Understanding New START and the Nuclear Posture Review: Transcript of Briefing Now Available
For immediate release: April 9, 2010
Media contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Tom Z. Collina, Research Director, (202) 463-8270 x104
(Washington, D.C.) This week saw two major developments in American nuclear weapons policy. On April 8, President Obama signed the New START agreement in Prague, and on April 6 the U.S. government released the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
On April 7, the independent Arms Control Association and the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation held a briefing for reporters on these two important events featuring leading voices in the arms control community. The full transcript is now available below.
The following speakers offered their insights:
Amb. Linton Brooks served during the George W. Bush administration as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration and during the George H.W. Bush administration as Chief U.S. Negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Morton H. Halperin is senior advisor to the Open Society Institute and was a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, which released its report last May. He served in the Clinton, Nixon, and Johnson administrations working on nuclear policy and arms control and is the author of numerous books and articles on this subject.
John D. Isaacs is the Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. He is a longtime leader of the nation's arms control community, an expert on nuclear policy and national politics, and has deep knowledge on the workings of Congress. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association.
Daryl G. Kimball, panel moderator, is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association and publisher of ACA's journal Arms Control Today.
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
UNDERSTANDING NEW START
AND THE NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW
WELCOME AND MODERATOR:
DARYL G. KIMBALL,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
MORTON H. HALPERIN,
OPEN SOCIETY INSTITUTE
JOHN D. ISAACS,
CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2010
Federal News Service
DARYL G. KIMBALL: Welcome and good morning, everyone. Thank you for waking up a little early this morning for this Arms Control Association and Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation briefing but it’s a hot spring morning already so I think you’ll enjoy the benefits of getting started early and having a little breakfast. I’m Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association and we’ve organized this briefing at this timely moment to talk about two breaking issues.
As you all know, the Nuclear Posture Review, which was released yesterday by the Obama administration, is still being analyzed and dissected. We’ll talk about that today and we’ll also talk about the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, to be signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev tomorrow in Prague. We have three excellent speakers to address these issues. We’re going to hear from each of them for about seven to 10 minutes and then we’re going to take your questions and answers. We’ll have plenty of time for discussion of these issues.
To begin, Ambassador Linton Brooks, who was the lead negotiator of the 1991 START agreements is going to outline his thoughts about the New START deal: what it is, why it is, why it is helpful for U.S. national security. He’s also, of course, is the former administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and I’m sure he’ll have a few insights and thoughts about some of the issues outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review. He and I were both at a briefing, and Mort Halperin, at a briefing yesterday morning at the Old Executive Office Building about that.
Then we’ll hear from John Isaacs, who is executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and also a member of the board of the Arms Control Association. He is the unofficial dean of the arms control lobbying community in Washington: the massive, powerful arms control community of Washington. (Laughter.)
JOHN D. ISAACS: It means I’m the oldest.
MR. KIMBALL: No, you’re not just the oldest – (laughter) – but you’re the wisest. And so John is going to outline and give us his analysis of some of the dynamics of the ratification process that is yet to come with the new historic treaty. I think he’ll tell us the prospects are actually better than they might have appeared from the coverage and the commentary in the past few weeks. And then last but no least, we’ll hear from Mort Halperin –
MORTON H. HALPERIN: Who is the oldest. (Laughter.)
MR. KIMBALL: You are the oldest, okay. He’s currently senior advisor with the Open Society Institute. He was a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, which concluded its report last May on many of the issues we’re going to be talking about today. Mort’s been working with the Arms Control Association on issues related to the Nuclear Posture Review and meeting with the administration, providing suggestions to them over the past several weeks, and I just want to point out that the press release and the letter that is outside the table was put together about a month and a half ago and that letter outlines what Mort and I and several others wanted to see in the Nuclear Posture Review. Mort is going to provide a thumbnail analysis of what is actually in the posture review: what the highlights are and where the administration and the United States need to go from there.
So with that, I’m going to stop and I’m going to turn it over to Linton. And let me also just note that these microphones do not amplify – these are for the transcription so if you’re having trouble hearing, just please move forward. But I think Linton has a strong voice – (laughter) – and you’ll be just fine. So Linton, thank you for being here. The floor is yours.
LINTON BROOKS: “Strong voice” is what they say when they’re being nice to you, as opposed to “really loud,” which is what they say in private.
The New START treaty is, as most of you know, going to have three central limits. It’s going to limit total number of launchers, by which we mean ICBM, SLBMs – or submarine-launched ballistic missiles – and nuclear-capable heavy bombers. It’s going to limit them to 800. It’s going to limit deployed launchers to 700 and it’s going to limit warheads to 1550. Now, the 1550 warhead limit is different. One of the problems you have in comparing arms control treaties is – at least the four I’ve been involved with – each say “warheads” and each count them using a different procedure.
This treaty uses the procedure of the 2002 Treaty of Moscow in that it counts actual, physical warheads on ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. So it measures the real deployed capability.
That gave them a problem with bombers, because on a day-to-day basis, there are no warheads on bombers. So how do you handle that? In the 2002 treaty, the U.S. counted the warheads they had at bomber bases. The Russians, because of where their storage facilities were, did not. That didn’t seem very good, so what they have done is just used an arbitrary number for bombers: count the number of bombers, pick an arbitrary number and that’s how many warheads. The arbitrary number they picked is one. You can argue good, bad – the Nuclear Posture Review yesterday reverted to discussions that we had when I was doing it 20 years ago that bombers are inherently stabilizing because they’re not suitable for a strike, that said that it’s therefore logical to do it this way but it’s also the process of the negotiation.
The treaty does not limit missile defense at all. There will be language in the preamble that will recognize the relationship between offense and defense. It does not constrain what is being sometimes called “conventional strategic,” which is to say warheads on ICBMs or SLBMs that are conventional – doesn’t constrain but it counts them. So if you want to have a missile with a conventional warhead, that will count one against your 1550 – the limit – and that missile will count against the 700-deployed limit.
It has a 10-year duration and we have seven years to reduce. That is why in the Nuclear Posture Review yesterday, as Mort will tell you, the administration did not specify the force structure because they’ve got seven years to reach it. The reductions are sometimes criticized as being modest, which is a fair comment but they are sufficient, that I think there is going to be some internal tension within the Pentagon about how to take them. But the reductions have been chosen to preserve the U.S. ability to deploy the so-called nuclear triad: ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers.
The verification provisions, not all of which I have seen in detail, are built on START but – on the previous START treaty – but use simpler approaches in order to save money. There’s one thing that’s quite new about this treaty on verification, however, and that is, there are – historically, verification has been so you can make sure the limits were being observed.
