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former IAEA Director-General

TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE: The Prague Nuclear Risk Reduction Agenda: Next Steps Forward in Obama's Second Term
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Thursday, April 11, 2013
8:45am to 10:30am
National Press Club, Murrow Room
529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC


Four years ago, President Obama delivered a speech outlining a series of concrete steps to move closer to a world without nuclear weapons. Since that April 5, 2009 address in Prague, the Obama administration has embarked on a number of steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, secure vulnerable nuclear material, prepare for reconsideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, strengthen the barriers against further nuclear weapons proliferation, and more.

Significant progress has been achieved, but there is much more to be done to stay ahead of evolving 21st century nuclear dangers. As Obama said in his February 2013 State of the Union address, "our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations."

To mark the anniversary of the President's Prague address, the Arms Control Association will host a forum to review the progress achieved and, with the help of five prestigious speakers, outline key priorities and recommendations for nuclear risk reduction in the his second term.

Featured speakers are:

  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Lieutenant Gen. Frank Klotz (USAF, Ret.), senior fellow for strategic studies and arms control at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former commander of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command.
  • Ambassador Steve Pifer, director of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative.
  • Ambassador James E. Goodby, research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was involved in the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the negotiation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, military transparency measures in Europe, and cooperative threat reduction.
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, ACA (moderator)

 


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DARYL KIMBALL:  All right.  Good morning everyone.  If you could please find your seats, turn off your electronic devices or put them on buzz, please.

Welcome to this morning’s briefing.  I’m Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association here in Washington, D.C.  And the Arms Control Association is an independent membership-based organization established in 1971 to provide practical policy solutions and information to deal with the world’s most dangerous weapons, nuclear, chemical, biological and certain conventional weapons.

And today’s event will focus on some of the major steps that can be undertaken by U.S. leaders to further reduce global nuclear weapons risks.  We have four top notch speakers to outline some ideas and recommendations for what President Obama, working with the Congress, can do and should do to follow through on the step-by-step plan to move closer to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons that the president outlined in his speech in Prague four years ago this month, in April 2009.

And before I do that, let me just provide a little bit of background about what some of the key elements of that Prague plan were, what’s taken place since then, and to touch upon some of the things that have not happened.

As you may recall, on that morning in April 2009 – it was an early morning for those of us in Washington watching it – the president called for several things: one, reducing the role and numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons.  He called for ending nuclear testing through renewed consideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the United States Senate.  He called for strengthening the commitments and improving compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the bedrock of global efforts for 40 plus years to hold back the spread of nuclear weapons.  He called for jump starting talks on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.  And one of the other major recommendations was accelerating efforts to secure nuclear weapons usable materials from terrorists.

And in relatively short order, after the Prague speech, President Obama and his team negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.  And, about a year later, won bipartisan Senate approval for the pact in December of 2010.

The administration helped secure support for a multi-point action plan to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the once every five years 2010 NPT Review Conference.  The United States hosted in the spring of 2010 the first Nuclear Security Summit to accelerate and broaden global efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.  And if you think traffic was bad today, the traffic the days of that conference were even worse because it was in the middle of downtown.

The administration also complete a top to bottom review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and our posture, and, among other things, that NPR report says that the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter the use of nuclear weapons by other countries against the United States or our allies.

And the administration also took steps to engage Iran in negotiations on its sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities and build international pressure on Tehran to meet its non-proliferation commitments under the NPT and safeguards.  And the administration won U.N. Security Council support for even tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to its ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

But, in my view, following the significant progress achieved during the first two years of the president’s first term in office, the administration’s disarmament and non-proliferation efforts have lost momentum as other issues have dominated the attention of the White House.

We’ve seen that talks with Russia on deeper nuclear cuts below and beyond New START have not begun, in large part because Russia remains concerned about U.S. missile defense deployments.  The implementation of the Nuclear Posture Review report has been delayed.  It’s expected soon.  We’ll hear more about that from our speakers.  The technical studies that the administration commissioned in 2009 on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty have been completed, but the administration has not begun the high-level political effort necessary to win Senate approval for the treaty, despite the president’s pledge to do so in Prague in 2009.

Fissile material cutoff talks in the Conference on Disarmament have not begun, in large part, though not solely due to opposition from Pakistan.  And, of course, as we’ve seen just in the last few weeks, the on and off talks with Iran on its nuclear program have not yet produced results.  And renewed dialogue with North Korea on its denuclearization commitments and the normalization of relations have never gotten back on track since the administration came into office, and North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing has continued.

So a lot was accomplished in the first term, but there’s much more to be done.  As George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn wrote just a few weeks ago in their most recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, the pace of non-proliferation work today doesn’t match the urgency of the threat.

And to move the United States and the world farther away from the nuclear precipice, it’s clear to those of us at the Arms Control Association, and I think our speakers today will agree, that the president’s team has an opportunity and an obligation to advance some of the key unfinished parts of the comprehensive approach that he first outlined back in Prague, which, I should add, is a continuation of the commitments that the United States has made for five decades, dating back to President John F. Kennedy, who first spoke about some of these dangers in 1961 in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly.  And if you go back to that speech, you’ll notice that his framework for action, while not as detailed as the framework that we see today from the Obama administration and other countries, is very similar.  And perhaps Ambassador Jim Goodby who will speak later on can remind us of the origin of some of those ideas, which I know he played a part in shaping.

And so as President Obama himself said in February of this year, in the State of the Union address, our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.  So our speakers today are going to be explaining how, in their view, the president and the United States can lead on these issues and to address the still very grave threats posed by nuclear weapons.

And we’re going to be focusing today on just part of this comprehensive agenda.  The dangers posed by North Korea as a nuclear program, the possibility of an Iranian nuclear program are very much on the minds of everyone here in Washington, around the world.  But we need to continue to pursue a comprehensive strategy, and we’re going to be talking about, in particular, the kinds of things the United States can do to shape the global conversation, to reinforce the global non-proliferation system, to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our policies, and to prevent the emergence of new arms races.

And to start us off, I’d like to welcome Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire who’s going to be offering her observations on these issues.  She’s the senior senator from the Granite State and is a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.  She was a solid supporter of the new START Treaty when it was debated in the United States Senate in 2010 and has, since she came to Washington, been a very strong advocate for action to reduce nuclear dangers.

And I’m also pleased to say I think we have a couple of constituents in the room.  And I will be reporting back to my mother-in-law in Lancaster what you say.  (Laughter.)  And so I want to welcome you to the podium to offer your thoughts on these issues.  And after Senator Shaheen speaks, we’ll be taking your questions.  And following that, we’ll be picking up the conversation with our other distinguished guests.

Senator Shaheen, welcome.  (Applause.)

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH):  Thank you very much.  Just make sure your mother-in-law votes for me.

MR. KIMBALL:  I have high confidence she will.

SEN. SHAHEEN:  Good.  Well, thank you for that kind introduction.  And good morning, everyone.  Welcome.  I especially appreciate the leadership that the Arms Control Association and so many of you in this room have provided over the years on this, obviously, very critical, important international issue.

It’s a real pleasure to be here with all of you.  I know you had a great event yesterday on Capitol Hill with my friend, Ellen Tauscher.  You certainly – given Daryl’s description of what’s going to happen today, you’re going to have a very constructive day ahead as well with a very impressive panel of experts.  And I’m honored to join them today in talking about some of the arms control and non-proliferation priorities that I believe we should be focused on over the next four years.

Daryl did a good job of providing a foundation for my remarks because I’m going to start off with President Kennedy, because 50 years ago last month, in 1963, President Kennedy famously said that he was haunted by the possibility that the United States could face a rampantly growing number of nuclear powers in our world.

