Preventing Proliferation and Advancing Nuclear Disarmament
Annual Meeting on October 20
Monday, October 20, 2014
9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
*Informal Evening Reception 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (details below)
With the negotiations between P5+1 and Iranian diplomats at a critical juncture and U.S.-Russian tensions halting progress on further nuclear arms reductions, this year's meeting will feature speakers and panels on solving the Iranian nuclear puzzle and jump-starting progress on global nuclear disarmament.
Daryl G. Kimball
Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle
Robert Einhorn, Brookings Institution
Moderated by Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, Arms Control Association
Arms Control Association report "The Unaffordable Arsenal: Reducing the Costs of the Bloated U.S. Nuclear Stockpile."
(Buffet Luncheon begins)
Lord Des Browne, Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative and former Secretary of State for Defense of the United Kingdom
The Future of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Regime
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Anita Friedt
Moderated by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association
|2:15-2:30||Closing||Reminder that all attendees are invited to an evening reception (details below)|
The Arms Control Association's Annual Meeting is made possible with support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and other generous ACA donors and members.
Follow @armscontrolnow on Twitter and begin talking about ACA's Annual Meeting #ArmsControl2014
*You're also invited to an informal evening reception at the Beacon Sky Bar to meet with members of the staff, the Board of Directors, as well as your fellow members and guest. The reception will be from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Federal News Service
DARYL KIMBALL: Good morning, everyone. If I could have your attention, please. We’re going to get started this morning. My name is Daryl Kimball. I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association. And we’re so happy to see many of you – so many of you here today in person for our 2014 annual meeting. And I want to welcome those who are watching via our webcast today.
This meeting and the work of the Arms Control Association is the result of a huge team of people and supporters, including many of you here, who are loyal members and subscribers to Arms Control Today. And I want to just quickly thank our funders who – some of whom are represented here today – for their contributions that make our work possible, including the Plowshares Fund, The MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York – Carl Robichaud from Carnegie is here – the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Prospect Hill Foundation and others.
And before we get started with the program this morning, I also wanted to give an extra shoutout to The MacArthur Foundation’s support for an initiative that’s been underway for a couple of years through the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, which was awarded to the Arms Control Association in 2011. And among other things, that has provided support for the development of a new website.
And if you go to the back towards the coffee and the tea, you’ll see on the big screen the results of several months of work, several thousands of dollars, the first major update to our website since the Arms Control Association went online in 1997. So we hope you’ll find it to be easier on the eye, more user-friendly. It’s got all the same great content. And we will over the course of the next few months be adding some additional bells and whistles. So keep an eye on that and we welcome your feedback on that.
So I also want to thank this morning the Heinrich Böll Foundation for its support for this gathering. They’ve provided us with a grant that helps underwrite the cost of the annual meeting. And they’ve done that for the fifth year in the row – fifth year in a row. And I think there’s some information about their work and their mission outside also.
So this year’s conference theme is preventing proliferation and advancing nuclear disarmament, which is essentially the mission that the Arms Control Association has been pursuing for the past 42 years or so. But today’s program is going to focus on some of the most urgent near-term nonproliferation and disarmament challenges we are facing today. And I think we’ve brought together a great set of people to talk about these issues with you and engage in conversation with you. They are some of the most thoughtful, insightful, informed people in the business.
And we’re especially delighted that our keynote speaker today at the lunch hour is Lord Des Browne, former U.K. defense secretary, now vice chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, who’s going to be talking about the global state of disarmament and nonproliferation affairs. Later this morning we’re going to be unveiling the key findings and recommendations of a new Arms Control Association report, which is out on the table.
We’re releasing this today, titled, “The Unaffordable Arsenal,” which outlines options for reducing the cost of the United States’ bloated nuclear arsenal in the years ahead. And our afternoon panelists will be discussion what actions and commitments the United States and other key states can take in the run-up to the May 2015 Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, and afterwards to help strengthen the regime.
But first, we have our opening panel this morning that’s going to focus on the status of the negotiations between the P-5 plus one on a comprehensive, verifiable agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. And this is something that our entire Arms Control Association team, especially our Nonproliferation Policy Director Kelsey Davenport, our Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann, myself and the rest of the team have been working very intensively on over the past – over a year to try to identify some win-win solutions for this very complex issue and problem.
And we hope you’ve seen by this point the comprehensive briefing book we put out in June and some of the ideas for solving some of the tougher issues through our nuclear policy briefs and other materials. So let me ask our panelists for the first panel to come on up – Kelsey, Bob, Liz and Ali – so that we can – we can begin. And as they come up, let me just remind everybody – come on up, Bob – to turn off your phones and put it to the vibrate mode so that we’re not interrupted.
And – but as we go through the day here, let me encourage you to tweet your thoughts and – about today’s meeting. We’re trying to use the hashtag #armscontrol2014. And my team wanted me to remind you that the Carnegie Wi-Fi system is not quite up, but we’re – they’re working on that. That’s – I think the network name is CEIPguest and the password guest123. So that will be up soon. And that will perhaps help with the tweeting. So with that, let me turn over the podium to Kelsey to take away – take it away with our first panel.
KELSEY DAVENPORT: Thank you, Daryl. And thank you all so much for being here today. This panel really could not be more perfectly timed. We’re about a month out from the target date of reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran – November 24th. And we just wrapped up a round of talks last week between Iran and the P-5 plus one, where both sides really expressed their intention to try and reach a deal by that target date.
However, as we know, there are still a lot of issues in those talks that remain to be resolved. Iran and the P-5 plus one have still not reached an agreement on the uranium enrichment capacity and the sanctions relief, amongst other issues. So I think today’s panel will allow for a very sort of vibrant and timely debate sort of about this issue. So I’m going to introduce all of our speakers today at the onset, and then allow them to come up and give their remarks from the podium. And then we’ll have a question and answer session at the end.
So first up is Robert Einhorn, who will speak on the status of the negotiations and key issues that remain to be resolved within the talks. Bob is a senior fellow at the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative and the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. Prior to joining Brookings in 2013, he served as the U.S. Department of State special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, where he has played a key role in the formulation and execution of U.S. policy toward Iran.
Following Bob will be Alireza Nader. Ali is the senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where his research has focused on Iran’s political internal dynamics and the elite decision making. He is also the author of “Iran after the Bomb.” Ali will share with us his insights about how the internal dynamics of Iran are shaping the negotiations.
And to close out the panel, we’ll have Elizabeth Rosenberg. Liz is a senior fellow and director for the Energy, Environment and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. And prior to joining the center, she served as a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, and an adviser to the undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Liz will share her views on the sanctions regime and how that impacts the negotiations.
So, Bob, I will now turn the podium over to you.
ROBERT EINHORN: Kelsey, thank you. Thank you very much. Daryl, thanks for inviting me. And congratulations to the Arms Control Association for 42 years of excellent work in this – in this field.
As Kelsey mentioned, we’re at a crucial stage. We seem always to be at a crucial stage in these Iran negotiations. (Laughter.) Last week, there were intensive talks in Vienna involving experts, P-5 plus one political directors, the – at the ministerial level Secretary Kerry, High Representative Cathy Ashton of the EU and Javad Zarif, foreign minister of Iran spent six hours together without aides present. But not much to show for this intensive interaction, not much progress.
Later this week in Vienna, experts at the P-5 plus one will meet again. Within two or three weeks there’ll be another meeting at the ministerial level, a trilateral meeting involving Kerry, Ashton and Zarif. But when they meet, there’ll be probably less than three weeks left before the November 24th deadline for this extended interim arrangement.
So it’s clear, I think, at this point, as Kelsey mentioned, that we’re at a serious impasse in the negotiations. You know, unlike when I was involved in these negotiations, at this point both parties really want to reach agreement. When I was involved, it was clear to me at least that the Iranian team, under Said Jalili, wasn’t truly interesting in getting an agreement. This team really is. Both parties in the – in the process are involved. They’re heavily invested. They recognize that the alternatives to a negotiated solution to this problem are quite unpalatable. So, you know, they’re committed, they want to get a deal, but they remain pretty far apart.
The key problem is that you have one central issue, one bottleneck and a number of important but secondary or tertiary issues. And until this central issue is resolved, these other issues are really in a kind of a holding pattern; nothing new is happening on these secondary and tertiary issues.
The central issue, of course – Kelsey identified it – is the question of uranium enrichment capacity, the amount of capacity in enrichment that Iran will be able to retain during the life of the agreement.
The Iranian position is that there should be no reductions in current operational enrichment capacity. It has around 90 to a hundred first-generation centrifuges enriching uranium. It doesn’t want any reductions in that – in that capability.
It also says it wants to be able by 2021 to have the capability to provide fuel for the Russian-supplied Bushehr power reactor, but supplying that fuel indigenously by Iran would take roughly 10 times more centrifuge capability than Iran currently has operational. And why 2021? It’s – because that is when the Russia-Iran fuel supply contract for Bushehr expires, and Iran says it must have the capability to take over from the Russians at that point. But in order to ramp up to that capability by 2021, there needs to be a very short agreement. Iran has to be free of all constraints in order to build up to this capability, so it wants a rather short agreement. It’s talked about five years, perhaps even between five and 10 years.
So the main elements of Iran’s position are: no reductions in existing operational enrichment capability and a short duration agreement.
The U.S. has a very different approach, which is supported in various degrees by its partners in the P-5 plus one talks.
The key U.S. objective on the enrichment issue is to increase the so-called breakout time, the time it would take Iran to acquire enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear bomb if it decided to break out of an agreement. And this would – to lengthen this breakout time, it wants to do two things: reduce Iran’s operational enrichment capability, the number and type of centrifuges, and also reduce the amount of enriched uranium stocks that Iran can keep on its territory.
Also, the U.S. view that if Iran truly wants to demonstrate its peaceful intent, it needs to keep these constraints in place for a long period of time to build confidence in the international community, and so it favors an agreement of anywhere from 15 to 20 years.
So the U.S. position is deep cuts in existing enrichment capability down to – its current position is 1,500 first-generation centrifuges compared to the existing 9,400, it wants to reduce the current stocks of enriched uranium to perhaps several hundred kilograms of low-enrichment uranium, and it wants a long duration agreement.
So the gap – the gap is pretty wide. I believe the U.S. team has some flexibility, especially on 1500; I think it’s prepared to increase the number, I don’t know how far, but I believe they are prepared to increase it. But the problem is that at least so far, the Iranian side has been quite rigid, just simply hasn’t budged on this question of not reducing current enrichment capacity.
Now, why are they taking such a rigid position? I think there are a number of possible explanations.
One is perhaps it’s an Iranian bargaining tactic. Perhaps, you know, at the last minute they’re prepared to reduce from 9,400 to 8,000 or something like that and hope the U.S. will go for it. I don’t know. I think if they believe that a very modest reduction will do the job, I think – I think they’re wrong.
Another explanation is that perhaps they believe the U.S. needs Iran on regional issues, especially needs Iran to help defeat ISIS. And in order to get Iranian cooperation, it would be prepared to make concessions on the nuclear issue. I think that’s also an illusion. Sure, the U.S. would like Iran to pitch in on ISIS, but I don’t believe the United States is prepared to make concessions it would not otherwise make in order to buy Iran’s cooperation on ISIS. And incidentally, Iran has its own motivation for wanting to defeat ISIS. It doesn’t need to negotiate with the United States over it.
There are those – another explanation is that there are those in Iran who believe that the Iranian economy is not doing – not – is not doing too bad, that even with the sanctions in place, they could muddle through. Inflation is down. Perhaps they don’t need an agreement at all. Why should they make major concessions in order to get a deal?
Another explanation, which I think is quite valid, is that Rouhani and his team are quite boxed in by domestic opposition, the strong support – the strong opposition, rather – to a deal and a strongly ideological approach against negotiating with the West, reaching an accommodation with the West. So he faces, Rouhani and Zarif and company face very strong domestic opposition.
And of course, you know, I believe there are those in Iran that truly want to keep open the nuclear weapons option. I don’t believe and the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t believe that Iran’s leaders have yet taken the decision actually to build nuclear weapons, but I strongly believe that there are those in Iran that want to keep that option for the future. And the shorter the breakout time and the more robust the enrichment capability they have, the more realizable the option is to go for nuclear weapons, and I think that’s one reason the Iranians are very reluctant to compromise. So – but whatever the explanation, the Iranians are taking a very tough position, at least so far.
But in addition to this major issue, enrichment capability, there are a bunch of other issues that are also important. A lot of progress has been made on some of them. But they haven’t yet been resolved. And I’ll just take them off very quickly.
On this Arak heavy water reaction that I believe the Iranians began constructing in order to have a plutonium option to acquire nuclear weapons, there’s been a lot of progress. The Iranians have agreed to redesign the reactor so as to reduce the amount of plutonium that’s generated in the spent fuel. There are still disagreements over whether there should be a heavy water moderated or a light water moderated reactor. I think this is on its way to being resolved, but it’s not yet resolved.
On this Fordo enrichment facility, the previously covert facility that I believe was intended to be part of an Iranian nuclear weapons program but was detected by Western intelligence agencies, I think there is agreement that there won’t be any enrichment taking place at that underground facility, that it will be repurposed – there’ll be maybe a research and development or something like that. But the issue of the disposition of the centrifuge cascades already installed there is not yet resolved.
On the question on enriched uranium stockpiles, I think there’s been a lot of progress. I think the Iranians seem prepared to reduce quite significantly the amount of enriched uranium they retain on their territory. But the quantities and the forms of the enriched uranium are not yet resolved.
The question, what do you do with excess centrifuges? You know, there’ll be some level that will be set. What happens to all those above that level? I think there is – there seems to be agreement that those excess centrifuges don’t actually have to be removed from their current locations, but they have to be disabled so that it would take a substantial period of time to restore them to operation. But the specifics of how you – just how fundamentally you disable those machines, not yet – not yet resolved.
On monitoring of any deal, there is agreement that at a minimum, Iran will accept the IAEA additional protocol, and there is some indications that in certain instances, they will go beyond the additional protocol to more intrusive monitoring. But those additional measures will depend on what kind of deal is reached on the enrichment issue. You know, for example, depending on what constraints are reached on research and development on advance centrifuges, this will depend on what kind of additional monitoring you need. So this is an issue still to be resolved in the future.
On sanctions, there is agreement that all nuclear-related sanctions will eventually be removed. Initially, the sanctions will – the U.S. unilateral sanctions will be suspended by – and they can be suspended by the authority of the U.S. executive. Eventually, they will be lifted, and they would have to be lifted by acts of the U.S. Congress, but that will be a few years down the road, after Congress develops some confidence that Iran is truly in compliance.
But an issue has arisen regarding the U.N. Security Council sanctions, which have very strong symbolic implications for the Iranians. They would like to see those gone as well. But those Security Council sanctions deal largely with the question of Iran’s procurement of all kinds of goods and technology that could be used in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, and U.S., understandably, is not anxious to see those removed at an early stage.
Another issue, ballistic missiles. The Security Council Resolution 1929 talks about constraints on Iran’s ballistic missile program. Iran is adamant that it doesn’t want a nuclear agreement to deal with its missile program, which it says is strictly for conventional military purposes. The U.S. says that somehow, the deal has to address this problem; no resolution on this.
And finally, the question of Iran’s past activities that the IAEA believes were related to the development of nuclear weapons, so-called PMD or possible military dimensions issue – the IAEA has been investigating this in Iran since late 2011 with very little progress. There was some hope that the Rouhani administration would be more forthcoming. It really hasn’t been at this point. And until Iran is more transparent about some of these past activities, it’s hard to see how an agreement will be achieved.
So what’s the outlook? In terms of getting a comprehensive deal by November 24th, I think – you know, the probability is very near zero. I would say it’s – I would say it’s zero. There cannot possibly be a full agreement.
So what are the – what are the options?
One option is simply to throw in the towel, call it quits on November 24th. I don’t believe anyone, any of the parties in the negotiations would like to do that. They’re heavily invested in this process. And I – you know, I think they would be loath simply to end the negotiations on November 24th. I think they will find a basis to extend the talks beyond the 24th. But it’s important on what basis they extend them.
The best basis would be for them to have reached agreement on the key elements of the Iranian enrichment issue, even if not in great detail but a cluster of issues having to do with – having to do with the number and type of centrifuges, stockpiles, duration of the agreement, research and development on advanced centrifuges. If they reached agreement on a cluster of these issues, I think they would have a strong case to justify taking several more months to reach a final deal.
But that may or may not be possible. In my view, it would be – it would make sense simply to continue the current interim arrangement, even if they hadn’t manage to reach agreement on the central elements by November 24th. I think the reality is that last year’s Joint Plan of Action, the interim deal, is very – is very much advantageous for the United States. The sanctions on Iran remain in place. Despite the modest improvement in the Iranian economy, the sanctions remain effective. The nuclear freeze is – has remained effective. The IAEA certifies that Iran has complied with its requirements. So I think the continuation of the current arrangement would be very much in the U.S. interest, whether or not agreement can be reached on the central elements of the enrichment issue.
But I think if you didn’t have agreement on those central elements, I think Congress would be more inclined to want to impose new sanctions. And the imposition of new sanctions by the Congress could seriously complicate the negotiations. The Iranians this would be intolerable, and this would essentially end the negotiations. Don’t know if they’re bluffing or not, but I think this could raise a serious problem.
So one way or another, I think there will be an extension. Whether – even with an extension, what are the prospects for a final deal? Well, about a year ago, President Obama said his sense was that there was a 50-50 chance of reaching a deal. I think that’s still about right. But I think it’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to take some hard political decisions, especially on the part of Iran.
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you very much, Bob. (Applause.)
ALIREZA NADER: Good morning. Thanks for the Arms Control Association for inviting me this morning. Just going to briefly talk about what Iran may be thinking when it comes to these negotiations.