This treaty actually goes beyond that. It has some verification provisions that are entirely in the interest of transparency and openness. The most obvious is the requirement to exchange information on telemetry. That was in the treaty I negotiated and it was there because we needed it to force a limit on throw-weight that is no longer relevant in the modern era. It’s in this treaty as a general way of preserving openness and transparency.
The treaty has a number of the sort of minor provisions from the past. It legitimizes our continued cooperation with the United Kingdom; it bans the deployment of strategic offensive arms outside national territory but has wiggle room for bombers.
So in that sense, it’s no change from what we had in the last one. Now, you will hear – you have heard a series of criticisms and it’s important to take the criticisms seriously. I do not accept the view that most of the critics are automatically anti-arms control or the administration, but they have concerns and I think you have to take the concerns seriously.
The ones I’ve heard: First of all, the reductions are modest. Well, that’s true. Because we’re out of practice in doing this, we did a simple thing. Nonetheless, the Nuclear Posture Review yesterday listed 880 launchers – the limit will be 800, so 10 percent of those things are going to go away – physical objects that are deployed right now. So the reductions are modest but they’re not completely trivial. The bomber-counting rule makes it a little hard to compare the 1550 number with previous numbers, but it’s clearly a reduction and 30 percent is what the administration has used and that’s a reasonable figure.
So I think that you have to accept that this is a modest set of reductions. That’s because, in my view, that’s not what the treaty is primarily about. The primary benefits of the treaty are two. One is transparency. Transparency leads to predictability; predictability leads to stability. That’s why the last administration initially wanted a pure transparency regime. So that’s one benefit. The other benefit is, at a time when we and the Russians don’t have a track record of working as well together as we’d like, something that was reasonably difficult to do got done. And so I think those two benefits are important benefits and obviously, having something that regulates the nuclear balance is important.
Second criticism you will sometimes hear is defenses and as far as I can tell, that’s just wrong. There is no wink-and-a-nod, there’s no “oh, we understand, we’re not going to do anything.” The Russians may issue a statement saying that they have the right to withdraw if we deploy defenses to threaten the strategic balance. They issued such a statement in 1991; we issued a statement right back and both of them went into the dustbin of history. I think it would be – it is for the Senate to decide whether this treaty deserves ratification. I think it does. It would be tragic if we allowed Russian statements made for domestic purposes to derail it.
Third thing you’ll hear is it doesn’t capture the large tactical warhead inventory in the Russian Federation. That’s true – no arms control treaty so far has and the Nuclear Posture Review has made it clear that once this treaty is ratified, the administration will seek a treaty which will capture both those and non-deployed weapons.
And finally, you’ll hear concerns by some that the treaty may or may not be a good idea but you can’t possibly accept it because the U.S. nuclear weapons program is in disarray. And I think the administration’s answer to that is the fiscal 2011 budget with a very substantial increase for my former home, the National Nuclear Security Administration. And I will say flatly, I ran that place for five years and I’d have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration and I just – nobody in government ever said “my program has too much money” and I doubt that my successor is busy saying that. But he is very happy with his program and I think it does put us on a very firm, firm basis.
So those are the criticisms. I think they have to be taken seriously but as I have just suggested to you, I don’t think there’s any question this is in our interest and should be ratified.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Linton and now we’ll turn to John Isaacs for a deeper analysis of the situation in the Senate with the ratification debate. John?
MR. ISAACS: Thank you, Daryl. Just briefly, on procedure, after the treaty signing tomorrow, there’s still some ongoing negotiations on the annexes to the treaty. The administration hopes to complete those by the end of this month and then submit the treaty to the Senate by the end of the month or early May. At that point, the treaty goes to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sole jurisdiction in terms of considering the treaty and voting on a resolution of ratification. Just one technical point which I like to point out: The Senate does not ratify treaties; the president ratifies treaties – the Senate gives its advice and consent to ratification. It’s a very common mistake.
The Foreign Relations Committee will have primary jurisdiction and will have the first opportunity to vote on the resolution of ratification, add conditions, understandings that they might offer, but I’ll get to that in a second. Other committees, however, are likely to hold hearings, including the Senate Intelligence Committee under Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Armed Service Committee under Sen. Carl Levin.
I’m pretty confident that if we can get this treaty to a final vote, not only will the treaty pass but it will pass with a very large majority. Now, I include that caveat about getting to the vote. I understand there are some in the administration that are very optimistic the treaty could actually be considered and approved by the Senate by the end of July. One never loses if one bets against the Senate doing anything early as opposed to late and so I would not bet on a July date. In fact, perhaps more likely is a lame duck session.
There are critics of the treaty in the Senate; for sure, no senator has opposed the treaty at all but there are lots of opportunities for delay, lots of opportunity to raise issues, lots of opportunities to talk about national security issues related to nuclear issues that aren’t necessarily part of the treaty. So I don’t know if the Republicans are going to allow a prompt vote – that’s just an unknowable thing at this point.
The other major question besides timing is what kind of conditions and understandings that mostly Republicans will offer. We would expect the battle not to be on a yes or no for the treaty but a condition dealing with missile defense, a condition dealing with a next set of negotiations, an understanding about how much spending there will be on the nuclear weapons complex over the next 10 years.
Now, to remind you, the treaty does require two-thirds majority, according to the Constitution – 67 votes. So there’s a need for at least eight or nine Republicans to vote for the treaty. But a condition or an understanding that might be offered to the treaty on the Senate floor requires a majority vote. So in the current Senate with 41 Republicans, there would have to be a lot of Democrats going along with those understandings, conditions to get them approved.
But overall, as I indicated, I’m pretty confident that if we get this final vote, not only will it be approved but approved by a large majority. Just to give you a number of reasons, first, the military is solidly behind the treaty. You saw, Friday of last week, there was not only the secretary of state but secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs presenting and advocating for the treaty.
You have a number of GOP senators who have already indicated either a principle or specifically that they would support the New START treaty. Most recently, again, Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, not only said basically he endorsed the treaty but has said he would work for prompt ratification with Chairman John Kerry. You also have Sen. Bob Corker, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who months ago said, this treaty’s a good idea, as well as Sen. John McCain who said that more than a month ago – more than a year ago. However, since then he’s found himself a little primary in Arizona so I don’t know what he’s saying. He may not be so positive right now but depending on where the vote is, it’s likely – I believe it’s more likely to occur after his August primary.