At the time, he predicted that by 1975, there could be as many as 20 countries with nuclear weapons.  Well, fortunately, due to strong forward thinking American leadership and innovative diplomacy, we have so far averted that nuclear nightmare.

The last several months, however, have tested the limits of our non-proliferation regime.  It’s been one bad news story after another in the WMD world.  Iran’s centrifuges keep spinning and negotiations seem to be stuck.  North Korea’s belligerent leadership threatens to push Northeast Asia over the edge.  And Syria’s chemical weapons are at risk.

I’m afraid we may be quickly reaching an important crossroads, one where we either prove President Kennedy wrong for a little while longer or find out that his nightmare prediction was simply a half century too soon.

As we watch the threat of proliferation grow more complex and diffuse, our focus and resource commitments need to match the severity of the challenge that we face.  We had some important successes in the beginning of President Obama’s first term, as Daryl outlined, including the New START Treaty and the Nuclear Security Summit, but we’ll need to do more as we look at the next four years.  We need to demonstrate to the world that the United States will continue to lead in curbing the threat posed by nuclear weapons around the globe.

Obviously, the three immediate proliferation challenges are Iran’s illicit pursuit of a nuclear weapon, North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, and Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.  Any one of these issues could erode support for going further on the Prague agenda and would undercut the significant progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve on a bipartisan basis over the last five decades.  First and foremost, we need to do what is necessary to get Iran, North Korea, and Syria right.  And by that, I mean, to address the immediate crisis in each of these countries.

Beyond these tough issues, there are important steps we should be taking now to demonstrate our commitment to meeting the nuclear threat.  I recently joined with Senator Feinstein and a number of my colleagues on a letter to the president outlining a few of these steps.

First, there’s still work to be done on a bilateral basis with Russia.  As the two largest nuclear powers by far, the United States and Russia still control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.  As a result, we both have a special responsibility to maintain the credibility of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to press all countries, nuclear and non-nuclear states alike to meet their commitments under that agreement.

I believe that the United States and Russia can go lower than the New START numbers.  Reports suggest that the administration is indeed considering further bilateral reductions in our deployed strategic weapons.  I hope they’ll move on that front, but I also believe that any further consideration of reductions should be combined with robust reinforcement of America’s security commitments around the globe, particularly as North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs threaten some of their closest allies.  The United States will do what is necessary to defend our friends in the face of these threats.

And I think the world should be clear about that.  We should also consider working with Russia to reduce the risk of accidental launches around the world by de-alerting some of the hundreds of deployed weapons that could be launched in a matter of a few minutes.

As Kissinger, Nunn, Perry and Shultz argue in their most recent Wall Street Journal piece, the U.S. and Russia should consider taking a percentage of deployed nuclear weapons off prompt launch status in a verifiable way.

In addition to bilateral discussions with Russia, I think it’s important for all of us to shift more focus, time and resources back to the threat of nuclear terrorism.  It remains one of our gravest dangers.

As former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, quote, “Every senior leader, when you’re asked what keeps you awake at night, it’s the thought of a terrorist ending up with a weapon of mass destruction, especially nuclear.”

To date, we’ve largely kept nuclear materials out of terrorists’ hands, but when it comes to nuclear terrorism in our world, the reality is that the international community can’t afford to make a single mistake.  We can’t be complacent because one miscalculation, one unprotected border, one unsecured facility could all lead to a mushroom cloud somewhere in the world.  We need to remain vigilant, to think ahead and to anticipate where the next threats will come from.

That’s why, in the coming weeks, I’ll be working with my colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees to introduce new legislation aimed at modernizing our Cooperative Threat Reduction and Non-Proliferation Assistance programs and expanding them more comprehensively into the Middle East and North Africa.  We all know that the proliferation threat in this already dangerous and unstable region is growing.

Terrorist groups, like Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida continue to operate throughout the Middle East and North Africa and their direct ties to the Iranian and Syrian regimes only add to the challenge.  In addition, the Arab spring and continued revolutions across the region have brought popularly elected but inexperienced governments into power.

While this region will likely represent the next generation of WMD challenges for the United States, our resources are not keeping ahead of the threat.  Estimates suggest that the U.S. spends less than 2 percent of our nearly 1 billion (dollars) in annual CTR and Non-Proliferation Assistance in this region.

Last fall, the administration finally completed the bureaucratic changes necessary to ramp up our CTR focus in the region.  But we need to do more.  And the legislation that I’m working on will be aimed at addressing non-proliferation and Cooperative Threat Reduction in a comprehensive and thoughtful way throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Now finally, let me raise the potential consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  You all know the security arguments in favor of the treaty.  And there’s no doubt that technical advances and new monitoring techniques have changed the debate since the treaty was last considered in 1999.

But although there’s a good rational case to be made for CTBT ratification, the current political environment in the Senate is not favorable.  Of the 48 yes votes for ratification back in October of 1999, only 17 of those senators are still in the Senate today.  In addition, as we’ve all seen over the last several years, with the consideration of some seemingly non-controversial treaties, like the Disabilities Treaty or the Law of the Sea Treaty, the political challenge of getting 67 votes in the Senate has not gotten any easier since New START.  There’s a lot of work to be done before taking up CTBT.  But that just means we should start now to chart a path forward for its eventual consideration.

As the first nation to invent and then use nuclear weapons, the United States has spent the majority of the last half century trying to reduce the risk that they pose.  Over five decades ago, President Eisenhower committed the United States to meeting its special responsibilities on the nuclear threat and to counteract the awful arithmetic, as he said, of the nuclear question.  Eisenhower’s early pledge and America’s special responsibility have enabled continuous U.S. leadership in the world on the nuclear agenda.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of global non-proliferation efforts was born out of Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace vision.  The original START Treaty was a culmination of President Reagan’s entreaty to trust but verify.  The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which has led to the deactivation of over 13,300 nuclear warheads, was the result of two visionary and farsighted men named Nunn and Lugar.  President Obama’s 2009 Prague speech continued that long tradition.

At the end of the day, American leadership on the nuclear agenda has made the world safer.  There’s no question about that.  Now, in the face of growing threats and difficult challenges around our globe, it is not the time to take a step back from this legacy of leadership.  Now is the time to redouble our efforts, to find a way, in Eisenhower’s words, by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death but consecrated to his life.

I look forward to working with all of you on this critical agenda.  And I’m happy to take a few questions.  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  If you could just raise your hand and just identify yourself, please, that would be great.  Why don’t we start here in the front?

Q:  Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire.  Could you give us a few more details about what this, I guess adapted CTR legislation will look like?  The original one was focused on, you know, disarming Soviet-era nuclear weapons, and, you know, protecting nuclear material, but in the Middle East and North Africa, they don’t have those kinds of weapons, nor beyond Syria, possibly Iran.  Do they have chemical weapons?

SEN. SHAHEEN:  I think what we’re hoping to do is to lay out a comprehensive approach to the region.  That will avoid the prospect that it will move in a nuclear and WMD direction and to have a more focused approach to that region.

MR. KIMBALL:  And there are.  I would point out there are nuclear materials in the region.  There are chemical weapons in the region.  So even though the weapons may not be there, are there still the raw ingredients for problems, if not dealt with properly.

SEN. SHAHEEN:  Yeah.  And the hope is to think about how to avoid that.

MR. KIMBALL:  Other questions.  There’s a gentleman over here on the left.  You might know him.

Q:  Hi.  John Isaacs, Council for a Livable World.

SEN. SHAHEEN:  Nice to see you.