Bob described what he sees as Iran’s rigid position on the nuclear negotiations. And I would agree; I think Iran is pursuing a rigid position. I would describe it as a maximalist position on the nuclear issue. The supreme leader’s office just released another infographic laying out Iran’s red lines on the nuclear program. And when we look at what Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, has said and some other positions coming from his office, it doesn’t really look like Iran is flexible on the issue, that looking at Iran’s position, it appears that Iran wants to make a deal that really serves its interests. For example, Khamenei has said that not only Iran will not reduce the number of centrifuges, but it wants the option to increase the number to a hundred thousand.
So what’s behind Iran’s thinking? I think there are a couple of explanations.
The number one explanation is that Iran remains flexible behind the scenes but is presenting a very tough stance in the negotiations. And this makes sense to a certain extent. You don’t want to really give up anything until very close of the negotiations in order to get the best deal. And basically, Iran is trying to get the best deal possible and knows it has to be flexible at some point, but maybe right now is not the precise time for that.
Another possibility – and I think there is increasing evidence that this is Iran’s thinking on the issue – is that Iran overestimates its leverage for a number of reasons.
When Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s president in June 2013, a lot of ways, Iran was on the brink. The economy was in terrible condition. The country faced deep internal divisions from the 2009 presidential election. A lot of Iranians thought that the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a – had been a very huge disaster for the country. Iran was isolated, divided at home. And Rouhani was elected to fix Iran’s problems.
And you can make an argument that since his election, since his signing of the Joint Plan of Action in November 2013, things have improved in Iran, that Iran is no longer on the brink, that the Islamic Republic no longer faces an existential crisis. The Iranian economy is better. It has not improved in a – in a vast manner, but some of the indications are positive. Inflation is down from a high of 45 percent or maybe even higher before Rouhani was elected to 20-something percent. The psychological mood among the business community in Iran has improved – not that business is any easier to do in Iran, but people are more hopeful. There is a better management team in position under Rouhani, a more technocratic team that has a good understanding of economics in general, which is something that the Ahmadinejad government lacked. Subsidies have been cut. One of the major reasons inflation was high was not just due to sanctions but the tens of billions of dollars the Ahmadinejad government and previous governments were spending on subsidies. So the economy has improved somewhat.
And also, there is this thinking in Tehran that Iran’s regional and international position has improved quite significantly, especially within the last several months. And this is really due to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A lot of Iranian officials now see Iran in a very advantageous position because Iran is very influential in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East and has very close ties to the Baghdad central government, the same government the United States is working with to defeat the Islamic State. So Iranian officials, specially within the Rouhani administration, believe that the United States needs Iran, and not just the United States but really the international community. And when we look at these negotiations, Iran is counting on support from the international community as well to help in these negotiations.
I would argue that if this is the case that if the Iranian government thinks its economy is improving and its regional position has improved and that this will help it in nuclear negotiations, it is making a serious miscalculation, and it is seriously overestimating its leverage. When it comes to the way the international community views Iran, if the talks fail and the two sides break up, let’s say, I think it’s very unlikely that the international community will blame the United States. It’s more likely that all members of the P-5 plus one and the rest of the world will blame Iran for a rigid nuclear position. And in effect, this will not allow Iran to undermine the sanctions regime if the talks fail. So if Iran believes that it can undermine the sanctions regime, it is mistaken.
And this not really only applies to the Western members of the P-5 plus one but China and Russia as well. I was in China a couple of weeks ago, and the Chinese are on board with the P-5 plus one strategy. They don’t want a nuclear-armed Iran. They have enforced sanctions, and they’re on board. So if the Rouhani government thinks that it can turn to Russia and China to alleviate pressure, I think it is mistaken.
And when you look at the sanctions regime – and Elizabeth will talk about this – individual companies are complying with sanctions, so even if the Chinese government and the Russian government in the future come out and say they oppose sanctions – and let’s say they blame the United States for the talks falling apart – individual companies and business people all over the world will still be very hesitant to deal with Iran in a significant way.
On the – on the issue of ISIS, you know, there’s been a lot of argument that Iran is a natural partner for the United States, that the United States needs Iran to defeat ISIS and other Sunni jihadi groups. But I would make the argument that Iran is actually a part of the problem in Iraq, that Iran is supporting sectarian Shia parties that are contributing to the rise of groups like ISIS and leading to greater Sunni dissatisfaction. Of course, you know, I wouldn’t blame Iran for everything happening. I think, you know, there are a number of other factors. But looking at the issue in very black-and-white terms that we need Iran to fight the Sunni jihadis I think is a little simplistic because the policies being pursued by Tehran contradict the U.S. approach to the issue. The United States wants an all-inclusive, nonsectarian government in Iraq. It doesn’t want the rise of Shia militias to combat ISIS, the same Shia militias that were conducting attacks against U.S. troops only a few years ago. So working with Iran on the issue of ISIS is problematic. I think overall it would make U.S. Arab allies and Israel very nervous, and it would actually complicate the nuclear negotiations. And politically in Washington, I think it would be very difficult for the Obama administration to be seen as working with Iran on the issue. If there is a nuclear deal, I think there is potential for Iran and U.S. cooperation on a number of regional issues. That could still be problematic, but I think that’s best left to the period following a potential nuclear deal between Iran and the P-5 plus one.
Finally, if the nuclear talks break down, I would make the argument that Iranians overall are unlikely to blame the United States but that they would blame specifically the Rouhani government. When Rouhani became president, even before he became president and during his campaign, he made a lot of promises to the Iranian people. He improved – he promised an improvement in the economy and greater social freedoms. He promised media freedom in Iran or greater media freedom, the release of political prisoners, Iran’s decreasing international isolation.
And when we look at Rouhani’s record, objectively, he hasn’t really accomplished any of those things. He signed the JPOA, the Joint Plan of Action, and Iran has seriously engaged the international community in the negotiations – and he should be commended for that – but in terms of his domestic policies, the human rights situation in Iran and the lack of personal freedoms are as bad as they have ever been. And so there is a very high expectation among Iranians for the Rouhani government to deliver. And when you talk to people who travel to Iran, especially Tehran, they say life is still very difficult in Iran. Despite some economic improvements, there is a lot of unhappiness, that the middle class is being virtually wiped out because of sanctions and the overall economic situation, and that Iranians want major change. And so when we look at Rouhani’s major constituency within Iran, they still want a nuclear deal.
And, you know, some people are arguing that, well, Iranians will not accept a very severe cut in the number of centrifuges, that they will see this as a national humiliation. Well, I would argue that the Iranian regime at the very top levels, including Khamenei, feels this way. I doubt that Iranians care that much about uranium enrichment that they’re willing to see their livelihoods endangered because of a few thousand centrifuges here and there.
Ultimately, the international community expects Iran to make concessions on the nuclear program. The P-5 plus one has already implicitly recognized Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, and the onus is on the Iranian government to prove that its nuclear intentions are entirely peaceful.
So in conclusion, I still think that the United States and the P-5 plus one have a lot of leverage on the nuclear negotiations. I do believe that the Rouhani government and his team want a nuclear deal, that they’re even willing to be more flexible that they let on in public because they want a better economy, they want an Iran that’s not so internationally isolated. They want an Iran that plays a role in the region. But ultimately, Rouhani and Zarif do make the final decisions. When you look at Khamenei’s infographic, one of the things he says is that only the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif, is allowed to make a nuclear deal and engage in negotiations. And of course, Zarif reports to Khamenei. And there’s really no mention of Iran’s President Rouhani.
And ultimately, I think – if anybody sinks a nuclear deal, it will be the supreme leader. While Zarif and Rouhani, I think, have a different agenda, that – I believe they’re more worldly. They’ve live in the West. They’re Western-educated. They speak English. Khamenei’s calculations are very different. He’s very concerned with ultimately his political authority, that he doesn’t want to look weak on the nuclear issue. And ultimately, the supreme leader and the conservative establishment are the impediment to a final deal on the nuclear issue.
Having said all of that, I don’t think a nuclear deal is impossible. I still think there’s enough pressure on Iran that it will come to the table and consider negotiations even more seriously than before, because when you look at the situation there’s really no exit for Iran. You know, it will remain under sanctions and under international pressure if there is no nuclear deal. And ultimately, I think Iran needs those petrol dollars more than uranium. Thank you. (Applause.)
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you very much, Ali.
ELIZABETH ROSENBERG: So thanks to the Arms Control Association for having me here. And thank you, Kelsey, for the introduction.
I’m going to talk about three things. The first is the sanctions that are in place today. The second is the mechanisms for some immediate relief under a potential deal. And third, the options for more comprehensive, structural, economic relief for Iran down the road.
So, first, the measures in place today. There are U.S., EU, U.N. sanctions. There are also sanctions in place against Iran by a number of other countries, independent jurisdictions. And they’re aimed at isolating Iran diplomatically and economically, both to halt some of the activity of concern that have been – that has been identified publicly and also to create leverage for diplomatic negotiations. So I’m not going to go into the economic effectiveness of these sanctions. We’ve heard that referenced by some of my fellow panelists
There are four U.N. Security Council resolutions that deal with Iran. And they aim to address concerns over Iran’s nuclear activities, ballistic missiles, conventional arms. They talk about the IRGC, deceptive financial practices. They are not – we should think about these UNSCRs not so narrowly on particular nuclear issues or technical procurement activities. In fact, they’re – they have grown to include a slightly broader universe of activities of concern. They freeze assets, impose travel bans and – on many named entities, and call on U.N. member states to enhance due diligence in addressing these activities or actors of concern that are named.
So most of the international sanctions and most of the most powerful, economically, sanctions are U.S. sanctions on Iran. The European Council also has put in place a number of powerful sanctions, which are thematically quite similar to U.S. sanctions. And they involve many of the same entities. They are not as broad ranging and they are not in the extent of those named and to the secondary nature, or extraterritorial nature, such that the United States sanctions are.
In the United States, our sanctions regime I would call comprehensive and strategic, but not necessarily systematic. There’s no single umbrella legal authority that organizes these sanctions. It’s an awfully interconnected web. There are 10 congressional statutes. These are pieces of legislation passed by Congress. There are 26 EOs, all dealing with Iran in some ways – those are executive orders put in place by the administration. There are also export controls. There’s a 30-year old – that are maintained by the Commerce Department. A 30-year old trade embargo.
This is all to say that it’s quite extensive. There are lots of authorities. They have been put in place over many decades. They also cover a variety of Iranian activities of concern, just as the U.N. does, but much broader. Proliferation, of course, terrorism, human rights violations, regional destabilization. And we heard briefly about the – of course, in the P-5 plus one and Iran’s interim agreement, the – under the joint plan of action, Iran received relief from sanctions. They are, of course, while this entire regime remains in place.
And the relief that has been granted I would certainly called marginal, probably hasn’t even lived up to what was promised on paper, which is not surprising if you think about the cautiousness that the international community has when dealing with Iran, particularly the international banking community. But the relief that was offered by both the U.S. and the EU rolled back some of the auto, petrochemical, precious metals sanctions.
Also, it committed to now new nuclear sanctions – although certainly there has been enforcement of existing nuclear sanctions during this period. It offered Iran $4.2 billion in access to its funds held in escrow abroad under the first interim agreement, and then another 2.8 (billion dollars) under this extension – this four-month extension.
And there’s some other, significantly, provisions that allow Iran to keep selling the amount of oil it had been selling before this agreement went into place. So that’s supposed to be in the neighborhood of a million barrels per day. It has been a little bit more than that. And detail folks can argue about whether or not that’s legitimate or not. There’s some ambiguity in the way the sanctions are written around condensate, a kind of light, high-quality oil which actually seems to not be constrained in the same way that other oil has been.
So turning now to mechanisms for immediate relief for Iran under a potential deal scenario, the fastest, easiest options to deliver relief, even quite a lot of economic relief for Iran at the beginning of a potential nuclear deal, come directly from the U.S. administration and from the EU Council. So, first, on the process for such relief.
We understand from the negotiators – the P-5 plus one – that this will come in stages. It will be reciprocal, that is to say, offered in response to concessions on the part of Iran. And it will also be coordinated internationally. And that’s not just good for signaling and international unity, it’s also necessary for clarity for the private sector internationally which is – we’ll struggle to figure out exactly how to put this place and practice.
The U.S. administration has quite a lot of flexibility all unto itself to offer immediate and independent sanctions relief. It doesn’t need Congress, as was mentioned, even while a number of the sanctions authorities that the U.S. administration uses were put in place by Congress. So there are waivers in a number of those pieces of legislation put in place – sanctions legislation put in place by Congress.
They are temporary and renewable. National security or national interest waivers. And that is how – the use of such waivers is how the administration gave Iran its relief during this joint plan of action and how it would be able to give Iran access to more than 100 billion (dollars) of its foreign exchange reserves that are held abroad in escrow. There are other ways the administration can offer relief, using flexibility that it has in a regulatory sense, in understanding terms like significant transaction or significant reduction.
And then, with its own executive orders, these independent authorities that have been put in place by the administration that are used so often by the administration. These are discretionary by nature and there are opportunities through license and new executive orders that the administration has to roll them back and create more relief there. So everything I’ve just talked about is a way to lift or suspend the application of implementation, but not to remove sanctions, such as those written into law by Congress.
But as – I certainly agree with what Bob has said. It’s not – removing them isn’t necessary to create sanctions relief – even very extensive and long-lasting relief. And one of the reasons why people are so concerned about the removal of sanctions is because they are – they seek to create permanent and irreversible relief for Iran in order to have a strong bargaining chip to get similarly permanent and irreversible nuclear concessions from Iran.
But I would challenge anyone who thinks that there’s anything such as permanent sanctions relief. It doesn’t exist. They can be re-imposed basically with the stroke of a pen. It might be a little more logistical doing when it comes to Congress, but we have in fact seen in the relatively recent past sanctions – massive sanctions programs, such as the one for Libya in 2011, put in place almost overnight that have been very painful economically and comprehensive. So a focus on permanence here I think is missing the point of the way these authorities work in practice.
EU sanctions are relatively easy to roll back, mechanically. The Council of the European Union needs to decide and formalize in its process. The U.N. process is a little bit harder for logistical and political coordination reasons. And I’ll come back to that in a second.
So on substance of sanctions relief, of course the P-5 plus one is focusing on nuclear-related sanctions, as we heard. And so concerns related to terrorism, nuclear activities won’t be rolled back. So all of the sanctions that exist in the United States, for example that deal with those levels – those kind of concerns when it comes to Iran, they’re not on the table. And it’s important to know that in practical terms they cover a variety of financial institutions in Iran and sectors of the economy. So it’s no so neat – it won’t be so neat to think about rolling back certain sanctions and that frees up, say, a whole – an entire sector of the economy or their entire banking system when there are concerns related to, say, terrorism in the banking sector.
So for further relief down the road – this is the kind of larger sanctions relief that could come if Iran takes further sustained steps under a potential nuclear deal that are verified and there’s enough confidence. So the administration, as I mentioned, and the flexibility that they have to offer relief, they can – they can create quite a lot of extensive relief, even structural, that will not just offer some of the cash injections or opportunities to expand trade, but to open up investment – new investment opportunities and the kinds of economic changes that will – that will set Iran on quite a different path economically to really grow its GDP and open up to the international community.
What could this involve? This is not just – from a technical perspective, the use of insurance, vessels, trade financing, ports, shipping and banking services. It’s also this new investment – massive new investment by foreign companies and dialing back or removing sanctions on Iran’s banking sector including, of course, its Central Bank.
So Congress can act, as we’ve discussed previously a little bit, to affirm or recognize a deal and sanctions relief offered in a deal, but it doesn’t have to. However, if it does this would look like a new piece of legislation that would amend some of those statutes in place – the Iran Sanctions Act or the – another very significant one passed in the end of 2011 that governed sanctions on Iran’s energy exports and Central Bank. If Congress does act, though, it will need to move exactly in parallel to the relief that is offered in a potential deal, or risk undermining it.
And that’s because if it sets up different standards – even if an if clause – if Iran doesn’t manage to comply with the sanction – the verification regime and the concessions that it must comply with under a deal – such potential sanctions could be held out as an option, it will create a good amount of uncertainty in the international community, the banking community in particular, such that they will be hesitant to in fact move forward with new business opportunities available to them. So it will mean that sanctions relief offered on paper won’t match sanctions relief that occurs in practice. And that’s a very significant problem for the P-5 plus one in thinking about their credibility in offering their side of the deal.
So from the EU, they – as I mentioned, it’s not very challenging – it’s not as technically challenging for them to offer sanctions relief. I think for EU to turn off its sanctions on – that free Central Bank assets of Iran would make quite a significant change for Iran. Also, the sanctions it has on the SWIFT system – the international payment messaging system – out of which most Iranian banks have been shut. And on the U.N., let me just say briefly that – so we know that there’s a very significant interest amongst the – Iranian parties to the negotiation to see relief from these sanctions.
There will be – this will be a process, I think, that necessarily will happen in stages after very public and transparent processes for verification that Iran has complied with its side of a potential deal. And that – those steps for verification will have to be laid out in a new United – a new UNSCR, Security Council resolution, that will make clear exactly what the process will look like and what will be removed and deal with the fact that there are concerns in some of those four existing Iranian Security Council resolutions that I think won’t be dealt with in this – in the potential nuclear deal.
So let me just sum up and say I think that sanctions relief is technically feasible. It’s legally challenging for the crew of lawyers that has to figure out exactly what this looks like in practice, between waivers and licenses and the like. But it’s not impossible and it can be done even in very large amounts in the immediate future. It will be incremental, based on a track record of compliance. It will also be coordinated internationally by necessity for the sake of aligning on paper and in practice sanctions relief. And even under a best-case scenario, there’s still going to be an awful lot of concern from the private sector and sanctions that remain in place.
So I haven’t talked at all about what tougher sanctions on Iran could look like to – either as passed by Congress, and what that might do to the negotiations – although I certainly would like to associate myself with comments Bob made about how that would complicated and perhaps permanently derail these negotiations – nor what they would do to Iran’s economy, though I can do that in the Q-and-A session in folks are interested. So I’ll stop there.
