Greg Thielmann has served more than three decades in the executive and legislative branches of government, specializing in political-military and intelligence issues. Before joining ACA in 2009, he worked for four years as a senior professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). He was previously a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 25 years, last serving as Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His foreign posts include Deputy Political Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; Political-Military Affairs Officer in Moscow, USSR; and Political-Military Affairs Officer in Bonn, Germany. Thielmann also served as Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of German, Austrian and Swiss Affairs; Special Assistant to Ambassador Paul Nitze (then Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control Matters); and State Department advisor to the U.S. Delegation at the Geneva INF arms control negotiations. Greg is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association (2003-2005). His July 2003 appearance at an ACA press briefing on faulty intelligence assessments on Iraq’s WMD capabilities led to a CBS News 60 Minutes II segment “The Man Who Knew,” which won an Emmy Award for reporter Scott Pelley.
Greg Thielmann's primary research areas include:
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) promises to lock in significant reductions in U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals by establishing lower ceilings on deployed weapons. The treaty’s veriﬁcation provisions are means to that end--providing conﬁdence that the sides are complying with those lower limits. Although the goal is to establish the high conﬁdence levels maintained during the 15 years of the original START (1994-2009), the successor agreement will achieve that goal with more focused and up-to-date methods, including innovative veriﬁcation provisions for deployed warhead ceilings. START’s multilayered limits and the elaborate veriﬁcation measures ﬂowing out of them were born of the Cold War. New START veriﬁcation can be streamlined in accordance with the new, simpliﬁed limits and in response to post-Cold War realities. In assessing the new treaty, it is critical that veriﬁcation provisions be judged by how well they fulﬁll their core function.
The nearly 2,000 nuclear warheads on Russian ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles constitute the sole near-term existential threat to the United States. The U.S. response to this threat has been to maintain the nuclear war-fighting posture adopted during the Cold War. Yet, this posture does not lead toward an improvement in U.S. security; it merely reinforces Russia’s incentive to persist in its own anachronistic security calculus. The New START and a transformational post-Cold War Nuclear Posture Review would clear the path for major U.S. and Russian arms reductions, laying the foundation for a rejuvenated effort to halt nuclear nonproliferation and for engaging other nuclear-weapon states in arms control.
Panelists: Paul Pillar, Greg Thielmann, and James Dobbins
On October 7, 2009, Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann participated in a briefing to congressional staffers and the press on the Iranian nuclear program arranged by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). His remarks at the Cannon House Office Building built on his September ACA Threat Assessment Brief, "Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?" (PDF). Watch it here.
The Obama administration has identified September as a time for reassessing its approach to negotiation with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program. It is imperative that this reassessment be based on a realistic appraisal of Iran's weaponization capabilities and limitations and not fall prey to politically motivated hyperbole. Iran's nuclear program is undeniably bringing that country closer to an ability to construct nuclear weapons-bad news for the region, the United States, and the world. Yet, a nuclear-armed Iran is years, not months, away, which is ample time for negotiating an outcome that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state while strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.