Q:  Senator, the president submitted his budget yesterday.  And a little bit to our surprise and dismay, that some of the key nonproliferation programs that you just praised, in the Department of Energy, particularly, were cut, I think 72 million.  Is that something that the Armed Services Committee might be able to address this year?

SEN. SHAHEEN:  I haven’t had a chance to really go through the president’s budget.  I’m glad to hear that you have.  (Laughter.)  But, certainly, the Armed Services Committee has the opportunity to do that.  Whether the commitment is there I think remains to be seen.  And I would hope that that’s a discussion we can have and all of you in this room can help encourage a hard look at that and, hopefully addressing that issue.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Right here in the middle please.

Q:  Hi.  I’m Kathy Crandall Robinson with Women’s Action for New Directions.  Thank you so much for your strong leadership on these issues.  You talked about charting a course on the Test Ban Treaty, even in difficult political circumstances.  Do you have some specific ideas about things that could be done in the Senate or things that those of us outside, in the public community, could do to help?

SEN. SHAHEEN:  I was very surprised, though I suppose I should not have been, when I saw the reaction in the Senate to the Disabilities Treaty, because having sat through hearings on the treaty, I think most of us believed that what it would do is just set a model for the world, encouraging them to follow what has been a very positive U.S. example on disabilities rights.  And so I was quite surprised when, even with the presence of Senator Dole on the floor, there was not a willingness to support the treaty.  So I think what it will take is a massive education effort and a real effort to contact senators about why this is important.

You know, given the current situation that we have with Iran and North Korea and Syria, those are going to be preliminary discussions I assume because there’s going to be real reluctance, I think, to do anything that would suggest that we’re not serious about security issues around the world.  And while I’m sure you and I don’t believe that the CTBT undermines that, I think there are probably some in the Senate who would think that.

And so I think it needs to start with a real education effort for people, because there are so few people in the Senate now who were there in ’99 or who remember and were politically engaged at the time that the treaty was first brought forward that it really means going back and helping people understand what it was about.

MR. KIMBALL:  Maybe one or two more questions, please.  Yes, sir.

Q:  I’m Dr. Bill Durston with Physicians for Social Responsibility.  It would seem there’s a stumbling block in getting broader support within the United States for international treaties.  It is the argument that, well, countries such as Iran and North Korea are never going to abide by them anyway, particularly, seemingly irrational governments such as North Korea.  What can be done to get these governments to abide by international treaties and to overcome that stumbling block?

SEN. SHAHEEN:  Well, actually, I think the opposition has less to do with that than it does with a belief on the part of certain elements in this country that we undermine our own sovereignty by signing on to certain of these treaties, and I think we’ve got to overcome that before we can address what other countries around the world are doing.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Maybe one more question.  Yes, ma’am.  Over here.  Thank you.

Q:  Good morning.  I’m Valentina Cassar from the University of Malta.  You mentioned two priorities or the next steps that need to be taken has been the continued reductions with Russia and a reopening of the dialogue and refocusing on nuclear terrorism and particularly, the situation within the Middle East.  To what extent do you think that these two tracks can come together, whereby Russia can be still brought onboard in addressing issues regarding nuclear terrorism and especially proliferation in the Middle East?  And, also, is this also an area that provides opportunity to bring China as well onboard?

SEN. SHAHEEN:  I’m hopeful that as we have dropped phase four of the phased adaptive approach, that was one of Russia’s primary objections, that there will be of an opportunity to negotiate with Russia as we look at the follow on to the START Treaty and that that will provide and opening for us to encourage Russia’s engagement with us in the Middle East.  I mean, sadly, as we’ve seen in Syria, they’ve not been willing to do that.  They’ve obviously been more responsive on Iran but not on Syria at all.

And it’s not clear to me what China will do.  Their engagement in the Middle East has been primarily political, but they’ve sort of followed Russia’s lead.  And, you know, I think most of us believe – and we had quite an interesting hearing before the Armed Services Committee earlier this week on China’s role in North Korea and whether they should and would be very direct about North Korea to reduce tensions there.

And so I think it’s not clear, but I think we do have an opening and we should follow up with that opening.  And it would be very productive if they would join us in looking at how we can – and it’s in their interest.  I would argue it’s in their interest, as well as ours, to avoid further arming of the Middle East and North Africa.

Thank you all very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, thank you very much, Senator Shaheen.  Thank you for your time.  And we look forward to working with her and her staff on that new legislation and the other issues that she outlined.  And our other three distinguished speakers are going to be offering their thoughts on some of the points that Senator Shaheen just raised, as well as some others.

And first, let me just do introductions.  And each of them will speak and then we’ll get into a discussion after each of them is done.

And first, we’re going to be hearing from Retired Lieutenant General Frank Klotz, who has led a long and distinguished military career focused on nuclear weapons policy.  He was, among other things, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command from 2009 to 2011 and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

And he’ll be followed by Steve Pifer, director of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative.  He’s extremely productive.  He’s an Arms Control Association in and of himself.  He has more than 25 years of experience in the field while serving at the State Department.  And he’s the coauthor of an excellent 2012 book, “The Opportunity: Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Arms.”  And there’s an abridged version of that book in an Arms Control Today article on the table outside.  And he’ll be talking more about the ideas in that book in a few minutes.

And last, but not least, is my good friend and someone I’ve turned to for advice and inspiration for many years, Ambassador James Goodby.  He has been advising and advancing U.S. disarmament and non-proliferation objectives in various roles inside and outside the government for more than five decades.  And I’m very pleased that he’s able to join us here today.

So thank you for joining us.  General Klotz, if you’d like to stay there and speak from there or come to the podium, whichever you prefer.

GENERAL FRANK KLOTZ (RET.):  I’ll stay here.

MR. KIMBALL:  OK, stay there.  The floor is yours.

GEN. KLOTZ:  Yeah, I apologize because I will not be able to make eye contact with the folks over here, but I think we’ll just stay here.

First of all, thanks, Daryl, for this opportunity.  I’m delighted to have been invited to participate in this forum and delighted to join Ambassadors Jim Goodby and Steve Pifer, who I’ve had the enormous good fortune to work with in the past, on several occasions, both in government and now in our post-government careers over more years than I dare to count, as it turns out.  I’m also delighted to see a number of friends and colleagues in the audience.

As Daryl has pointed out, this is an important month.  It was four years ago last week that President Obama gave his widely acclaimed speech in Prague.  And as Daryl also indicated, in his remarks, he expressed America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

I think it’s also important that in the process of that speech, he laid out a fairly detailed and specific agenda about how to achieve the vision that he articulated.  It involved, essentially, pursuing three major treaties, one a strategic arms control agreement with Russia.  If you recall, START One was expiring or had expired and there needed to be a replacement for the treaty.

He also called for a global ban on nuclear tests, which in reality meant bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which had been signed in 1996, into force, which required those remaining so-called Annex Two nations that had not yet ratified the treaty to do so.  I would dare say first and foremost among those nations is the United States, even though it was the first nation to actually sign the treaty.  And he also called for a new treaty to cut off production of fissile materials that were designed for use in nuclear weapons.

Now, essentially, almost the same month, we also marked the successful negotiation and signing of the New Strategic Arms Treaty, New START, and it marked the first major accomplishment in that very ambitious work plan.

And almost immediately after the Senate voted in favor of its ratification, senior administration officials announced their intention to move out on other steps outlined in the Prague speech, including pursuing further reductions with Russia in strategic nuclear weapons, and for the first time, attempting to set limits on tactical, or non-strategic weapons and non-deployed or reserve nuclear weapons.

However, as Daryl has also pointed out, fundamental differences between the United States and Russia on missile defense, on conventional prompt global strike as well as a host of political issues essentially blocked forward progress on U.S.-Russian bilateral arms control.