We have the key leadership in place to promote the treaty from within the Senate. As I indicated, Sen. Kerry, of course, has backed the treaty in a statement with Sen. Lugar. As chairman and ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, that means they can try to move promptly to hold the hearings and get the treaty out of that committee. Other committees in the Senate: You have the chairmen and ranking members fighting each other and disagreeing – this is one of the few opportunities where you have bipartisanship at the top of the committee who will work cooperatively.
You also have a situation where many former high-ranking Republican officials have endorsed the treaty, most recently, the Florida statesmen, including former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. And if you go back, the congressionally-mandated review of the nuclear issues, on which Mort Halperin has served, there was a unanimous vote, including six Republicans including former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, endorsing modest reductions in the nuclear stockpile, which as we heard from Linton Brooks, that’s what we have in this treaty.
I’d also point out that the previous treaty votes on nuclear reductions – the START I agreement, President George W. Bush’s Treaty of Moscow – not only were approved by the Senate but were approved overwhelmingly in each case by over 90 votes, and that’s a good precedent. And lastly, I’d point out that our organization Council for a Livable World has visited 20 – over the last year, 23 Republican offices. And if you’re talking about 23 Republican offices, you’re not, obviously, talking about moderates because there aren’t 23 moderates in the U.S. Senate. (Laughter.)
All the way as far right as Burr of North Carolina and Coburn of Oklahoma. In those offices, meeting with staff, there were a number of concerns raised over and over again – the ones we’ve heard about already: missile defense and the status of our nuclear weapons complex. But while several of those offices were willing to say, we’re against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, if there’s a vote on the test ban treaty, we will vote no, not a single Republican in those 23 offices have said they will vote against a new nuclear reductions treaty.
So overall, I am quite optimistic, as I say, if the Senate procedural hurdles and delays can be overcome. One last argument that I think will be helpful in getting the treaty through the Senate: As of December 5, the START I agreement expired. That means, in effect, there’s no specific verification procedures except some general understanding, I think, between the U.S. and Russians. There are new verification procedures as a part of this treaty – the telemetry data exchange and so on. That all will be in limbo until the Senate – U.S. Senate – and the Russian Duma approve the treaty and I think that’s a strong incentive to U.S. senators of both parties to get the treaty through at some point and also to get the verification procedures into effect.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, John. That was a very good, thorough overview. We’re going to shift gears just a little bit and Mort Halperin is going to talk about the newly released Nuclear Posture Review. Mort?
MR. HALPERIN: Thank you. Pleasure to be here. I do want to say something about the relationship between the posture review and the treaty, but first let me make two comments about the treaty before I start on the posture review.
One is, I think it’s – as Linton has said, the criticisms have to be taken seriously. But I interpret what he said to mean that they are in fact not serious. (Laughter.) It’s an important distinction.
Second, as John suggested, my view is that this treaty follows completely the recommendations of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission, is a modest step, in accompanying it by a very substantial build-up on the weapons laboratory, which as Linton said is in the budget. I would very much hope that all of my colleagues on the commission will join in endorsing the treaty and I think if they do that, early and overwhelming ratification is extremely likely. I see nothing in the treaty, either affirmatively in the treaty that they didn’t want or that’s out of the treaty that they did want, and including statements by the administration about how they will move forward on a follow-on treaty, which is again consistent with the recommendations of the commission. I don’t think any of that is an accident and I think it suggests that there should be a treaty with bipartisan support.
Let me turn to the posture review. I have been very critical of the posture review before it came out. It seemed to me there were many signs that it was not going to meet the standard that the president laid out in the Prague speech for beginning a transformation of American nuclear policy. I was pleasantly surprised. I think in fact this is a document which puts us on a path to a fundamentally different nuclear posture than was the posture of the previous administration and even other administrations going back to the beginning of the nuclear age.
It starts by saying that the main threat is proliferation with terrorism, that is, not a large-scale Soviet attack on the United States, and it acknowledges, although it doesn’t do about it – I’ll come back to that – that the current nuclear posture is not particularly suited to dealing with this threat. But then it says that the American nuclear posture plays a critical role in our ability to deal with the problem of proliferation and terrorism.
But it flips the relationship between the two in a way that’s fundamentally different than the view of – as far as I can tell – old, previous administrations. That is, it says that the way we contribute to dealing with the problem of proliferation and the problem of nuclear terrorism is by demonstrating a commitment to reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. Old, previous administrations, in my view, believed and said that the way we contribute to this is by maintaining a robust nuclear arsenal.
Now, this Nuclear Posture Review also calls for a robust nuclear arsenal, but it stresses that the most important contribution that the nuclear forces can make toward dealing with the problem of proliferation and nuclear terrorism is by demonstrating our commitment to the provisions of the NPT, which calls for us to move toward a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. And as I’ll suggest in a minute, it actually does reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons.
It says that the goal is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, which is, I think, an important way to understand the problem, that the American interest, that it, again, was reflected in the commission report, that our primary interest is to prevent anybody from using nuclear weapons rather than to say that our purpose of nuclear weapons is to enable us to meet our own security threats.
It emphasizes, very much, that because of the changes in the situation, the United States can meet its overwhelming number of security threats without the use of nuclear weapons. Now, as we know, a major part of the internal debate within the administration, and certainly in the last two or three months in which the White House and senior officials in the State Department and the NSC were engaged, was about declaratory policy.
A number of us have advocated – and you’ll see the letter on this table – that the administration should say that the sole purpose of our nuclear forces is to deter nuclear attacks or to respond to them – nuclear attacks on the United States, on its military forces or its allies and other countries that depend on our nuclear deterrent, but that it’s limited to dealing with nuclear threats.
The administration declined to do that. It clearly debated the issue in some detail, but it did three things that are fundamentally different than past administrations and I think clearly moves us for the first time in the direction of saying our goal is to say that our nuclear weapons are only to deter nuclear attacks.
Now, it also reaffirms the goal of the world without nuclear weapons. My view is, nobody knows how to get to such a world. There is no possibility of such a world and that while the rhetoric of it may be useful, it’s not real. This is a real goal. The United States can, in fact, and in my view, should move as quickly as possible to a situation where it is able to say we have nuclear weapons only to deter the use by others and that we will have a nuclear posture – and I’ll come back that – that reflects that view.
I think this nuclear posture statement is a major step in that direction and in my view, is a fundamental difference from – no other previous administration has ever hinted at anything other than we will always need to threaten nuclear weapons for a wide range of contingencies, not just nuclear use.
It has three, as I say, new elements. First, the clean negative security assurance. This is a 40-year battle and I’ve been engaged in this battle for this clean negative security assurance for 40 years and there’s an interesting story, which, if any of you provoke me, I’ll be happy to tell about the first time the clean negative security assurance was in fact proposed.
