat Initiative
  • Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament Policy, Arms Control Association (moderator)

PHOTOS:  Available here. Usage requires attribution to the Arms Control Association. 

AUDIO RECORDING: Listen here.

TRANSCRIPT:

KINGSTON REIF: Well, good afternoon everyone and welcome to today's event on the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review. My name is Kingston Reif and I am the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association.

As most of you know, the Arms Control Association is an independent nonpartisan membership organization. We were established in 1971 and we're dedicated to reducing and eliminating the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons, namely nuclear, chemical, biological weapons as well as certain conventional weapons that pose particular harm and risk to civilians.

Outside the room, you'll find copies of two of our recent issues of our flagship publication, "Arms Control Today," which include commentaries on the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review.

So, when we first conceived of this event, we anticipated previewing possible key outcomes of the NPR and the implications based on fragments of reporting and intelligence, and little did we know that a full pre-decisional draft of the document would leak, which now provides us the opportunity to discuss and analyze the review itself and the Pentagon, as we understand it, is formally slated to release the NPR in early February and the date that we are hearing is February 2nd.

At the Arms Control Association, our take is that the NPR constitutes unnecessary, unexecutable (ph) and unsafe overreach. Yes, the international security environment is less favorable than it was in 2010 when the Obama Administration conducted its Nuclear Posture Review. Yes, some of the other nuclear arm states have not been responsible nuclear citizens. Yes, technology is advancing in new and unpredictable ways and yes, the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal is aging.

But none of these justifies the direction that Trump Nuclear Posture Review proposes to take U.S. nuclear strategy. Though there are elements of continuity with the policies of previous administrations, the document aligns with President Trump's more aggressive and impulsive nuclear notions and breaks with past efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide in several key areas.

First, instead of deemphasizing the role of nuclear weapons and U.S. policy, as previous Nuclear Posture Reviews have done, the Trump NPR actually seeks a greater role for them. Notably, the review proposes to enlarge the circumstances under which the United States would consider the use of nuclear weapons and explicit—to explicitly include "non-nuclear strategic attacks including major cyber attacks.”

Second, the NPR calls for new more usable nuclear weapons. These include the near-term deployment of low yield nuclear warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the longer-term development of a new nuclear armed sea-launched cruise missile. These proposals would come on top of the existing nuclear recapitalization program of record that the Trump Administration inherited from its predecessor, which according to the Congressional Budget Office will cost $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years excluding the impact of inflation.

And third, the review walks back from key U.S. non-proliferation and disarmament commitments. Arms control only gets a brief mention at the end of the document and it's generally—and it is a generally a dismissive mention at that.

So, to help us further explore these and other issues, we have assembled a topnotch panel of experts. Our first speaker, on the far right will be Thomas Countryman. Tom, I am thrilled to say, is the new Chairman of the Board of the Arms Control Association and former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

After Tom, we will have Joan Rohlfing who is seated between the three speakers there, the President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, excuse me and batting third will be Jon Wolfsthal, former Senior Director on the National Security Council responsible for nuclear weapons and arms control issues.

Each of our speakers will provide about 7 to 10 minutes of opening remarks which should leave plenty of time for questions from all of you. And before we get started, I just wanted to mention that we have coffee, tea, water and a selection of sodas in the back if you haven't seen them, and also if you're looking to access the wireless, the guest network is C-E-I-P guest and you open your browser and that should take you through the prompts that you need to get on the wireless and with that, the floor is yours, Tom.

THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: Thank you, Kingston. And thank all of you for coming out today. Nuclear weapons of course are technically complex and the policy that dictates their use, their strategy is perhaps esoteric, but the issue is not so complex that it cannot be comprehended by the public, by the media and crucially, in the months ahead, by the United States Congress.

The new NPR has real implications for our budget, for our leadership role and the world and above all, for our national security and it is crucial that the media and the public participate in an informed debate within the Congress on these issues.

As Kingston noted, U.S. nuclear policy has great elements of consistency. It is in many ways slow to change and you will note similarities in this draft report from what was decided by the Bush Nuclear Posture Review in 2002 and the Obama Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, but the changes are significant and have real-world implications. They are significant in their substance, in their tone, in what is added and in the striking omissions from previous posture reviews.

What concerns me most directly is the talk of an expanded role for nuclear weapons. For years, the United States under successive Presidents of both parties has consistently narrowed the circumstances under which an American President would contemplate use of nuclear weapons. For the first time in a long time, instead there is an expansion, an explicit expansion of the circumstances under which the President would consider such use.

As Kingston noted, this includes responding to non-nuclear threats including that of a massive cyber attack.

A year ago, Vice President Joe Biden, just before he left office, stood right here and spoke about the progress that the Obama Administration had made not only in narrowing those circumstances, but in reducing the role and the number of weapons in our nuclear arsenal and I’d just like to quote from Vice President Biden at that time. He said here, "Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today's threats, it is hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary."

That remains the case today and the draft Nuclear Posture Review fails to give a convincing rationale why it has changed. It does not explain why the U.S. nuclear arsenal, still the most powerful and diverse possessed by any nuclear weapon state is insufficient to match threats on both the nuclear and the non-nuclear level.

It fails to explain why the overwhelming United States advantages in both conventional military capabilities, and yes, in cyber capabilities is inadequate to respond to threats or attacks.

It does not explain why the Russian Federation's modernization, which parallels the United States’ own modernization efforts, is so severely different from ours that it means we have fallen behind in stability. It does not even talk about strategic stability between the United States and Russia as a goal to strive for and it does not explain how the additional threat of new nuclear weapons, including new low-yield weapons on top of those low-yield weapons that we already have, will change the Russian Federation thinking or make the first use of nuclear weapons by either side less likely.

Of concern to me also is the effect on our global leadership. It essentially abandons the United States' leadership role in nonproliferation and arms control that have marked every President since Dwight Eisenhower. In speaking of the most successful security treaty the world has ever seen, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it treats this only as a nonproliferation treaty and ignores… it does not restate the binding legal obligation that the United States undertook almost 50 years ago in that treaty. That is, we are committed to pursue effective measures to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons leading to their verifiable elimination.

By failing to restate this as a goal, it has an effect upon the readiness of other nations to honor their nonproliferation obligations. And this is the final point I would like to make: this posture review does not and will not be issued in a vacuum. It is not an issue simply between the U.S. and Russia, or the U.S. and China.

Other nations look to the United States' signal to determine their own policy and the signal that is being sent is unfortunately that the United States is putting aside a legal obligation, is not going to exert the same kind of leadership on nonproliferation and arms control issues, and it also signals the utility of nuclear weapons, something that will make them more attractive to those countries that have smaller arsenals or those that have no arsenals at all.

All of this is true even if you set aside the character and the impetuosity of the current United States' President. It still has these negative effects upon our national security. For these reasons, I hope not only that the final draft that we see perhaps next week will moderate some of these difficult points, but I also hope that the United States Congress will take up the obligation that it took up with great seriousness after the last two Nuclear Posture Reviews and put a limit to the kind of dangerous development that detracts from, rather than contributes, to stability in our world.

Thank you.

REIF: Thanks very much, Tom. Joan?

JOAN ROHLFING: (Inaudible) Kingston, thank you, Tom. I have been asked to focus in particular on the new capabilities being contemplated by the posture review, but I would like to put that in a little bit of a frame before offering some observations on that.

I do want to emphasize, I think you have certainly heard us mention that this is a draft and it still has to go through a White House review. I think this is important just to emphasize that anything nuclear is inherently presidential, so I am going to speak in terms of this being a draft with hopes that it could still improve. Much like, Tom and perhaps even a little bit more pointedly, I want to say this draft posture review represents a significant departure from the direction we have been headed in for the last four administrations.

It increases our reliance on nuclear weapons. It expands their role in our security and it makes them more likely—it makes the use of them more likely.

It also compounds rather than solves some of the top level nuclear issues left over from the previous administration. What do I mean by that? It maintains the same outdated hair trigger launch posture of our ballistic missiles that puts pressure on our leaders to make a use decision without enough time for deliberation.

It proposes enhancements to our arsenal that make nuclear weapons more usable and more destabilizing. It compounds the resource challenge by increasing the cost of the modernization program by at least another 20 percent. It doesn't offer any proactive solutions for overcoming the impasse in our relationship with Russia.

It undervalues arms control as a tool to achieve our military objectives and advance our national security. We don't do arms control for the sake of doing arms control. We do it because it advances our national security. If this review stands as it is currently written, I believe it significantly increases the risk of use.

Our primary focus as a nation should be on preventing the use of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world and this posture review would move us in the opposite direction, so let me give you now a few specific examples of why that is the case starting with some of the capability enhancements proposed.

As Kingston mentioned, the review is proposing two new types of low-yield nuclear weapons. First, a near-term capability to put low-yield capacity on our SLBMs, our submarine launched ballistic missiles and then potentially, it contemplates over a longer time period a low-yield nuclear SLCM.

What's interesting about the SLCM is that we used to have nuclear SLCMs, they were taken off of deployment, off of our surface ships, off of our submarines in the 1991-timeframe by then President George Herbert Walker Bush. They were finally retired by the Obama Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, so this represents us coming you know, back full cycle to where we were at the height of the Cold War as opposed to continuing to move in the other direction.

Why do we need these low-yield nuclear weapons in the arsenal? I would argue emphatically, we do not. We already have a robust flexible nuclear deterrent today that includes low-yield options. But this draft review posits that we need more low-yield options, more low-yield capacity to restore a so-called deterrence gap at a regional level.

The premise in the review seems to be that the existing arsenal is not a credible deterrent to others unless we have this low-yield nuclear weapon. I find that argument simply incredible. The U.S. today has this robust deterrent. It is capable of being employed anywhere in the world in defense of our interest and our allies within a matter of minutes.

And as Tom said, they haven't offered a satisfactory explanation for what is the military purpose, what is the rationale for why we need this new capability? So, rather than raising the bar for nuclear use as they assert in the review, I believe it lowers the bar and makes their use more likely.

This is destabilizing, not stabilizing.

I think it's also a mistake to believe that we could use a little nuke to control escalation rather than strengthening deterrence, it therefore undermines it and it increases the risks of miscalculation. One final point on this, if we talk about deploying low-yield nuclear weapons on an SLBM, how is our adversary if they detect the launch from the ocean somewhere, a ballistic missile coming from them, how are they going to know that it's a little nuke, not a full-yield nuclear weapon, if the same platform deploys both a full yield nuclear weapon and a low-yield nuclear weapon. This is also destabilizing, I think it's fanciful to expect that there wouldn't be a full-scale attack in return for that.

So, a second point on how this posture review falls short just to emphasize some of comment that Tom made earlier about the short shrift given to arms control and nonproliferation, it mentions the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the good news is, it proposes that the administration will continue to observe the testing moratorium and will urge others to do the same, but it then undercuts that objective by explicitly noting that it will not seek ratification of the treaty. Why does this matter?

Without ratification the U.S. undermines its own ability to secure this nuclear test ban regime that's really vital to preventing new nuclear states from emerging and frankly, it preserves the U.S. nuclear advantage. Why wouldn't we want to do everything we can to ensure that the treaty is ratified so that we can sustain those benefits?

On the issue of further arms control with Russia, it offers no proactive agenda and is silent on the value of extending the New START Treaty, which is frankly critical to regulating our nuclear relationship with Russia. It ignores the value of the JCPOA and, very importantly, as mentioned by Tom, there is only a fleeting—the barest fleeting reference to a commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, but it's not stated as a goal.

This is not only a U.S. legal commitment under the NPT, but also necessary for sustaining the political support, political will for the entire nonproliferation regime and it finally quite frankly, it takes too narrow a view of the role that arms control can play. We should have a whole-of-government approach looking at arms control diplomacy as a plank in our national security strategy; not one that's an afterthought. This review focuses primarily on the military dimensions of nuclear weapons.

Let me just close by saying, coming back to where I started, which is that the policy, the proposed posture, the enhancements being sought by this posture review are destabilizing and fundamentally increase the risk of use, increase the risk of miscalculation. Deterrence may be necessary, but it's certainly not sufficient to prevent nuclear use and potential miscalculation.