Domestically, the highly charged political atmosphere that Daryl and the senator spoke to, here in Washington, with attention riveted on the federal budget and attention riveted on the 2012 election campaign left little space for arms control issues in the public discourse.  It also meant that any new arms control initiatives requiring congressional approval would have faced an uphill battle.

Now, this current state of affairs certainly impacted the CTBT.  During the first Obama administration, officials deliberately refrained from setting a timeframe for a renewed bid for Senate ratification, and, instead, they concentrated on laying the groundwork for a push when the time was right.  And they did this by emphasizing the non-proliferation merits of the treaty as well as the steps taken to mitigate previously expressed concerns about monitoring treaty compliance and ensuring the reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile without nuclear explosive testing.

And, indeed, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science has published a technical review, which updated one they had done 10 years previously, which addressed both of these issues in great detail from a scientific and technical point of view, and, essentially, in my view, bolstered the administration’s case on both counts.  If you haven’t read that, I highly recommend it.  It’s available on the National Academy of Sciences website and was abstracted and commented on by the Arms Control Association, among others.

As for a fissile material cutoff, there has been no progress within the Conference on Disarmament, which is the 65-member forum with responsibility for multi-lateral arms control and disarmament.  The CD, as most of you know, operates on consensus.  And one nation, Pakistan, has essentially blocked any movement toward a work program that would lead to fissile material cutoff negotiations.  And American officials have made no secret of their frustration with this state of affairs.

Well, with the election now behind it, the Obama administration appears intent on moving forward with the Prague agenda.  Two or three weeks ago, acting Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller laid out its second term priorities for arms control and non-proliferation in a speech in Geneva.  In many respects, it was a call to resume, renew and reinvigorate the Prague agenda.

Now much will, obviously, depend upon the state of U.S.-Russian relations going forward.  And I know Steve Pifer is going to talk about this so I won’t.  But let me say that much will also depend upon achieving a greater degree of consensus on nuclear weapons and arms control policy within the U.S. body politic and within the beltway.

That, in turn, requires two different but not necessarily mutually exclusive beliefs be taken into account.  And this is not, by any means, original to me.  It was a point made in the bipartisan Commission on the Strategic Posture that reported out a few years ago.

The first belief that must be taken into account is that appropriately sized nuclear forces still play an essential role in protecting the U.S. and allied interests.  And the second belief is that the United States must continue to lead international efforts to limit and to reduce nuclear arsenals, to prevent proliferation and to secure nuclear materials.

Significantly, at least as I read it, this is precisely the approach that the president adopted in his 2009 Prague agenda.  In addition to laying out an ambitious arms control agenda, he also stated that, as long as these weapons exist, nuclear weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and to guarantee that defense to our allies.

So both elements – arms control and continued reduction – and the maintenance of a safe, secure and effective arsenal, even at lower numbers, are also stressed in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.  Moreover, they continue to be articulated by senior administration officials, including as recently as at the Carnegie conference this past Monday and in the White House’s 2014 budget proposal released just yesterday.

My point here is that senior administration and congressional leaders must be willing to speak to the basic principles of a consensus that addresses both arms control, including continued reductions and non-proliferation, as well as investing in resources necessary to maintain and, where necessary, to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear deterrent forces even at lower numbers.

While it will be hard sustaining consensus, it will be hard doing that because it means studiously building mutual trust that both elements of the consensus will be pursued and avoiding the temptation to stress or cherry pick only those elements that appeal to a particular group, be it on the right or be it in the left.  But sustaining a consensus of this nature, in my view, will be essential for achieving progress on either front.

Let me make just a few specific comments about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the CTBT, and then turn it over to my esteemed colleagues.

As noted earlier, the Obama administration spent the first term ostensibly preparing the ground for eventual ratification.  With the start of the second term, CTBT ratification has once again become a topic in the public discourse.

Former senior officials, most notably former Secretary of State George Schultz, and non-governmental organizations, most notably, the Arms Control Association, have renewed calls upon the Obama administration to move ahead with ratification.

And, just a couple of weeks ago, Rose Gottemoeller, in that same speech in Geneva, said that ratification of CTBT remains a top priority for the United States.  But, at the same time, she admitted that the process would not be easy, and she said there are no set timeframes to bring the treaty to a vote, and that both patience and persistence were required.

And, as you know, even though the 2012 elections altered the composition of the Senate in favor of the Democrats, with 55 seats, they’re still a long way from the 67 that are necessary to secure consent to ratification of the treaty.  And at the moment, it’s unclear where those additional 12 votes would come from.

Accordingly, the Obama administration clearly has its work cut out for it in forging the coalition necessary to secure the Senate’s consent to ratification.  And even if it eventually succeeds, that task is likely to take a while.  But in my own personal view, speaking personally, the logic for moving forward and ahead on ratification of the CTBT is inescapable.

The United States has, in effect, already paid the price of treaty membership by having unilaterally refrained from nuclear explosive testing for over 20 years.  The political bar to a resumption of testing is pretty high and unlikely to be surmounted absent some dramatic shift in the international security environment.

Additionally, as part of paying the price, the United States has already made a substantial investment in the tools necessary to assess weapon reliability without nuclear explosive testing, as well as in the means necessary to detect clandestine testing by others.

While the United States probably garners some credit for exercising a self-imposed moratorium, it is likely to be in a far better position to rally international pressure against would-be proliferators and to constrain regional arms races if it ratifies CTBT.  And it is clearly in the national security interest of the United States and of our friends and allies to do just that.

Many far more knowledgeable and experienced political hands argue that in the current political environment, the Obama administration should refrain from making a concerted effort to push for CTBT since a failed attempt to do so might do more damage to U.S. arms control and non-proliferation objectives than the existing status quo.  I’m not sure that’s the case.  I don’t imagine that any of the other states who must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, most notably China, India and Pakistan will do so unless and until the United States leads the way.

What I am absolutely certain about is that it will require political leadership and political skill on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and on both sides of the aisle to succeed.  Such, by the way, has always been the case with major treaties and with major pieces of domestic legislation, many of which seemingly had little prospect of success at the outset, but ultimately became part of the law of the land and of the global community.

So with that, I look forward to answering your questions and answers after Steve and Jim have had an opportunity.

MR. KIMBALL:  Great.  Thanks very much.  Steve, on to you.  Thank you for being here.

STEVEN PIFER:  Daryl, first of all, thank you for including me.  And I’m delighted to be here with General Klotz and Ambassador Goodby, two people I’ve worked with in both in government and out of government incarnations.

I’m going to talk about the nuclear reductions piece, but first, just where we are.  We now are in the third year of implementation of the New START Treaty, under which the United States and Russia each will reduce to no more 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers by February of 2018.  And that’s a good step.

But I think you have to ask the question: do those numbers make sense 20 years after the end of the Cold War?  And, also, you have to bear in mind that New START covers only a portion of the U.S. and the Russian nuclear stockpiles.  It doesn’t cover reserve strategic warheads, an area where the United States has a significant numerical advantage, and it does not include tactical or non-strategic weapons, an area where Russia has a significant numerical advantage.

And so, back in 2010, when signing New START, President Obama called for another step, and said it was time to bring these two classes of weapons into the mix.

So looking forward, I would suggest there are two approaches.  One approach that Michael O’Hanlon and I wrote about it in our book, The Opportunity, I would call the big treaty approach.  And, basically, we look and we say given that the United States and Russia still have nuclear stockpiles on the order of 4,550 weapons, not counting weapons in the dismantlement queue, and the nearest third country power is France with 300, there is room for one more U.S.-Russia bilateral negotiation.