But it is, in my view, the only assurance that’s consistent with the purposes of the Nonproliferation Treaty and the demand that we make on all but the five nuclear powers in that treaty. I do not see how we can say to other countries, we want you to renounce nuclear weapons by treaty while we retain the right to threaten you with the use of nuclear weapons, even if you are a member in good standing of the treaty and have declined to get nuclear weapons or have gotten rid of your nuclear weapons.
That has been, in various forms, the posture of the United States until yesterday. And we have now finally said if you are a member in good standing of the treaty, you will not be threatened with nuclear weapons. Now, there’s been some suggestions that this is somehow a threat against North Korea and Iran. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.
The threat to North Korea and Iran has existed from the beginning – from the first time the United States had nuclear weapons, it has always said to potential adversaries, we reserve the right to use nuclear weapons against you, even if you don’t have them, even if you’re not threatening to build them.
For the first time this is a promise to those two countries, which says something we have said in a different context to the North Koreans but in my view never to the Iranians. If you come back into full compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty, you will have a commitment from the United States not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against you, period, full stop.
That is the change in what we’ve communicated to the Iranians and the North Koreans, not suddenly some new threat against them that we might use nuclear weapons. Second, even for the countries that don’t get this guarantee, either because they’re nuclear powers, that is, the four other nuclear powers in the NPT, the three states that have failed to sign the treaty – India, Pakistan and Israel, or the states that are in noncompliance.
And we don’t have a full list. It clearly includes Iran and North Korea. There is a question of whether the administration thinks Syria is and I think they will not say on the record what the list is. But even for those countries, there are two criteria that are stated for the first time.
One is that it will be only in extreme circumstances that we would consider the use of nuclear weapons and only when vital interests were at stake, which is again, different from suggesting that maybe if there’s a deep underground bunker in Iran and we’re not sure what’s in it, that they might have to be worried that we would use nuclear weapons against them.
And third, as I’ve said, it says that the goal is to move to sole use – that the goal is to deal with our allies, to strengthen our convention and capabilities, our other relationships with countries so that we are able to say that nuclear weapons are maintained for the sole purpose of deterring their use by others.
The other chapter of the report that I want to comment on is the one dealing with nuclear weapons themselves. There is a commitment there that goes beyond what I think most of us anticipated, which is the statement: No new nuclear weapons. And that is defined as a pit which has not previously been tested.
There’s also a commitment that we will not test, period, full stop, and a reaffirmation of the commitment to the Test Ban Treaty. But it also is a commitment that we will not make changes in the existing weapons for the purpose of developing new military capabilities or for new military purposes.
That is, the changes that we make will be only to enhance the safety, security or reliability or effectiveness of the weapons. And that there will be a presumption against replacement in favor of refurbishment, but that we will be open to anything along that continuum as long as it is not a new nuclear weapon and it is not being done for these other purposes.
I think that’s a – again, a major step forward which reflects a nuclear posture which is not seeking to find more credible ways to use nuclear weapons, which is how I would define the previous Nuclear Posture Review, but rather making it clear that we are moving away from any reliance on nuclear weapons from any purpose other than deterring their use.
Now, there are a lot of issues that are untouched and there are a number of studies hinted at in the Nuclear Posture Review. I tried to count them up and got to about six or seven. There may only be one because toward the end, we hear that they will complete the presidentially directed review of post-new-START arms control objectives to establish goals for future reductions as well as evaluating options to increase warning and decision times and to further reduce the risk of warnings or misjudgment.
So they may all be in one study, but it is clearly a study of how big the force has to be, of the future of the ICBM, whether a different kind of ICBM would permit us to move off alert status. It does not explicitly say – and this is, in my view, the major feeling of the NPR and I think comes partly from the fact that they did the part of it relating to the operation of the forces to give guidance to the negotiators.
So they did it first and quickly and without looking at it in a fundamental way. And my hope is that they will now do that or they’ll wait until after the treaty was ratified to do it. But it still talks about assured direction. And my understanding is that they have not really fundamentally re-looked at this question.
So despite all rhetoric in the document, the question of how big our force has to be, how quickly it has to be ready to fire, how massively it has to be ready to fire is still based on an assured destruction number which is not different from the one that we had during the Cold War. That still requires us to be able, with high confidence, to destroy a very large number of targets in Russia and to do so quickly in the event that we think there’s a Russian attack about to come or landed in the United States.
In my view, that’s fundamentally wrong that we can, in fact, have, quote, “assured destruction” of a Russian deliberate attack with much lower levels and with a much reduced target list. And that’s, I think, the main task ahead for the administration in fulfilling the promise of this Nuclear Posture Review.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mort. That’s an excellent analysis. Before we turn it over to questions and answers, let me just add two quick points to augment what Mort just said, how on the subject of the posture review’s clarification of policy not to pursue new design warheads.
The 70-some page document does not actually provide a definition of what a new nuclear weapon is. But there is precedent in law and I would just point you all to a news analysis piece that my colleague Tom Collina did in the most recent issue of Arms Control Today, “What is a ‘New’ Nuclear Weapon?” that discusses this a bit.
And one of the things it draws out is that in the fiscal year 2003 defense authorization bill, Congress did, in the context of authorization and appropriation, define what a new nuclear weapon is. And it is along the lines of what Mort described, which is warhead primaries of secondaries not previously in the arsenal.
And so I think that is a definition that we may hear more about, more clarification in the weeks ahead. And finally, I mean, and Mort touched upon this. I mean, one of the other points in the NPR that I think is very interesting, we may hear more about this in less than 24 hours, when the two presidents speak in Prague, is that the Nuclear Posture Review clearly signals that the Obama administration is interested in further dialogue, if not negotiations with Russia and China on nuclear weapons issues.
And the president, during the campaign, made the statement that he would seek a strategic dialogue with other nuclear armed nations to influence transparency and predictability. That idea is preserved in this Nuclear Posture Review.
And I think it’s important because it strongly suggests – more than strongly suggest that this New START treaty is not the last step in the administration’s efforts to reduce U.S. and Russian stockpiles, strategic, non-deployed or tactical. And an effort is going to be made to pursue this discussion with China, even though right now, China is not especially enthusiastic about that.
So those are a couple of other thoughts on the NPR and so at this point, I’m going to turn it over to you all for questions you’ve got. Just identify yourself before you ask the question.
Q: Hi. Mary Beth Sheridan from Washington Post. I had a question about the NPR and New START. They’re going to deMIRV our missiles and you know, one warhead on each missile. So I’m just trying to understand how different is that and how important is that?