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you.
MS. ROSENBERG: Yeah. (Applause.)
MS. DAVENPORT: Well, thanks to our panelists sticking to the speaking time we have a good half an hour for questions. So I will recognize you. Please wait for the mic and introduce yourself. And please ask a question and not deliver a comment. So, sure, and we’ll start with Laura Rozen in the center table.
Q: Thank you for doing this. And it was an excellent presentation. Bob, reports in the past day from Iran say that the Iranian negotiators have testified to members of the Iranian parliament that the U.S. has moved in their direction a little bit on centrifuges. And their – the number in the reports today were 4,000. So, one, can you speak to that? We’ve seen reports in the press that the U.S. had moved a little bit in their direction. Have you heard of any narrowing, you know? And would you see that as a sign of them trying to sell the deal at home, that – you know, trying to make the case the U.S. has moved in their direction?
And, Alireza, on the question of whether Iran has overestimated its leverage in the negotiations, you know, even Rouhani last month in New York reiterated that when he spoke to Obama on the phone last year he had proposed, and Obama agreed, to do the nuclear deal first before talk of any type of cooperation regionally. He’s emphasizing again that he’s not looking for the U.S. to work with Iran versus ISIS before a nuclear deal, but that’s the sequence that was. So speak to what seems a kind of contradiction on the Iranian side about what they can get. Thanks.
MS. DAVENPORT: Great. Bob, should we start with you?
MR. EINHORN: Laura (sp), on the 4,000, I’m not privy to the details of what may have been said, especially in the session that involved only three individuals – the secretary, foreign minister of Iran and Cathy Ashton. But I would be skeptical about the 4,000 number. I think there are some in the P-5 plus one that would like to see the U.S. move from 1,500 up into that range. And maybe those who support that kind of flexibility would be the source of that kind of information. But I’m not aware of any movement in a formal sense from the 1,500.
MR. NADER: So on the issue of Iran’s regional role, I think when it comes to nuclear negotiations, you know, fundamentally the problem is that the United States is negotiating with multiple people and multiple power centers, some of which are not at the table. So whereas the Rouhani government says that it wants to keep aside the nuclear issue or separate the nuclear issue from regional issues, other members of the Iranian elite – especially within the security establishment – may not view that approach as being very effective.
Of course, Rouhani even himself has said, along with Zarif, that Iran can play a very big role in the region and, you know, this could help its nuclear position. But I think they’re facing a lot of pressure from Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards. In recent days, Iranian media had been very quiet about the role of the Revolutionary Guard in Iraq and Syria. Now it’s – you know, they’re very proud of it. There are pictures of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, you know, walking around with Iraqi soldiers and generals, and so they’re really playing that up. And so I think, you know, that part of the establishment sees Iran’s regional role as increasing its leverage, potentially. You know, I think when it comes down to fundamentally the centrist groups in Iran, like Rouhani, have a very different vision of foreign policy and Iran’s role, not just in the Middle East but with the rest of the world, than people like Khameini and the revolutionaries, and I think that’s also part of the problem. That (infects ?) nuclear negotiations quite heavily. So the calculations are very different.
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you.
(Inaudible) – let’s come down here and this gentleman in the front. Yes, in the front here.
Q: Thank you. My name is Carlo Trezza from Italy. I have a question for Bob Einhorn. I have the sense that as you say, the gap – I mean, the central issue is the issue of the number of the centrifuge, and there the gap seems to be enormous because if – I mean, the present number of the centrifuges doesn’t make sense from an energy point of view. They would need much more in order to be useful for – let’s say to nourish the Bushehr Power Plant. And I am afraid that this gap is so big that it cannot be filled. So I wonder if an alternative approach to the number of centrifuge wouldn’t be to base the negotiation on the stocks of fuel. And after all, why not encourage the Iranians to maybe have more but to burn it as much as possible in their power plants? Is that a possibility?
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you.
MR. EINHORN: Carlo (sp), the Iranians have very unrealistic notions of their actual needs for enriched uranium. In the near term, they only have a practical need to provide fuel for one or two research reactors, which require a small fraction of the enriched uranium required by power reactors. The Iranians could accept the U.S. numbers and still be able to meet their realistic near-term needs and at the same time extend their fuel supply contract with the Russians to acquire enough enriched uranium to fuel the Bushehr power reactor. So for some considerable period of time, they could achieve all of their civil nuclear energy goals by accepting the U.S. proposal. But they for whatever reason – national pride, dignity, whatever it is – they don’t want to – they don’t want to do that.
So – now in terms of stocks, yes, you know, there’s a tradeoff between the number and type of centrifuges on the one hand and the question of stocks. And if you reduce stocks, you can perhaps permit a somewhat greater number of centrifuges. But even if the Iranians reduce their low enriched uranium stocks to zero, then to have a sufficiently long breakout time, they would still have to come down significantly in the number of centrifuges. So I think, you know, stocks is a key element of it. The Iranians seem inclined to want to reduce stocks, perhaps even by exporting some of the material. But I think they’re still going to have to decide that they can meet their civil nuclear requirements with a smaller number of centrifuges for a substantial period of time.
Now, one of the elements of the deal is that after the expiration of the comprehensive agreement, all bets are off. They would – you know, any special restrictions that applied during the duration of the agreement would be gone. And so if after, say, 15 years or 20 years they wanted to ratchet up and produce power reactor fuel indigenously, they could do that. So my own view is, we shouldn’t require the Iranians to abandon their ambitious and, I believe, unrealistic nuclear energy plans, but they simply have to defer those plans. You know, take the time, you know, 15 years, whatever, you know, extend their fuel supply contract with Russia, acquire the fuel they need for a – you know, a robust nuclear power program and do the work they need to get themselves in a position to provide – to produce fuel indigenously. But they don’t need to do that for the near term.
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you. Carlo (sp), I’d also draw your attention to a report that the Arms Control Association worked on with the International Crisis Group that looks at a combination of factors on the uranium enrichment issue, including sort of balancing centrifuges and stockpile, and we should have copies available out there.
But more questions. It looks like we have – we have two in the front. Let’s take David Calp (ph) and this lady right here.
Q: David Calp (ph) with the – (inaudible). Bob, you gave a pretty grim assessment on what happens on November 24th. About then Congress will also come back into session. Add there will be calls from some members to impose crippling sanctions – that’s the phrase that’s used – to try to force additional concessions out of the Iranians.
In the opinion of the panel as to what would be the impact of a new round of sanctions that were passed by the Congress after November 24th – and the phrase that’s used repeatedly is “crippling sanctions” – would that be a beneficial impact or put things back?
MS. DAVENPORT: Thank you, David.
Let’s take a second question here. (Inaudible) – thank you.
Q: Hi, I’m Nancy Gallagher from the University of Maryland, and I’ve got a question, particularly for Ali Nader. You made a number of statements about Iranian both public opinion and elite opinion, and my research center recently did an opinion survey with the University of Tehran and asked basically a number of questions that get right to the kinds of things that you were making statements about – you know, perceptions of the economy, perceptions of sanction, perception of the nuclear program, acceptability of a variety of different measures and who they would blame if the negotiations failed. And I would say that on pretty much every single one of the points that you mentioned, our findings were very different. Now, you know, you can argue about how accurate public opinion polling is in Iran either because the public’s not well-informed or they’re not telling you the truth. I would say that in the poll we did on Iran, they were actually better informed on the nuclear negotiations than Americans were. And there’s no reason to believe that people aren’t giving us a reasonably straightforward opinion because everything they were saying was basically consistent with what the Iranian government has done so far. So my question for you is, what happens if your assessment of Iranian opinion and internal dynamics is wrong?
MS. DAVENPORT: Great. Thank you, Nancy. Let’s start with the sanctions question first. Liz, Bob, if both of you might want to share your thoughts on that.
MS. ROSENBERG: Sure. So right now the crippling sanctions that are promote – proposed come in the form of the Kirk-Menendez bill, the centerpiece of which would be to remove Iranian’s oil exports on the market down to zero over a period of time even – which is painful for Iran not just because this is a major revenue stream but also because as oil prices are sinking and have been sinking, it’s getting a lot less than it might have anticipated otherwise at this time. So this is a major source of revenue that’s going away even faster than – the impact of which would be felt more aggressively than it would if oil prices were at the ban – the higher ban that they have been over the last several years.
So, implications for the – in two parts, for the negotiations and then also for the private sector. So I certainly think that this is a deal breaker for the negotiations. It’s very – it’s painful economically for the Iranians. It also makes the United States, of course, look like an actor negotiating in bad faith and can manage to keep its Congress from changing the goal posts, if you will, in this negotiation and making the punishment or the pain look a lot worse than it does now.
For the private sector responding to these sanctions, there’s already quite a lot of anxiety about doing business with Iran and getting caught wrong side of the sanctions and the penalties that would occur, in addition to the reputational harm that it makes just for any private sector company. So having this out there is – even as a threat is of great concern. Having it out there on the books would be fatal for economic relief for Iran. Even legitimate business activity that is permitted with Iran – humanitarian trade, for example – or some of the kinds of business opportunities that were opened up under the Joint Plan of Action – haven’t occurred because there aren’t banks or companies willing to wade in and try and do even legitimate business, and this would chill that environment quite considerably further.
Were you going to add?
MR. EINHORN: Let me just say, I was involved in trying to build international support for the oil sanctions a few years ago, and we were able to be incredibly successful in persuading countries like China and India and Japan, South Korea, Turkey, to reduce, very substantially, their imports of Iranian crude oil. And the reason we could be successful – and not only because we were so persuasive in our argumentation but because there were alternate sources of supply. The Saudis were prepared to increase their production. At that time Iraqi crude was coming onto the market. Libya – Libyan crude was coming onto the market. North American crude was entering the market.
So countries like China, which are huge consumers of Iranian crude, were able to shift to these alternate suppliers to the point that oil revenues received by Iran were down by more than – almost 60 percent, which is where they’re at, you know, basically now. But a number of these countries have informed the U.S. that essentially they’re done, that there are no longer the excess supplies in the market. It would be harder for them to continue to shift away from Iranian crude.
So if there was legislation that essentially said, we will sanction you unless you go down to zero in your imports of Iranian crude, you know, I think it may be very difficult to get international support for that. And we would be in a very difficult position if there were new, strong legislated sanctions and we were unable to deliver. I mean, if there – if the negotiations break down, immediately there will begin the blame game: Who is responsible for the failure?
And, you know, the Iranians, who are very good at public diplomacy, will make the case that the U.S. was the intransigent side. The U.S. will make the opposite case. But we would get ourselves into a very difficult situation with the Iranians calling on countries like China and India and Japan and South Korea to relax the sanctions. And it’s not clear that we would be able to ratchet them up to the point where they would be crippling on the Iranian economy.
So I think, you know, best to avoid that kind of a situation and to continue the negotiations beyond November 24th if necessary, but without the imposition of additional sanctions. I think the existing sanctions already provide sufficient incentive to the Iranians to continue to negotiate seriously. As long as the existing sanctions are in place, rational Iranians understand that they can never make their economy right, and so they will continue to have incentive to get the current sanctions lifted.
MR. DAVENPORT: Ali, if you’d like to speak to Nancy’s question?
MR. NADER: Sure. I think that’s a great question. It’s a very fair question. My question to you is how did you conduct your poll? Was it in person or over the phone?
Q: It was over the phone.
MR. NADER: All right. So there are two parts to my answer. Number one is the question, how much does Iranian public opinion really matter on this issue because Iran is not a democratic country? So, yes, President Rouhani must answer to the Iranian people.
The supreme leader does not have to answer to the Iranian people. He’s not elected by them. He’s not accountable to them. His position is for life. No matter what happens, he’ll be the supreme leader. There won’t be another election that will remove him from power. So his calculations are different. And a lot of Khamenei supporters within the system say that public opinion doesn’t matter at all. It doesn’t matter what Iranians think because the supreme leader is appointed by God. He’s responsible to God, full stop. So public opinion in Iran matters, but not as much as we think.
On the issue of public opinion surveys, I would say conducting surveys in authoritarian countries like Iran is highly problematic. And I conducted a poll in Iran in 2009 through the RAND Corporation. We called a thousand Iranians, talked to them on the phone. A lot of what they said was in line with what the Iranian government thought about the issues. Surprisingly, a lot of Iranians – I think the majority – were opposed to ties with the United States, which I find very hard to believe. There was high support for the nuclear program.
But also, when you conduct interviews on the phone, people are nervous. Iranians believe that the government listens on all their phone calls. And the Iranian government does. It monitors their phone calls. It monitors their email, their use of the Internet, their use of the social media. In the past few months we’ve seen Iranians who use social media to express themselves. For example, the “Happy” group that made the video, they’re arrested, they’re put in jail, they’re never heard from again.
So when we did our survey in 2009, a lot of Iranians were afraid to respond truthfully and honestly. And if were in Iran and somebody called me and asked me those questions, I would be afraid to answer honestly as well. So I think doing public opinion surveys Iran is very problematic, especially on the phone. Now, if it was a more open country, if there wasn’t a climate of fear, if the government didn’t monopolize the information environment in Iran, if you could go house to house and interview people in person I might give a different answer. But the reality is that I, as an analyst, don’t take public opinion polls, including my own, too seriously.
Q: Can I just follow up? (Inaudible) – but what if the public opinion polling is actually telling us something worth note?
MR. NADER: I mean, well, the question is – look, Iranians support the nuclear program, right? They believe that Iran has a right to advanced scientific knowledge and technology. A lot of Iranians might even tell you Iran should have nuclear weapons. You know, Israel has nuclear weapons and Pakistan has nuclear weapons, the United States has nuclear weapons, so why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear weapons?
But I think the costs are so high in terms of especially the economic costs, I just don’t believe that the average Iranian would support the nuclear program over economic issues, over bread-and-butter issues, because I just don’t think the average person really cares about the nuclear program that much. The average person wants to have a job, to be able to put their kids in school. So that is not the most prominent issue.
You know, for Ayatollah Khamenei that’s an existential issue. He’s staked his reputation, his power on the nuclear issue and he can’t appear weak on the issue. But we can’t assume just because a tiny minority of Iran’s political elite think about the nuclear issue that way that the entire population thinks the same way.
MS. DAVENPORT: Yeah. Thank you, Ali.
We have time for a few more quick questions. Jenna (sp), let’s go to the back here. There are two gentlemen at this back table, Ed Levine, and then the gentleman sitting behind him.
Q: Edward Levine, retired from the Foreign Relations Committee staff. I wonder, in the event of an agreement, how do you see the role of the IAEA not only in verification but in bestowing a seal of approval on Iranian behavior?
Q: Larry Weiler. I wonder if Bob Einhorn would address the issue of will the question of past activities of the Iranians be a sleeper issue? Now, I can see the negotiators dealing with it, but you’re talking now about the honor of the state, and I wonder if the supreme leader would veto any action at all attempting to deal with this. Do you just forget it and go on or what?
MS. DAVENPORT: Great. Thank you.
Bob, if you’d like to start?
MR. EINHORN: Yeah. Obviously, Ed, the IAEA’s role will be critical in monitoring any agreement. I think the hardest thing is going to be the issue that Larry just raised, the possible military dimensions of the program, the past nuclear activities. You know, if there’s an agreement, a comprehensive agreement reached, I don’t think the IAEA will at that point have resolved its concerns about these past activities.
So I think what would have to happen is that certain sanctions-easing measures would have to be withheld and await the IAEA certification at a later date that these issues had been resolved. I don’t think – I mean, I don’t think the P-5 plus one would come to an agreement if Iran continues to stonewall on these PMD issues. But if, you know, they’re in the process of resolving them, I think, you know, the sensible course would be to withhold certain sanctions-easing measures until these concerns are fully resolved.
Now, Larry, it’s very difficult to resolve these issues because you have the supreme leader having issued a religious decree, a fatwa, against the, you know, acquisition and possession of nuclear weapons. So how can Iran then admit that it was engaged in research activities directly related to development of nuclear weapons? This is going to be very difficult.
You know, governments aren’t very good at making confessions of past sins. And I don’t think we can expect Iran to be fully transparent about past activities. I don’t think they have to be fully transparent, but I think they have to be transparent enough so that the international has – international community has confidence that these activities have stopped and there would be a basis to determine whether they had been resumed. I think the focus needs to be forward and to making sure these activities don’t recur in the future rather than to understand everything – every detail about past activities.
MS. DAVENPORT: Unfortunately, we have to wrap up this panel, but thank you all for your excellent questions. It will be a very interesting month leading up to November 24th. And please join me again in thanking our panelists for their excellent presentations. Thank you. (Applause.)
DARYL KIMBALL: All right. So ladies and gentlemen, sorry to interrupt your conversations. We do want to resume with this next session very shortly before we break for lunch in about half an hour. So if you could make your break very brief, we’re going to get started with our next session. And I want to thank Kelsey and the other panelists on the discussion on P-5+1 Iran nuclear talks for their masterful presentations and the great questions from the audience.
And just to note that to keep up with the talks, you’re welcome to sign up for a newsletter that we’ve put together – (pounds table) – excuse me, everybody. If we could just get rolling once again. I’m sorry to interrupt you. We’re going to have substantial time for a break in about a half an hour.
Just one way in which you might be able to keep track of development on the Iran nuclear talks, we have a newsletter that we’ve been putting forward over the last several weeks, The P5+1 Iran Talks Alert. You can sign up for that on the website, and there’ll be much more in Arms Control Today as we go forward.