And what we argued for in this big treaty approach was it’s now time to bring all the weapons on the table – strategic, non-strategic, deployed, non-deployed – and have a single aggregate limit that would cover all of those weapons.  What we suggested was a limit of 2,000 to 2,500 total weapons on each side for the United States and Russia.  And then within that overall aggregate limit, we would propose a supplement on deployed strategic warheads of 1,000 on each side.  So you would take the 1,550 limit in New START and bring it down by about 35 percent to 1,000.

Now, we did think about going lower, but from conversations that we’ve had, we think – I mean, first of all, getting Russia to come down to these numbers will be hard, but getting Russia to go below those numbers in a bilateral negotiation is probably impossible.  So that sort of set a floor in terms of the numbers.

Now, the advantage or the elegance that we saw in the aggregate limit was that the aggregate limit basically forces a tradeoff.  Russia would have to reduce its large advantage in non-strategic nuclear weapons.  The United States would have to reduce its large advantage in reserve strategic weapons to fit under that 2,500 total.

Each side would in the end be free, within the overall limit, to choose its mix of weapons.  I suspect Russia would choose to keep more tactical weapons than reserve strategic and the United States might choose to keep more reserve strategic, but that aggregate limit is the mechanism to force a tradeoff in two categories of weapons where it’s very hard to see a negotiated outcome if you deal with those weapons separately.  The Russians don’t have motivation to negotiate away their advantage in tactical weapons if you’re dealing just in that category, in the same way that the United States doesn’t have much motivation to negotiate away its advantage in reserve strategic weapons if you’re talking about that category alone.

Now, 2,000 to 2,500 would be about a 50 percent reduction on each side, but it would still leave the United States and Russia each with an arsenal six to seven times larger than that of the nearest third country.

In terms of limits on missiles and bombers, we would suggest bringing the limit of 700 down to 500.  That would be a significant cut, but it would still allow both sides to maintain a triad, which I think is important to both militaries.

Now this negotiation of a big treaty would not be an easy agreement to reach.  It would not be an 11-month negotiation as was New START.  You’re talking two to three years at least.

So you might look at things – are there things that could be done in the meantime?  And one step that we suggested was accelerating at least one of the New START limits.  There are probably operational and cost and scheduling reasons why it would be difficult to accelerate implementation of the limit on missiles or launchers.  But we did suggest that it would make sense for the United States to accelerate the implementation of the 1,550 deployed strategic warhead limit.

If we’ve concluded that 1,550 deployed warheads will keep us safe in 2018, that should suffice in 2013.  And it would be not an easy process, but you could pull warheads off and leave the missiles deployed.  I mean, it would be unusual to have a deployed ICBM with zero warheads, but the treaty does not prohibit it.  And the treaty, in fact, would allow inspection provisions that would allow the Russians to confirm it.

So that is, in essence, the big treaty approach.  I think the question comes up though, if you look at that and then allow time for ratification, do you have time to bring that to conclusion before the end of the Obama second term?  And I think that that would be perhaps difficult.

So an alternate approach would basically put classes of weapons on two tracks.  You would focus on getting a quick agreement on reducing deployed strategic weapons.  And as Ambassador Goodby and a former professor of mine, Sid Drell suggested, this could be as easy as taking the New START Treaty and simply amending it, just changing the three numbers – reduce 1,550 down to 1,000, 700 limit on missiles and bombers down to 500, and then the 800 launch limit down to maybe 600.

You would probably want to change a couple of dates, but the treaty’s definitions, counting rules, verification methods would all apply equally well to a treaty that sets a limit of 1,000 deployed warheads as one that says 1,550.  And if the Russians are prepared to negotiate, you could probably do that fairly quickly.

Now I think there would be a couple of concerns.  I think there would be concern on the part of the Senate and also on the part of some American allies that if you were focusing just on deployed strategic forces, you know, what about tactical weapons, what about reserve strategic?

So perhaps you could put on a second parallel track that would be a longer track.  It would start out with a phased approach, with steps such as transparency, confidence building measures and then moving ultimately to a negotiation.  And perhaps, the beginning of the phased approach, you start with an understanding that at the end, there in fact will be a negotiation to come about with legally binding limits on tactical and reserve strategic weapons.  But it’s on a second track moving in parallel.

Now, I think the question would arise: what’s the interdependence between those two tracks?  And my guess is that the Senate would feel more comfortable that if you concluded that first track on deployed strategic weapons, it would be easier to sell that to the Senate if you were farther along on the second track in terms of getting towards an actual negotiation on non-strategic weapons.

Just a moment on multilateral.  I think that the United States and Russian can reduce without commitments by third countries, but certainly, the U.S. and Russia cannot remain the only players forever in nuclear reductions.

So it may be sensible for Washington and Moscow, as they are conducting a negotiation on reducing their forces further, to engage third countries, particularly Britain and France and China, and explore whether you could not move those countries, not necessarily to participate in a negotiation, but begin to take some first steps towards the process.

One might be transparency and, for example, an exchange of data among the five U.N. Security Council, permanent five countries, on basic numbers of data.  And I’m not talking about the specific data in New START, where the United States and Russia exchange locations of every particular ICBM launcher, because I think that would be hard for the Chinese to do.  But at least overall numbers and types of weapons.

And then perhaps as a second step, could you get Britain, France and China and perhaps others to take on unilaterally a commitment not to increase their forces, because it would be something of an odd occurrence if you have the United States and Russia reducing while third countries build up.

Now I think this is a good agenda, it’s an ambitious agenda and it faces a number of challenges.  And I’ll just outline three briefly.

The first and I think the biggest challenge is, are the Russians prepared to deal?  If you read what Moscow has been saying over the last year or so, you don’t see a lot of enthusiasm in Russia for further reductions of nuclear weapons.

Now I still hold out some hope that, in fact, the Russians can be persuaded to deal.  I think actually Moscow may have some incentives.  If you look at the New START agreement, the U.S. force structure can comfortably remain at 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on 700 missiles and bombers.  And the Russians, because they’re having to retire old systems that are actually now past their shelf dates, are going to have to build new systems to get back up and stay at 1,550.  So an option for Russia would be to reduce the numbers and perhaps save some money.

Second, I do think that, in the same way, the United States is concerned about the Russian advantage in tactical weapons, there is some concern in Moscow about the American advantage in reserve strategic weapons.  So there may be some incentives for Russia to negotiate.

The announcement that was made last month by Secretary Hagel on missile defense, by eliminating phase four perhaps creates an opportunity to begin to move past that obstacle.  So we’ll see.  National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is supposed to visit Moscow next week.  There are now two planned meetings between Presidents Obama and Putin in June and then in September.  So there are chances to explore whether Russia is prepared to engage on this agenda.

A second challenge would be verification.  Once you move to talking about limits on tactical weapons or reserve strategic weapons, you’re talking about weapons that are no longer sitting on ballistic missiles and silos or on submarines, but going into storage areas.  Now, that’s not an insurmountable problem, but it would be new territory for both sides and it will take some time to work out those provisions.

And then a third challenge I think is one here in Washington, which is the United States Senate.  And that is I think the experience of New START raises a question and I think Senator Shaheen alluded to it.

In the current environment, how hard would it be to secure Senate approval or Senate consent to a new treaty, particularly, where I think there’s concerns on the Republican side that some of the commitments made by the Obama administration in the process getting New START ratified that the administration has not moved as quickly as it might have to fulfill those commitments.

So I think with that question, there are options short of a treaty.  And while I think the treaty would be the preferable way to go, I think it’s understandable that the administration considers options other than a treaty if it wishes to advance its agenda.