MR. BROOKS: I should have mentioned that. It’s somewhat different. The last administration was moving to a land-based missile force with mostly single warheads. But it made a conscious decision to continue to deploy some with more than one warhead, largely to preserve experience.
This administration – this Nuclear Posture Review says we will move to all the Minuteman force carrying a single warhead. It specifically cites the stability benefits, that is to say, lots of people worry about ICBMs being vulnerable. But an ICBM with a single warhead is not an attractive target because they typically take two warheads to destroy it and they’re typically located a long way from anything else. So with constrained forces, there’s no incentive. That also reduces any need to make an early decision.
I think the practical implications are relatively small because we will want to deploy a number of the former Peacekeeper warheads – the W87 on the existing Minuteman force and the existing Minuteman force will only take one deliverable warhead. So I think we’ve never announced exactly what the mix was.
I think that this will somewhat reduce the number of warheads and ICBMs. The significance of it is it’s a drive towards stability and toward reducing any pressures for early use on the ICBM force.
MR. HALPERIN: But there’s nothing in the treaty.
MR. BROOKS: Nothing in the treaty that requires it. The treaty is based on a fundamental principle, which is different from Cold War, that each side should be free to make its own decisions about its own force structure. For a very long time in the Cold War, we tried very hard to write treaties that would encourage the Russians to move – the Soviets to move toward structures that we thought were stabilizing.
But since the end of the Cold War, we’ve essentially given that up. Treaty of Moscow didn’t attempt to do it. This treaty doesn’t attempt to do it. You can argue whether that’s good or bad, but that’s clearly where we are.
MR. KIMBALL: And by the way, I mean, the START II treaty would have done that but the opportunity to implement the START II treaty was lost.
MR. BROOKS: START II treaty – I negotiated the START II treaty. START II treaty would have been a very good treaty, except it could only be – it could only have been initiated when it was. It couldn’t have been done six months earlier; it couldn’t have been done six months later. And it depended on a euphoria in U.S.-Russian relations, which probably, it was unrealistic for us to assume that it continued.
MR. KIMBALL: Right. And it did not continue.
MR. BROOKS: And then, when you know – (laughter) – tanks were shelling the Russian White House, it got kind of hard to get – (laughter) – them to focus on that.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Jonathan.
Q: Jonathan Landay with McClatchy Newspapers. Prior to the rollout yesterday, we would see in reports that the administration was going to get rid of large numbers of nuclear warheads in the hedge force. And I’m just wondering where that’s addressed in the NPR. It seems to me that they actually put that off and there’s no direct – and there’s no direct commitment to the NPR to deal with the very, very large numbers of warheads that remain – (inaudible).
MR. KIMBALL: Linton, Mort, do you want to –
MR. HALPERIN: Yeah, I’ll start. First of all, my understanding is that there is an ongoing discussion in the administration about whether they should say how many warheads we have and that there are a lot of people who want to do that. And the hope still is that they will do that in the next few weeks, which will enable them to say something about how many they’re going to get rid of.
There is a commitment, I think, in the document to reduce the number of non-deployed warheads. We have non-deployed warheads for two different purposes. One is so that we can upload them in a crisis. So if you suddenly decide that Russia is much more threatening, you can go back to merging the ICBMs so you can put more warheads on the submarines that you have.
And the other is to deal with technical failures. So if one warhead fails, you have others that you can put on or upload into the system. What the NPR says is that if we get the very substantial increase in the weapons complex that we’re asking for, the additional money and the additional commitment to build new facilities, we will then be able to make substantial reductions in the non-deployed force because the hedge will be in the production capacity of the system rather than in the weapons.
And so I think what they’re saying is, hey, we want to get the money and start the process before we can do that. There’s also the – they need money to destroy them because now, if you decided to retire additional weapons, all that really would happen is that you would change the label on the weapon.
Instead of the label on the weapon saying non-deployed weapon for contingencies, it would say weapon awaiting destruction. A slight exaggeration, but not much.
MR. BROOKS: Not much of one.
MR. HALPERIN: No. And so they’re asking for more money to accelerate the destruction process as well. So I think – I think, hopefully, we will see the numbers and we’ll know what the –
MR. BROOKS: There is an additional commitment in the NPR, however. And they say that following START ratification, entering into force, we will seek reductions with the Russians, which the NPR explicitly says will cover tactical weapons and non-deployed weapons. Now, if you’ll look at the numbers, tactical weapons, they’ve got a lot. We’ve got a few.
Non-deployed, we’ve got a lot, they’ve got a few. So it is – it would not be unreasonable – I don’t know if this is the administration thinking – it would not be unreasonable to say if the way we can reduce Russian tactical weapons is to trade them for our non-deployed, announcing that we’re going to get rid of our non-deployed weapons no matter what the Russians do is not a particularly good negotiating strategy.
But I take that as a clear commitment to seek negotiated reductions which will go to our non-deployed, enable to buy the ability to do some of the things that we depend on non-deployed weapons for through the infrastructure.
Q: Could I just follow up on that – the idea of the hedge being in the new production capacity because that’s clearly what a lot of people in the arms control community have been warning about, the new facility at Los Alamos and the new uranium facility down at Oak Ridge. Is that what, in fact – is that – would you call that a backdoor so to speak?
MR. HALPERIN: No, I mean I think the warning – I frankly don’t understand the concern about that. You know, I think that the issue is the context in which it takes place. In the previous administration, I think people feared – I think with some reason – that the goal was really to find new uses for nuclear weapons, to develop small weapons that could do various kinds of other tasks.
And the administration talked about the need to use nuclear weapons in a variety of circumstances. In that context, I think Congress was properly concerned, both about the RRW and about the increase of the production facilities as part of an effort to create a new capability and with a lack of commitment to the Test Ban Treaty.
You now have a situation in which the administration has said, we will not test. We will not develop new nuclear weapons. And I think, by the way, there is a definition. I don’t know – were these charts handed out? The briefing charts.
MR. KIMBALL: The day before yesterday.
MR. HALPERIN: Yeah. If you – they have a period where they should have had a colon on page nine, where it says no new nuclear warheads. It should be a colon because what follows is, as I understand it, the definition of a new nuclear warhead. That is, that it says in the affirmative, like the extension program, we’ll only use previously tested designs and not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.
So the flip of that is their definition of a new nuclear warhead is one that we’d use a previously untested design or we’d be, for the purpose of new military missions or new military capabilities. And given that commitment, which I assume Congress will legislate, given the commitment to the test ban, given the commitment to reduced reliance on nuclear weapons.