So at this point in the program, we want to turn to another major focus of the Arms Control Association’s attention over the past year-plus, and that is the subject of the ongoing job of reducing Cold War nuclear arsenals and their costs. And we’re very pleased to be, as I said earlier this morning, unveiling a new report that we’ve been working for quite some time. And to introduce the main report author, Tom Collina, our former research director, now director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund, I want to introduce the Arms Control Association’s new director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, Kingston Reif, who, since 2009 in the Scoville Peace Fellowship at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has been one of their senior analysts and has been a leading figure working on these issues. And we’re glad he’s with the Arms Control Association, and think he’ll do a great job filling Tom’s very big shoes.
So with that, let me get out of the way and have them get started with the presentation of this report, which is, as I said, out on the table.
KINGSTON REIF: Well thank you very much, Daryl. It’s a thrill to have joined the Arms Control Association, and I look forward to contributing to the association’s great work over the coming months and years. As Daryl just alluded to, Tom left some very big shoes to fill at the Arms Control Association, and the subject of this morning’s panel is a great example of just how big those shoes are.
As Daryl mentioned, ACA is thrilled to announce today the release of a new report, “The Unaffordable Arsenal: Reducing the Costs of the Bloated U.S. Nuclear Stockpile,” which was authored by Tom with the assistance of the Arms Control Association research staff. And as Daryl mentioned, there are multiple copies of the report on the table outside.
Now, the release of this report is particularly timely because there is a growing consensus among security experts that the costs of the current U.S. plans to rebuild the nuclear arsenal are unaffordable. Last December, the Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating that the costs of the current plans over the next decade would be $355 billion. A report released over the summer titled “The National Defense Policy Review of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review” estimated that the cost to maintain and modernize nuclear forces over the next 30 years could be 600 billion (dollars) to $1 trillion, and that the cost of these plans would take money from needed improvements for conventional forces.
Now, this report – the release of this report is also timely because in one of Tom’s last articles for Arms Control Today, he reported that the White House is currently reviewing the scope of its planned nuclear modernization efforts as part of its build of the fiscal year 2016 budget request. And in addition to the extreme cost of the nuclear weapons modernization plans, there have also been questions about the policy assumptions driving these plans. Last year, the president’s military advisers advised him that the United States could reduce the size of its deployed strategic nuclear arsenal by up to one-third below the New Start levels, and given the current crises on the international stage, ranging from Ebola to the Islamic State to Russian land grabbing in Crimea, there are questions about the relevance of nuclear weapons as a solution to any of these top security priorities for the United States.
So given all of this, there is a need to consider the availability of less expensive alternatives to maintain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear arsenal, and this is exactly the subject of this new report authored by Tom. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Tom to give us a briefing on his report for about 10 to 12 minutes, and then we’ll open it up to questions from the floor.
TOM COLLINA: Kingston, thank you very much. Rest assured that my feet are much smaller than Kingston’s. (Laughter.) He’s much bigger than me, and I just want to say that Kingston is the best person I could have hoped for to be coming into the job at the Arms Control Association, and I have every confidence that the issues will be in good hands at ACA. So Kingston, thank you very much for taking that over, and Daryl, thank you for having me here today and for organizing this event and for your visionary leadership both in hiring Kingston and in having the confidence in me to do this report and bring it out now, which I think the timing is proving quite, quite good. And I also want to thank Jackie Barrientes wherever she may be – here she is – for designing such a beautiful report. So Jackie, thank you very much.
And it’s great to be back here at ACA. I’ve only been gone for about two months; feels like I never left, but it’s always nice to – nice to come back home, as they say. And so it’s a – it’s a pleasure to be here. And Kingston gave a very good introduction of the context of this report, of the amount of money that is being envisioned to be spent. I’m going to try in this presentation to not use a lot of number because there’s a lot of numbers in the report. So if you want numbers, they’re there, but I think it just – it just bogs us down if we – if we spend too much time on the numbers.
So let’s just say a lot of money being pushed in the direction of modernizing the nuclear arsenal at a time when there’s so many other demands on defense spending. So think Ebola, think Islamic State, think a conventional NATO response to what Russia is doing in Europe and you get the idea. And you layer on top of that sequestration in defense spending and a general constriction of what is available for defense spending and you get the idea that this is truly a zero sum game, and so something’s got to give. And fortunately, we have something that can give, which is the nuclear budget.
In my view, this is really a nuclear ATM that we can cash in on and take money out of this program and spend it on other things because simply there’s too much money in the nuclear modernization account to justify all that is going on there. And, you know, to understand that, you simply have to realize that nuclear weapons are not addressing any of the threats I just mentioned – you know, Ebola, Islamic State and even Russia into Ukraine. I mean, nuclear weapons, U.S. nuclear weapons are in Europe. We already have parity with Russia, that didn’t stop Russia from coming into Ukraine. So that’s not the answer.
If you look at the threats, you know, nuclear terrorism, Iran we just talked about, North Korea again. Increasing, modernizing nuclear weapons are not going to be the thing that turns those situations around.
Now, you might say well, we can’t save any money on nuclear weapons because we can’t reduce our forces significantly because Russia isn’t willing to do it with us. And that’s an excellent point. You know, even though, as Kingston said, last year, President Obama and the military both said that the United States can reduce its nuclear forces by one-third and still guarantee the safety of ourselves and our allies, politically, it does not appear that the president is willing to do that without a dance partner in Russia. And at this point, Putin is simply not willing to go along.
And that gave us pause for a while in trying to say, well, how much can we save from nuclear reductions if we’re not going to get nuclear reductions? So we had to take a bit of a strategic shift in our analysis and say OK, what if we don’t get nuclear reductions, can we still save money? And this, to me, was the big surprised in actually doing the analysis. We found that actually most of the money, the lion’s share of the money – and over the next 10 years this is, I want to be clear. Whenever anyone’s ever giving you a budget analysis, you have to be sure what timeframe you’re talking about because it all depends on the years. We’re talking about the next 10 years, or roughly the amount of time over which the sequestration would be enforced.
But if you look over the next 10 years, in this report, we estimate that you can save basically, or somewhere around $70 billion – with a B – $70 billion by scaling back the nuclear force purchases. But even if you stay at New START warhead levels. So in other words, you can stay at New Start warhead levels, which is the plan currently, and still save $70 billion. So this does not require a new arms control agreement, this does not require President Putin to all of a sudden become friendly again. We can do this under the current international situation that we have today.
And to do this, we basically have to – have to do three things. We have to stop deploying submarines, fall off the coasts, ready for prompt launch; we have to stop buying systems before we really need them; and we have to not replace things just because we had them before. We have to think do these things still make sense. If they do, fine, if not, don’t build them. So if we do those three things, we can save a boatload of money over the next decade that we can funnel into much higher priority needs, whether that be Ebola, Islamic State or whatever else you want to do.
So let me get a little bit into the weeds in how we come up with the 70 billion (dollar) figure, but I’m not going to go into too much detail and then just leave the rest to question-and-answer and try to drill down in where people have questions.
So the biggest budget category of the modernization is the – is the submarines. All told, buying 12 submarines will cost about $100 billion just to procure. But we don’t need all 12, and if you – if you look into it, the reason why the Navy wants 12 is not because it takes 12 to hold the number of warheads, which is about 1,000, that would be planned to be deployed on the submarines going forward.
The reason why the Navy says we need 12 is because they have to be – the requirement is, anyway – that they be forward deployed near Russia and China so that within a short amount of time, an hour or so, they could be launched and hit their targets in those countries. So the boats have to be deployed pretty far out, and then that requires a large sort of supply network of subs in port, you know, steaming out to being on station and then coming back. This would be great for a graphic, and unfortunately, I don’t have one. But that’s what justifies the 12 subs.
If instead you were to say, look folks, the Cold War ended 25 years ago, we don’t need subs ready for prompt launch on-station, we can pull them back to the coast and have them just be invulnerable deep in the ocean but not forward deployed, then you’d have a much smaller radius for these deployment circles and you would not need 12 subs. In fact, you could deploy a thousand warheads, as is the current plan, with eight subs and save a lot of money. In fact, you could save 16 billion (dollars) over the next 10 years. So that’s just one of the ideas that we put forward here.
On the bombers, another big-ticket item, the Air Force wants to produce up to 100 new long-range strategic bombers, and they want to start developing those bombers very soon. If instead, you delayed that – you know, start that process in 2025 or so, you could save about $30 billion over the next 10 years. And this makes sense because the bombers we have today, the B-2 and the B-52, are in pretty good shape. And in fact, the B-2 is going to be in service into the 2050s, so the question is why do we need a new bomber now? The answer is we don’t, and so we can save a lot of money if we – if we delay it.
So I think that’s a – that’s an excellent example of the rule that we shouldn’t buy things until we have to have them. And in fact, the longer you wait, that works in your favor because technology develops, you might have, you know, better technology by the time you actually need this thing, and it’s inherently difficult to build hardware for threats that are declining over time. I mean, if you look at the size – and it’s somewhere in the report; we have a nice graph laid out by Jackie on how nuclear arsenal has decreased since its peak in the 1960s – well, it’s come down by 80 percent, and so has Russia’s. So over time, the foreign threat we’re facing from nuclear weapons is coming down.
So if you build something now, the chances are by the time you actually have it, the threat will go down. So if you’re building something for a reducing threat, the more you wait, the more you’re going to be accurate on what that threat actually is. And the sooner you build it, the more the chances are that you’re going to get it wrong. There are a lot of examples of this, by the way.
We built 18 Ohio class submarines only to have the START Treaty come along and the Cold War to end, and then we decided we only needed 14. OK, we wasted about $16 billion on those extra four subs. That’s the kind of thing that would be really better to avoid.
Now in terms of the rule of, you know, let’s not build things just because you had them before category, the Air Force wants a new cruise missile to replace the current cruise missile, and this would go on a new bomber that would be a penetrating bomber, which means that the bomber will have stealth capabilities to go through enemy air defenses and get into a country’s – over a country’s land and into their airspace. Well, if you’re into the air space, then you don’t need a cruise missile, you’re going to drop a gravity bomb, and that’s why we have the B-61-12 gravity bomb program that is – that is under way. So you don’t need both. And in these days of having penetrating bombers, having cruise missiles that you would launch from afar, from outside of enemy airspace – not above it – is a redundant capability that we really just don’t need anymore, and it’s time to phase that out. And if you do that, you can save about 3 billion (dollars) over next 10 years.
I mentioned the B-61 bomb, there are number of variants of the B-61 bomb. The B-61-12 will replace them all. It’s a life extension that’s going to cost about $10 billion to do, but we can cut that back and just extend the life of the strategic version that would be on the strategic bombers and not do the tactical version that’s in Europe.
Understandably, maybe right now is not the best time to remove tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend billions of dollars on extending their life for another 20 or 30 years. The ones we have there will last another decade or so. We could let those age out and instead modernize the strategic ones and not do the cruise missile and save a bunch of money that way.
Lastly, in terms of the weapons systems, there’s the ICBMs, international ballistic missiles. We have about 400 of those. They’re in the ground in silos. The – RAND came out with a report earlier this year, was it? Last year? An excellent, excellent report by RAND basically with terrific budget numbers saying that we can just refurbish the missiles that we have now, the Minuteman III. That’ll be pricey, but it’ll be a lot less expensive than either building a new missile or building a new mobile missile, which would be the most expensive of all. And these are the options that the Air Force is considering.
So most of us figured, OK, that’s the way this is going to go. Given tight budget constraints, the Air Force will decide to just, you know, sort of modernize in place the existing Minuteman III. Surprisingly, but maybe not surprisingly, the Air Force is actually saying preliminarily now that they’re probably going ahead and develop a brand new missile because that would give them the option to have it be mobile, where they don’t feel they have the option to go mobile if they just modernize or improve the current ground-based version. This is a little crazy on the face of it, given the budget constraints that are happening, and it’s really hard to imagine what threat would change, and if we haven’t needed a mobile missile in the Cold War, why would we need one now? It kind of boggles the imagination to figure that one out.
But be that as it may, if we just do the reasonable thing and sort of, you know, improve to the extent necessary the Minuteman IIIs we already have and don’t pursue modernization of a new system, we could save about 16 billion (dollars) over the next 10 years.
So add this all up and it’s about $70 billion. Trust me, we’ve done the math, we’ve gone over it a number of times. It all works out. And you do this, you can still keep a New Start warhead force of 1,550 strategic warheads, OK. So you ask yourself why would anybody not do this. I mean, this is win-win. You save a lot of money, you can put it into much more important things. And if you’re Obama, politically, you’re not – you’re not – you know, you don’t have to negotiate a new treaty, you don’t have to drop down below New Start, you’re not going to get the Republicans sort of hounding you – well, maybe you will but, you know, not for real reasons. So why not do this?
Why is Obama taking such an excessive approach to nuclear modernization? And the short answer is I don’t know. But I think he’s basically getting not particularly good advice on this issue right now. I think he is understandably distracted with everything else that’s going on in the world. He’s depending a lot on his advisors on this issue, and they’re taking a very conservative position to just sort of inoculate the president against any criticism from Republicans on this issue. And so you’re getting all this money being pushed in this – in this area.
And there’s this myth that’s being postulated that we have to spend this much money to maintain the New Start force and to allow future reductions going forward. But as I hope I just illustrated, this is really a lot more than we need to spend even if you want to maintain a New START force.
And last thing I’ll say, and then I’ll sit down, is this is really Obama’s best chance, and why I think this report is well-timed is this is when Obama has a chance to shift gears. He can’t make Russia negotiate a new treat with him; that’s beyond his control. But he does have control of the budget he submits to Congress next spring, the fiscal year 2016 budget.
And this is his legacy budget, this is his chance to put his last stamp on what his administration wants to give to the next administration, you know, in his last two years in office. So he can either be remembered, as is currently the case, as the president who is launching a $1 trillion modernization of the nuclear arsenal or he can be remembered as the president that kind of brought that back under his control and started a much more reasonable cost effective approach to keeping the arsenal safe and reliable until it can be reduced in the future. And let’s just hope he decides to take the legacy approach and we’ll see where that goes. Thank you very much for your attention. (Applause.)
MR. REIF: Well, thank you very much, Tom. We have about 10 minutes or so left for questions, so what I think I’ll do is take two at a time from the audience and let Tom respond. Questions? One right here. John?
Q: John Isaacs, Council for a Livable World. Thanks for this report. It’s excellent. It’s going to be very helpful. I might caution on using – modifying your language. To say that there’s less of a threat now because the U.S. and Russia can destroy each other dozens of times over instead of hundreds of times over, to me, doesn’t mean it’s less of a threat. Nuclear weapons, the huge numbers, are still way out of any possible need we have for such large numbers.
So, I mean, if there’s any less of a threat than there was during the Cold War, it’s because we don’t have a Cold War, and despite recent problems between the U.S. and Russia, things are still better than they were in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. But again, I don’t feel more comfortable now because we can only destroy each other dozens of times over.
MR. REIF: Just hold on Tom on that question. Yes, Kathy back –
Q: I’m Kathy Robinson with Women’s Action for New Directions. Thank you. I’m looking forward to reading the report.
I have a sort of philosophical question about how we could persuade the president to come to the conclusion that he wants to leave a different legacy than the trajectory he’s on now. Do you think this is an issue that we should develop more salience in the American public for, more interest in? Or is it more of a kind of inside strategy that focuses on the kind of green eyeshades view of, you know, the budget and all of that? What do you think is going to move us forward in the next couple of years?
MR. REIF: Thanks. Take both of those Tom?
MR. COLLINA: Thank you very much. John, I just meant that less of a threat in terms of we don’t need to modernize the arsenal to the degree that is being envisioned. We can get by with a lot less, you know, because the Cold War’s over, because we’re not being, you know, threatened on many sides by large nuclear forces, frankly. It’s just Russia, and I think in some ways, you know, Russia is pumping itself up in a lot of ways, but we shouldn’t be responding to Russia. We shouldn’t – we shouldn’t tell Russia we need to be in parity with them. I think, frankly, the President Bushes had it right, we should go down to the level that we think is right, and Russia can do what they want.
In terms of, you know, how do we – how do we affect the Obama legacy, I think it has to be an outside game because we see what happens when it’s left to the inside game is that Obama gets distracted by other things, and he’s got a lot of problems on his plate, so he’s not going to focus on this.
For – and just one anecdote would be, you know, one of the few ways I think to penetrate Obama’s inner circle is things like front page New York Times stories, which we had a few weeks ago. So that’s the kind of thing that Obama will read and then go to his aides and say why am I getting criticized for this stuff? I think – I thought I – you told me I was doing this because it’s maintaining the arsenal – we have to do this to keep it safe and then to set up, you know, future arms reductions.
I think that’s the way he’s thinking about this, but he needs to hear from others that he’s being excessive about that. And so any way that we can get things through into the president that don’t require it to be passed through his aides, the better.
MR. REIF: Thanks Tom. Additional questions? All right, so I’ll take all the way in the back (Greg ?). Oops, sorry.
Q: Hi, I’m Dan Pomeroy from Senator Markey’s office. Quick question –
MR. REIF: Hi Dan.
Q: – how’s it going, Tom? Quick question. My understanding was part of the reason that Obama is sort of excessively funding these programs has to do with a deal that he made to get the New Start Treaty ratified. Can you just talk a little bit about how that dynamic plays into his request for funding?
MR. COLLINA: Yes, excellent question. Oh, I’m sorry.
MR. REIF: Yeah, hold on. And then right here in front, if you can get the mic. Sorry Joan. And unfortunately, this has to be the final question. I’m sure Tom will be available for a few minutes afterwards if folks would like to ask additional questions.
Q: Hi – (clears throat) – excuse me. Brian Bradley, Nuclear Security Deterrence Monitor. In the latest declaration of deployed strategic warheads as required by New Start, both Russia and the U.S. showed increases in their deployed strategic stockpiles. What do you make of this? Is this simply a by-product of life extension programs, planned modernization? Or is it something more?