So I think there are some pretty stiff challenges there.  I would argue though that this agenda is very much worth pursuing.  There’s the opportunity to make the United States and American allies safer and more secure.  I think looking to the medium term, there are some chances for some possibly significant cost savings in terms of having to build fewer systems, say, 10 to 15 years down the road.  And I also think that if the United States and Russia are moving to further reduce their nuclear arsenals, it enhances their credibility on the non-proliferation agenda. And although Daryl said we’re not going to talk about North Korea and Iran today, I mean, I think to the extent that we –

MR. KIMBALL:  You could if you wish.

MR. PIFER:  – well, no, but I think to the extent we are reducing – you know, it makes it easier to go to third countries and say it’s time to crank up pressure, sanctions on rogue states that are misbehaving on that area.  So I’ll stop there and turn to Jim.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Steve.  Thank you for being here, Jim.

AMBASSADOR JAMES GOODBY:  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  Take it away.

MR. GOODBY:  Good to be here.  I will be as brief as I can.  I am going to get down into the weeds a little because I want to explain how some things could be accomplished.  And that requires a bit of a scenario description for you.

First, let me say I think we should be focusing on the priorities for the next two years.  And if I look at that, I’d like to apply the priorities to a sense of strategic objectives, where we’re going as a country, what are we aiming to achieve in a broad sense.  I think there are two of them that I regard as important.

One is to adapt the international system to the rise of China as a great power; I think that’s tremendously important.  And second, there are a series of regional issues that have the potential for nuclear war if we’re not careful.  These are in the Middle East – think of Iran; they’re in South Asia, where I think the potential for nuclear conflict is very high; and they’re in Northeast Asia, where recent events don’t need underlining to give you that impression that there’s conceivably a nuclear war there too.

If you look at those objectives and if you apply the idea that we ought to try to have something achievable in the next couple of years, applying that filter, to me, results in three priorities for the administration.

One is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a second is the cutoff of production of fissile material for use in weapons.  These go back a long way.  They go back to the days when I was negotiating with Harold Stassen in London, in 1957, so they’re ancient ideas of whose time may have come, finally, we hope.

A third area that I think needs emphasis – and this is relatively new.  It was mentioned repeatedly in the articles published in the Wall Street Journal written by George Schultz, with whom I work at Stanford now, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger and Bill Perry.  They talked about a joint enterprise by which they meant a broadening of the discussions about nuclear weapons issues beyond the traditional U.S.-Russia forum.  They felt we should be broadening negotiations to include all the countries that either have or could shortly have nuclear weapons.

In the very last article that they published on March 5 in the Wall Street Journal, they spoke about a coalition of the willing.  And what they had in mind was going to the P-5, broadening out beyond that to include other countries, setting a general objective, which I would describe generally as creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, and setting priorities in terms of what ought to be done immediately and over the longer term.

Let me talk about the Comprehensive Test Ban first.  Is it achievable in the next couple of years given all the difficulties we all know about?  I think it’s possible, but what I would recommend is that we begin with an attempt to strengthen the existing moratorium.

The existing moratorium is not an agreement among the states that adhere to this idea of not testing.  It has no common understanding in and of itself as to what a nuclear explosion is.  It has no means of verification, aside from the national technical means, and what is provided by the increasingly effective international system as part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty office run out of Vienna.

What I’d like to suggest is that the P-5 could very easily, in my view, talk about a definition, which, essentially, would say a nuclear explosion is any explosive event that leads to a self-sustaining chain reaction of any duration.  Now, that was really the understanding that the people who negotiated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty had.  But the Senate has complained because in the treaty itself, you don’t find that language.  I suspect you could probably reach an agreement in the P-5 on language like that and I think that later on would help with ratification.

A second matter is we could, I think probably negotiate an agreement that will provide for some type of transparency possibly at nuclear tests sites in China and Russia.  This would involve sensors probably, things of that type, a little more difficult to achieve.  But I think if one worked at that beginning this spring, it’s conceivable you could reach that kind of an agreement which would be, of course, an executive agreement or an understanding among the P-5.  You could do that perhaps by fall.  Then I think moving to the Senate ratification might be more achievable.  And if that’s the case, then I should think you’d have a treaty in hand by the end of next year.  How you go about that, I won’t go into much detail, but I think the P-5 is critical to that.

Second, with regard to the cutoff, I think it’s time to drop the fiction that we’re going to be able to negotiate a treaty in Geneva in the conference on disarmament.  And what I propose instead, again, looking to the P-5, is a joint declaration.  There is language available – and I can read it if you like – that came from an agreement reached between Yeltsin and Bill Clinton on May 10, 1995, and it basically said we will not produce fissile materials for use in weapons, and went on to elaborate that.

I suspect you could get an agreement along the P-5 on that because basically that is their policy now.  Most of them have declared it – I think China has perhaps not – but I think they could easily do that.  Beginning with that, you would move again out, I’m thinking not of the P-5 as a stopping point but as a bridge head to move beyond that.

In both cases, a test ban treaty and the understanding about ceasing production of fissile material for use in weapons, critically important would be China and its role.  If you can get China on board on both these things, I suspect that India would be willing to join perhaps both of them.  Then that leads to the question will Pakistan.  I think there’s a possibility with China, the United States, India all subscribing to these understanding that Pakistan would as well.  So those are my prescriptions for the first two.

The third one, again, I think in terms of the P-5, I think Rose Gottemoeller has done a terrific job in using the P-5 as a way of negotiating or creating understandings within that group.  And I think that we need to enhance that particular approach.  And I think particularly in terms of China I want to say this again.

So what I would recommend is that there be an attempt to establish an international conference within the next year or so modeled after the nuclear security summits, one held here in Washington, one in Seoul, which basically was a coalition of the willing, countries that are willing to do something about tightening controls over fissile materials.

In this model I’m thinking about, it would be a coalition of countries that are willing to work together to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.  They would probably issue some kind of a declaration along those lines.  They would, if we follow the model of the Nuclear Security Summit, be invited to bring to the first conference those things that they are unilaterally or as matters of national policy prepared to do, perhaps greater transparency, things of that type.  Some would be reciprocal.  Some would perhaps not be.  But these would be things that they are prepared to do, which would, I think begin to develop the idea that here’s something that’s beginning to happen.

And I think they should then work out a work plan which would commit these countries to be moving towards achievement of the first steps, many of which you all know about, come out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review, also listed several times in the articles by Schultz, Kissinger, Perry and Nunn.

So I think that I would stop right there because we’re running out of time for discussion.  Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Jim.  Well, we do have time for discussion.  And I want to turn it over to our audience.  We have a lot of smart minds here, a lot of experienced hands in the audience.  So let’s make this a discussion.  We’ve got a couple of microphones here.  I hope the speakers have been stimulating.  We have a gentleman here in the first row.  Please identify yourself.

Q:  (Off mic) – Center for National Policy.  Hello?  OK.

MR. KIMBALL:  There you go.

Q:  I find Jim Goodby’s thoughts of trying to find a way around the conundrum and the blockage here in the United States, particularly in the Senate, of moving forward on a number of different tracks very interesting.

And I wonder whether or not the panel and others, because I spent a little time on this issue one time, can think of other mechanisms too that go beyond what I think is a real roadblock for a number of years of agreements, of understandings, of international kind of compacts, executive agreements and all the rest that would move us forward along the lines of what Ambassador Goodby has noted in some cases.  And whether or not there could be a consensus developed for that strategy and how we can get that consensus because it has to be obviously something that the administration would want and that the public and the media would understand and support even if, let’s say, the recalcitrant Republicans did not.

MR. KIMBALL:  Would any of you like to try to respond, take a stab at that?  Steve.