My view is that it is well worth paying the financial price of modernizing Astana as a way to create a broad bipartisan support for those set of measures, which in my view, are far more important to the security of the United States than me jiggling money in the Defense budget to pay for this arsenal. And the secretary of Defense has said he will pay for it. That is, the proposal is to shift money from the Defense budget for this purpose rather than taking it out of the overall energy budget.
MR. BROOKS: It’s also important to put in context what they mean by this hedge capability. The Los Alamos facility that exists today – the facility they need to build is a science facility which is necessary to support plutonium work, regardless. The capability at PF-4 at Los Alamos is asserted to be possibly 50 to 80 bits a year. I think you could fill this room with people who would say, you not find anybody who believes that you can do more than that, and I think you’d find a lot of people who would believe that it will be maybe 40 or 50 bits a year.
The Y-12 facility – the Tennessee facility that does secondaries – will be sized for the same purpose. That facility won’t be here for 10 years. If you’re looking at producing, let us say, 50 pips a year, let’s say 50 warheads a year, Mort talked about strategic hedge, but the hedge is very long term. It’s not, you wake up tomorrow and say, gee, the Russians are stronger than we think. It’s, Stalin comes back and the Russians start a significant modernization and deployment program.
This is how fast we could match it. And so I think that, that’s not a lot. I mean, we’re talking about a reduction, in this treaty, of 700 deployed warheads. Starting 10 years from now, it would take us 14 years to produce 700 warheads. So I think it’s a bit unfair to say the sky is falling because we’re going to do that production.
MR. ISAACS: Can I just say, to put this in context, to argue that 1,550 nuclear warheads is not sufficient to assure American security, to me, is absurd. But to have a couple thousand additional nuclear weapons in storage that could be uploaded, to me, makes no sense when we could easily reduce our nuclear stockpiles tremendously from what we have now and have a very powerful deterrent.
I point out that the Chinese government, which is modernizing its nuclear force and threatening American interests has maybe 200 nuclear warheads, all told, not all of which, of course, aimed at the United States. But we have this new limit of 1,550. So some of this is debating angels on the head of a pin, I would argue.
MR. KIMBALL: To answer your question a little differently, Jonathan, I think what the Nuclear Posture Review communicates is that they are – it is, at the National Nuclear Security Administration and the nuclear weapons laboratories, although they may not like to admit it, and the Defense Department, increased confidence in the stockpile-management program.
And that increased confidence should lead to reductions in the hedge arsenal, such as it is, and it should also, I think, lead to greater support for codifying the de facto test-ban policy of the United States and moving towards reconsideration and ratification of the treaty. And I think it is an interesting line from the secretary of defense’s preface in the Nuclear Posture Review documents.
He said that the plan for stockpile management is “a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation’s deterrent.” So I think in many ways, you know, the debate that had been raging for several years about whether new design warheads were necessary to maintain confidence in the reliability and effectiveness of the arsenal is over, at least within some of the key circles in the executive branch.
And I think it should be, to a greater extent, on Capitol Hill, also, especially given the 10 percent increase in the NNSA weapons budget that even Linton Brooks couldn’t’ secure during his tenure at NNSA. So there are more than enough resources to do the job of refurbishing and extending the lives of these existing warheads.
MR. ISAACS: And I’d also say it’s going to take more than 10 years to bring Joseph Stalin back. (Laughter.)
MR. KIMBALL: Yes?
Q: I’m Bob Burns with the Associated Press. Picking up on John Isaacs’ comment about the prospects for Senate ratification, I wonder if any of you would have some thoughts on the process in Moscow, and also the likelihood that the Russians will be interested in going ahead with these post-New START negotiations, as proposed by the U.S.
MR. KIMBALL: John?
MR. BROOKS: The Russians will work hard to convince the United States that ratification in Moscow is in doubt and that, therefore, the United States must really take Russian concerns about defenses into effect. But the historic record suggests that the Russian Duma is a good deal more responsive to their executive branch than our Congress is to ours.
And I believe that if President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, who, contrary to the good-cop, bad-cop impression in the press, appeared to be in complete lockstep on this, when they want ratification, ratification will happen. The Russians historically have wanted to see us ratify first, and I would be surprised if they did that.
I think the jury is still out on the follow-on negotiations. The Russians that I have spoken to unofficially have not shown a whole lot of enthusiasm for it. I think the administration is quite wise to say that it will do this after START is ratified and enforced, because I think it’s very clear the Russians would be uninterested in it until that happens. But you know, I don’t think we know whether the Russians are going to be interested.
I think we can infer that the – I mean, this negotiation actually went very quickly. We allowed a different impression because of the artificiality of the 5 December deadline. But it took us nine years to do the first one and it took them 11 months to do the second. I think the next one will look a lot more like the nine-year model. I think it will be a very long, contentious discussion. And you know, where the Russians are, I don’t know.
And it will depend a little bit on our ability to find a formula that puts defenses aside. The administration, in the posture review and the ballistic missile defense review, made some pretty bold, although very general comments, about cooperative work with Russia. My personal view is that if that actually comes to fruition, the follow-on will be much easier.
MR. KIMBALL: On a couple points on this, I mean, we’re going to continue to hear from the Russian government – Foreign Minister Lavrov and others – that the New START treaty establishes a legally binding link between strategic offenses and defenses. That’s to be expected. They say that because, as I think we’ll all soon see when the treaty text is revealed, the preamble will have a statement about the interrelationship between strategic offenses and strategic defenses. The preamble is part of the treaty. Ergo, it is legally binding.
But a link is not a limit. And journalists and senators should not be confused between these two things, because there’s a clear difference. And as Linton said, and will be repeated over and over again, the New START treaty does not limit, in any way, the United States’ strategic or theater missile defense options.
That said, I mean, it is going to be important, in my view, that the United States and Russia pursue, in a sincere way, this dialogue about cooperation with respect to joint use of radars, pursuing the Joint Data Exchange Center, which is an old idea that has been revived to help provide greater assurance to both sides, especially Russia, about U.S. missile plans, and also, to put together a joint missile threat assessment that brings the two countries closer together in their understanding and assessment of the Iranian ballistic missile situation.
And then finally, on, you know, the next phase of discussions with Russia and tactical nuclear warheads in particular, the one aspect of the Nuclear Posture Review we didn’t talk about in our opening that I think is interesting, it’s one to keep watching – and that is what it says or doesn’t say about the 200 or so U.S. forward-deployed tactical nuclear bombs. It is essentially neutral on that subject. It’s neutral because NATO is pursuing its own dialogue on the subject through the Strategic Concept framework.
