Obama Arms Control Team Fills Out

Eben W. Lindsey

Four months after Inauguration Day, President Barack Obama's arms control and nonproliferation team is taking shape.

One important position was filled late last month when the Senate approved the nomination of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Tauscher, whose congressional district contains two national laboratories, has focused on arms control and nonproliferation issues throughout her career. As chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, she has worked in Congress to strengthen nonproliferation programs and pushed for greater oversight of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. At her June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she expressed her commitment to Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons and indicated that arms reductions by the United States would help the U.S. government promote its nonproliferation goals.

"By reducing our nuclear arsenal, the United States, in my view, will be in a better position to prevent the spread of nuclear as well as chemical and biological weapons," said Tauscher.

The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), asked her to "answer critics" in the Senate who believe it is inappropriate to conduct negotiations with Russia for a START follow-on agreement before the conclusion of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). In her response, Tauscher said the U.S. government has "the ability to multitask." While the NPR, which is due to be completed around the end of the year, is in process, there will be ongoing guidance from the Pentagon on "the military requirements for the stockpile and a number of other issues that are informing the negotiations and our negotiator," she said. In her testimony, she also emphasized the importance of concluding a follow-on agreement before the December 5, 2009, expiration of START.

The question of conducting START follow-on talks before the completion of the NPR became a key issue delaying Tauscher's confirmation. After the committee unanimously approved Tauscher's nomination, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) placed a hold on it. Kyl's hold on Tauscher's nomination was reportedly related to the START follow-on talks. Following a briefing by the State Department on the START talks, Kyl dropped the hold June 25, and the full Senate confirmed Tauscher that night under a unanimous consent motion.

Working under Tauscher is Rose Gottemoeller, who has already been confirmed as the assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation. She is leading the U.S. delegation to the START follow-on talks with Russia. During the Clinton administration, Gottemoeller served as deputy undersecretary of energy for defense nuclear nonproliferation and was director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian affairs in the National Security Council (NSC).

Also reporting to Tauscher is Andrew Shapiro, who was confirmed June 19 as assistant secretary for political and military affairs. From 2001 to 2009, he served as senior defense and foreign policy adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is now secretary of state.

In another State Department appointment, the White House announced June 1 that Robert Einhorn had been appointed special adviser to Clinton for nonproliferation and arms control. His office will be located within the Bureau of International Security. Einhorn served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation during the Clinton administration. James Timbie will continue in his long-standing role as senior adviser to the undersecretary for international security and nonproliferation.

Also in the State Department, Susan Burk, who led U.S. preparations for the 1995 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference, was confirmed June 2 as special representative of the president for nuclear nonproliferation. She will lead the U.S. delegation at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Bonnie Jenkins has been confirmed as the State Department coordinator for threat reduction programs. In addition to serving as a program officer for U.S. foreign and security policy at the Ford Foundation and a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, Jenkins was on the staff of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission.

At the White House, Gary Samore is coordinator for arms control and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) terrorism. Samore is a former vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations and previously worked in the Clinton NSC as the senior director for nonproliferation and export controls. Working with Samore is George Look, who is responsible for treaty-based nonproliferation efforts for the White House, including the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Look, a longtime civil servant, formerly was executive director of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board at the State Department.

In the Department of Defense, Andrew C. Weber has been confirmed as assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs. Weber, whose nomination was confirmed May 18, most recently served as the Defense Department adviser for threat reduction policy and is responsible for the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which focuses on weapons of mass destruction and their materials, particularly in the former Soviet Union.

Marcel Lettre II, former national security adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has been appointed principal director for countering weapons of mass destruction. He works for Rebecca Hersman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Edward L. "Ted" Warner, formerly assistant defense secretary for strategy and threat reduction, is working with Gottemoeller as the official representative of the Defense Department to the START follow-on talks with Moscow.

Obama has yet to announce his pick for director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The acting director is Maj. Gen. Randy E. Manner.

In May, the Senate also approved the nomination of Daniel Poneman to become deputy secretary of energy. Poneman served from 1993 to 1996 as special assistant to the president and senior director for nonproliferation and export controls at the NSC. Before that, he served as White House fellow in the Energy Department under the George H.W. Bush administration.