MR. COLLINA: OK, thanks. To Dan’s question, yes indeed, there was a deal made for – in order to get the New START Treaty ratified by the requisite number in 2010, which was a much more difficult process than it ever should have been, the president did promise to modernize the weapons that would be left. But there really weren’t specific numbers or specific – budgets or specific numbers of systems, and that modernization was – left open the question, for example, whether – do you replace the system or do you just refurbish the system that’s already there. So there’s a lot more latitude the president has in fulfilling that pledge, even if he wants to fulfill it, than is – than is typically believed. Again, there’s this myth that he has to do all of this and he promised it under New START.
So one, the promise is really much more vague than it generally is interpreted. Two, after New START was agreed to and this deal was agreed to, then we had the Budget Control Act come after that in 2011. So to me, that – you know, that was a deal-buster, that changed the game in terms of simply how much money there is to spend on this stuff. And so now, we have a constraining defense budget, and that just is simply a new reality.
In terms of the New START numbers, I think what you’re seeing here is that as submarines come and go, as submarines are deployed and they come back, warheads come off, so really, these ebb-and-flows of the warhead numbers has much more to do with the ebb-and-flow of how warheads are deployed, primarily with submarines, because when submarines come in for overhaul, you could have 100 to 200 warheads come out of service. And that’s really kind of the range of the warhead numbers we’re talking about here.
Having said that, on the other hand, I think both countries, particularly, the United States, are going very, very slow in reducing their warhead numbers under New START. They could accelerate this process, and should do so. And there’s no reason why the numbers are going down so slowly.
MR. REIF: Thank you very much, Tom. Again, apologies we didn’t have time for more questions. Please pick up a copy of the report outside. And let’s give a round of applause for Tom. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: All right. And now, it is time for a break. It is time for lunch. Just a – just a brief logistical note for you on lunch. We have two buffet lines set up, one closer to the podium here and one on that end. It’s the same food. You don’t have to go through line twice; you’ll get the same thing.
We’ve got two lines to speed the process, so you’re welcome to partake. Bring your lunch back in, continue your conversations, and we will resume at noon with our luncheon speaker, Des Browne. So please enjoy and bon appetit.
DARYL KIMBALL: All right, welcome back, everyone. If I could ask you to settle in once again, to find your seats. I hope you have gotten some coffee and – or tea and some dessert outside. If not, there should be some left over. And I hope you enjoyed lunch.
So I’m very pleased to bring us into the next part of our program, our keynote luncheon address. And I want to thank everybody for coming out once again today. I think we got – have a very good turnout. It’s great to see many old friends and members of the Arms Control Association. I was just speaking with Larry Weiler over lunch, who reminded me that this is his 60th year in arms control, which is amazing. And so we owe it to people like Larry, those of you who have been our loyal members and supporters through the years, and those of you who are newer members and friends and colleagues.
This is a joint enterprise, all of us trying to move forward to reduce nuclear, chemical, biological weapons threats. And we’d appreciate your feedback about how we can – we, the Arms Control Association, can do our work better – Arms Control Today, the publications we produce, the reports, our outreach. We do appreciate your input and feedback about how we do our work. And I wish I had time to catch up with all of you during the short breaks here, but the clock tells us that it’s time to keep moving on to stay on track and to start with our keynote speaker.
And we’re very honored today to have Lord Des Browne, who was elected chairman – vice chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative in March 2014. He is here to offer this thoughts and reflections on the broader state of nuclear – the nuclear weapons threat – the nuclear weapons threat reduction enterprise and how perhaps we can move forward in these difficult times, which, to cite Larry Weiler again, he reminded me that these are tough times, especially with Russia, but there have been worse times. And there are likely going to be better times ahead, more propitious conditions.
So I’ve asked Des to share his ideas about what some of the actions are that can be undertaken to hasten progress at this time, given the political divisions here in Washington, tensions with Russia, conflicts and arms buildups elsewhere in the world, to make the pursuit of the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons – which make the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons as challenging as ever.
And when we were discussing this ahead of this week, I told him this is a challenging task, but Des is not a man who has shied in the face of challenges. He’s been amongst the most active and outspoken and influential European leaders in the nonproliferation and disarmament field in recent years. In 2006, as you all might note from the bio, he was appointed to be the U.K.’s secretary of state for defense. And from 2007 to 2008, he combined that role with the role of secretary of state for Scotland.
And since 2009 he has been the convener of the top-level group of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and the chair of the executive board of the European Leadership Network, which has been particularly helpful and effective in recent years in bringing together a wide range of European leaders in support of the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issue.
He’s also a member of the Group of Eminent Persons, which was established about a year ago by the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, Lassina Zerbo, to help advance global entry into force of the CTBT. And we had the chance to speak with one another about that difficult challenge at the GEM group’s first meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.
So very glad to have Des with us to offer this thoughts. And after he speaks we’re going to get into a discussion. And I think he’s looking forward to your questions and comments, especially given the great expertise and knowledge that we have in the room. So please join me in welcoming Des Browne. (Applause.)
LORD DESMOND BROWNE: Well, ladies and gentlemen – thank you very much, Daryl, for the kind and challenging introduction. I mean, it was a pleasure to be here today with you in particular, a man known across our community as an innovative thinker, not to mention a prolific writer and commentator. You and your colleague at the Arms Control Association do so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security.
I discovered recently in another unrelated aspect of my life I have come to know well a London-based businessman, who it turns out – and this is entirely coincidental – is a grandson of who I would call Gerard C. Smith, but you would, I think, probably say as Gerard – (changes pronunciation) – C. Smith – (laughter) – the former chair of the board of the Arms Control Association. It caused me to do a bit of research, and Gerard Smith’s contribution to disarmament and nonproliferation will be well-known to many, and particularly if there are people here who have been in this business for 60 years.
He was the chief U.S. delegate to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in 1969 and the first U.S. chairman of the Trilateral Commission, among many other achievements. He had an extremely distinguished career in public service. And after 1980, when he resigned from the government for the last time, he retained his interest and was extremely active in disarmament, strongly opposing President Reagan’s “Star Wars” program, and with George Cannon, McGeorge Bundy and Robert McNamara, I discovered, co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs, calling on the U.S. to declare a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.
I mean, this is a snapshot of this man’s achievements, but his tenacity in maintaining the integrity of his arguments, even in unreceptive times, I think gave an example to all of us in the challenging times that presently we are living through. We must maintain our optimism and we must redouble our efforts. And as Larry Weiler reminded us – and I agree with this – we have been in tougher times. And in fact, some of us are young enough not to have lived through those tougher times, but they have existed.
It’s also a pleasure to speak with such an engaged and, dare I say, optimistic audience. We know that the topics you are tackling at today’s annual meeting, from the Iranian nuclear puzzle to the future of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime, have long presented a significant challenge, and that challenge feels particularly acute today. But we also know that none of us would be in this room if we weren’t determined to make progress on these vexing issues and if we weren’t optimistic that progress is indeed possible.
But optimism doesn’t mean that we are naïve about the challenges ahead. The truth is that we are at a very precarious moment on a host of nuclear security fronts. Prospects for the P-5 process and next year’s Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference are not encouraging: incremental approach to disarmament, to the bargain that the recognized nuclear weapons states – the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China and France – struck over 45 years ago and now is so painfully slow that it too often feels as if we’re moving backwards. And it’s difficult to see a path forward when the five nuclear weapons states can’t agree on how to proceed. And the non-nuclear weapons states are angry about the pace of progress towards disarmament. This situation, in fact, is so bad that the upcoming 2015 NPT Review Conference is neither a convincing agenda nor a leader at this point.
In Geneva in 2008, when I spoke at the Conference on Disarmament – as, I think, then the first-ever defense minister to do so and probably the only defense minister ever to do so – (chuckles) – explaining how British policy on disarmament was then evolving, I said – and here I’m quoting myself; I apologize for this but – (laughter) – I said – it’s intended to make a point rather than to convince you of the words – “As part of our global efforts, we also hope to engage with other P-5 states and other confidence-building on nuclear disarmament throughout this NPT review cycle.” This is the important sentence: “The aim here is to promote greater trust and confidence as a catalyst to further reductions in nuclear warheads.”
Our intention, bringing the P-5 together, was to create a force for progressive dynamism. It appears that inadvertently we created a cartel. Meanwhile, we have states expanding their nuclear arsenals, surreptitiously seeking nuclear weapons under the guise of a civil energy program, and detonating nuclear test devices in the face of international condemnation. Finding a productive course to take with respect to Iran and North Korea is a particularly difficult challenge.
We saw approval of the New START treaty during President Obama’s first term. An important achievement, I am quite sure, could not have been realized without the very hard work of many here. Prospects for talk on additional reductions are dim at the very best. The chilling effect of recent events in Ukraine is our agenda today is in danger of being put into deep freeze. Worse yet, the situation not only strains relations between Russia and the United States, it may serve – and it has proven to do so for some – to boost the arguments of those who oppose reducing the role of nuclear weapons in NATO’s security construct.
Decades after more than 2,000 nuclear tests were conducted worldwide, leaving a ghastly humanitarian and environmental legacy amid growing concerns about the proliferation and security of nuclear weapons, efforts to ratify the ban on nuclear tests are stuck. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was adopted and open for signature in 1996 as a key piece of our global nuclear security architecture. And as you all know, since then 183 countries have signed the treaty and 162 have ratified, when the United States’ process has been blocked in the U.S. Congress. It’s blocked elsewhere as well, including in China, importantly, which won’t ratify until and unless the U.S. does.
And at the risk of utterly depressing everyone here, I must add one more problem to the list, and that’s that all the nuclear weapons states today are now working to modernize their arsenals, sending a powerful and unfortunate message about their lack of enthusiasm for arms control. The next sentence I’m going to modify but I’ll read it to you as written, and I’ll explain why I’m going to modify it.
In a groundbreaking report released earlier this year, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that the United States alone will spend a staggering $1 trillion over the next three decades modernizing and maintaining this nuclear arsenal. This now requires revision. In an excellent report published only today, the Arms Control Association and Tom Collina have set out the way to rethink these current plans, but this rethink actually – this is not a criticism of it, but it only saves 70 billion (dollars) of the trillon (dollars). (Laughter.) It doesn’t significantly reduce the scale of the challenge.
Plans to ramp up modernization fly in the face of the pledges President Obama made in Prague. And as my now colleague Senator Nunn told the New York Times recently, a lot of it is hard to explain. The president’s vision was a significant change in direction, but the process has preserved administration reinforced the status quo. So yes, much of our agenda is stuck, and we’re clearly in an unfortunate place today, having squandered a recent period of opportunity for progress on a variety of fronts, including reductions.
But at the same time, we must not allow this negative state of affairs to drain our resolve. It may seem hopeless today, but it’s important to remember that we will not always be in this moment. As the situation in Ukraine has demonstrated so clearly, the global security landscape can change unexpectedly and almost overnight. Fortunately, what history has shown is that it can also change for the better. We can and we must work towards the day when it will change to favor our work and the work predicated by the NPT.
So as we continue to press ahead, I think we can all take some solace in the axiom proffered by my good friend Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the very able head of the CTBTO. “It’s a well-known fact,” he said in a speech last year, “that frustration often paves the way for innovation.” “Perhaps the best starting place is,” in the words of my colleague Dr. Ian Kearns, the director of the European Leadership Network, “that we address the issues that are right in front of us.”
We must firstly avoid the unintended escalation of the situation Ukraine and manage the confrontation there effectively and responsibly. These destabilizing events confirm the need for a new approach to Euro-Atlantic security, which was the subject of the 2013 report, “Building Mutual Security in the Euro-Atlantic,” a process which I had the privilege of co-chairing with Sam Nunn, Igor Ivanov and the former German Deputy Foreign Minister Wolfgang Ischinger.
Through written before Ukraine erupted, the report contains medium- and long-term solutions that we still believe can contribute to solutions for the region. And additionally, the July 2014 position paper of the Task Force on Cooperation in Greater Europe – a European Leadership Network, PISM, RIAC and USAC initiative – predicted the detrimental effect that unilateral intervention, some of which we have seen, would have on the situation in Ukraine. To help manage the crisis, the report recommended steps including military and political restraint, increased military-to-military communications, and direct dialogue both inside Ukraine and between Ukrainian parties and other actors, all designed to ensure that the actions on the ground did not lead to dangerous escalation. And these recommendations are still valid.
During the whole of the Cold War, we had in place this sort of military-to-military and other communication for crisis management. We’ve forgotten how to do that and we need to get back to it so that we can control the situation and it doesn’t have the unintended consequences that it could have. Every day there are reports of events happening on the ground that could escalate. We in the European Leadership Network are in the process of compiling these. They are a frightening catalogue of incidents involving aircraft, ships, troops on the ground.
We must do everything we can to get a deal done with Iran, or at very least an agreement to continue the dialogue maintaining the status quo. And I mean the status quo now. In the event of a deal, we must ensure that Congress approves the necessary sanctions relief. We must turn the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative into a shared enterprise across nuclear haves and have-nots rather than a new point of division by focusing on preventing the worst not only through disarmament but by – (inaudible) – by securing materials, by universalizing the additional protocol, and by ramping up considerably effective preparations to handle an incident should it happen.
As Dr. Patricia Lewis at Chatham House has written: The fact that it has taken decades to discuss the problem nuclear weapons create through a humanitarian framework demonstrates how adept our societies are at forgetting, disguising and denying the overwhelming and the terrifying. We must not forget about tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. We need a more open and honest discussion about how most effectively we ensure European security with capabilities that actually are usable.
The usual claim that alliance cohesion means that we have to stick to the status quo against the desires of the majority is not a good long-term strategy for maintaining cohesion. Indeed, it guarantees alliance cohesion will come under major stress in times of crisis. It’s improbable that the fault lines and opinions will not affect a decision whether DCAs should be scrambled and B61s taken out of their vaults. Russia, in adversarial mode, is utterly adept at dividing the alliance, particularly the European members of it. This is a godsend to them and we need to address this. And I take heart too, and you should, because there are also innovative ideas out there about how to tackle many of these issues, and there’s a great deal of innovative work going on as well presently. Let’s begin with the P-5 process.
As the 2015 NPT Review Conference approaches, one question many of us have considered for a number of years is how to revitalize the process itself. Transparency is the key. I believe that we need to open it up and make it more accountable. And as one of the architects of it, I know where the flaws lie.
One way to do that may be to hold a session at the Review Conference, for example, during which nuclear weapons states collectively are quizzed by non-nuclear weapons states on their progress on disarmament and the challenges that they face. There’s broad agreement that all states need to reduce the salience attached to nuclear weapons, and that might be useful to have more discussions within formal NPT settings about what this actually means. These discussions could lead to proposals about what both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states could do to facilitate it.
A successful 2015 NTP – NPT Review Conference also would require countries to take a series of steps before the conference convened, but we’re running out of time to do that. Among them, as proposed by the European Leadership Network in a recent statement, that is, that Russia, the United States and the U.K., as the three NPT depository states, should issue a statement jointly with the U.N. secretary-general confirming that they will work towards setting up a conference in the WMD-free zone in the Middle East.
Nuclear weapons states should agree to be more transparent and demonstrate greater commitment to the goal of disarmament. Nuclear weapons states should participate in and help shape the agenda for the third planned Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which is set to take place in Austria in December. The United States and Russia should reiterate their willingness to maintain a nuclear arms control and disarmament dialogue despite current tensions in their relationship. And somebody has to make the first move in relation to this.
The prompt-launch posture of the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces may be an area ripe for progress too. A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, each country still deploys hundreds of long-term ballistic missiles, land- and sea-based, with roughly 2,000 nuclear warheads promptly set to destroy each other. Each maintains large nuclear forces on day-to-day alert, ready for launch and capable of hitting their targets in less than 30 minutes. This launch-on-warning posture is set to ensure that there can be no advantage from a first strike.
But inherent in this posture is the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch by either side, as well as the risk that a deliberate decision to use ballistic missiles will be made in haste on the basis of faulty or incomplete data. What’s more, the risk posed by these forces – force postures are increasing as cyberthreats and nuclear missile capabilities proliferate in other countries.
So what can be done? Ultimately the U.S. and Russia could agree to mutual reciprocal steps to reduce dangers by changing the nature of our force postures. There could be – this could be – these could be taken as part of a future process to repair the breach opened between the West and Russia over Ukraine. In the meantime, I strongly believe that other governments and NGOs must work to increase awareness about this threat and keep the issue visible with governments and publics. We need to make it possible for Moscow and Washington to see the political and diplomatic benefits, in addition to the security benefits, of acting on this issue. And we need to underscore the countries that might be considering adopting such force postures in the future that they would decrease the security and have no support in the international community.
Daryl recently has been promoting another interesting idea in conjunction with the third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which will be held in Vienna in December, and the review conference next year. First I’ll repeat that it is important for the P-5 countries to attend that conference, which they have not yet agreed to do. In fact, I tell you, from the point of view of the United Kingdom, if the U.S. agrees to go, we will go. I mean, it’s no coincidence that we have not made up our mind for each of the last two conferences until immediately after the United States made the decision.
So it’s important that – and I’m optimistic and hopeful that strong voices within the U.S. executive on marking the argument for this, that this needs to be a cooperative effort. I mean, if you want to have nuclear weapons, you have to live with the responsibility of the consequences of them and explain to others how you will deal with that challenge. However these two conferences were resolved in their final messages – and that’s a debate – and for other people – (inaudible) – others involved – (inaudible) – both of these conferences concluded that no country in the world can deal with the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and no country is capable of building the capability to do that.
Now, either we agree with that or we disagree with it, those of us who hold nuclear weapons. If we agree with it, we have to explain then to the rest of the world who don’t have these why that’s a morally consistent position to be in and why we’re not building the capability to do it. And if we don’t agree with it, then we need to explain why it is wrong. But we are not uninterested in this. We have a responsibility, if we depend for our strategic security on these weapons, to engage with this challenge. Either that is true or it is not. And if it is true, we have to live with that consequence and we need to be there.