MR. PIFER:  Yeah.  Well, I think you can look at the last 40 years, and there are a number of examples of things that were done in arms control by presidents – primarily by Republican presidents that were less than treaties.  So you go back to one of the most significant arms control measures were the presidential nuclear initiatives in 1991 and 1992 initiated by President George H.W. Bush and then reciprocated by first Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, which eliminated, you know, probably thousands of nuclear weapons on both sides as unilateral measures.  Another possibility – again, if you wanted to do a quick New START deal, if the Russians were to agree to the numbers, for President Obama and President Putin to say as matters of national policy, we have decided to reduce our deployed strategic warhead levels to 1,000 and our deployed missiles and bombers to 500.

Now, you could then take the New START Treaty and use that treaty not only to monitor the legal limits of 1,550 and 700 but also to monitor those new limits.  So you have a mechanism in place.  Now I think that would involve a certain risk of a firestorm with the Senate, but there are measures.  And, again, that approach was the approach that was originally suggested by the George W. Bush administration back in 2001.  When President Putin wanted to do formal nuclear reductions the original American suggestion was, well, we don’t need treaties.  We’re past that.  I’m just going to go out and give a speech at a joint appearance I’ll say the United States will deploy no more than 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads and Vladimir, you go out and you can say whatever number you want.  We don’t care.

So there are these models.  And that would allow – again, I think if a way could be found, going through a treaty would be the preferable mechanism, but if you look at the New START experience, I think there are some serious reasons to doubt whether another treaty would have a serious chance of being supported.

MR. KIMBALL:  General Klotz.

GEN. KLOTZ:  Yes.  And I agree.  In fact, I was part of the effort to the – on the –

MR. PIFER:  To circumvent the Senate.  (Laughter.)

GEN. KLOTZ:  – to push forward with agreement in 2001 that didn’t involve a legally binding treaty.  But there’s a couple of things to keep in mind, however.

Even though it might be a way to, in a sense, try to deal with the issue of having to get 67 votes in the Senate, which is, as I indicated, a pretty high bar politically, particularly in an evenly divided Senate, there are still other powers and authorities and responsibilities which the Congress has, particularly with authorization or appropriation.

And in the past, when the military services have attempted to take initiatives related to bringing down force structure, both conventional and nuclear or closing bases or reducing infrastructure, there are ways in which the Congress has essentially blocked that through legislation, be it in defense authorization or appropriation.  So you won’t be able to completely get around having to deal with congressional concerns on these types of issues.

The only other thing I would add – and this goes back – and your comments about the 2001 experience with President Putin I think were absolutely right.  Some of our negotiating partners or other countries that we have to deal with have for a lot of historical, cultural, social, political, legal reasons an interest in legally binding types of agreement.  It’s part of how they deal with a host of issues, whether it’s with arms control or cooperation in space or economics.

So we also would have to factor who our negotiating partners were.  But I think there are still a lot of opportunities for doing creative and innovative things outside the structure of formal treaty making or using existing treaties and applying them more broadly to a broader set of countries or, more broadly, in terms of the specifics.

MR. KIMBALL:  Jim, you had a comment.

MR. GOODBY:  I personally don’t want to put as much emphasis on sidestepping Senate ratification as perhaps the impression has been given, because when I talked to senators when I was working with General Shalikashvili several years ago now, we heard complaints from them about verification.

So what I’m suggesting is trying to respond to complaints that we’ve heard from the U.S. Senate in order to accommodate their own interests.  That’s not sidestepping the Senate, that’s in fact responding to their concerns.  And, I think, in the process, making it easier for at least some of them to reconsider.  This should be something new that we haven’t tried before.  We’ve tried all the argument on senators, they haven’t really had much effect.  This is something new and I think might have some effect, at least on enough of them to sway them to vote in favor of this treaty.  If we can prove to them that, in fact, we know what we’re talking about with regard to what a nuclear explosion is, and that there is some responsiveness to the need to have greater transparency, and so forth.

On the second point of the cutoff, it’s been our policy for years – stated policy, that we are not producing material for use in weapons.  So I’m not sidestepping the Senate there, it’s simply that is our policy.

What I am trying to do with both of those initiatives, in fact, is to respond to the concern that you heard Senator Shaheen utter about Iran and North Korea.  What I’m trying to do is isolate those two countries, bring China to the point where it would be more willing than it has been to deal with the North Korean issue.  And incidentally, in the Middle East, I have every reason to think that Israel would agree with these two items that I’ve talked about.  They’ve already signed a test ban treaty, of course, are part of it, in terms of the CTBTO and that sort of thing.

And I think in Northeast Asia, you would find China, Japan, South Korea willing to do these things I’m talking about.  And that would lead to much greater pressure on both Iran and North Korea, again, very responsive to concerns we’ve heard in the Senate.  So far from trying to avoid it, I’m trying to embrace the Senate and their concerns.

MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just add, you know, no matter how this administration or any other future administration pursues nuclear risk reduction and tries to deal with the complexities of the international system and other countries who might be blocking progress, it is absolutely essential for the administration to engage with the House and the Senate on these issues so that there is a broad understanding of what the risks are, what the options are to deal with those risks and what the administration is actually doing.

I think one of the failures of the Obama administration over the last year or so has been that there has not been enough engagement and explanation about what the Prague agenda is.  And that has created a vacuum of understanding and misperception.  And so no matter what the approach is, whether it requires the Senate advising a dissent or not, that engagement is critical.

So other questions.  Yes, Ed.

Q:  Yes.  Thank you.  (Ed Ward ?) of Georgetown University.  Three excellent presentations.  A quick question for Steve.  It’s widely assumed that the U.S. stockpile of non-deployed weapons is larger than the Russian stockpile and that we can use that to trade off against the Russian advantage in tactical nuclear weapons.

But one of the frustrations of this business is that, to my knowledge, the Russians have never said anything about the size of their stockpile.  So how do we know that ours is larger?

MR. KIMBALL:  How do we know the known unknowns?

MR. PIFER:  OK.  I mean, since I’ve now been out of the government about eight, nine years now, I basically work off of the basis of unclassified numbers.  So I’m going on the basis of those who’ve taken a very hard look at this.  I think it’s not just the number of weapons in the reserve stockpile but it’s the ability to deploy them if the treaty broke down.

And at least my understanding so far is that when the Russians are implementing their reductions under New START, they take missiles out, retire them, but the missiles that they retain in the force have full warhead sets, whereas the U.S. military, and I’ve already described this approach, which is very different, all of the intercontinental ballistic missiles will be de-MIRVed down to a single warhead.

And so although I think – Frank, you know, about a third of the ICBMs that we still have in the force, they’ve had new bulkheads put on so they can only carry one warhead but the others have not.  So, you know, you could add additional warheads back to that force.

The Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile can carry eight warheads.  And my back-of-the-envelope calculations under New START, it will on average have four to five.  So there’s the ability, if the treaty would break down, to add I figured about 1,000 warheads back to the force, which I don’t think the Russians have at this point in time.  Now, if the Russians, you know, build a new heavy ICBM and deploy with less than its full warheads, they may build that capability.  But, right now, I think there’s an area of American advantage and I have heard from some Russians that that bothers them.

Now, one of the reasons why they have pushed and why they did not accept the Bush administration proposal in 2008 for limits just on deployed warheads, is they saw limits and constraints on launchers as a way to get at the issue of non-deployed strategic warheads.  So I think it’s an issue there.  I can’t tell you how big of an issue it is, but it gives us I think something to offer in a trade.

MR. KIMBALL:  OK.  We have another question here?