Thank you.

REIF: Thanks, very much, Joan. Jon.

JON WOLFSTHAL: Thanks, I am going to be lazy and just stay here unless anybody objects. Thank you to the ACA and Kingston and also to Joan and to Tom for letting me be part of this group. I want to support everything, everything that Tom and Joan have just said about the NPR and the concerns, I share many of them.

I will—you know, we're sort of always pushed to say, it's OK to find something positive to say about the NPR. There's something good in it and you know, I was struck, and I'd actually be surprised if Tom and Joan didn't feel the same way.

The stated objectives in the NPR to enhance deterrence, to reduce the risk of nuclear ambiguity, to ensure that countries that have nuclear weapons and threatened to use them like Russia, like North Korea know that they cannot use these weapons without escaping a consequence greater than any objective they might hope to achieve are I think valuable statements.

The deterrent language in the document is actually, I would argue, something you could find probably in any other Republican NPR and there actually would have been a similar type of discussion in a Democratic NPR.

The problem is of course the document then goes completely off the rails by pursuing systems that aren't supported by either intelligence information that suggests it will be helpful in enhancing deterrence by expanding the roles of nuclear weapons. It actually, as Joan said, increases the risks of use and then the document itself is rather schizophrenic when it talks about wanting to increase the ambiguity of the circumstances under which the United States might consider nuclear use.

So, maybe that's not the nicest thing to say about the NPR, but I appreciate what they were trying to do because I think all of us appreciate the challenges that the U.S. government faces in reducing the risk of use are serious and whether there are cyber or nuclear or other challenges we face, I think we recognize that as an appropriate thing for both the Defense Department and the whole of government to be wrestling with.

The problem with the NPR is everything looks like a nuclear nail and so everything is going to be solved with a nuclear hammer and there aren't solutions to many of the problems that are identified in the NPR, the nuclear space that do come with tremendous baggage.

So, what I was asked to do is to talk about one part of that baggage, which is the budget and I guess I was in part picked on to talk about this because I worked at Monterey Institute with the kind support of the Nuclear Threat Initiative with Jeffrey Lewis and Mark Quint to produce I think, the first comprehensive report of what the U.S. Nuclear Modernization Program was going to cost, which we dubbed, "The trillion-dollar nuclear triad." I have a running joke that I get a nickel every time anybody uses that statement, so I have to pay myself.

Since then, of course, we have gotten new information, the latest CBO report suggests that cost is actually closer to $1.25 trillion and if you look at out your dollars, you're looking about $1.7 trillion. The answer is, we don't know how much the nuclear budget is going to cost and we don't know it for a couple of reasons, but the main reason is because the Pentagon refuses to put together a standalone nuclear budget.

They have been asked not once, but twice by the GAO to actually produce a nuclear budget that takes into account all of the disparate pieces from development, deployment, operations, disposal, personnel, healthcare—everything across the board and the answer from DOD, I kid you not is, "We don't want to do that because that's too hard." That's a response to the GAO.

But interestingly, we were talking about this before. In the budget document, the Pentagon takes on this argument and I think that's an opening that many people should be looking to exploit. You hear from advocates for the nuclear mission that this is affordable. This is only a small percentage of the overall nuclear budget and if you look at the document, it talks about how at the height of the Cold War in 1984, we were spending 13.4 percent of the budget or 13.4 percent of the Defense budget on nuclear, we are only looking to spend 6.4 percent of the Defense budget on nuclear.

So, it's interesting. They don't talk about exactly, you know, what the absolute number was, not including dismantlement and disposal, which Joan as refugees from the Department of Energy understand is a problem without a solution yet; but if you look at just the raw numbers are out there and some quick math, we spent roughly $50 billion in 1984, if you take the Pentagon's numbers on the nuclear mission.

They're proposing that we would spend roughly $42 billion a year on the nuclear budget in 2029, so you say, "Well, well that's actually pretty small. It's reasonable, right?" In 1994, sorry, 1984 was the height of the Cold War. We were planning to fight and win a nuclear war. Is that the environment that the Pentagon sees us being in in 2029? If it does, I'm sorry, but 6.4 percent of the budget is not going to cut it, right? I mean, Ronald Reagan was right, you can't win a nuclear war, so don't fight one. But the idea that somehow these numbers can be compared and since we are below where we were back at 84 or in 62, we're OK, ignores the budget reality that we exist in

It's not a question of whether it's affordable, it's a question of whether it is sustainable, and it is a question of whether it's advisable and if you look at the national priorities that we have on the plate, you are going to be seeing a lot of Pentagon brass and officials ask you want two new nuclear systems. Are these priorities for you? You want a new nuclear arms SLCM? Do you want that, or do you want the F-35? Do you want to modify the D5 submarine launch ballistic missile and put a small (U-warden) on it? Well, do you want to finish the B-61 Mod 12, the AirDrop tactical nuclear weapon that we have slated for deployment in Europe? Do you want this one instead?

What you see in the NPR is not a prioritization or strategy, it's a laundry list. We want every capability that's possible. We have a President who is prepared to allow us to go for all of the things that we might conceivably want to use at some point? But none of these things are going to come in on budget or on time and if you have any doubts about that then ask the question, why did Secretary Mattis, when he took the job asked to be relieved from the budget caps for the nuclear mission?

That was one of the first things he approached OMB for when he took over the job in the Pentagon. The same as his predecessors did, because they know that they can't fit that nuclear square in the round hole or sorry, the nuclear square peg into the round budget hole that they have to work with.

So, as you work through these budget priorities, you then also have to ask the question, "Where else can we be spending this money?" And I'm not going to do the traditional guns and butter, let's take it out of the NPR itself. What do they point to as the preeminent threats that they don't think we can handle with our existing nuclear arsenal and therefore, we need to develop new capabilities and we to expand the role of nuclear weapons?

Well, one of the ones that is on many people's minds is cyber. It's not explicitly mentioned in the NPR, but it's referenced in the National Security Strategy and is clearly a concern that is rightfully to be wrestled with by the U.S. government.

In the last National Cyber Strategy that the Obama ministration released, we haven't gotten one out of the Trump Administration yet, the document stated that they requested $19.5 billion in cyber capabilities in 1990s—sorry, in 2016. That's how much we were planning to spend, right? How much are we going to spend any one of the individual legs on the nuclear triad. The LRSO, the lowest budgeted item in the nuclear capability is $25 billion to $ 30 billion, total. More than we spend annually on cyber, but if we are going to threaten the use of nuclear weapons in response to a cyberattack, why aren't we investing more money in our own cyber capabilities.

If the damage that can be done to us through cyber is so consequential, yet we are the cyber superpower, right? President Obama said clearly that our capabilities are second to none. I guarantee you that Russia is more vulnerable than we are to cyber, not to say, less formidable countries.

So, it seems me instead of investing money where Russia is trying to go to become stronger, we should be playing to your own strengths, which is in conventional capability, cyber capabilities, automation, integration—the things that were talked about in the third offset of the Pentagon, as opposed to trying to re-create some Cold War nuclear capability that doesn't match up with the threats that we face today.

Two last things I'll mention. I really want to talk to as many people in the Navy as possible about this Nuclear Posture Review. There are two things that really worry me. If you've talked to any nuclear operator in the last 20 years, they will tell you without an exception that they were thrilled to be relieved of the nuclear mission on the surface fleet and in the attack submarine fleet, right?

These things were complicated, and they made the Commanding Officer's life really complicated. You had to have security on board. You had to have different operations when you had nuclear missions. This is not like going into any port, you have to actually go to special nuclear weapons ports if you're going to be handling and shipping these things. You had additional training time, additional costs were associated with that. They lost all of that. They were supposed to be investing that in conventional operations.

Now, clearly, we have some challenges in the nuclear Navy as we stand or sorry, in the conventional Navy is as we are finding out, but the idea that we're going reintroduce this thing under the surface fleet and the attack fleet is something that's going to cost money, it's going to influence operations and it's going to be a real challenge for the surface fleet and for the attacks of force, and I'm not sure they are going to be very enthusiastic about.

The second issue is and I'm getting smarter on this. Joan talked about the discrimination problem when you launch an SLBM—is it one or all of them? Remember what our subs were designed for and built for. These are $5 billion shadows. They are meant to be secret and quiet and we spent a lot of money to keep them that way. We built them so they would be our ultimate retaliatory force if, God forbid, deterrence failed and some country launched out at us, we had the ability to destroy them.

One submarine alone was enough to basically destroy most countries on earth; maybe two would be necessary if you had a major adversary. So, now we are going to take these quiet secret ships that spent their whole lives trying to disappear and we're going to launch a small tactical nuclear weapon from it, which immediately makes the whole boat vulnerable. Any time I try to talk with the nuclear Navy about well, maybe we could change operations of this and maybe we could reduce cost with that. They said, "Look, our biggest fear is Russian anti-submarine warfare capabilities. We cannot allow them to catch up and to make the oceans invisible." So, now we're basically going to have a giant dinner bell for every Russian attack sub to say, "Here it is."

And people tell me, "Look, we practiced into the Cold War. We launch. We go deep. We run fast. You have a big part of the ocean." Well, that might have been true in 1984, but Russians have been investing a lot of money in their ASW capability, and so as we ask questions in Congress of the Navy and of the military, how do they feel about these? Are these priorities? I think we also have to start asking some operational questions because they really do pose challenges that I think are going to get us into the nuts and bolts. I have gone a little long, but that should be plenty to talk about. Thank you.

REIF: Thanks very much, Tom, Joan and Jon. Great representations. Stayed within the allotted time limit which was beautiful and lots and lots to chew on—I mean, I could jump in on any of the numerous points that they made, but I'd like to open the floor to those of you in the audience for your questions and comments. The floor is yours, questions.

(UNKNOWN): We probably have mics coming too.

REIF: And we do—we will have mics coming around as well, thank you very much, (Sean). Right here, Jon.

QUESTION: Great, thank you. Jon Harper with National Defense Magazine. In terms of the cost estimates for developing a new sea-launch cruise missile and also a new low-yield warhead, you know, roughly what do think the price tag would be for that and also just, you know from a technical perspective and kind of layman's terms, can you sort of explain what would be required to actually create these new weapons?

WOLFSTHAL: Yes, and I will defer to Joan who of course has deep knowledge on how NNSA operates. What I will say is that what the draft NPR lays out is two things. One, they want to go immediately for this modified low-yield warhead for the submarine launch capability. They talk about that being a relatively low-cost option with a short timeline. The idea that's been pushed is we have thermonuclear weapons, two-stage nuclear weapons. We have a small fission primary, which has a smaller yield, a couple of kilotons, maybe less, maybe more, which then drives a second larger explosion, the thermonuclear part. That then brings up many hundreds of kilotons.

The idea would be that they would simply remove the secondary, so they would just keep the primary and put in ballast or something that wouldn't affect the trajectory or the center of gravity in the warhead. That's something that the laboratories probably could effectuate in a relatively short period of time. Relatively short—a couple of years. It depends on how they want to affect the throughput of all the other life extension programs that were currently underway.

We have a limited number of facilities. We have a limited number of staff and so, it's not clear how that would affect the life extension program for the W-88, the life extension program for the W-76, the life extension program for the B-61 Mod 12, so it would throw off some of the schedules.

The second part is that they don't say they want to absolutely go for a SLCM, they want to have a study. The study then might lead to an assessment of alternatives, which is their contracting parlance and then they would get to a record of decision, choose an option. This is many years away. It's clearly going to extend beyond the Trump term in office, assuming one term in office, it might be something that they could sort of get to a prototype later in the second term if that happens. But in terms of the actual decision-making, I'd defer to Joan if she has some thoughts on...