Anyway, I moved away from Daryl’s bright idea. Daryl argues that as the impetus for a global nuclear weapons freeze, the United States and others at the conference should press states not yet engaged in the nuclear disarmament process to freeze the size of their arsenals and their fissile materials stockpiles as a first step towards multilateral, verifiable reductions. He makes a compelling case that a freeze could lead to further disarmament.
As for the CTBT, we are a long way away from 1996, when its adoption represented a high-water mark for multilateralism. There’s no question we have made progress since then, and the treaty has established a de facto global moratorium on testing, but we need to get the job done. And I’m confident that we can do it with a concerted, coordinated effort by governments, civil society and the international scientific community.
Today the CTBT is a group of eminent persons – senior statesmen, politicians and experts – who’s engaging with leaders in capitals of states that haven’t ratified to press the case. All of us, though, can do more to answer arguments against ratification, and we can do it with answers based on not just critical thinking but also on science. Among the arguments against the CTBT is that verification and monitoring won’t work, but now we have a state-of-the-art system in place, and important improvements are still being made. So let me remind everyone here that we have a very solid answer to the CTBT critics and we must dedicate ourselves to persuading them and demanding action from them.
So these are just a few ideas for how to move forward. And let me also briefly describe one of the projects that NTI has been working on recently. I believe it offers a good example of the kind of innovative and ground-breaking work the NGO community can do, often comparatively – sorry, often cooperatively with governments, to make progress on reducing the risks posed by nuclear materials and nuclear weapons. I’m referring to a two-year project entitled Innovating Verification: New Tools & New Actors to Reduce Nuclear Risks.
The project has involved more than 40 technical and policy experts from a dozen countries collaborating to produce innovative new concepts and confidence-building and transparency measures. And in a series of reports issued earlier this year, the project calls for the international community fundamentally to rethink the design, development and implementation of arms control verification. Participants made recommendations on verifying baseline declarations on nuclear warheads and materials, on how to define and take advantage of societal verification methods, and how to build global capacity. Excuse me, I’ve got a frog in my throat.
It was important that the project was undertaken with experts from around the world, because although it may be a truism, it cannot be said enough: When it comes to nuclear security, global challenges require global solutions, not to mention elevated thinking. That’s what we strive for in all our projects at the NTI, and I know it’s what has made the Arms Control Association a go-to resource for commentary and global nuclear security issues.
Thank you again for inviting me to be with you today, and I’ll look forward now to answering questions and hearing any ideas that you may have for us to make progress on these very complex and challenging issues. My own work in this field would not have been possible without steady optimism about the possibility for progress. And the dedication of those of you here today gives me more cause for optimism. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Des, for those very thoughtful, insightful, inspiring remarks.
And I see a number of hands poking up here, so please raise them high. And one of our – I think Greg Thielmann, I think you’ll be first. And Jennifer has the mic.
Q: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association. Thank you very much, Lord Browne, for your comments. I wondered if I could ask you also to comment on what the state of thinking is in Britain today – and I mean both the government and the public – in the wake of the Scottish vote, in the wake of the Trident Commission, in the wake of intense pressures on the British defense budget, that modernizing the U.K. deterrent imply.
LORD BROWNE: Well –
MR. KIMBALL: Any other questions right now? He’s answered them all? All right, David, why don’t you ask yours and then he’ll respond.
Q: David Culp. I’m with the Quakers. I appreciate your comments, and in particular on the B61. And I would urge you to move this up on your agenda.
In the year 2020, we’re going to start producing the B61. The Obama administration unfortunately shows absolutely no interest in not pursuing this. This is some of the low-hanging fruit. It would be very helpful if you could get more Europeans to speak up, like yourself. So I appreciate your comments but we’ve got to have more European leaders putting pressure on Congress. Frankly, the Obama administration is dragging its feet.
MR. KIMBALL: And let me just add to that question, Desmond. One other part of it I think is perhaps if you could offer your thoughts about what more NATO can do as a group to facilitate the discussion with Russia about how to deal with tactical nukes in Europe. I’m sure you have some thoughts about that.
LORD BROWNE: OK, well, I was kind of hopeful we might get further into the questions before we got to the Scottish question.
MR. KIMBALL: I’m sorry.
LORD BROWNE: There you go. Right. So the situation in the U.K. is that we – I mean, whoever wins the next election in the U.K. – 2015 – faces, it would appear, on a current timetable, the challenge of delivering on what the experts say is a necessity to make a decision about whether you replace the platforms of the boats for Trident missile system.
Before I come to what I think will happen There, let me just tell you that when I was the secretary of state in 2006, I was told that decision had to be made then – (laughter) – but you remember, of course, you had a program called the reliable replacement warhead, which was predicated on the fact that your warheads would become unstable and unusable within the foreseeable future unless they were replaced. And then, of course, there came the election of the one senator who voted against it, among others.
And when he asked – independent scientific advice to tell him whether or not that was correct, there was a change of policy – (laughter) – and now, these warheads are safe and secure for much longer. So I, in 2006, as the secretary of state for defense, was told two things, among many others – that I – you know, that feeling in the public domain about our nuclear weapons system. One was that we had to start replacing the boats or else we would discover that we were unable to maintain continuous “at-sea” deterrents.
And secondly, I was told we needed a replacement warhead, and almost certainly, we would need to make a decision in this current parliamentary cycle and this current parliament government’s term about replacing the warhead. So if you go back to the 2006 white paper that I partly drafted, it reflects that advice. Then there came along in 2010 the election of a coalition government, one party of whom was unwilling to accept the possibility of being responsible for the replacement of these boats and wanted the issue of the warhead to be looked at again. Oh, no, they didn’t – President Obama’s advice, I think – independent advice was adopted, and suddenly we didn’t need a new warhead.
But in any event, as far as the boats were concerned, conveniently for the coalition government, this became a decision that could be parked until after the next election, and the boats were good for another five years. So you may have detected a degree of cynicism in my voice here about the nature of expert advice in this area. (Laughter.) But there’s a track record of this advice not being reliable, and to some degree, the answer to the question being – depending on who’s asking the question, or if the question is being asked at all, with any vehemence.
So those who go in leading their parties, hoping to be in government in the United Kingdom will look at this possibility. If they – when they look at being the prime minister of a country and having to tell the people of the United Kingdom that a further three or perhaps five years of austerity face them, with – between 20 and 40 billion – (inaudible) – this is chicken feed, but 20 and 40 billion pounds of cuts in annual expenditure when a lot of people think we’ve already cut it the bone. Oh, and by the way, I’m just about to spend 50 billion pounds on replacing these boats. That seems to me to be an improbable result of a general election in the United Kingdom, unless there is a majority of the conservative party in government. I think that’s the only possibility that will guarantee that that will be the outcome.
I think that the likelihood is that if there is a change of prime minister, that that prime minister will reach for the tool that most leaders do when they’re faced with these sorts of challenges, and that is that he will have a review – (laughter) – and say, I want the experts to tell me whether or not this is true and if there’s another way of doing it. And that’s my – I’ve been convinced about that for some time. In fact, I’ve been convinced about that since the 2010 election.
So I think that is probable, but interestingly enough, the other commentators don’t agree with me, and people whom I admire – Malcolm Chalmers, for example, of RUSI who many of you may know recently wrote that this was a settled issue and that these boats were going to be built, but they still cost a lot of money. What has been settled, I think, is where the boats will be parked, because the outcome of the Scottish referendum means that the trident force will still be at Faslane and Coulport.
That would have been a challenge for the United Kingdom and therefore, NATO, had Scotland become independent, because it would have been part of the constitution of an independent Scotland, that no nuclear weapons could be housed in the country. I think the only answer to that would have been to declare a part of an East Coast naval base part of – well, part of England, I think – (laughter) – for the purposes of looking after it. The mayor of Cardiff allegedly said that he wanted them in Cardiff, but I don’t think the people of Cardiff would have.
And I think – (inaudible) – may have happened in other places where there were bases. Now, all of this would have been, you know, a seismic shock, I think, to NATO and to – I mean, sharing the burden of responsibility of the nuclear – strategic nuclear forces for the NATO alliance. It may or may not have been a good thing; I’m not entirely sure how it would have worked out, but it certainly would have increased, I think, the – concentrated the mind significantly on the value of these weapons to our collective security, which leads me, you know, to the question of European security.
I mean, I’m known to – I tell Americans this all the time, and I’ll tell you this, on the basis – I think a majority of people in this room are Americans – you need to tell the Europeans to look after their own defense. And I mean, this is an alliance in which Europeans need to make their proper contribution to their defense, and you need to argue against them suggesting that if some among our number share the burden of nuclear weapons by allowing tactical nuclear weapons to be in our country, than somehow, we are sharing our defense.
You know, these weapons have no military facility at all. They’re – I have never met anybody in a uniform who contemplates ever using them. They are utterly political weapons, and we’ve given this kind of mystical value somehow, in cohesion in Europe, but they’re nothing of the sort. You know, the people who most want them there are the people who don’t have them and can’t have the, and the people who actually have them, I can tell you, would struggle to get anything through their parliaments – they devoted a dollar to the maintenance (of ?). I mean, I cannot imagine the parliaments of the Netherlands voting in a majority for the cost of replacement dual capable aircraft. Cannot imagine – I mean, if the Belgians had a government – (laughter) – I can’t imagine that government being willing to go to its parliament to try to do the same thing.
The Turks don’t have that problem, because American aircraft are used, but the Italians don’t even tell their people they exist. You know, so I mean, these are odd weapon systems, and we have papered over the cracks of the divisions in Europe. And we did this because the United States, instead of understanding that it has a duty to lead, said to the Europeans, you make your decision, and we will go along with it. Instead, you should have told them honestly, we want to bring these damn things home. They’re a waste of money, and we’re going to have to modernize them, and this is going to cost billions of dollars. But there are opportunities. You know, build into your budget for them some element in which the Europeans pay some of their share, even if it’s proportionate, and we will very soon have a different dynamic and discussion about these weapons.
You know, stick to the decision that you have already made about the new aircraft. There is no dual-capable version of this planned yet. It will cost a lot of money to do it. But if they want it done, they can pay for it, and then we’ll have a different discussion about these issues. These weapons serve no purpose, and they are only a cause of division, and they will be at the point of potential use – the most significant cause of division, as I say here. I mean, this idea that somehow, they build cohesion because people uncomfortably agree to go along with a minority voice for the purpose of decision-making is no basis for long-term strategic decision making.
MR. KIMBALL: Well, thank you for that answer, which was particularly detailed for not wanting to talk about the Trident issue. (Laughter.) But that was fabulous. That was a great – we’ve got a question up front, and one in the back. So we’ll take both of those and have Des answer. Yes, sir.
Q: Thank you for that sober and thoughtful and wise – I’m Ward Wilson. Could you comment a little bit on the politics of disarmament? It seems to me that the humanitarian movement or initiative is gaining a certain amount of headway and that that is – there’s a constant flurry of rumors that, eventually, there will be a discussion about having a ban treaty. So it seems to me that those of us who are pragmatic about these kinds of issues are caught in the middle. On the one hand, you have a rising tide of voices around the world for some greater measure of ban treaty or something, and on the other hand, you know, you have nuclear weapons states who are reluctant – want to modernize their arsenals. So what can a pragmatist in the middle do in a circumstance where there is rising – raised voices on both sides?
MR. KIMBALL: Why don’t you go ahead with this.
LORD BROWNE: Yeah, I mean, this is an extremely challenging environment. And I’ve kept very close to Ambassador Koment (ph) whom I admire immensely, who has been given the responsibility by the (Austrians ?) for managing this process, and he’s doing all he can to try and create an environment in which nuclear weapon states can be engaged, and I admire him immensely for, you know, what he has – what he has sought to do, but he’s not getting a lot of help from nuclear weapons states to do this.
I mean, I don’t normally argue by assertion, but this issue is not going away. And there are those in the five nuclear weapons states – and I have actually had French people articulate this – that says, don’t encourage them. You know, this will run out of steam, or worse, I heard, on one occasion, a very senior French commentator suggesting that engaging with them would give the people who were behind this movement some sort of credibility or respectability. I mean, this is utterly ridiculous, the idea that the vast majority of the world is waiting for credibility or respectability from five countries. (Laughter.)
So this is not going away. And this is an issue that we will need to keep coming back to, and please – you know, because I have respect for Americans and British and others, can we please stop using the worst argument possible in the world for nonengagement, which is that this is stopping us from doing all the positive things that we’re doing in the NPT? (Laughter.) You know, you’re just highlighting how much inactivity there actually is in relation to the NPT, from our perspective. This is the worst possible argument we could put forward. If we weren’t doing something and about to turn up at the NPT they have coined to unveil a big basket of goodies, then that would be something, but we’re not. We’re struggling for something positive to say.
So we’re just reinforcing our inadequacy in this particular area. Secondly, can we stop using nonproliferation when all the rest of the world uses the word “disarmament?” I mean, why is it that everybody on the have side of this wants to talk about nonproliferation when all the rest of the world wants to talk about disarmament? You know, can we kind of tidy up that vocabulary and maybe (work ?) that in the glossary and say the P-5 that we’ve been spending five, six years trying to work out – just our reluctance to use the word disarmament. I mean, for the very obvious reason that disarmament is a very strong contributor to security.
Who believes that the world is a less – we’ve had this conversation before – (inaudible) – in the same space, although we have a different dynamic in the way we approach it. But I mean, who believes the world is a less safe place because there are fewer chemical weapons in it? Maybe some left. Who believes the world is, you know, a less safe place because there are few biological weapons? You know, cluster munitions, anti-personnel landmines?
You know, disarmament is a very strong driver of security, you know, and there’s an interesting – there’s also, in relation to this issue of the ban treaty – that’s an utterly respectable ambition to have. You know, if you want to go to an international organization and encourage a treaty banning nuclear weapons, that’s an utterly respectable position to have, because we’ve been parties to movements, all of us, in which we’ve tried to ban weapons systems. It was a respectable thing to do. So don’t dismiss as if, somehow, you know, it was an ambition which was likely to undermine our security collectively, because it’s not. It’s a respectable position to have, but you don’t have to engage with the process to that purpose.
And actually, the majority of the countries in the world are happy to engage with you to discuss the issues that I enumerated. I mean, let’s deal with the issue of, what are the responsibilities for having these weapon systems for those of us who don’t rely upon them? I mean, I just pose this question to you. You know, I mean, if you are – if you are the leader of a Latin or South American country, none of whom have nuclear weapons and none of whom benefit from an umbrella of nuclear weapons, then are they not entitled to ask those who hold these weapons some challenging questions? Because there are no upsides for them in these damn things.
So we need to be in that environment, you know. And this process will continue. And we may find ourselves in the uncomfortable position that we have been in the past where we come late to these discussions. And then we contribute, yet again, to this interesting jurisdiction that is developing in the world where we don’t ratify, sometimes don’t sign and ratify – but we don’t ratify treaties, but we observe them.
I mean, why are we in this situation in relation to the CTBT? You know, why does America go around the world threatening people with the International Criminal Court, which it pays for substantially, when it won’t ratify the treaty itself? Why is it substantially observing the anti-personnel landmine treaty that it will not sign up to? Is it only because of what’s happening in the Korean peninsula, or are there other issues – but observes it substantially? You know, why are we – why is American not deployed – or used cluster munitions since the convention was signed? I mean, why would a country of this power want to get itself into this kind of relationship with a series of treaties in which it signs and doesn’t ratify or neither signs and ratifies, but observes them? This is a very odd place to be. (Laughter.)
So I mean – I think the United States – I mean, I’m a great admirer of the United States and its ability to be able to able to produce a room full of people like this. It needs to get to the center of these discussions and make them work for the benefit of others. We need the capability in this world to be able to deal with the consequences of an Ebola virus and a discharge of a nuclear weapon, accidentally or deliberately by some third force. We need to become part of the discussion as to how we do that, and you lead in the first, but don’t seem to want to have any part in the second.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Des. We unfortunately are out of time for this session. And I want to ask you all to join me in thanking Des for a really thoughtful, thought-provoking and inspiring address and answers to our questions. We’ll want to continue to work with you in the future on these challenges and with NTI, which is very lucky to have him here in Washington. So thanks very much.
LORD BROWNE: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
DARYL G. KIMBALL: All right. Welcome back, everyone. Once again, it’s great to have you here. We are moving into the final lap of our meeting today and we’re going to be talking about the future of the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, which Des Browne offered some very, I think, useful thoughts about – important reality check. And we’re going to go into greater depth with this panel, right now, with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Anita Friedt and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
And let me just provide a brief introduction as we begin. To remind us, as many of you know, we’re just over five months away from the once every five years review conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is the bedrock of the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament enterprise. And, without the NPT, we certainly would be facing greater nuclear dangers, but the NPT, by itself, does not mean that we do not still face serious proliferation risks and the threat of – that nuclear weapons might, one day, be used again. It’s a constant work in progress to ensure that implementation of the treaty’s provisions occurs and that cooperation takes place to find ways to update and reinforce the basic provisions of the NPT. So the review conference is, basically, an opportunity to take stock and an opportunity to renew and update the member states’ solemn legal and political commitments to each of the treaty’s provisions. And, as you recall, five years ago, the 2010 NPT review conference was generally considered to be a roaring success because the parties had succeeded in reaching consensus on a far reaching and detailed 65 point action plan covering all three of the treaty’s pillars.
However, as we just heard from Des Browne, and I think many other observers would agree, follow-through on many parts of the action plan, particularly the 22 interrelated disarmament steps, is considered to have been disappointing in many respects and this is exacerbated by the fact that each of the five original nuclear weapons states – the five NPT weapons states – are either modernizing their existing nuclear stockpiles or improving them. So the 2015 NPT review conference, as you’ll hear from our two panelists, is shaping up to be very different in style, and, perhaps, substance, from the 2010 conference. And so we’ve put this panel together to take a look at the situation five months ahead and to discuss the issues that are going to be reviewed and considered in what the United States and other countries believe would constitute a successful review conference outcome. And I’m hoping that Anita and Gaukhar can offer their thoughts about what steps key states can take ahead of and during and after the review conference to strengthen the global nonproliferation and disarmament effort.