Q:  Good morning.  And thank you for organizing this event.  My name is Alex Hiniker and I work with IKV Pax Christi.  I guess you’ve heard a bit about the increasing concern about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use.  In Oslo, in March, there was a conference attended by 127 countries, not the P-5, and there will be a follow-up conference organized in Mexico.  I was wondering how this concern or debate influences, if at all, the internal policy discussions.

MR. KIMBALL:  Jim, you want to take a crack at that or – and I have a few thoughts about that.

MR. GOODBY:  Well, I don’t know much about the internal policy discussions, but it does seem to me that the last Nuclear Posture Review did not go quite far enough in stating what the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons was to be.  It did move fairly far in saying its principal purpose was to deter the use of nuclear weapons, I think probably they could go to the point of saying that the only purpose is to deter nuclear weapons.  That would be responsive to what I think is the real world situation.  Whether that’s possible these days, I don’t know, but it would be something that I would recommend.

MR. KIMBALL:  So the conference in Oslo, to which you refer, took place last month or so, short article in this month’s Arms Control Today about that conference.  I mean, it’s my impression that the conference is an expression of the frustration of non-nuclear weapon states, many of whom are U.S. allies about the pace of progress on nuclear disarmament.  It’s also a development that has occurred because of the development of international humanitarian law in all sorts of areas of conflict and weaponry.

And so Norway was trying to apply those international humanitarian issues and concerns to the context of nuclear weapons.  Now, this is not a new issue.  It’s been around since the times Jim Goodby was talking with Harold Stassen and when Physician for Social Responsibility was established in 1961 so it’s a very familiar topic.

I think it’s unfortunate that the P-5 did not attend because I think it’s a teachable moment for all sides, to better understand what the consequences of even just use of one nuclear weapon would be.  And it would be an opportunity for the P-5 to engage with some of the non-nuclear weapon states that don’t really understand or have the technical capacity to see the complexities of the process of moving closer to zero.

And so I think, you know, we will be encouraging the U.S. government to reconsider its approach to that process, which I think is a good contribution to the public understanding of why we need to move toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Other questions?  We have time for maybe a couple more.  Yes, sir.

Q:  Bill Durston again with the Physicians for Social Responsibility.  Thanks for the plug.

MR. KIMBALL:  I used to work for PSR so it’s –

Q:  Obviously, we favor reduction of nuclear weapons.  But what if I could rephrase the question that I posed to Senator Shaheen, in lines with Ambassador Goodby’s coalition of the willing, how does the coalition of the willing induce the unwilling to go along with international treaties, and even including countries such as Israel, which might agree to a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but how to induce countries to agree to the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

MR. GOODBY:  That’s a very good question.  And I happen to have a very lengthy paper that responds to it.  And I’ll give it to you afterwards.  But let me just very briefly say that the idea is, again, responsive to the U.S. Senate, which, in its resolution or ratification of the New START Treaty urged that other countries join into this arrangement that have nuclear weapons.

The purpose is to try to bring all the nuclear weapon states in.  If the P-5 begin that process, there becomes a certain attraction.  Countries like to be associated with, you know, a big, big boys’ club if you will, big girls’ club.

And it seems to me that the way you do that is to work one at a time.  Israel will come in at some point I think.  They may not be persuaded overnight, nor will countries like Iran or Korea perhaps.  But if you begin to get a coalition building that has a lot of important countries in it, that is going to constitute a lot of pressure that doesn’t exist now.

In addition to which, I always agree with my former boss and current associate, George Schultz when he said we ought to really think more seriously about how you go about enforcing some of these agreements.  And there are ideas about sort of automatic enforcement, cutting off support and sanctions, if you will, preposition sanctions.

So between sanctions, political pressure, I think one by one, you begin to get these countries into it.  Key – and this is also mentioned in this March 5 op-ed – would be regional agreements.  You can’t do all this at the global level.  You have to work at it from a regional standpoint.  And that’s why the Gang of Four always recommends that in Northeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, you also have to work at it among the countries in those areas.  So that’s how you would do it, I think.

MR. KIMBALL:  One thing I would point out is that in a couple of weeks, the Arms Control Association will be releasing a report on the 11 widely recognized nuclear disarmament non-proliferation commitments that have emerged from this body of treaties and practice, U.N. Security Council resolutions.

And if you look at that broader list, there are most states than just, who’ve got responsibilities that are unfulfilled.  So through the means that Jim has been talking about, you know, other mechanisms, I mean, there are ways in which to draw these other countries into the conversation and to move them further along to meet those commitments.

Any other questions?  Yes.  Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

Q:  Thank you.  Debra Fisher (sp), State Department.  My question is for Ambassador Pifer.  I was wondering if we have any preliminary indications, whether the Russians would support your proposed track one proposal for speeding implementation of New START.  I know you have somewhat addressed that regarding their incentives.

MR. PIFER:  Well, I think in the case of the implementation of New START, actually, if you look at the three limits in the New START Treaty, the Russians have already met two of them.  Now, they can go back on both.  They are I think in the most recent data exchange, they were 1,491 or 1,492 deployed warheads.  So they’re already below 1,550.  Now, they could go back up as long as they’re below 1,550 in 2018.

So this would basically be a recommendation for the United States to accelerate its implementation of that 1,550 limit, which I think would be something useful to do, for example, looking to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2015, it would be a useful talking point to say, hey, here’s an example of our commitment to nuclear reduction.  The treaty requires this to be done by 2018.  We got it done three years early.

And you could actually make it reversible.  I mean, the United States could say this is going to be our policy to go below 1,550 by say date X in 2014.  And you could put a little side note saying, as long as Russia stays below 1,550.  And if Russia were to go back above, you could always reverse that policy so you could in fact build yourself an escape hatch.

But it seems to me that this was something that, you know, could be done fairly easily.  And again, when the decision was taken that 1,550 was an acceptable number in 2018, presumably people said well, between now, 2010, when we negotiate this treaty, and 2018, uncertain things can happen.  And I assume that the conservative calculation about uncertainty is things will only get worse in 2018.  So if 1,550 works in 2018, it ought to work now.

I think this is something the administration could do.  It couldn’t be done overnight, but it could be done I think significantly quicker than six year from now.  And it would give the administration a useful talking point and would be an indication that the administration wants to move more quickly on this.

MR. KIMBALL:  And it would be a way to help induce Russia to continue further on the track that it is on.  And sometimes, statements alone can be helpful.  And so, you know, the president will have opportunities very soon to outline how he plans to go forward.

As Steve said, National Security Advisor Donilon is going to be meeting with his counterparts in Moscow.  There should be some feedback after that point.  And so it’s very possible for the president to announce that he is prepared to accelerate those reductions if Russia joins with the United States and continues on that track.  And that would be – I would just say not just a talking point.  That would be a tangible concrete step.

GEN. KLOTZ:  It’s not a new idea.  I mean, there are historical precedents to doing this in previous arms control agreements that we’ve had with the Soviet Union and now Russia.

MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  If there are no further questions, I want to thank our speakers and wrap up.  We’ve covered a lot of ground today on the Prague agenda, the next steps in the Prague agenda for the nuclear reductions, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, fissile material talks, engaging other countries in the nuclear risk reduction process.  None of these steps are easy.  None are simple, but, clearly, I think you’ll agree that doing nothing is not a very good option in the face of persistent nuclear dangers.

And I invite you to keep an eye on our Arms Control Association schedule and calendar.  We’ve got some events coming up soon as well as Arms Control Today.  And I want to thank your three speakers very much.  It’s one of the best parts of my job working with very interesting, thoughtful folks like Frank, and Steve, and Jim.  Please join me in thanking them.  (Applause.)  And good morning.

(END)

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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.

Posted: April 11, 2013