ROHLFING: I don't have more on the decision-making and I agree with everything you just said to the question of cost. I think I can't offer a clear answer and it really would depend, Jon, is right. You can make a relatively modest, though not trivial modification to an existing weapon to convert your SLBM weapon to be one that's low-yield in the near term. The much bigger project is the development of a low-yield weapon for a SLCM and if you assume that you're repurposing an existing nuclear package rather than trying to design a new weapon from scratch, you might find that it's in the same neighborhood of cost as the new air launched cruise missile called the LRSO that they're working on that Jon cited, about $25 billion price tag for.

If you were trying to manufacture something from—to design it from scratch, that would most likely necessitate nuclear testing. That's a whole different ball of wax, much longer program, more expensive and not to mention, the significant cost from a diplomacy and National Security standpoint if we had to resume testing to prove a new weapon design.

COUNTYMAN: And just add, Jon, quickly to what Joan has said, I mean, I think, it's absolutely right to say it would depend. I mean, if you look at the missile—potential missile for a new SLCM, the DOD, the Navy is going to do an analysis of alternatives, presumably to look at different options. It would seem to me that the lowest cost option would be some way to spin off a current or a future block of the Tomahawk missile and use that.

Whereas the most expensive option would be some kind of totally new missile that they would have to design and then on the warhead sign, warhead side excuse me, there has been talk in an article actually that Jim Miller, a former Obama Administration Pentagon official and Sandy Winnefeld, the Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocating for a new sea launched cruise missile. They said at least for the warhead, you could build a modified—so a modified version of the W80-4, which as Joan mentioned is the planned warhead for that the new air-launched cruise missile, the LRSO and build a few more of them and put it on a on a sea-launched cruise missile is a relatively lower cost option.

So, I think potentially, range of cost, but the point is additional costs to a program of record that as Jon already pointed out is under tremendous stress and faces a major affordability and executability challenge.

ROHLFING: And can I just follow that with one point that I would really want to emphasize. I think the largest cost is not a financial one, it's the National Security implications as we discussed of deploying a new low-yield warhead that is destabilizing and increases the chance that a nuclear weapon will be used. That I think, is the most important point that I would make about a sea-launch cruise missile.

RIEF: Additional question. Yes?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sandra Erwin with Space News. Jon, to your point about capabilities that we do need like cyber, can you be more specific. I mean, do you mean satellites? What are some of the areas where we need to be more resilient and what specific capabilities would you recommend? Thanks.

WOLFSTHAL: So, I am not a cyber expert, but obviously, working in the administration and understanding both our capabilities and vulnerabilities, I think the question is what is it that the U.S. government is worried about in terms of our adversary's ability to use cyber capabilities against us? That makes us so vulnerable and that the impact could be so significant that it could approximate nuclear.

And the Pentagon, the NPR draft talks about this. It talks about both infrastructure, I think that would mean critical infrastructure, communications, energy grid, communications, banking, nuclear early warning command-and-control is another area that is specifically cited that could somehow disrupt our ability to have a reliable deterrent and so, I would put those at the top of my list that I want to make sure that we are doing defense to the extent necessary to protect the power grid, the communications grid, banking and financial system—those are things that I wouldn't argue that losing the communications grid would be akin to say a nuclear detonation in New York.

You know, we could learn to live without our cell phones for a couple days if we had to, but obviously, the implications are dramatic if we're so vulnerable that a country could bring it down, we should be spending more to protect it and defend it and helping states helping, and helping local municipalities, and helping utilities do that. We use some of that now, but clearly more is necessary.

And then in terms of space again, I am not a space expert, but clearly as we are developing the new satellite constellation both for early warning for communications and for military operations, this is something the Pentagon has been worried about for many, many years. This is another one of the things that you constantly hear program officers and Cabinet officers demanding and asking for more resources for and yet, there's a large pot of money here that in my view isn't matched up against the threat we face.

So, just for example, and we didn't get into a lot of nuclear doctrine here because you don't want to get bored and go right to sleep, but the idea here is that the Russians are threatening to use nuclear weapons against us or our allies because somehow, they doubt our nuclear capability, our 4,000 operational nuclear weapons aren't quite enough, the 1,000-low yield nuclear weapons aren't quite enough, so we need to have some exquisite new capability that will show the Russians we're serious.

When in fact what the Russians are doing is saying, "We are conventionally inferior to you. We can't fight you in a fair fight and, so we don't want to fight fair, we want the option to escalate to the nuclear level." And the NPR draft says, "They shouldn't be convinced that they can get away with that," because we have all of these other nuclear capabilities. That's a reasonable deterrent statement.

To then spend more money for some new capability that doesn't solve that problem strikes me as being—throwing bad money after good.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) (Inaudible)

WOLFSTHAL: I think that like most parts of the U.S. government, this is a stovepipe product of the nuclear establishment from the Joint Chiefs, from the OSD policy, from STRATCOM that's driving this. They said that we've already got a program of record, the incremental cost will be small and therefore, let's push this.

Now, if they were put in a room with the cyber people or the ISR people or the infrastructure people or the—you know, name your list, my guess is they would lose, but because there is this demand for Nuclear Posture Review, this sort of stands up and above and that's where Congress is really going to have to come in and prioritize, but of course, they are stove-piped in Congress as well. The people that handle cyber don't handle nuclear. People who nuclear don't handle conventional, and so we will continue to see the slicing of the salami pretty thin.

REIF: Yes, right here.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for the presentation. My name is Yuki Toda from Kerala News (ph). Most of you put it out that the destabilizing effect of its NPR on not only on the National Security, but also the arms control regime. So, please, could you tell me your prospect, your kind of vision about what's the impact of this NPR on INF Treaty and also the extension of the New START and another question is now, the United States tried to create new nuclear warheads and a nuclear weapon, so the other leading country over the NPT—NPT is losing credibility or not?

COUNTYMAN: On the new START Treaty, I am glad that the draft NPR leaves open the possibility of extension of the New START Treaty for an additional five years when the initial term expires in 2021. In my view, this is the single most logical step that Moscow and Washington could take, and they could take it today, that would provide additional strategic stability and also send a valuable signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. and Russian Federation, no matter what else they say, are still interested in limiting their nuclear arsenals.

On the INF Treaty, the NPR—the draft NPR talks quite a bit about the Russian violation, which is a serious concern. It correctly describes that arms control is made more difficult if existing agreements are not honored, but I think it does not provide an easy answer any more than the Obama Administration could provide an easy answer for how to bring the Russians back into compliance with their obligations under the INF Treaty.

It links the development of a submarine-launched cruise missile with the Russian violation and suggests that the U.S. might revisit development of a submarine-launched cruise missile if Russia returns to compliance. I don't believe that that's adequate by itself to get Russia to return, but it is appropriate for this NPR to take very seriously Russia's violation of the INF treaty.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has many challenges, the challenge posed by North Korea is by far the greatest. The challenge posed by Iran was addressed in the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action and the most significant step backwards that could be taken for the Nonproliferation Treaty is if any of the parties to the JCPOA walk away from that agreement. That would be the single biggest threat to the credibility of the NPT.

But at the same time, for this Administration to pretend that the U.S. has no legal obligation to continue to address reductions in its nuclear arsenal is damaging to our credibility not only as a leader in nonproliferation, but as a so-called leader on any of the issues that the U.S. has to deal with. It's why walking away from the JCPOA is a big challenge for the U.S. because it would signal to other countries that an agreement with the United States is not meaningful and can be easily reversed on the whim of a different President.

So, the challenges to the NPT are there and I fear that the statements contained in this draft NPR will erode the U.S. capability to lead the world on nonproliferation efforts.

REIF: Last one to—very good. Questions? Yes, right here.

QUESTION: Doug Sharp from the George Washington University. Thank you all for a great panel. I am given to reflect on Scott Sagan and Jane Vaynman's effort after the Obama Nuclear Posture Review to understand what its effects were on the nuclear posture is the attitudes about nuclear weapons of other states and I'm wondering if you could reflect on that topic, on how nuclear weapon state potential adversaries, allies and other states will react to this nuclear posture?

WOLFSTHAL: I'm thrilled you asked that question not only because Jane used to work for me here at the Carnegie Endowment, but because without a doubt, one of the best things I read when I was in government and this is including all the fine work that our intelligence community could produce was the work that they did try to understand how different countries saw the Obama NPR and to bring that into a feedback loop, so we can understand ourselves.

Did our outgoing message—was it received the way we wanted to? How did that affect our ongoing planning? And there was a significant deviation between what we planned and it then factored into a lot of our thinking, so my favorite example—this is every time we said we wanted to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, what the work that Scott and Jane put together, what Russia heard was, we want to be able to do whatever we want with conventional weapons anytime, anywhere.

Like, of course, you want to reduce the role of nuclear weapons. You are the conventional superpower. They didn't view that as a good thing. They viewed that as a very destabilizing thing that did not reassure them, so I think it would be very interesting to hear and see what foreign countries, adversaries and allies alike think about this NPR, but it gets to a fundamental problem which is, is this Trump's NPR or not?

My interpretation and I wouldn't speak for anybody else is that Donald Trump is probably unlikely to read any of this document, that this is Secretary Mattis' NPR and it's a product of him, General Selva who is the Vice Chairman, General Hyten, the Commander of STRATCOM and Rob Soofer who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Missile Defense who is very knowledgeable and I think did an excellent job sort of pulling these threads together, but it doesn't reflect Trump thinking.

And so, I don't know what our allies think, and I don't know what adversaries think because it—does Mattis runs nuclear policy or Trump? And if you have any doubts about that, just look at the NPR language itself. It says on the one hand, our commitment to our allies are ironclad and our assurances mean something, that's not Donald Trump language. And it says that any decision to use nuclear weapon would follow a deliberative process.

Does anybody believe that that is the way that President Trump will think about using nuclear weapons? It's clearly the way that our military and our civilians in the Pentagon think about it, but that's not what we would see out of this White House.

ROHLFING: I just like to add a simple kind of one sentence. I think the overall take away from this NPR is that we need more weapons and more roles for our nuclear weapons in our National Security and if the U.S. as the most powerful nation, the biggest most powerful military on earth needs more nuclear weapons for its National Security that sends a big signal that others needs them too and it really undermines our nonproliferation objectives and makes us less safe over time.

REIF: Back there in the red.

QUESTION: My name is Alicia Dressman. I am an independent consultant. When I read these section on the NPR on tailored deterrence towards Russia, which featured a very outdated view of Russia's nuclear posture, the escalated to de-escalate strategy, I don't think has been relevant in a recent National Security Strategy coming out of Russia in quite some time. I completely wrote off that there was an actual foreign-policy component that was competent and that this is more a technocratic objective introducing his new-yield low warhead.

My question to you would be, how much of the NPR introducing the—may be resuming the W80 Mod 4 redesign for a SLCM, how much of that is the NNSA perhaps looking at the DOD NNSA three plus two programs in saying, "Okay, we have efficiencies. We can open up a new assembly and maybe use nonnuclear parts from the LRSO warhead for the SLCM, because they have a similar warhead design et cetera" and how much of this comes from this grand strategy perspective of our considering, you know, nuclear threats around the globe and proposing new warheads to meet those threats? Thank you.

ROHLFING: I'll take a crack at that. I think it's both, and, but I do think it's primarily an attempt to address, perhaps a misinformed view of Russian doctrine and strategy. It's just taken as a given in this town that the Russians are seriously pursuing this strategy of escalate to de-escalate and I know among the experts, that's actually controversial and some of the experts I trust think it's not real, but I do think it is the primary driving factor behind seeking these new capabilities and then I think secondarily, as Tom mentioned, there's a component to creating some trade debate to try and get the Russians back to the table on INF.

I would put both of those things in front at the NNSA trying to expand its mission space. They already have enough on their plate and not enough resources to tackle what they have been asked to do for their program of record.

WOLFSTHAL: So, Joan is right. There is a discussion and debate about whether Russia really has an escalate to de-escalate. There is no such debate inside the U.S. government. When we looked in the Obama Administration where we continued to see what Russia is doing with their nuclear capabilities, with their capabilities of developing in violation of the INF and in addition to their statements and planning, there is a willingness to use nuclear weapons to escalate their way of a failed conventional crisis. That may not even be a dominant, it may not even be a likely capability, but is one that worries our planners and I think is appropriately worrying our planners.