That’s due to be completed by November. But it was clear – and this was clear in the private briefing we had yesterday morning – that it is the view of the U.S. military that those forward-deployed weapons are not militarily essential for the defense of NATO, and operationally, they’re irrelevant. Because these are bombs that are stored in bunkers, and it would take quite a bit of time to take them out of the bunkers to put them on fighter/bombers to deliver anywhere, and the United States has other nuclear assets that can be mobilized far more quickly than that.
So we’ll see how this develops. In my view, these 200 or so weapons are an impediment – not a bargaining chip, but they’re an impediment to getting the Russians to begin discussions on their relatively larger number or tactical bombs. And the first step is to get Russia to the discussion table and to begin an accounting of each side’s tactical nuclear weapons. And then we’ll see how far we can get with Russia, in terms of verifiably reducing and eliminating that portion of the two countries’ stockpiles. Mort?
MR. HALPERIN: I think the next treaty is at least for the second Obama administration, and maybe for the second term of the next president. There’s a whole agenda of what needs to be done, now, laid out and coming from the treaty and from the Nuclear Posture Review. There’s a very strong commitment to the ratification of the test-ban treaty, which I think is going to take a lot of energy, clearly, on the part of the administration. But there’s also an equally, in my view, important commitment to trying to bring the treaty into force. Bringing the treaty into force, as you know, means ratification by India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iran, North Korea. The Chinese have not yet ratified, but I think we’re reasonably confident that they have even more control over their legislature than the Duma, so that will happen as soon as we do.
But working together with the Russians and the Chinese on bringing the test-ban treaty into force and working with them in advance of the U.S. ratification on steps that lead us towards that goal that will make it easier to ratify is, in my view, the most important engagement we ought to have with the Russians and the Chinese in the period going forward.
There is also a commitment to discussing strategic stability with the Chinese, which is also new and I think very important. It apparently was in the ballistic missile defense review for the first time, and it’s sufficiently contentious that it’s quoted in the Nuclear Posture Review only be reference to the fact that they already said it in the ballistic missile review, which means somebody regrets that they said it there, and they won’t let them say it again as an independent statement.
But it’s clearly a very important commitment. For the first time, we’ve said to the Chinese, we want strategic stability with you, like we have with the Russians. That is, we view you not like the Iranians and North Koreans, as people who have nuclear weapons that are a threat and that we want to be able to destroy, but we expect strategic stability. I hope we begin that dialogue, as well.
In my view, there are two, I think, insurmountable obstacles to the next treaty. One is some agreement on what to say about ballistic missile defense. And of course, the irony is that we spent a good many years persuading the Russians that there was a link between the two. They started life believing that offense was evil and defense was good, and used to explain to us that if we had been bombed the way Moscow had been bombed, we would understand that defenses are the inalienable right of all states. We succeeded too well in persuading them that, that was wrong.
But I just don’t see any way to get a treaty which satisfies the Russian interests in this and what the Senate would need to see. That is, there is no way – unless we succeed in, in fact, having a joint ballistic missile defense with them. But that’s a task, I think, for the next 10 years, and it has to precede the treaty. The other thing is, how you verify the limits on non-deployed weapons and on so-called tactical nuclear weapons.
As far as I can tell, nobody has a single idea about how to do that with any level of accuracy or reliability, so again, as Linton suggests, the next period of time ought to be spent talking to the Russians about creating a joint defense, and about how to begin to determine how many weapons we have an dhow to begin to think about how to verify them. Those two are very complicated, very long-term. And I think until we know how to solve those two problems, it would be a mistake to begin a serious negotiation, because I think it will lead nowhere.
MR. BROOKS: On the second one, the Nuclear Posture Review does, although it’s not terribly specific – does commit the administration to working on, cooperatively, on verification and transparency-focused at warheads levels. It’s not quite as stark as the commission that Mort was on recommended, but it’s fairly clear that the administration will work on that. There are little snippets of stuff that have been done throughout the community but there has been no serious government look at this in the last 8 years, because the administration I was in wasn’t particularly interested in that.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Yes?
Q: I’m Susan Cornwell with Reuters. The Republicans on Capitol Hill have been saying that there’s a requirement in the defense authorization bill to submit a modernization plan for the nuclear arsenal along with the START treaty. I just – perhaps it’s really a question for them, but I wonder whether you think that the administration has satisfied this requirement with the Nuclear Posture Review, or will they still need to do something along these lines? What’s your opinion of this?
MR. BROOKS: Oh, they need to do something and they’re doing it. There’ll be a detailed – may or may not be in the public domain – but there’ll be a detailed look at the next 10 years of the weapons program that is being worked on right now in NNSA. I’m very close to dead certain on that.
MR. ISAACS: I’d add there’s a lot of ambiguity on the term “modernization.” Sen. John Kyl offered some language in the defense authorization bill in which he had first talked about modernizing nuclear weapons. That language was modified through negotiations with Sen. Carl Levin and the executive branch to talk about modernizing the nuclear weapons complex. Nonetheless, several op-eds and speeches by Kyl afterwards seemed to go back to his original formulation, implying that was part of the defense authorization bill conference report, which it was not.
I would argue the Obama administration has met the 10-year requirement in terms of its rhetoric thus far, in the initial budget presentation. But ultimately, it’s not what the administration does or how we interpret it. It’s how John Kyl interprets it and what, ultimately, negotiations will be between Sen. Kyl and the administration to ensure he’s satisfied.
MR. KIMBALL: And one other point, I mean, along the lines of what John was just describing, Sen. Kyl brought together 40, 41 senators in a letter several weeks ago on this subject. It was a reminder to the administration that they were expecting this 10-year plan. But what Sen. Kyl did in that letter was to misconstrue the language that was in the defense authorization bill on the subject, and to suggest that certain specific elements must be in that plan.
Now, you know, it is up to the administration and NNSA and the lab directors to put together that plan. And the thing that I’m specifically talking about is, Kyl was suggesting that there must be a program for a modern warhead in this 10-year plan. Now, Sen. Kyl has not explained what he means by “a modern warhead.” There are many of us who would say that all of the nuclear warhead types in the arsenal are modern in the sense that they are up to date; they work; they’re effective; they’re safe and reliable.
Some might argue that they could be safer or they could be more reliable, but they have been certified year after year and their lives have been extended. And now, there are additional resources, as we’ve said a couple of times, to make sure the infrastructure to support the life-extension programs is more than sufficient to do the job into the indefinite future.
So you know, I think there are going to be an ongoing debate about some of this in the START ratification process, but I think what the Nuclear Posture Review clarifies is that the Defense Department, the Energy Department, the lab directors, NNSA, the vice president agree that the these life-extension programs are working, that new-design warheads are not necessary at this point, thought they’re going to leave open the option to explore not just refurbishment and reuse, but replace certain components in the future, if the need arises. But the need has not arisen at this point.