So, as I said, first, we’ll hear from the U.S. State Department’s Anita Friedt. She’s principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and strategic policy in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance and, somewhere, that all fits on a business card – that long title. And she has been working at the State Department for over 33 years. Prior to her current post at the AVC Bureau, she was serving as director for arms control and non-proliferation at the National Security Council, from 2009 to 2011, and she has many years of experience, particularly with respect to European foreign policy and U.S.-Russian affairs. And then, following her remarks, we’re going to hear from Gaukhar, who is, I must say, one of the leading lights and voices on NPT issues. She has spent a great deal of time observing and writing and I’ve been very impressed with her presentations and her observations and so we’re very glad to have her here with us today to talk about the upcoming review conference. She has, I’ll note, served as an expert on the delegation of Kazakhstan to the 2010 NPT review conference and the 2009 preparatory committee meeting. She’s now the director of the International Organizations of Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, here in Washington, just a couple blocks away from ACA world headquarters at 13th and L.
So, with that, let me turn over the microphone to Anita. And after each of them speak, we’ll get in, once again, to a discussion with you. We should have ample time before we begin wrapping up around two o’clock. So Anita, thanks for being here.
ANITA FRIEDT: Thank you. Thank you very much, Daryl. Thank you for the introduction and thanks to the Arms Control Association for hosting this event. I have to say, it’s a great pleasure to be here and I’m sorry – I’m sorry I missed the early morning session, but I certainly will look forward to reading, especially the latest publication that both you and Lord Browne mentioned. I also wanted to mention that I was particularly pleased to hear Lord Browne, who preceded me here. I came early just so I could hear his talks. He really has many profound and very experienced observers in this very room, but his remarks are very good.
So let me start – what I’d like to do is to take a few minutes – and I know many of you will say, I’ve heard this before, but this is the administration’s view and so I am very pleased to present it and then answer questions. But I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the United States goals and vision for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference as well as our efforts to strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. After that, I look forward to your questions, certainly. So, as Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller stated earlier this month at the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, the United States continues to work on all fronts toward the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. We’re pursuing and seeking to create opportunities to further reduce nuclear arsenals, increase confidence in transparency and cooperate on nonproliferation. As Undersecretary Gottemoeller said, reaching these goals is a long and often difficult process. You’ll hear this many times and I will continue to repeat it; it is a long and difficult process, but we press ahead because we know that the – but only by continuing our committed, serious work on reducing the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction can we ensure safety and security for the generations to come.
The threats we face in the world today remind us all that our work on nonproliferation and disarmament is critical. The challenges to the NPT are real, but the treaty is far too important to fail or to be held hostage to impractical demands or agendas that impede lasting progress. A successful review conference in 2015 is a priority for the United States. As Daryl and others have said, we clearly face a challenging conference but, again, we want to make this conference as successful as possible. The United States is committed to pursuing a responsible approach to nuclear disarmament in keeping with our NPT commitment and I’d like to elaborate on what this means to us. In short, we seek to create and pursue opportunities with our partners to reduce nuclear arsenals, increase confidence and transparency and cooperate on nonproliferation. We do not have a predetermined set of steps that must be taken in any specific order toward nuclear disarmament. Again – here, I will repeat this, again – slow progress in one area will not deter us from seeking headway in others. So there’s constant criticism about the pace of disarmament, especially by the P5, one: there – it has to be a step by step process; it’s the only responsible way to move forward and slow progress in one area cannot and will not deter us from seeking headway in others.
Through persistent effort and a clear mandate to reduce nuclear threats, we have made real progress over the last 40 years and, especially, over the past six years. We have dismantled approximately 1,300 nuclear warheads since 2009. Our nuclear stockpile has dropped 85 percent from its Cold War peak. Through the New START Treaty, our deployed nuclear forces will drop further to levels not seen since the days of President Eisenhower. New Start is being implemented in a businesslike manner and it continues to reinforce strategic stability. The treaty remains mutually beneficial for the security interests of the United States and Russia. President Obama has made clear our readiness to discuss further nuclear reductions with the Russian Federation but progress, obviously, requires a willing partner and a conducive strategic environment. It is no secret, as we’ve discussed here today, that there are issues on which the United States and Russia disagree. In the nuclear realm, we are urging Russia to help us preserve the mutual benefits of the INF Treaty by resolving our concerns and returning to a verifiable compliant – to verifiable compliance with the treaty. We believe this treaty, the INF treaty, remains in the interests of Russia, the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia. Despite our disagreements on important issues, certainly including Ukraine, we should not stop trying to move ahead in this step by step fashion on arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament. The United States and Russia worked together to help remove and eliminate Syria’s declared chemical weapons and we are together at the negotiating table with Iran on its nuclear program.
Even in the past, and certainly during the Cold War, during the tensest of moments, working together on reducing the nuclear threat has been an important area of U.S. and Russian leadership and it continues to be so. Of course, progress towards disarmament is not just the responsibility of the United States and Russia. All states can and must contribute to the conditions for disarmament as well as nonproliferation; they are two sides of the same coin. And by all states, I do mean all states, not just the nuclear states. In addition to our bilateral efforts, we have continued to engage, as Lord Browne spoke, in the P5 process to help advance dialogue on nuclear issues. P5 engagement is a long term investment designed to strength the NPT, build trust and create a stronger foundation to pursue steps towards our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Again, a long term investment – a lot of criticism about the pace of the progress and the activities of the P5, but it is a long term investment and very important in terms – especially in terms of confidence building transparency issues. The process has made some gains. Collectively, we reached agreement on a standard NPT reporting framework and submitted our first reports at this year’s NPT PrepCom. We’ve also exchanged briefings on best practices, implementing nuclear arms control agreements, such as inspections under New START, and committed to continue work on a P5 glossary that will increase mutual understanding.
Even as we finalize the first phase of this glossary work, we are engaging with our P5 partners on how to take this effort forward, including by addressing concepts relevant to future agreements. Ongoing P5 work on critical comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty inspection techniques will help enhance the treaty’s verification regime. We also seek to ensure that international verification of NPT obligations remains effective and robust and that parties uphold the integrity of the treaty by addressing noncompliance. NPT parties should be clear on this point. IAEA safeguards benefit every party and create confidence that facilitates the fullest possible cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is of paramount importance that the IAEA continue to have the authority it needs to implement safeguards and that member states provide the resources necessary that meet our common expectations to fulfill the agency’s mandate. A key priority is to promote the IAEA additional protocol which, combined with the comprehensive safeguards agreement, represents the accepted standard for verification that states are meeting the NPT safeguards requirements. We are prepared to help any state seeking assistance to implement its safeguards obligations. We will also seek consensus on the need to address treaty violations and on recommendations to address potential abuse of the right to withdraw from the NPT.
As part of our commitment to the NPT, the United States has signed the protocols to the nuclear weapon free zone treaties in Africa, Central Asia and the South Pacific. We are working with ASEAN states and the P5 to soon sign the protocol to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. We have been a party to the Latin American – Latin America treaty protocols for many years and would hope that the Senate would provide its advice and consent to the other treaty protocols that have been transmitted to the Senate for consideration. This would be a very positive step and would be well received by all NPT parties.
Now, I would also like to stress U.S. leadership in supporting peaceful nuclear energy with parties meeting their nonproliferation obligations. The U.S. is on record – U.S. record – pardon me, the U.S. record on promoting the availability and sharing of peaceful benefits of the atom speaks for itself. We have civil nuclear cooperation agreements in force permitting peaceful nuclear cooperation with 46 states, Taiwan and the IAEA. We are also pursuing agreements with additional partners. In addition, the United States is by far the largest contributor to the IAEA peaceful use programs, including about 150 million (dollars) in voluntary contributions since 2010 and another 50 million (dollars) toward the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative that we helped launch. These peaceful uses initiative programs have addressed the sustainable development needs of over 120 member states in areas such as human health, water resource management, food security, environmental protection and nuclear power infrastructure development. We encourage other member states to join us in supporting this initiative.
Another priority is encouraging new frameworks for peaceful nuclear cooperation that reduce proliferation risks, including through the IAEA fuel bank and similar assured fuel supply arrangements. So, as you can see, the United States takes this work very seriously. There is much work happening and much – but also much more to be done. As Undersecretary Gottemoeller said to our friends and colleagues from around the world in New York the week before last, we are under no illusions that a single solution can put an end to the threat from weapons of mass destruction. That is why we must work together, all of us, to find common ground based on a shared desire to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons. By focusing on our mutual commitments to the NPT and other international agreements, we can succeed in reaching a safer world together. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Now Gaukhar, if you could provide your perspectives on the upcoming conference and the issues that they will be grappling with. Thanks.
GAUKHAR MUKHATZHANOVA: Thank you. Thank you very much, Daryl, and thank you, you, and Arms Control Association for inviting me and for the kind introduction earlier. And as was already mentioned, following Des Browne is both a delight and a challenge, considering he covered a lot of the ground that we presumably were going to, as well, in our panel, but I think it’s also a very good conversation starter, right there. So I was asked to talk a little bit about the main issues facing the upcoming review conference and then dive a little more into the role of different key states and groupings in terms of bringing about a positive outcome, however they might define a positive outcome of a review conference; and I recognize there might, actually, be differences in what different countries view as a desirable outcome of the RevCon next year.
I will not be terribly original in identifying the main issues before the RevCon; I think – I think most of us who have ever followed the NPT would have no difficulty with that. The Middle East – the Middle East and the zone, or lack thereof, are free of weapons of mass destruction. The Middle East and the as yet to be convened conference of states in the Middle East will be one of the central topics and, as already was mentioned, the conference was supposed to take place by the end of 2012; that did not happen for a variety of reasons and failure to convene that conference before the RevCon, in my view, will poison the debate tremendously across all issues at the review conference, be it disarmament, regional issues, nonproliferation – that bad atmosphere will find a way to spill over everything. And so, in that – in that case, it’s really hard to talk about any kind of forward looking agreement, a really constructive one, for the future review cycle.
But even if we do succeed in having the Middle East conference, and even if it is successful in the sense of establishing some kind of a process going forward for the zone, the positive outcome of the review conference is also far from guaranteed, and that is directly tied to the two other issues that I will – I will talk about, and they are very much linked to each other. That is, the nuclear disarmament, and the progress on nuclear disarmament, and the review in the future of the action plan that was adopted in 2010. The action plan covers all three pillars of the NPT, but the history with negotiation shows that really it was the disarmament section of it that was central to the outcome – to the positive outcome. And therefore, a lot of focus is on the implementation of the action plan. And as Lord Browne already talked about, the implementation is decidedly lacking. And there are different civil society reports on that and then states individually have followed it. And over the past three preparatory committee meetings, we have increasingly heard that frustration with the fact that what was perceived as a great success and way forward has really been disappointing since 2010.
That said, there is no consensus among states parties about what constitutes the appropriate pace of implementation of the action plan. And there, the divergences have been growing and got very pronounced at the last preparatory committee meeting in May. And I’ve just come back from the first committee in New York and I can still see that nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states view the action plan very differently. From nuclear weapon states, especially France or Russia, you would hear things like a road map, the one and only path for disarmament under the NTP. And in that sense, they’re looking at a very long-term prospect, sort of very over-the-horizon view.
Majority of non-nuclear weapon state do not share that view. They did adopt the action plan with a bit more urgency in mind, but they did not necessarily expect it to be implemented by 2015. And that’s where the problem lies right now. What are the reasonable expectations about the action plan? And, tied to that, what are we going to do about the action plan, coming 2015? And the statement I’ve heard from various parties already is that the simple rollover is not acceptable. It will absolutely not be enough to come to the review conference and just, say, reaffirm the action plan of 2010 and let’s keep working. And that would be ideal outcome for France, but for most other countries it would be absolutely not enough.
What will be enough for them is not clear yet. And that’s the big challenge for non-nuclear weapon states, to figure out where the priorities lie, what kind of benchmarks they want to attach to the action plan, how do they want to build upon the action plan? They will need to figure it out from until April, 2015, or preferably earlier so that they can actually work on some kind of coordinated position, to the extent that it’s at all possible in a setting like the NPT.
Another debate that has been tied to the action plan and this frustration with the very slow step-by-step approach, is the very approach to nuclear disarmament. Are we – are we really following the right modality? Is step-by-step really end-all in terms of advancing nuclear disarmament. And that’s why you would – you’ve heard over the past years a lot more conversation about bringing back the nuclear weapons convention idea, putting forward the nuclear weapons ban idea. And that has been the product of this frustration with the lack of urgency that non-nuclear weapon states see in the efforts of nuclear weapon states.
So that will be very, very central at the review conference, along with this new discourse – which is not entirely new because it’s really going back to the fundamentals of the NPT, and that is the humanitarian initiative. Like other initiatives that we’ve seen in past years, such as the open-ended working group on disarmament, high-level meeting on disarmament, the humanitarian initiative is also a product of this frustration. And I really like the quote earlier that frustration sometimes leads to elevation. And the humanitarian debate has been the most significant development, really, since 2010 in terms of mobilizing states and mobilizing civil society, and to some extent mobilizing the public, around the question of nuclear disarmament.
And the initial strategy of nuclear weapons states of dismissing and somehow trying to disregard the humanitarian initiative hasn’t worked. Far from running out of steam, the initiative has gained momentum. And in fact, just a couple of hours ago in New York, New Zealand delivered another joint statement on behalf of 155 states this time, on the humanitarian dimension. So that really speaks to the importance that NPT states parties attach to this. This is not going away. And this will be front and center in the disarmament conversation at the NPT review conference.
Now, what does it practically mean? What – how does the humanitarian initiative translate into the NPT rev-con debate? Again, that remains to be seen. And again, there is no consensus among non-nuclear weapon states participating in the initiative about the appropriate way forward and how it will – it should be integrated into the NPT. There is a broad agreement that we need urgency and the humanitarian dimension is trying to bring that sense of urgency into nuclear disarmament. There is a broad recognition that we have to frame nuclear disarmament debate – debate about the future of it in the humanitarian terms, about the concern for human beings, not he security concerns of a couple of states.
Beyond that, there are very few specifics. And some states do support the idea of negotiating a nuclear weapon ban. Does it mean they are ready to start tomorrow? Probably not. What are they ready to start tomorrow? Again, that is something that they will have to define in slightly more concrete terms going into the review conference so that they can more effectively press for this issue. Whether that would translate into just, you know, more progressive language on the humanitarian dimension in the final document, maybe. But that seems like an utterly insufficient outcome of this tremendous mobilization that we’ve seen.
And one of the ways that this could go is tied to an important grouping in the – in the NPT, and that is the New Agenda Coalition. The New Agenda Coalition has seen a resurgence in the past two years, very much tied to the open-ended working group, that’s where they really got together again, and then inspired also by the humanitarian initiate. The NAC tabled a working paper at the last prep-con that they want to take forward into the rev-con, but also going into other fora beyond 2015.
And the paper talks about the different modalities for nuclear disarmament. It talks about the need for a legally binding instrument of some kind. And there, they leave the question open. They put different options on the table on the basis of what they’ve heard from other states, what they themselves have discussed. So they put – they have an annex to that paper that talks about, you know, what are the pros and cons of a nuclear weapons convention, of a nuclear weapons ban, of a framework agreement, of a set of different agreements that would include things like CTBT, like FMCT, but also going beyond?
And this is an important development because it’s an invitation to a conversation. And I think what nuclear weapons states could do very usefully between now and the rev-con and beyond is to accept that invitation for conversation and see how that can usefully be integrated into the review conference process. They absolutely need to demonstrate their willingness to have that exchange, rather than what we’ve seen up to date as to, you know, the our approach is the best approach and this is really end of the conversation. You can have your conferences, but really that does not affect what we think is the realistic and pragmatic way forward.
I think the number of countries that have signed up to – (inaudible) – initiative and the number of countries that have already called for some kind of legally binding instrument really says that they deserve a more – a more constructive, a more honest exchange about what is it we are looking forward to in terms of nuclear disarmament and concrete steps beyond FMTC, because so far the discussion of steps and disarmament tends to – tends to end at the negotiation of the FMTC.
What could nuclear weapon states usefully do as well is – as Lord Browne said, go to the humanitarian conference in Vienna. And there, positions matter much more than the P-5 has let on previously. I think the so-called solidarity has fractured a little bit around this issue. And so it would really help the United States in particular if the United States were to go and sort of reduce a bit the tension and demonstrate its own willingness to have this conversation and take that responsibility.
The NATO states have a role to play because, again, the recent debates have exposed differences not only between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, but among non-nuclear weapon states about the urgency of nuclear disarmament and, in some cases, even its desirability. We’ve heard statements from some of the alliance members – not only from Europe but also from Asia – that maybe the goal is fewer nuclear weapons, not necessarily no nuclear weapons. And that’s a very worrying sign, of course, for other states parties.
So states in nuclear alliances have to take their responsibility for the commitments under Article 6 and demonstrate how they can move away for their reliance on nuclear weapons. And that’s something that has been, you know, brought up by Lord Browne, that they really need to re-examine the role of nuclear weapons in those alliances and whether or not it is acceptable for them to rely on nuclear weapons for their security.
The United States – well, actually, before I proceed to the United States – the P-5 process. A lot of states have looked to the newly established P-5 process for some signs of progress. And there, the nuclear weapon states can demonstrate progress by at least putting forward a forward-looking agenda beyond 2015. So really outline what you’re going to do, that you’re willing to work for nuclear disarmament.
And there, I understand, opportunities are quite limited, again, because of the diversity of views. But one thing that is realistic is to focus on areas like transparency and verification. A joint project of the P-5 on exploring disarmament verification issues I think would be a tremendously positive sign for non-nuclear weapon states that – you know, that very serious work is being put into that and very serious thinking into the actual practical aspects of nuclear disarmament.