I can't speak for what it's like in this administration. I could tell you that as much as we valued and looked to the input of NNSA, they were not a strategy driver in the Obama NPR, I think it's very unlikely that they were a driving strategy. I don't think you have to look too far to see who really is the brainchild of these or who is the author of these brainchild. There was a lot of input for the NPR from Keith Payne at the National Institute for Public Policy who has written about tailor deterrence. You could actually take the sections, I mean, it's almost font matching in terms of what they are putting forward.

So, these arguments have been out for a while. Frank Miller, the same who was a key official in the Bush administration for nuclear policy and defense and Brad Roberts also who worked on the Obama NPR is now at Livermore have been talking about these ideas for many, many years and I think they just found very fertile soil in the Trump Administration.

COUNTYMAN: If I could comment on that. I don't know whether or not the Russians have an escalate to de-escalate doctrine or not. It does concern me that although the authors would deny it, we run the risk of slipping back into Cold War knee-jerk responses that if the Russians have such a policy, we must match that capability and that concerns me.

I'm sure that the authors would see that comment as unfair, but there's a risk that we're moving in that direction, but the larger question about Russian statements and thinking, I think ties back to Doug's question about how other countries react and the fact is that even in the very hard world of military policy and nuclear weapons, words matter. Rhetoric matters.

What I saw a few years ago as the most negative development for strategic stability and nonproliferation in the world was the fact that Vladimir Putin started talking about Russia's nuclear weapons as a key element of national power as what made Russia great. The kind of language that the North Korean leadership uses and that you heard sometimes in the past from Pakistan or India, but most countries had abandoned that language for a long period of time.

And to have Putin again talking about nuclear weapons as what makes a country great was I think negative if the goal is to discourage still more countries from building nuclear weapons. And to have the United States President embrace that kind of language, even if less grammatically, I think further undermines our ability to discourage other nations from pursuing nuclear weapons. So, that's the part of Russian rhetoric that is separate from doctrine, but should be deeply concerning.

REIF: We're getting closer to our time and I see that we have more questions out there. I am going to take a few at a time to ensure we get more questions, so first, Daryl and if you just wait to respond to Daryl's and I'll take another one.

KIMBALL: Thanks, everybody. I'm Daryl Kimball, your host today. I wanted to draw Tom's attention and ask for comment about one part of the NPR that has gotten a lot of attention, but I think you're well equipped to address. One passage says, the United States is committed to arms-control efforts that advanced U.S. allied partner security are verifiable and enforceable.

So, I think the Arms Control Association would agree that you know, that advanced U.S. allied partner security, yes, are verifiable, yes, but enforceable. What do you think the NPR authors mean? What might that entail? To my knowledge, there isn't a single arms-control treaty that contains an enforcement provision per se. So, your thoughts about that and quickly, Joan—back to the nuclear testing issue with your experience at NNSA and your work with a guy named Ernie Moniz at MTI (sic) who used to be at the Energy Department, as you know, the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan also has a line and it came out a few months ago that says the United States test readiness timeline should be reduced to 6 to 10 months for a simple test. What is your interpretation of what that is about? What its implications could be?

REIF: Real quickly before responding to Daryl. Sir, right here, yes?

QUESTION: Stephanie Cooke with Nuclear Intelligence Weekly. I wanted to ask a little bit more about the clauses to do with disarmament and the ambiguity at best in these clauses. I've asked, we've talked about it with Tom Countryman and I'd like to ask if you think that that will be softened or hardened? I mean in the sense that it will become stronger in the final document.

We heard Chris Ford saying that he questioned that as a goal in April when he was at Carnegie, so you didn't mention his involvement in this review, but I wondered if someone—if you would comment on that and if you see a chance that that might be argued down so that we get stronger language on disarmament?

REIF: Well, let's take those two and then we will...

COUNTYMAN: Well, very quickly on the last point. I'm glad that Dr. Chris Ford is now in the office I previously held, Assistant Secretary for International Security in Nonproliferation. He is highly intelligent, highly experienced in this field and a substantial cut above the average appointee of this administration in any agency.

I don't know how strong his role has been. I know that he was at the White House coordinating the drafting process, but the drafting was done primarily at DOD. I don't know if it will change and maybe I'm not far enough removed from government service, but it still bothers me when things of this magnitude get leaked. As journalists, as NGOs, it's great to comment on a leaked document, but the fact is that it's now harder for there to be any changes made to this document particularly with this White House.

So, that if there is any argument still going on about particular clauses, it's probably hard for them to walk back now and that's unfortunate in my view. Very quickly on Daryl's points. The reference to future arms-control agreements is bothersome in two ways. First, because it says they have to be enforceable. There does not exist an enforceable arms-control agreement in part because no U.S. president would ever be willing to say that the United States will subject itself to enforcement action by an international body. In other words, this administration wants agreements to be enforceable on everybody else, but optional for the United States, and that's very much the White House point of view on the JCPOA.

So, it sets an artificially high standard, an impossible standard. More importantly to me is the very phrasing denotes passivity. We remain open to arms-control agreements. Maybe somebody else has a terrific idea, but no claim of U.S. leadership, no claim that the U.S. is going to press forward on arms-control agreements. I understand in part why it lists in great detail the obstacle placed by the Russians through their INF violation, but to write off the U.S. leadership role and condemn Washington to passivity on an existential question for the planet is distressing.

ROHFLING: So, let me tackle the test readiness question. I found it curious as well, Daryl, I think it sends a signal that they're adopting a much more muscular approach, that they are risk-averse, I guess, I perhaps there is some question about their confidence of enduring weapons in the stockpile. I personally don't see why you would need such a compressed timescale to have changed from—we were looking at a timeframe of years to resume testing to now, possibly six months. I'm not—it's a pretty stressful scenario to even put a test package together within that timeframe.

There are extraordinary costs associated with ramping up the capability to resume testing within six months, so it certainly wouldn't be on my list of priorities for what we should be investing in when we have so much competition for resources, so that's something I'd like to learn more about. It simply makes no sense to me.

WOLFSTHAL: And just briefly since Tom mentioned it, I'll put in a plug for an article that is out front that Rick Burton and I wrote in the National Interest on abandoning the arms-control role that the U.S. has played and how in fact, we can shape the international environment that so worries the Pentagon that they have to threaten early use of nuclear weapons and arm-control has been successful in actually reducing those threats in the past. We need to get back to thinking about shaping the environment and not having environment shape us.

In terms of the language on disarmament, so I heard Chris Ford same as you at the Carnegie conference. I actually view that as one of the ways the document has already improved. They recognized there was no need to take on a fight that had no payoff by insulting the entire international nonproliferation system and parties to it and so, I think the language could get—it could be better and I actually and Tom have a slightly different view.

I mean, I'm with you. I hate leaked documents and I wish that they hadn't come to me and I know that I got burned by documents being leaked when I was in the White House not to our advantage, but that being said, I actually did the Pentagon didn't like the reaction that there was a bit of a feedback loop going on that somehow this is worse than they thought.

Secretary Mattis had asked that the NPR do three things. Deter our enemies, reassure our allies and not upset what there is of support for modernization in the Congress and the fact that this document may not achieve all three of those goals, may lead them to consider some changes, but I don't think that necessarily spoke about what they are hearing on the language for disarmament because while it's not good, it probably will get them a passing grade among some of the countries that we have to work with.

And with Chris Ford's role, just a modification, Tom may have more information than I do. I think it was the Defense Director at the White House of the National Security Council that's coordinating the document, Mild Office, Armstrong nonproliferation had input into these particular sections, but was not a driver when it came to much of the policy.

ROHLFING: ... an issue with something, you just said Jon and surprisingly, I think you give the review you too much credit for what it does say about disarmament. I have a somewhat more alarmist reaction to it. I mean, if you actually look at the designated section that talks about arms-control, nowhere in there does it actually mention that we are pursuing a goal of a world without nuclear weapons...

WOLFSTHAL: But if you were Tom, and I've sent him in the lion's den at the NPT, you would say, "Oh of course, we recommit ourselves to the elimination of nuclear weapons." It's here in the preamble...

ROHLFING: Right, but this occurs within the context of a much broader global debate right now that's broader than just the NPT that has to do with the test ban and the absence of a reaffirmation of what the U.S. has publicly said for decades that it is committed to achieving the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons. I think that's really problematic.

WOLFSTHAL: I agree that it is problematic. It is a problem among many. I think it probably is a fig leaf for the diplomatic (inaudible)...

REIF: Excellent colloquium among colleagues there. I see a few hands raised, so let's see if we can get the final outstanding questions before we wrap. Yes, Alexey.

QUESTION: Thank you, I am Alexey Fomenkov, Second Secretary for the Russian Embassy. There have been a lot of talk here about Russians, so I was wondering whether I could say a couple of words without probably asking a question, would that be OK?

REIF: Yes, you may.

QUESTION: Thank you. So, first on escalate to de-escalate, I would like to point out that there is a standing Russian military doctrine. It's public. It's in English. And it specifically says under which circumstances Russia would consider using nuclear weapons and that is when the existence of the state is under jeopardy and when its territorial integrity is in question so that's very specific and it's much more specific than in U.S. documents, both current and supposedly, the future ones.

Also, on the rhetoric, I would like to point out that the NATO, in its documents, it says that nuclear weapons remain the supreme guarantee with security, so I would say that comparisons between Russia and North Korea would not be very appropriate in this context. Thank you.

REIF: Any of the panelists want to comment on that, you are free to do so, but let's see if we can get additional question. Greg?

QUESTION: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association Board Member. Congress in recent years has been quite skeptical of arms-control and defense spending arguments given the deficit hawks seem to go into hibernation, so I wonder if could list a comment on what the Congressional reaction will be to the NPR and is it possible that nuclear policy issues over the nuclear programs will be an issue in the fall elections to the U.S. Congress?

REIF: Like I said, one more and—yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Hi, I am Emma Fruy (ph) from Global Zero and as I understood the NPR, there was a point about ramping up plutonium production as part of the renewal process for existing nuclear weapons. I was wondering if you could comment on the potential consequences of that and how this compares to earlier NPR's?

REIF: Let's answer those final three questions and then any closing comments that you might have.

WOLFSTHAL: Maybe just a word on the Congressional reaction, we can talk Emma, anytime you want since we're both Global Zero now, welcome. So, I won't answer her question and Joan is better suited for that anyway.

I have a prediction about politics although, I mainly worked for the Vice President who told me, "Look, you may be the smartest man in the world, but you don't know anything about politics." I think it's going to fall into two camps, Greg. I think partly this is going to fall into the resistance, right, Donald Trump can't be trusted with nuclear weapons. He is pushing for new nuclear options more usable. He wants to push the button, which is bigger than Kim Jong-un, you know, it sort would fit into that. I think this will provide plenty of fodder for that.

In the discussions we've been having, I think there is a real interest on the Hill in the programmatic side of when it comes the—not just the cost, but also just the operations. How this will impact on the DoE complex, how it would impact on the on the other parts of the modernization.

I don't think it's going to have—I don't think it's going to have a big electoral impact. I quite frankly, while, I was pleased as a lifelong arms-controller and a person who doesn't like nuclear weapons thrilled that there were nuclear commercials for the presidential election but quite surprised. I mean, I think this will fit into the narrative, but I think the real battle here is going to be on the budget for the new systems with the hope that it will inspire the Congress to exercise the oversight it should be exercising over the full suite of these capabilities.

We have now door opening on the President's authority unfettered to use nuclear weapons. I think that's been very positive and helpful for shining light in this issue. I hope we will see a similar thing on the budget, but I don't expect to rise to a very high political national level.

COUNTYMAN: In answer to Greg's question, just based on the past year, I predict that the Congressional majority will bring to this issue the same intellectual honesty, concern about deficits, non-partisanship, readiness to compromise and honest public statements that they've brought to every issue for the last 12 months.