MR. BROOKS: The Nuclear Posture Review deals with this a little bit in the explicit commitment to continue with the B-61 modernization – the B-61 is the most common bomb in the arsenal. It exists in several variations. And the Nuclear Posture Review commits the administration to continue with the life-extension program, which – you know, modernization has come to be a term of art – will make a weapon that is much different than the weapon that was made 40 years ago, when that was designed.
The Nuclear Posture Review also commits to the early stages of looking at an extension program for the W-78 – one of the two warheads on ICBMs – and specifically says that, in looking at that, should look at whether you can reduce the number – the types of nuclear weapons by making that a backup warhead for submarines. Now, is that modernization? Well, as John has correctly said, it matters what the people who vote on the treaty think, but from the standpoint of the weapons program, I think that does what people are concerned with, which is preserves the workforce, skill and ability, which the Nuclear Posture Review also commits to.
So I think that it is hard to come up with a definition of supporting modernization that the Nuclear Posture Review isn’t responsive too. It’s not impossible, but it is certainly – a strong case can be made that the Nuclear Posture Review is responsive to the concerns that we be able to modernize, in the sense of finding new and better ways to keep the arsenal safe, secure and reliable, while forswearing modernizing to the extent that, that means doing something fundamentally new.
MR. HALPERIN: And I agree with that, but I would say there is no arms control reason to reject a modernization within the policy parameters of the Nuclear Posture Review.
MR. KIMBALL: Other questions? Yes.
Q: Paul Richter with the L.A. Times. I wonder how the panel members think other countries will react to the Nuclear Posture Review. Will they see this as something – a big enough change that they will be encouraged to move in the direction the administration wants them to – moving away from reliance on nuclear weapons? Or will we see not much different there?
MR. HALPERIN: Are you talking about the other nuclear weapons states, or –
Q: I’m talking about the ones that have nuclear weapons and the ones we don’t want to be interested in getting nukes.
MR. BROOKS: Some will, some won’t, I think.
MR. KIMBALL: Mort, do you want to take a stab?
MR. HALPERIN: I think if you look at our allies, I think the administration has done, again, something that the commission recommended, and it’s done in a very serious way. It’s substantially increased our level of discussions with the Japanese, even through the change in government, on nuclear questions, leading up to the decision to cancel the TLAM – to retire the TLAM missile, which was done with the full cooperation of the Japanese government.
When other people were arguing we couldn’t do it because the Japanese would be upset, I think the Japanese are fully satisfied with this. I think the Germans will see an opening to push for the eliminations of the weapons in Europe. And I think the posture review leaves open the Europeans saying, we don’t want them. We don’t think we need them for reassurance. You said you don’t need them for operational reasons. It’s time to get rid of the weapons. So I think that’s going to be a serious debate in which you may find the Poles, and others, on the other side.
I think it did not go as far – if had gone much further – that if it had done sole-purpose, I think Koreans and Turks and Poles would have been upset. I think the way it was done here, they would not, I think, be upset by. So I think in terms of reassuring countries, this gets it, I think, just about right, in terms of opening up for people who want openings and reassuring for those who did.
I think it should provide an opening for a serious conversation with the Chinese, because I think it does change the posture of the discussion, and implies that we ought to be willing to explore with the Chinese, if not no-first-use, some kind of mutual assurance of – the goal being of assured destruction. Certainly, with the Russians, it opens up a lot of issues. And as I said at the beginning, I think for the Iranians and the North Koreans, it opens up – it puts on the table an explicit commitment that would have to be part of any final settlement with either one of them. And I think it commits the United States to it in a way that’s important and reasonable.
MR. ISAACS: And let me add [that] I think other countries will judge U.S. actions not simply on the basis of the Nuclear Posture Review, but on the basis of the New START agreement to be signed tomorrow, the Nuclear Posture Review, the nuclear summit next week, the nonproliferation Treaty review conference, and the pledge of the administration to get the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty ratified.
I think that the other countries, and especially some that have been concerned about U.S. nuclear policy, want to see progress on a number of fronts – not just the policy, but the actual reductions of nuclear weapons, leading to further negotiations on reductions, and especially the test-ban treaty.
MR. KIMBALL: Yeah, I would agree with John that, at the upcoming NPT review conference, which begins on May the 3rd, you know, some countries will look at this Nuclear Posture Review in the non-nuclear weapons majority, positively; others will be disappointed, mainly because the posture review itself is not effecting concrete, tangible progress.
I think New START will give the U.S. and Russia some added momentum and leverage in their arguments that they are taking specific actions to fulfill their Article 6 disarmament commitments. But there will be, I know, disappointment and some frustration with the relative lack of progress thus far on moving the Senate to reconsider the test-ban treaty.
The other thing I’d point out is, in the context of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, there are other issues that could wreck this conference, that could get in the way of the states’ parties coming together on a comprehensive action plan to strengthen and update the treaty. And the two most important are whether the states’ parties are going to agree to take some concrete, albeit modest, steps towards pursuing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, which is a longstanding desire of Egypt and other Arab states.
It was a commitment made by the United States and other states at the 1995 review and extension conference. Nothing has really happened since then. They want to see some progress on that front. And then the other issue – the other X-factor, is the extent to which Iran decides to be or not to be the spoiler at this conference. They will want to avoid being the outlier. They want to avoid being named and singled out.
I expect that the United States and other countries are going to be pursuing, kind of, a country-neutral approach at the review conference, which I think is wise, because it will not give Iran a cynical reason to obstruct. They may do so anyway, but it will not give them reason. Everyone knows who the outliers are at the moment. There’s no reason to single them out by name. And the United States and other countries will be seeking, however, to do things at the conference that gird the NPT system against, for instance, withdrawal by Iran from the treaty without penalty.
They will be seeking a stronger commitment to safeguards under the additional protocol. So there’s more on that on the Arms Control Association Web site in a talk I gave last week. But the NPR will, I think, have a modest effect, a mixed effect, at this upcoming review conference. Are there other questions? Anything else that we forgot to throw in here?
Well, I want to thank you all for coming this morning. We’ll be continuing this conversation in the days ahead. I hope you are ready to wake up early tomorrow. I think it’s 5:50 a.m., Eastern Time, when the two presidents will be signing New START. Perhaps we’ll watch it later on, on television or the Internet. But thank you, Linton Brooks, for being with us, and Mort Halperin and John Isaacs. And we’ll see you again.
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