ROHLFING: Well said. I am not going to add to the Congressional budget question, but just a quick answer to the plutonium production. The review contemplates a ramp up to production facility that could produce 80 pits per year, which is actually consistent with the program of record under the Obama Administration that's been under discussion for a while, that's been on the books as part of the outgoing Stockpile Stewardship Plan, so it's obviously an increase from the onesie, two-sie capability that we have now, but not something new.

Just one comment on the gentleman from Russia about the NATO statement, he's right. There is a statement about nuclear weapons being "the supreme guarantee of NATO's security" and what this represents is a greater emphasis on the role of nuclear weapons within the European context and I think this is a whole area, if we had more time, we could spend a whole session just talking that the role of U.S. forward deployed weapons in Europe, the role of nuclear weapons in Europe in general. I think, I would really matter have seen this review taking a completely different approach which is looking at how we can consolidate those weapons back to the United States, rather than reinforcing their role and underscoring that we need to keep them there for all.

REIF: With that, let me thank our panelists for an excellent discussion. Let me thank all of you for coming. The conversation about the Nuclear Posture Review and the Trump Administration's nuclear weapons policy has just begun as has the Arms Control Association’s engagement on this question, so keep a lookout for future events, for additional resources on our website.

My coworkers have informed me that I must conclude with two final housekeeping notes before I'm allowed off the podium. The first is a note that the transcript of this event will be available by the end of the week for those of you who are interested in consulting it and then a final note that the Arms Control Association, we have a date for our annual meeting which will be April 19th here at Carnegie and this year's annual meeting will focus on the challenges facing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and nonproliferation regime on the occasion of that 50th birthday of the treaty, so please, we hope to see you join us at that event on the 19th and with that, thank you all for coming and let's thank our panelists.

END

Author:

Vital SFRC Hearing on Nuclear Weapons Decision-Making and Authority: Tuesday, November 14

Body: 


This Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will convene a critical hearing on the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons and the process for executing that authority. The discussion will be the begin of an overdue re-examination of the use nuclear weapons and how those decisions are carried out.

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves CIA headquarters accompanied by the omnipresent officer carrying the nuclear "football" (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)Why is this so important?

Currently, President Trump, like all U.S. presidents before him, has sole authority over the use of US nuclear weapons. One person can order the launch of over 800 nuclear-armed missiles in under 10 minutes. Leaving such a momentous decision in the hands of a single person is a dangerous situation. SFRC chairman, Bob Corker, has expressed concerns that President Trump’s reckless and implusive rhetoric could push us into “World War III.”

What Can You Do?

If your Senator is on the Foreign Relations Committee—i.e., you live in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming—use the form below to contact your Senator’s office today. It provides all the information they need on the hearing and the hard questions they need to ask the witnesses, which will include a former commander of U.S. nuclear forces and a former high-ranking Pentagon official. Such questions, among others, could include:

  • “Do you believe the launching of a nuclear first strike is by its nature a declaration of war and, if so, shouldn’t that constitutionally require the approval and consent of Congress?
     
  • “If the United States were to launch a nuclear first strike against an adversary, what guarantee would we have that they would not retaliate likewise?"
     
  • "Under what circumstances would the benefits of a U.S. nuclear first strike ever outweigh the tragic costs and devastation that would play out afterwards?" 

It is urgent that all member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee attend and engage on the critical questions surrounding U.S. nuclear decision-making and authority. Please write your Senator today and urge them to attend this hearing, a vital opportunity in re-examining U.S. nuclear decision making over time, and the prudence of putting the fate of millions in the hands of one person.

 

Author:

U.S. Reconsiders Nuclear Abolition Goal

The Nuclear Posture Review will include whether to maintain the long-standing goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

April 2017

Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, addresses the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on March 21. (Photo credit: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review will include whether to maintain the long-standing U.S. goal of seeking a world without nuclear weapons. Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, said the review will consider whether that declared end state “is in fact a realistic objective” given current international security trends. The commitment is enshrined in the binding 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The United States joined the four other nuclear-weapon states at the time in committing to seek “complete” nuclear disarmament in exchange for other countries pledging not to acquire such weapons.

Addressing the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on March 21, Ford said there is reason to question whether “traditional U.S. fidelity to that visionary end state...is still a viable strategy” due to various factors, including the prospect of further U.S.-Russian reductions seeming “less likely than it might have been a few years ago.” Past U.S. declarations, including President Barack Obama’s April 2009 Prague speech on disarmament, encouraged “largely unrealistic expectations and demands for ever faster process,” Ford said. The disappointments from unmet nuclear disarmament expectations contribute to the demands by non-nuclear-weapon states for the “fundamentally misguided” negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty, which the new administration opposes as “fundamentally misguided,” he said.

 

A President in Need of a Russia Policy

Trump has failed to articulate a coherent strategy.


March 2017
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

In his rambling first news conference as president on Feb. 17, Donald Trump stressed that “[t]hey’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, 2016. (Photo credit: Kirill Kudryatsev/AFP/Getty Images)Clearly, it is vital that the world’s two largest nuclear-armed states maintain a stable relationship and avoid direct military conflict. With hundreds of long-range thermonuclear weapons on each side poised for “launch under attack,” the fate of the world still depends on the good judgment and restraint of the U.S. and Russian presidents in a crisis. 

For decades, these realities have driven U.S. presidents from both parties to engage with Moscow to reduce the risk of a nuclear confrontation, cut bloated nuclear stockpiles, and prevent proliferation. Maintaining progress on U.S. and Russian nuclear disarmament helps to lower tensions and maintain strategic stability; it is also vital to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, U.S. leaders have steadfastly provided assurance to allies in Europe that Washington will back them up if Russia threatens to violate their territorial integrity. 

To date, however, the Trump administration has failed to articulate a coherent strategy toward Russia. It has sent contradictory messages about the U.S. commitment to defend NATO countries and maintain sanctions against Russia, which are designed to encourage Moscow to abide by the Minsk agreements on the resolution of the Ukraine conflict. 

Trump said in January that “nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially.” Yet, in his first call with Russia’s leader, he reportedly denounced the successful 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which sets the stage for further reductions, and he did not respond positively to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that the deal should be extended. 

Trump should certainly engage with Russia, but in a manner consistent with long-standing U.S. policies that advance core national and allied security interests in four key areas.

Reduce nuclear tensions. To start, the two leaders could reaffirm the statement by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985 that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” They should also reaffirm their commitment to the quarter-century-long U.S. and Russian moratoria on nuclear weapons test explosions and the prompt entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which both have signed but only Russia has ratified.

As President Barack Obama noted in his final press conference, “[T]here remains a lot of room for both countries to reduce our nuclear stockpiles.” With up to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons allowed under New START, Russia and the United States can safely cut their bloated nuclear stockpiles further without negotiating a new treaty. By agreeing to extend New START and its verification provisions by five years, to 2026, Trump and Putin could confidently pursue further, significant parallel reductions of warhead and delivery system inventories by one-third or more and still meet their respective nuclear deterrence requirements.

Address INF Treaty violations. Russia has reportedy begun deploying ground-based cruise missiles prohibited by the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Trump said on Feb. 23 he would take up the issue with Putin when they meet. Russia’s actions do not significantly alter the military balance, but they require the United States to confront Russian officials with evidence of the violation at another meeting of the treaty’s Special Verification Commission and to work to resolve all outstanding compliance issues. 

If Moscow continues to deploy the banned ground-launched cruise missiles, U.S. leaders should insist that the weapons would need to be counted under the limits set in the next round of nuclear arms reductions. Washington should also continue to support ongoing NATO efforts to bolster the conventional defenses of those allies that would be potential targets of Russian aggression or intimidation.

Adjust U.S. missile defense plans. The United States has followed through on its phased adaptive approach for limited missile defenses in Europe to counter Iran’s medium-range missile arsenal. With the successful implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Washington can suspend the deployment of more advanced Aegis missile interceptors in Poland, as well as a possible ground-based, strategic interceptor site on the U.S. East Coast—both of which are oriented to counter a long-range, nuclear-tipped Iranian missile threat that has not materialized. Failing to adapt missile defenses will only deepen Russian suspicion the system is also directed at them and increase the likelihood of dangerous Russian countermoves.

Prevent dangerous military incidents. Growing tensions in the Baltic region combined with dangerous military encounters involving NATO and Russian forces risk unintended escalation, possibly up to the nuclear level. To reduce mutual suspicion, the two sides should pursue a new dialogue on mutual restraint measures, including subregional arms control limits and an incident-prevention communications channel. 

Without a more serious and consistent U.S. strategy on these key security issues, our already troubled relationship with Russia will become more unpredictable and dangerous.


The monthly “Focus” editorials from Arms Control Today is available for reprint on a non-exclusive basis
with permission from the Arms Control Association and link to the original publication online.

 

Markey-Lieu Legislation Underscores Undemocratic, Irresponsible Nature of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Use Protocol

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Statement by Kingston Reif and Daryl Kimball

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TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Restrict Trump's Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2017

Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 105; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

 

The Arms Control Association applauds Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) for reintroducing legislation to highlight the unconstrained and undemocratic ability of the president to initiate the first-use of U.S. nuclear weapons. The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

Operation Ivy, the eighth series of American nuclear tests, carried out to  upgrade the U.S. arsenal in response to the Soviet nuclear weapons program. (Photo: Wikipedia)Put simply, the fate of tens of millions depends in large part on the good judgment and stability of a single person. At any moment, there are roughly 800 U.S. nuclear warheads–all of which are far more powerful than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945–that can be launched within minutes of an order by the president. The president, and the president alone, has the supreme authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. Congress currently has no say in the matter. Continuing to vest such destructive power in the hands of one person is undemocratic, irresponsible, and increasingly untenable.
 
In an August 2016 HuffPost/YouGov survey, two-thirds of respondents said the United States should use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or not at all, while just 18 percent think that first-use is sometimes justified. Indeed, it is all but impossible to imagine a scenario where the benefits of the first-use of U.S. nuclear weapons would outweigh the severe costs.
 
The inauguration of President Donald Trump has heightened fears about the sole authority of the commander in chief to use nuclear weapons. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed deep concern about his erratic behavior and loose talk on nuclear weapons. Now is the time to put responsible checks on the use of nuclear weapons in place. Such a decision is far too important to be left in the hands of one person.
 
Numerous options can be pursued to bring greater democracy and transparency to U.S. nuclear decision-making and reduce the risk of nuclear use. In addition to the proposal in the Markey and Lieu legislation, additional options include:

  • Requiring that a decision to use nuclear weapons be made by more than one person. This could include the president, vice president, secretaries of state and defense, and perhaps one or more designated members of Congress, such as the speaker of the House.
     
  • Eliminating the requirement to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) under attack, which in some scenarios would give the president only minutes to decide whether to launch the missiles before some or all of them are destroyed on the ground. Given that a president would almost certainly not make the most consequential decision a president has ever made in a matter of minutes, retaining a launch under attack posture is unnecessarily risky and eliminating it would increase the time available to consider the possible use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.
     
  • Provide Congress with more information on U.S. nuclear war plans, including targeting data, attack options, damage expectancy requirements, estimated civilian casualties, and more, which is currently not shared with Members of Congress.
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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

The Complex and Increasingly Dangerous Nuclear Weapons Geometry of Asia

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Asian states Pakistan, India, China, and North Korea comprise four of the world's nine nuclear-armed states. The interconnections of these countries must be considered to fully understand how nuclear nonproliferation can be influenced.

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By Greg Thielmann
July 2016

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While much of the world’s attention is focused on efforts to halt the nuclear and missile tests of North Korea, the nuclear arsenals and ambitions of India, Pakistan, and China also pose significant dangers and deserve more attention.

The complicated nuclear weapons geometry of Asia extends from the subcontinent to the other side of the world. While Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is designed to counter India’s conventional and nuclear forces, New Delhi measures its own nuclear weapons program against that of China. Beijing, in turn, judges the adequacy of its nuclear arsenal against the threat it perceives from the United States’ strategic offensive and defensive capabilities. And in its efforts to mitigate the ballistic missile threat from North Korea, the United States and its allies in the region are expanding their strategic and theater missile defense capabilities.

In order to fully understand how the pace and direction of nuclear proliferation can be influenced, the interconnections of these countries must be considered, along with the kinds of nuclear weapons they have at their disposal.

Take Nuclear First Use Off the Table

A U.S. no-nuclear-first-use policy would reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe, improve the prospects for further Russian nuclear cuts, and draw China into the nuclear risk reduction process.

By Daryl G. Kimball

The Cold War standoff that gave rise to tens of thousands of nuclear weapons ended a quarter century ago, and U.S. and Russian deployed arsenals have been slashed through verifiable arms control agreements.

Unfortunately, the risks of nuclear weapons use are still far too high, in part because the policies developed to justify their possession and potential use remain largely the same.

President Obama in 2009 at Hradčany Square Prague, Czech Republic (Photo: White House)Early in his presidency, President Barack Obama made clear that he sought “to put an end to Cold War thinking” and pledged to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.”

On June 6, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes pledged that the president “will continue to review whether there are additional steps that can be taken to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our own strategies and to reduce the risk of inadvertent use.”

One very important step would be for Obama to declare that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Such a decision could unwind dangerous Cold War-era thinking and greatly strengthen U.S. and global security.

Limiting the circumstances under which the United States would use nuclear weapons was a goal laid out by the “Nuclear Posture Review Report” in 2010, which said the United States should pursue the objective of making deterrence against a nuclear attack the “sole purpose” of the nuclear arsenal.

Nevertheless, current policy still leaves several dangerous and destabilizing nuclear weapons-use options on the table, including the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict to pre-empt a real or suspected nuclear attack, to counter the possible use of chemical or biological weapons, or to halt a massive conventional military threat against U.S. forces or allies.

Today, the United States and Russia still deploy thousands of nuclear warheads on hundreds of bombers, missiles, and submarines. Current U.S. strategy requires that there are enough nuclear forces available to destroy nearly 1,000 enemy targets, many in urban areas, and that these weapons can be launched within minutes of a decision to do so.

Maintaining such a capability plays a large role in compelling Russia—and may soon help to lead China—to field a sizable portion of their nuclear forces in a launch-under-attack mode in order to avoid a disarming nuclear strike. This, in turn, increases the chance that nuclear weapons might be used or dispersed by U.S. adversaries in a crisis.

As Obama correctly said in 2008, the requirement for prompt launch is “a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation.”

By adopting a no-first-use policy, the United States could positively influence the nuclear doctrines of other nuclear-armed states, particularly in Asia. Such a shift in U.S. declaratory policy could also alleviate concerns that U.S. ballistic missile defenses might be used to negate the retaliatory potential of China and Russia following a pre-emptive U.S. nuclear attack against their strategic forces.

Shifting to a no-first-use policy would not, in any way, undermine the U.S. ability to deter nuclear attack by another state. It is well established that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems could withstand even a massive attack, and given the size, accuracy, and diversity of U.S. forces, the remaining nuclear force would be more than sufficient to deliver a devastating blow to any nuclear aggressor.

Given the overwhelming U.S. conventional military edge, there is no plausible circumstance that could justify—legally, morally, or militarily—the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. U.S. nuclear weapons are useless in deterring or responding to nuclear terrorism or to a potential chemical, biological, or cyberattack by state or nonstate actors.

A no-first-use policy would not undermine confidence in U.S. defense commitments to key allies. Even if there were to be a conventional military conflict with a nuclear-armed state, such as Russia in the Baltic Sea region or elsewhere, the employment of nuclear weapons would be counterproductive because it would trigger an uncontrollable and potentially suicidal escalation of nuclear weapons use. As a result, the threat of nuclear weapons first-use to counter non-nuclear attacks lacks credibility.

In remarks delivered in Hiroshima May 27, Obama declared that “among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.” Yes, we must.

A U.S. no-first-use policy would reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe, improve the prospects for further Russian nuclear cuts, and draw China into the nuclear risk reduction process. It would put a spotlight on the dangerous nuclear doctrines of Pakistan and North Korea, where the risk of nuclear weapons use is perhaps most severe, and challenge them to reconsider the first-use option.

By encouraging a new norm against first-use of nuclear weapons, Obama could help ensure, for this generation and those to come, that nuclear weapons are never used again.

Examining the Flawed Rationale for a New Nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile

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A close examination of the proposed long-range standoff cruise missile (LRSO) reveals that it would be redundant, lack a unique mission, and could have a destabilizing effect with potential adversaries.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, June 12, 2016

The debate about the necessity and affordability of the Obama administration’s half trillion dollar plan to modernize the nuclear triad of land-based missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and long-range bombers–and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure–continues to escalate.

The mammoth costs of nuclear modernization prompted Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) to ask on May 19 at the Brookings Institution: “it is very, very, very expensive... Do we really need the entire triad, given the situation?”

President Barack Obama has acknowledged that existing U.S. and global nuclear weapons capabilities already provide more than enough nuclear killing power. Yet, his administration has to date pursued a costly, “all-of-the-above” plan to maintain and upgrade U.S. nuclear forces at force levels that exceed nuclear deterrence requirements.

One of the most controversial pieces of this approach is the Air Force’s proposal to build a new fleet of roughly 1,000 nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and refurbish the warhead for the weapon. The replacement is known as the long-range standoff cruise missile, or LRSO.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) filed an amendment to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 national defense authorization act that would delay development of the new cruise missile and warhead by one year to allow further consideration of the programs. While the Senate is unlikely to debate or vote on the amendment, the Senate and House of Representatives could consider amendments on the issue again later this month when each body takes up the FY 2017 defense appropriations bill.

For its part, the Obama administration appears content to pass on the growing fiscal challenge posed by its nuclear modernization project to its successor.

However, Ben Rhodes, the assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, said at the Arms Control Association annual meeting on June 6, that the President recognizes the enormous budget challenge posed by the plans and will continue to review them “as he considers how to hand the baton off to his successor.”

Regardless of what happens during the remainder of the Obama administration, the next president will likely face a number of increasingly urgent questions about the modernization effort, including its need, affordability, opportunity costs, impact on global security, and more.

In other words, the debate about modernization, and in particular the new cruise missile, has just begun.

The Defense Department and supporters of replacing the nuclear ALCM in Congress and the think tank community have circulated a number of materials in response to Markey’s amendment and other efforts to raise doubts about the rationale for the new missile.

The following is a rebuttal to some of the top arguments made in favor of the program.

A closer examination of the issue makes it clear that the LRSO is redundant, lacks a unique mission, could have a destabilizing effect, and is not worth its estimated $20-$30 billion acquisition cost.

The LRSO Is Not Needed to Maintain the Air-Leg of the Triad

Proponents argue that air-launched cruise missiles extend the range of strategic bombers and complicate an adversary’s air defense problem. The LRSO will ensure the country has an air-leg of the triad that can penetrate enemy airspace as adversaries enhance and expand their air defense capabilities, they say.

It is important to remember that the United States first fielded a nuclear ALCM in the early 1980s at a time when the country did not have stealth bombers or advanced conventional cruise missiles and sought an additional nuclear system with which to deter and impose costs on the Soviet Union. None of these conditions exist today.

According to Andrew Weber, former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological matters, had the United States procured even half of the 132 B-2 bombers it had originally planned to build during the late 1980s and early 1990s (the Air Force ultimately bought 21), the Pentagon would have retired the current ALCM and removed the B-52H from the nuclear mission years ago.

The range of America’s existing strategic bombers is being extended by increasingly advanced long-range conventionally-armed air-launched cruise missiles. The planned introduction of 80-100 B-21 strategic bombers, which will be armed with the modernized B61 mod 12 gravity bomb, conventionally armed cruise missiles such as the JASSM-ER, and electronic warfare capabilities for air defense suppression, will further enhance the range of the bomber leg.

Together these improvements will make the bomber leg of the triad much more formidable than it is today. The B-21 is projected to be able to penetrate enemy airspace for decades after its initial fielding in the mid-2020s, which begs the question of why a new ALCM is urgently needed now. Even if the survivability of the B-21 is called into question in the future, the Pentagon has yet to demonstrate that the LRSO, which is being procured at the same time as the B-21, will be inherently more survivable or that a B-21 armed with conventional air-launched cruise missiles won’t be able to blow holes in air defenses. If the Air Force believes the stealth of the B-21 could be compromised soon after it is deployed, the service shouldn’t procure it in the first place.

The LRSO Is Not Needed to Deter Limited Nuclear Escalation, Nor Should We Want It for Waging Limited Nuclear War

Proponents argue that new air-launched cruise missiles would provide low-yield nuclear war-fighting options for responses to limited adversary attack, which is important for escalation control and maintaining a credible deterrent.

In reality, U.S. nuclear capabilities would remain highly credible and flexible even without a nuclear ALCM. The arsenal includes other weapons that can produce more “limited” effects, most notably the B61 gravity bomb. Moreover, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads could be configured to produce limited effects at a lower cost than the LRSO and its warhead, if necessary.

Regardless, has the U.S. intelligence community produced an assessment showing that failing to replace the current ALCM would increase the risk of limited adversarial nuclear use? Under what scenario has the intelligence community concluded that an adversary might believe the United States would be self-deterred from using a higher-yield ICBM or SLBM in response to limited nuclear use?

More importantly, the notion that the use of nuclear weapons can be fine-tuned to carefully control a nuclear war is very dangerous thinking. It is highly unlikely that an adversary on the receiving end of a U.S. nuclear strike would (or could) distinguish between a large warhead and a small warhead. The fog of war is thick. The fog of nuclear war would be even thicker. Large or small, nuclear weapons are extremely blunt instruments, both in terms of their destructive power and the taboo associated with the fact they have not been used in 70 years.

Finally, under what scenario could one ALCM or LRSO reliably circumvent the most sophisticated adversarial air defense capabilities and destroy a target that a B-21-borne gravity bomb or conventional cruise missile could not? If such a scenario does not exist, and the United States needed to launch more nuclear cruise missiles to ensure penetration, how would such a strategy not unavoidably escalate the conflict?

The LRSO Would Be a Costly “Hedge on a Hedge”

Proponents argue that ALCMs (and later the LRSO) complement the nuclear triad and will provide an important and rapidly uploadable hedge against technical problems with the sea and ground based legs of the triad. They also argue that the weapon allows the military to take advantage of the counting rules in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which counts each strategic bomber as one launcher and one warhead, regardless of the number of cruise missiles and gravity bombs they can carry.

It is not surprising that military planners would want many different ways of attacking a target. But how much added deterrence value do air-launched cruise missiles actually provide in the minds of potential adversaries?

The weapons associated with the other two legs of the nuclear triad–namely, SLBMs and ICBMs–can penetrate air defenses and strike targets anywhere on the planet with high confidence. The United States possesses far more warheads for these missiles than does Russia and could upload hundreds of warheads to its deployed ballistic missiles and bombers. In addition, the Navy’s sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missile is also a highly capable and continually improving conventional standoff weapon, and it has an even longer range than the JASSM-ER.

Has the military identified possible technical or other problems that could compromise the sea and ground based legs of the triad? What specific targets cannot be effectively and credibly held at risk by other nuclear and standoff weapons, together with gravity bombs, that could only be held at risk by the current ALCM and later, the LRSO force? How large and unique is that target set?

The Defense Department believes SLBMs, ICBMs and gravity bombs have different characteristics than ALCMs and are not perfect substitutes. At least a portion of the total ALCM force can also be more quickly uploaded to the deployed force than non-deployed ballistic missile warheads. (Note: nuclear ALCMs are not deployed on B-52H bombers on a day-to-day basis. Roughly 200 of these missiles are believed to be deployed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota armed with the W80-1 nuclear warhead.)

Yet as Hans Kristensen with the Federation of the American Scientists notes, “the bottom line for an effective nuclear deterrent is the credible capability to hold at risk the targets that an adversary values most.” On the issue of timing, how essential for deterrence is the quicker generation time for ALCMs? It is also important not to forget that B61 bombs can be rapidly uploaded to the B-2 and later the B-21.

Finally, regarding the New START bomber counting rule, it has been reported that the United States originally preferred an agreement that would count the actual number of nuclear bombs and ALCMs at air bases for use by bombers, but compromised and agreed to a discount rule that attributes each deployed bomber as one warhead. If such an agreement had been reached would reductions in the ALCM force have been required? There have also been reports that the United States was prepared to go lower than the 1,550 accountable warhead cap in the treaty.

Russia’s Actions Do Not Require Pursuit of a Costly New ALCM

Some LRSO advocates suggest that because Russia is fielding nuclear and conventional cruise missiles on aircraft, submarines, and surface ships, the United States must retain a nuclear cruise missile option.

Such arguments ignore the fact that the United States did not acquire the ALCM because the Soviet Union had such a capability, and it does not maintain or need to replace the ALCM because Russia has nuclear cruise missiles. It is not in the U.S. interest to engage in a new tit-for-tat arms race with the Russians to rebuild an excessively large nuclear force. This is especially true if it comes at the expense of needed conventional improvements that are more relevant to countering Russia and maintaining America’s military technological edge.

Questions about ALCM's Role in Current U.S. Strategy

Proponents consider a new ALCM necessary to maintain an effective U.S. nuclear deterrent because the current missile is losing its ability to penetrate increasingly sophisticated air and missile defenses.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the existing ALCM have stated that the reliability of the missile is not assured over the next ten years and that there are serious restrictions on the current use of the ALCM due to reliability issues. This suggests that the current ALCM could play more of a "backup" role in U.S. nuclear planning. Consequently, it would be imprudent to spend $20 billion or more to build a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile that could increase the role these weapons play in U.S. policy.

The Imaginary Strategic Bomber Gap

Some advocates of the LRSO erroneously claim that without the new weapon, a strategic bomber "capability gap" will emerge in the late 2020s and last for at least a decade. They argue that because the B-21 bomber will not be available in sufficient numbers for the nuclear mission until the 2040s, the U.S. military will need to continue to use B-52Hs armed with LRSOs until then.

It is important to keep in mind that LRSO production is slated to begin in 2026 and reach only initial operating capability by 2030. It will be several years later before full operating capability is achieved.

In contrast, the B-21 is slated to achieve an initial operating capability in 2025, with nuclear certification to follow two years later. The initial capability could include as many as 24 planes.

Meanwhile, the Air Force has announced a full production rate of 7-8 B-21s per year. Assuming the United States continues to deploy no more than 60 nuclear capable strategic bombers (as it currently plans to do under the New START treaty), the B-52 may need to be removed from the nuclear mission as soon as the early to mid-2030s in order to accommodate the B-21.

In sum, the current bomber force will provide a more than formidable capability and would become even more potent when the B-21 is fielded with the B61 mod 12 and advanced conventional cruise missiles. Fears of a "bomber capability gap" are misplaced.

The New LRSO Would Create New Military Capabilities and Could Prompt Countermeasures

Proponents of the LRSO claim that it would simply sustain an existing capability, not expand that capability. They claim the new missile will not be used for new military missions and air-launched cruise missiles would not pose a destabilizing first-strike threat to potential U.S. nuclear adversaries.

In reality, the president’s nuclear modernization program is vastly increasing the military capability of U.S. nuclear weapons, including the bomber leg, across key attributes such as stealth, accuracy, range, and speed. The LRSO is likely to have greatly enhanced capabilities relative to its predecessor, and will be mated to the B-52H, B-2 and B-21 bombers, whereas the current ALCM can only be delivered by the B-52H. U.S. nuclear stealth bombers have never carried stealthy nuclear cruise missiles.

The LRSO raises serious questions about stability that have yet to be fully explored. Some sources have revealed that the Pentagon is envisioning potential uses for the new cruise missile that go beyond "the original mission space" of the ALCM, namely in limited nuclear war-fighting contingencies involving China. Some supporters of the LRSO emphasize its utility for achieving tactical surprise in combat.

Furthermore, as stressed by William Perry, President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary, and Weber, "cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon" due to the fact that "they can be launched without warning and come in both nuclear and conventional variants." The possible risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation posed by the LRSO requires far more scrutiny than blithe assertions from administration officials that the missile won’t upset stability.

Bottom Line

While it is uncertain what the military budget will look like a decade from now, there will likely be insufficient funding for the complete portfolio of proposed nuclear and conventional modernization goals. This will force the U.S. government to choose between the nuclear effort and other military priorities.

As senior White House officials have noted, the current "modernization plan was put together in a different budget environment, with a different Congress and varied expectations about our future arms control efforts. Our administration has already made plain our concerns about how the modernization budget will force difficult trade-offs in the coming decades. And the President will continue to review these plans as he considers how to hand the baton off to his successor."

The estimated $20-$30 billion cost to buy the LRSO and W80-4 would be much better spent on other parts of U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear mission areas.

The choice is clear: chart a more realistic path for the nuclear arsenal that doesn’t severely constrain the force-sizing options of future presidents and reduces the risk of doing serious damage to conventional capabilities and other national security programs.

As an early step in this course correction, the Pentagon should cancel its new cruise missile program and prioritize continued investments in the other legs of the nuclear triad and more relevant and usable non-nuclear capabilities, including longer-range conventional cruise missiles and other advanced air defense suppression tools.

—KINGSTON REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

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

In Hiroshima, Obama Says Nukes Require ‘Moral Revolution’

Today, in a solemn and moving ceremony in Hiroshima’s Peace Park, U.S. President Barack Obama along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered wreaths at the Cenotaph Memorial, which honors the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing. With his visit, Obama became the first serving U.S. president to personally confront the painful stories, complicated history, and inspirational demands of the hibakusha never to allow the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be repeated ever again. An estimated 240,000 people died by 1950 as a consequence of the U.S. atomic bombings of...

Getting What We Need With North Korea

The only realistic way out of the impasse over the North Korean nuclear program is reciprocal steps to open the way to negotiations that would address denuclearization in parallel with a peace process in Korea.

April 2016

By Leon V. Sigal

While Washington’s chattering classes were all atwitter about North Korean nuclear testing and rocket launching and China’s backing for UN sanctions against Pyongyang in recent months, U.S. diplomats were tiptoeing to the negotiating table.

Any chance of a nuclear deal with North Korea depends on giving top priority to stopping the North’s arming even if that means having Pyongyang keep the handful of weapons it has for the foreseeable future. Success will also require probing Kim Jong Un’s seriousness about ending enmity, starting with a peace process on the Korean peninsula.

The revelation that Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang without preconditions was a surprise to those who had not been tracking the evolution of U.S. policy closely. The Department of State confirmed that the United States held talks in New York last fall and rejected a proposal to begin negotiating a peace treaty. “To be clear, it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty,” department spokesman John Kirby said on February 21. “We carefully considered their proposal, and made clear that denuclearization had to be part of any such discussion. The North rejected our response.”1

Intriguingly, the revelation came on the eve of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Washington. Four days earlier, while signaling China’s support for UN sanctions, Wang had made a more negotiable proposal of his own: “As chair country for the six-party talks, China proposes talks toward both achieving denuclearization and replacing the armistice agreement with a peace treaty.” The proposal, Wang said, was intended to “find a way back to dialogue quickly.”2

Wang’s proposal was consistent with the September 19, 2005, six-party joint statement, which called for “the directly related parties” to “negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum.”3 Those parties included the three countries with forces on the peninsula—North Korea, South Korea, and the United States—and China. They, along with Japan and Russia, agreed in six-party talks in September 2005 on the aim of “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” to be negotiated in parallel with a peace process in Korea and bilateral U.S.-North Korean and Japanese-North Korean talks on political and economic normalization.

Wang’s initiative was also a way to bridge the gap between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea has long sought a peace treaty. Its position hardened, however, after Washington, backed by Seoul and Tokyo, demanded preconditions—“pre-steps” in diplomatic parlance—to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization before talks could begin. In response, Pyongyang began insisting that a peace treaty had to precede any denuclearization.

The Chinese proposal is a testament that sanctions are unlikely to curb North Korean nuclear and missile programs and that negotiation, however difficult, is the only realistic way forward. So is Washington’s newfound openness to talks with Pyongyang.

Many in Washington and Seoul, however, still contend that negotiation is pointless if North Korea remains unwilling to give up the handful of crude nuclear weapons it has. That premise ignores the potential danger that an unbounded weapons program in North Korea poses to U.S. and allied security.

It also ignores the possibility that Pyongyang may be willing to suspend its nuclear and missile programs if its security concerns are satisfied. That was the gist of its January 9, 2015, offer of “temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned” if the United States “temporarily suspends joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year.”4

Like most opening bids, it was unacceptable. Instead of probing it further, however, Washington rejected it out of hand—within hours—and publicly denounced it as an “implicit threat.”5 That was a mistake Washington would not repeat in the fall.

Unofficial contacts later that January indicated that Pyongyang was prepared to suspend not just nuclear testing, but also missile and satellite launches and fissile material production. In return, the North was willing to accept a toning-down of the scale and scope of U.S.-South Korean exercises instead of the cancellation it had sought. This underscored the need for reciprocal steps to improve both sides’ security.

Those contacts might have opened the way to talks at that time, but the initiative was squelched in Washington. Instead, U.S. officials continued to insist Pyongyang had to take unilateral steps to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearizing and ruled out reciprocity by Washington. Their stance was based on the flawed premise that the North alone had failed to live up to past agreements.6 As Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, put it on February 4, “North Korea does not have the right to bargain, to trade or ask for a pay-off in return for abiding by international law.”7 This crime-and-punishment approach, however warranted by North Korean flouting of international law, has never stopped North Korea from arming in the past, and it is unrealistic to think it would work now.

Tiptoeing Toward Talks

Last September 18, U.S. negotiator Sung Kim dropped Washington’s preconditions for talks while still insisting that the agenda would be pre-steps North Korea would have to take to reassure Washington before formal negotiations could begin. “When we conveyed to Pyongyang that we are open to dialogue to discuss how we can resume credible and meaningful negotiations, of course we meant it. It was not an empty promise. We are willing to talk to them,” Kim said. “And frankly for me, whether that discussion takes place in Pyongyang, or some other place, is not important. I think what’s important is for us to be able to sit down with them and hear directly from them that they are committed to denuclearization and that if and when the six-party talks resume, they will work with us in meaningful and credible negotiations towards verifiable denuclearization.”8 In short, Washington would sit down with Pyongyang without preconditions in order to discuss U.S.  preconditions for negotiations. That opened the door to contacts with the North Koreans in the New York channel in November.

In a November 3 interview, North Korean Foreign Ministry official Jong Tong Hak hinted at what the North might be proposing behind the scenes in New York. He said a permanent peace settlement on the Korean peninsula first required a North Korean-U.S. “peace agreement,” perhaps a declaration committing the sides to negotiate peace. That was an advance. It was accompanied by a step backward from previous North Korean positions: “If the American government is serious about respecting the sovereignty of the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and ending its ongoing hostile policy against the DPRK then it can be solved very easily between the two sides.”9 The apparent exclusion of South Korea made that proposal a nonstarter even if the North had been ready to suspend its nuclear and missile programs.

Sung Kim reiterated the U.S. position on November 10. “I think for us it’s pretty straightforward: If [the North Koreans are] willing to talk about the nuclear issue and how we can move towards meaningful productive credible negotiations, [the United States would be] happy to meet with them anytime, anywhere,” he said. He went on to respond to Jong obliquely: “It’s not that we have no interest in seeking a permanent peace regime, peace mechanism or peace treaty. But I think they have the order wrong. Before we can get to a peace mechanism to replace the armistice, I think we need to make significant progress on the central issue of denuclearization.”10 The armistice agreement, signed in July 1953, established a cease-fire in the Korean War “until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.”11 That has yet to happen.

The Obama administration deserves praise for agreeing to meet in New York to explore what the North Koreans had in mind and not to reject a peace process out of hand. Disappointingly, North Korea proved unready to discuss denuclearization, which is stymieing talks for now.

The Limits of Sanctions

North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test and February 7 satellite launch spurred more-stringent sanctions at the UN Security Council and in Washington. Even worse, the sanctions revived dreams of a North Korean collapse in Seoul, dreams that jeopardize a peace process.

Sanctions might have helped bring Iran around to negotiating, but North Korea is no Iran. It is far more autarkic and less dependent on trade with the rest of the world. It has no big-ticket items such as oil that require access to the global banking system to transact business.

An offer to ease sanctions may be of some utility in negotiations with Pyongyang, as it was with Tehran. The latest sanctions will squeeze Pyongyang but not enough to compel it to knuckle under and accept Washington’s preconditions for negotiating. If anything, Pyongyang’s nuclear advances have enhanced its leverage and given it greater confidence to proceed with negotiations on its own terms.

Wang and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged as much in their February 23 joint press conference announcing their agreement to move ahead on sanctions and negotiations. “China would like to emphasize that the Security Council resolution cannot provide a fundamental solution to the Korean nuclear issue. To really do that, we need to return to the track of dialogue and negotiation. And the secretary and I discussed this many times, and we agree on this,” Wang said. Kerry echoed him, saying that the goal “is not to be in a series of cycling, repetitive punishments. That doesn’t lead anywhere. The goal is to try to get Kim Jong Un and the DPRK to recognize that…it can rejoin the community of nations, it can actually ultimately have a peace agreement with the United States of America that resolves the unresolved issues of the Korean peninsula, if it will come to the table and negotiate the denuclearization.”12 Once again, news reports focused on China’s willingness to endorse sanctions without paying attention to the U.S. commitment to negotiations.

Kirby, the State Department spokesman, improved that formulation on March 3: “We haven’t ruled out the possibility that there could sort of be some sort of parallel process here. But—and this is not a small ‘but’—there has to be denuclearization on the peninsula and work through the six-party process to get there.”13

Many in Washington may question whether Beijing will enforce UN-mandated sanctions. By the same token, many in Beijing may wonder whether Washington will keep its commitment to negotiate.

Focus on the Urgent

North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test, its fourth, was nothing to disparage. Even if it was neither a hydrogen bomb nor a boosted energy device, the test likely advanced Pyongyang’s effort to develop a compact nuclear warhead that it can deliver by missile.

That is not all. The North has restarted its reactor at Yongbyon, which is working fitfully to generate more plutonium. It also is moving to complete a new reactor and has expanded its uranium-enrichment capacity. It has paraded two new longer-range missiles, the Musudan and KN-08, which it has yet to test-launch, and it is developing its first solid-fueled missile, the short-range Toksa.

That makes stopping the North’s nuclear and missile programs a matter of urgency. Doing so should take priority over eliminating the handful of nuclear weapons Pyongyang already has, however desirable that may be. Such a negotiating approach is also more likely to bear fruit, given Kim Jong Un’s goals.

What Is in It for Kim?

For nearly three decades, Pyongyang has sought to reconcile—end enmity—with Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo or, in the words of the 1994 Agreed Framework, “move toward full political and economic normalization.”14 To that end, it was prepared to suspend its weapons program or ramp it up if the other parties thwarted the reconciliation effort. Although North Korea’s nuclear and missile brinkmanship is well understood, it is often forgotten that, from 1991 to 2003, North Korea reprocessed no fissile material and conducted very few test launches of medium- or long-range missiles. It suspended its weapons programs again from 2007 to early 2009.

U.S. negotiators need to probe whether an end to enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim. He is not motivated by economic desperation, as many in Seoul and Washington believe. On the contrary, his economy has been growing over the past decade. Yet, he has publicly staked his rule on improving his people’s standard of living, unlike his father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. To deliver on his pledge, he needs to divert investment from military production to civilian goods.

That was the basis of his so-called byungjin, or “strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation,”15 meaning as long as U.S. “hostile policy” persists.

To curb military spending, Kim needs a calm international environment. Failing that, he will strengthen his deterrent, reducing the need for greater spending on conventional forces—a Korean version of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s bigger bang for the buck.

Pushback from the military on the budget may explain what prompted him to have his defense minister executed last spring.16 It may also account for Kim Jong Un’s exaggerated claims about testing an “H-bomb” in January. By crediting the party and the government, not the National Defense Commission, for the test, he was putting the military in its place.17 The role that nuclear weapons play in putting a cap on defense spending was explicit in his March 9 claim of a “miniaturized” warhead deliverable by missile, which he called “a firm guarantee for making a breakthrough in the drive for economic construction and improving the people’s standard of living on the basis of the powerful nuclear war deterrent.”18

If Kim Jong Un still wants a fundamentally transformed relationship with his enemies or a calmer international climate in order to improve economic conditions in his country, a peace process is his way forward.

Probing for Peace

Testing whether North Korea means what it says about a peace process is also in the security interests of the United States and its allies, especially now that North Korea has nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s March 2010 sinking of a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, in retaliation for the fatal November 2009 South Korean shooting up of a North Korean naval vessel in the contested waters of the West (Yellow) Sea showed that steps taken by each side to bolster deterrence can cause armed clashes. So did North Korea’s November 2010 artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong Island in reprisal for South Korea’s live-fire exercise. A peace process could reduce the risk of such clashes.

Negotiating a peace treaty is a formidable task. To be politically meaningful, it would require normalization of diplomatic, social, and economic relations and rectification of land and sea borders, whether those borders are temporary, pending unification, or permanent. To be militarily meaningful, it would require changes in force postures and war plans that pose excessive risks of unintended war on each side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. That would mean, above all, redeployment of the North’s forward-deployed artillery and short-range missiles to the rear, putting Seoul out of range. Yet, to the extent Pyongyang would see that redeployment as weakening its deterrent against attack, it might be more determined to keep its nuclear arms.

A peace treaty is unlikely without a more amicable political environment. One way to nurture that environment is a peace process, using a series of interim peace agreements as stepping stones to a treaty. Such agreements, with South Korea and the United States as signatories, would constitute token acknowledgment of Pyongyang’s sovereignty. In return, North Korea would have to take a reciprocal step by disabling and then dismantling its nuclear and missile production facilities.

A first step could be a “peace declaration.” Signed by North Korea, South Korea, and the United States and perhaps China, Japan, and Russia, such a document would declare an end to enmity by reiterating the language of the October 12, 2000, U.S.-North Korean joint communiqué stating that “neither government would have hostile intent toward the other” and confirming “the commitment of both governments to make every effort in the future to build a new relationship free from past enmity.” It could also commit the three parties to commence a peace process culminating in the signing of a peace treaty. The declaration could be issued at a meeting of the six foreign ministers.

A second step long sought by Pyongyang is the establishment of a “peace mechanism” to replace the Military Armistice Commission set up to monitor the cease-fire at the end of the Korean War. This peace mechanism could serve as a venue for resolving disputes such as the 1994 North Korea downing of a U.S. reconnaissance helicopter that strayed across the DMZ or the 1996 incursion by a North Korean spy submarine that ran aground in South Korean waters while dropping off agents. The peace mechanism would include the United States and the two Koreas.

The peace mechanism also could serve as the venue for negotiating a series of agreements on specific confidence-building measures, whether between the North and South, between the North and the United States, or among all three parties. A joint fishing area in the West Sea, as agreed in principle in the October 2007 North-South summit meeting, is one. Naval confidence-building measures such as “rules of the road” and a navy-to-navy hotline are also worth pursuing.

Lacking satellite reconnaissance, North Korea has conducted surveillance by infiltrating agents into the South. An “open skies” agreement allowing reconnaissance flights across the DMZ by both sides might reduce that risk. In October 2000, Kim Jong Il offered to end exports, production, and deployment of medium- and longer-range missiles. In return, he wanted the United States to launch North Korean satellites, along with other compensation. A more far-reaching arrangement might be to set up a joint North-South watch center that could download real-time data from U.S. or Japanese reconnaissance satellites. It is unclear how much such confidence-building measures will reduce the risk of inadvertent war, but they would provide political reassurance of an end to enmity.

A Starting Point

Before the sides can get to a peace process, they need to take steps to rebuild some trust. For Washington, that means verifiable suspension of all of North Korea’s nuclear tests, missile and satellite launches, and fissile material production. For Pyongyang, that means an easing of what it calls U.S. “hostile policy,” starting with a toning-down of joint military exercises, partial relaxation of sanctions, and some commitment to initiating a peace process. Such reciprocal steps could lead to resumption of parallel negotiations among the six parties as envisioned in their September 2005 joint statement.

If the two sides can avoid deadly clashes triggered by the current joint military exercises, they may get back to exploring the only realistic off-ramp from the current impasse: reciprocal steps to open the way to negotiations that would address denuclearization and a peace process in Korea. That, however, would require a change of heart in Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington. As the Rolling Stones put it, “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes, well you just might find/You get what you need.” 

ENDNOTES

1.   “U.S. Rejected Peace Talks Before Last Nuclear Test,” Reuters, February 21, 2016.

2.   Lee Je-hun, “Could Wang’s Two-Track Proposal Lead to a Breakthrough?” Hankyoreh, February 19, 2016.

3.   U.S. Department of State, “Six-Party Talks, Beijing, China,” n.d., http://www.state.gov/p/eap/regional/c15455.htm (text of the joint statement of the fourth round of six-party talks on September 19, 2005).

4.   Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), KCNA Report, January 10, 2015, www.kcna.co.jp/item2015/201501/news10/20150110-12ee.htm.

5.   Marie Harf, transcript of U.S. Department of State daily briefing, January 12, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/01/235866.htm.

6.   On the history of reneging by various parties, see Leon V. Sigal, “How to Bring North Korea Back Into the NPT,” in Nuclear Proliferation and International Order, ed. Olaf Njolstad (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 65-82.

7.   “US: No Sign Yet NKorea Serious on Nuke Talks,” Associated Press, February 4, 2015.

8.   Chang Jae-soon and Roh Hyo-dong, “U.S. Nuclear Envoy Willing to Hold Talks With N. Korea in Pyongyang,” Yonhap, September 19, 2015.

9.   “N. Korea Accuses U.S. of ‘Nuclear Blackmail,’” Associated Press, November 4, 2015.

10.   Chang Jae-soon, “Amb. Sung Kim: U.S. ‘Happy to Meet’ With N. Korean ‘Anytime, Anywhere,’” Yonhap, November 11, 2015.

11.   Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State, North Korea-U.S., July 27, 1953, 4 U.S.T. 234.

12.   U.S. Department of State, remarks of Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Washington, DC, February 23, 2016, http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/02/253164.htm.

13.    John Kirby, transcript of U.S. Department of State daily briefing, March 3, 2016, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2016/03/253948.htm.

14.   Bureau of Arms Control, U.S. Department of State, “Agreed Framework Between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” October 21, 1994, http://2001-2009.state.gov/t/ac/rls/or/2004/31009.htm.

15.   KCNA, “Report on Plenary Meeting of WPK Central Committee,” March 31, 2013, www.kcna.co.jp/item/201303/news31/20130331-24ee.htm.

16.   “N. Korean Ex-Army Chief ‘Locked Horns With Technocrats,’” Chosun Ilbo, May 15, 2015, http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/05/15/2015051500971.html.

17.   KCNA, “DPRK Proves Successful in H-Bomb Test,” January 6, 2016, www.kcna.co.jp/2016/201601/news06/20160106-12ee.htm; KCNA, “WPK Central Committee Issues Order to Conduct First H-Bomb Test,” January 6, 2016, www.kcna.co.jp/item/2016/201601/news06/20160106-11ee.htm.

18.   KCNA, “Kim Jong-un Guides Work for Mounting Nuclear Warheads on Ballistic Rockets,” March 9, 2016, http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.special.getArticlePage.kcmsf;jsessionid=823D154834DB0E5032E668C39EDE74B3.


Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York and author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy With North Korea (1998). A portion of this article draws from a piece that appeared in the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability’s NAPSNet Policy Forum.

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