And as for the United States, I think the issue that was discussed earlier about the modernization and the tremendous amount of money put into it, I think that’s where the opportunity lies for the United States to re-examine its position, to revise its modernization plans. And there are different reasons for that domestically, budget concerns, and also just the practical thinking of whether militarily we need that. But it will also send a very good signal outside, because right now the modernization plans, by everybody but especially United States, is very clearly telling non-nuclear-weapon states that the nuclear weapons are here to stay for decades, for decades and decades, and the nuclear weapon states have no intention of reducing their reliance on them, because you cannot invest a trillion of dollars into something that you plan to get rid of in any kind of foreseeable future. So revising that would really help strengthen the U.S. position going into the NPT review conference.
I think I’ll stop here because Daryl is – no?
MR. KIMBALL: I’m OK. (Laughter.) Very good. Thank you. (Applause.) You’ve both given us a lot to consider.
I want to open up the floor to questions, suggestions. So we’ll start with Ed Ifft up front and then we’ll go to Martin Fleck in the back.
Q: Thank you. Edward Ifft, Georgetown University. Could you say a little more about the legal aspects of the ban treaty? For example, if a state with nuclear weapons joined the ban treaty, what legal obligations would it be accepting? Thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: I assume that’s a question for Gaukhar, since the – yes, OK. All right.
And why don’t we go with Martin in the back. We’ll take two at a time, please.
Q: Thank you for being here, Ms. Friedt. And I know you’ve been hearing from a lot of people, including people on the panel today, and in the earlier discussion, urging you to – the State Department to send a delegation to Vienna. And, you know, 146 nations attended the Mexico conference. That’s three-quarters of the nations of the world. The absence of the United States is becoming more noticeable, so I wanted to put the question to you, will the United States send a delegation to Vienna in December?
MR. KIMBALL: All right. So why don’t you start, Gaukhar, and then we’ll go to –
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: I will try to answer the nuclear weapons ban question, but it’s really a question to the civil society, primarily, who have been behind this idea of a nuclear weapons ban. And there the distinction from the Nuclear Weapons Convention, for example, is that it would be just a normative prohibition of nuclear weapons. It will not carry within itself a dismantlement program. So there’s no verification to speak of, an actual schedule of disarmament. It’s really just to establish a norm that these nuclear – that these weapons are unacceptable, that they are illegal.
What would that mean for a nuclear weapons state? I think the idea that was put forward is that the nuclear weapons state can join the ban and then have some kind of a protocol attached on its disarmament program.
Now, I’m not a lawyer, so I haven’t really gone into it, and this is a very good question, and that is a question that has to be discussed by states, especially between the states that do support the ban idea and the nuclear weapon states. And that brings us back to this point of where to have that conversation. Is the NPT review conference the proper space for that? And if not, where is the space for that?
Do we need to go back to the open-ended working group, for example, because that was – that was an official U.N. setting but it didn’t presuppose, you know, a negotiation. So it was a very safe space to discuss a lot of these things. It was a lost opportunity back in 2013 for nuclear weapon states to come and discuss, but this should not preclude them from supporting it in the future and raise these kinds of issues: you know, what do you mean by the nuclear weapons ban? How is it compatible with the NPT? What are the legal implications? These are all valid questions that need to be addressed in some kind of forum where both parties are willing to engage.
MR. KIMBALL: Just one other quick point on this. You know, we have to keep in mind that there are – you know, as I think of it, there are three different variations on this concept. There’s the ban on – the normative ban on the existence of nuclear weapons, the possession of nuclear weapons; there is a ban on the use of nuclear weapons under all or certain circumstances, much as the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons; and then there is a convention or a framework leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. So these are all concepts that are bandied about. One of the useful things about the paper that was mentioned, the New Agenda Coalition paper, is that it lays out these different concepts for discussion. And so they’re all concepts that could potentially be discussed in the right forum.
And I would just quickly add, there’s one other legal issue that I think is worth the states discussing at the NPT Review Conference because one of the commitments made in 2010 was that the NPT nuclear weapon states should diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons and discuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons. So that was an obligation. So one of the ways in which one might pursue that or discuss that would be for the nuclear weapon states, in the context of the NPT Review Conference or some other context, to explain their legal rationale for their nuclear war plans, their nuclear weapons employment plans.
And I would just point out that the United States asserts that U.S. war plans will apply the principles of distinction and proportionality and seek to minimize collateral damage to civilian populations and civilian objects. The United States will not intentionally target civilian populations or civilian objects. That comes from the Nuclear Posture Review Report.
Well, that’s a very interesting statement, given what we know nuclear weapons can do. I would find it very interesting to find out how the Defense Department lawyers would try to explain that assertion.
So, I mean, these kinds of issues are some of the ways in which these issues can be explored. There are myriad ways of doing it. I think, you know, Des Browne offered one option for doing so; we’ve heard a couple others here. So there are many different ways of going at this. But I think there are more questions at this stage than answers.
So let me stop there, and let me ask Anita to get to the question that was asked about the U.S. decision about the Vienna conference and where that stands.
MS. FRIEDT: I thought we were going to skip that. No. (Laughs.) No, happy to answer that. And thank you, and thanks to everyone who has been lobbying. Really I have to say that since this movement – and Gaukhar was very good at explaining the whole genesis of it – I think that there certainly is a greater awareness and interest in the humanitarian impact.
But I start first of all to say that the United States, of all countries, knows better than any other country what the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons can be. And that is one of the reasons that we are working on disarmament. That is a priority for us and remains a priority.
Secondly, certainly interested and always willing to listen to others about this. I certainly also – we also certainly appreciate the education portion of this. I have to say one of the most interesting comments from many younger-generation colleagues has been the point about P-5 participation and the humanitarian impact has been. We as young people did not grow up in the Cold War. We did not grow up in the 1960s, where we had to do the duck-and-cover, as I did and many of you here have done. So we really don’t understand. So certainly humanitarian, education is fine, certainly agree with that objective.
But what’s one of the biggest problems that we have had – the P-5, I’ll say, I’ll speak loosely; I mean, obviously I’m speaking for the United States, and the P-5 did not attend the first two conferences, in Oslo and also not in Mexico, or in Nayarit, in Mexico. But one of the biggest problems we have is this off-ramp. We have – this seems to be a convenient way to try to accelerate the process, and I’m afraid it’s not a realistic way. We have – the 2010 NPT review conference has a 64-point action plan. That action plan has – there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of work for the P-5, there’s a lot of work for every single signatory of the NPT – of the treaty, and that should be our focus.
What I think happens too often, and as I mentioned in my remarks over and over again, and this is certainly, as Gaukhar said, a point of debate – what should be the pace of disarmament. Disarmament is not easy. Taking the steps to verifiably reduce and disarm is not easy. It does not happen magically, does not happen overnight. And one of the biggest challenges we have with the humanitarian impact or the movement that works to outlaw nuclear weapons is that this is a shortcut and diverts attention from the very real focus that we think we should have, which is the actual hard work that is behind implementation of the 64-point action plan and the hard work of disarmament.
So the bottom line is we have not – and you will have heard this again – we have not yet – we have the invitation from the Austrians for the conference but we have not yet – the United States has not yet made a decision as to whether to attend or not.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. And let me just note, there is – there will, in the November issue of Arms Control Today, be a long interview with Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller. One of the questions we asked her was about the conference that will be, I think – I guess I could say a similar answer that will – (laughter) – be described. But she goes into a little bit – she will go into a little bit more detail about some of the questions the U.S. is considering as it makes this decision. So just a plug for the forthcoming issue of Arms Control Today.
All right, we have a few people with their hands up. Let’s come up here to the media table please, and then we’ll catch as many as we can. We’re doing well for time. Go ahead, please.
Q: Thank you. My name is Miho Takashima with Tokyo Broadcasting System. I’d like to address the question to Assistant Secretary Friedt. I’d like to turn to my region of the world, North Korea. Usually when we look at the U.S. government, we see some sort of willingness or motivation on the U.S. side to get engaged with North Korean government on the second term of their administration. So far I don’t see that sort of attitude coming out of the Obama administration.
Is it yet to be – I mean, do we wait, or is it your priority is tied up with the development going on in the Middle East, striking a deal with Iran, or is it that by analyzing all of the intelligence you still feel like we have more time in terms of dealing with North Korea? How do we see a path forward here? Thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: All right, why don’t we take one more right up here please, Shervin? Thanks.
Q: Hi there. I’m Jim Finucane, Georgetown University. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about getting rid of all nuclear weapons and a lot of references to the P-5, but this seems to ignore four nuclear weapons states that are not signatories to the NPT. I wonder if they are ever going to get involved in this process.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Well, why don’t – if you could, each of you, address those questions as you see fit. Why don’t you go ahead, Anita?
MS. FRIEDT: Sure. Thanks.
A very good question about North Korea, and you’re a very astute observer that it does – it does seem to follow that at the end of at least U.S. administrations there is a push to – or there is an engagement. I would argue that it’s just as much because of the North Korean regime as it is of the U.S. and other countries who are working to engage.
The challenge is – first of all, it remains a huge priority, a very high priority for the United States to bring – to deal with the North Korean issue. And we’re constantly working it. It’s not that we’re focused on the Middle East. We are focused on the Middle East, on Iran, but we certainly have the wherewithal to do all of it. And we do have a negotiator. We have our colleague who is still working on North Korea and very much engaged on it, in fact all eyes on it.
At the moment the conditions are just not right for negotiations or for engagement with North Korea. So we hope that they will be. It’s North Korea that continues to be the big challenge. And I think you’ve seen some of the – I don’t know how to describe it – well, the interesting stories in the last few months – weeks, I should say, about the North Korean regime and some of the worrisome signs, even more worrisome than usual, about their leadership lineup. But we’re certainly engaged and willing – or certainly it’s a high priority.
MR. KIMBALL: Gaukhar, do you want to address the United States and Russia and the disarming process?
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: Well, I think the question was specifically about those outside the NPT –
MR. KIMBALL: Outside – (off mic).
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: – which, by definition, means they cannot be engaged in the NPT Review Conference conversation on nuclear disarmament. They have never signed – well, with the exception of North Korea, and the debate is still kind of out there whether they left the NPT properly or not. But the other three never signed the NPT and never took up the Article VI obligations to pursue negotiations towards nuclear disarmament. So legally it’s very hard to point to them and say, you are not living up to your commitments.
That said, when the 1996 International Court of Justice gave its advisory opinion, it seemed to suggest that there exists a legal obligation to pursue negotiations towards nuclear disarmament, and they didn’t mention specifically NPT states parties. They just talked about, generally speaking, legal obligation.
And that has been actually, interestingly, the basis for the lawsuits that the Marshall Islands have filed against all nuclear weapons possessors with ICJ back in April, I believe. So it’s going to be interesting to see where that goes. I think they primarily targeted the NPT states parties because the case on statutory law about not such – the common law about the – about the non-NPT parties is going to be a bit weaker.
That said, India and Pakistan both came to the humanitarian impact conferences in Oslo and Nayarit. They also both participated in the work of the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva. Were they particularly targeted at those meetings? No. Were they particularly helpful in there with their contributions? Not necessarily. (Laughter.) But at least – at least they actually came there and sat there and listened to everything people had to say about the effects of nuclear weapons and their concerns. And no, they were not singled out.
And some nuclear weapons states, the NPT states, have said, well, they’ve got an easy pass. But that’s – but it wasn’t the point to get the possessors in the room and point fingers at them. We do that regularly in the First Committee on the NPT. The point – (laughter) – the point of those conferences was to gather in the room and talk about the weapons and what those weapons do. And I think that’s an additional appeal of those kinds of fora where you can gather states from inside and outside the NPT and engage in those conversations.
And in some sense, the proposals for a newly – a new instrument on nuclear weapons, like the Nuclear Weapons Convention or nuclear weapons ban, is also that it would involve states outside the NPT because, let’s admit it, we’re not getting India, Pakistan and Israel into the NPT. There is a process of annual lamentation about the importance of universality of the NPT, and nobody is doing absolutely nothing about it. That was a double negation. Sorry. (Laughter.) Nobody is doing absolutely anything about it. And even worse, we seem to have encouraged India and rewarded it for staying outside the NPT and holding onto nuclear weapons steadfastly.
So if the NPT clearly is not working to get those countries into the disarmament process, what will? And in neglecting all kinds of proposals that go broader than the NPT I don’t think is a very helpful approach in this regard.
MR. KIMBALL: If I could – if I could offer one observation and a wild suggestion about this problem, you know, as we’ve discussed in the last several minutes, the humanitarian impacts dialogue has – is an expression of frustration about the pace of progress. It is – it applies not just to the states with nuclear weapons who are in the NPT but all nuclear-armed countries. And I think that the states involved in the humanitarian impacts conference themselves need to be thinking much more creatively about how they can, beyond the conferences on humanitarian impacts, involve and engage India, Pakistan, Israel, eventually North Korea, who are outside the NPT. And the nuclear weapons states in the NPT need to do so also. The question is how.
And there is, you know, maybe a unique opportunity and convergence of events coming up, which is that the 2015 NPT Review Conference comes in the 70th year after the first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, you know, there may be an opportunity to have a gathering that is more than just a meeting of representatives of states to express their tired positions about all these different issues, but an actual gathering of leaders to discuss some of the issues and concepts about how to move forward involving not just the P-5 but also leading non-nuclear weapons states and also nuclear-armed states outside the NPT.
That requires that some group of states or some state takes the lead and invites – proposes these countries to some sort of convocation. And I would nominate Japan as being one potential convener. And the NPDI, which is another, in addition to the nuclear – the New Agenda Coalition, is another cross-regional grouping of countries north and south, east and west that maybe has the potential to do this in their Hiroshima appeal from their last foreign ministerial meeting in April. They were urging, in one part of their appeal, to have the nuclear-armed states outside of the NPT more engaged in the process, as well as China.
So, you know, there is going to have to be some new and creative ideas that are put forward that, you know, jumpstart this process and leapfrog us from where we are today to a real multilateral conversation. So there may be many other better ideas, but I think it’s important that, you know, the diplomats and the experts here in the room and elsewhere try to think about that, because this is one of the great conundrums of the global nuclear disarmament cause: how to involve states other than the U.S. and Russia and the P-5 in the NPT.
All right, we had some other hands up, and if you could raise them again. I see one up here. If we could start up here and then we’ll go back to Mr. Edward Levine. Please.
Q: My name is Terry Ellis and I am actually with a brand-new NGO that’s seeking to bring together educators. And my main concern to Secretary Friedt is I know the Obama administration has done a lot to really reach out to educators, a lot of independent work. And I’m – that’s the topic which we’re trying to discuss among teachers around the world right now – small group. But how would, do you think, the administration respond to the idea of Department of Education being involved in that kind of humanitarian education?
It’s a big issue, but I’ve already been experimenting with this with children of all ages. Like you mention, many young people have no idea. It involves science, involves ethics. It’s debate. There are so many ways to engage younger people on this issue, and I think that might be a way that the Obama administration could have an impact even to their, like, online – their, you know, annual conferences where they’re doing online education and trying to do professional development for teachers. For me it’s – you know, it’s a big issue. So thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. That’s a great – a great question. And it makes me think about how the core curriculum in our elementary schools can take on arms control and nuclear weapons. (Laughter.) And I know my 12-year-old daughter, who’s heard this many times, would be well-equipped, but – (laughter).
Q: I brought some ideas. Could I share one idea?
MR. KIMBALL: Very quickly and then we’ll go to the next question.
Q: I have one idea by an 11-year-old. We were discussing, debating about nuclear weapons. He says – he said: I suggest that every country have one. Can you imagine? He’s a very bright young man, I must say. I’m looking at – (off mic). But just to say that that’s not – children even that age have .
MR. KIMBALL: Exactly.
Q: – very strong feelings – (off mic).
MR. KIMBALL: Yeah. Yes.
All right, Ed Levine, and then we’ll respond to both these questions.
Q: I want to thank both panelists for their presentations. I want to address my question to Mr. Friedt. I listened to your presentation with an eye to the concept of gift baskets. And the interesting thing about the NPT Review Conference is that we might be expected to have a gift basket rather than just everybody else.
And when I listened to what you said, I see maybe two areas in which we might put something in that basket, one being the transparency and verification work and the other being the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones. And I wonder, in the – on the latter issue, are you expecting to make a push to be able to put that into a gift basket? If so, how? And how will you address the traditional arguments regarding negative security assurances that have undermined progress on those treaties for many years?
MR. KIMBALL: (Off mic) – first?
MS. FRIEDT: OK. Let me – on the education question, that’s a very – I certainly welcome all ideas. Yes, the president is – has a priority on education across the board, I can tell you. And Daryl made a very good point about arms control education in elementary schools. I can tell you, one of the things that our bureau, the Arms Control Verification and Compliance Bureau, has been working on is outreach – STEM outreach to the science and technology. And we’ve done – I have to say I’ve been part of it and it really is very, very rewarding.
The first time the State Department was involved in the Science & Engineering Festival, the big convention at the Convention Center in April – and we even had a CTBT exhibit there, among others. So really, education is a wonderful idea. And I had not thought of involving the Department of Education, but we – because I think a lot of the – because of the substantive nature of the disarmament and arms control issue, it’s usually done through – I mean, the substantive part is handled by the substantive experts but there’s certainly no reason that one could not involve the Department of Education. We’ll take a look at that.
So thank you, Ed, for your question. On the gift baskets, yeah, I love that term from the nuclear security summits we – (laughs). It’s a catchy thing. So I had not thought about gift baskets as such for the NPT, but we can – we can kind of loosely use that word for the review conference. We can use that term.
On transparency and verification, yes, very much so, that is a huge priority. And I think that is – in fact, that is one of the biggest focuses we have because, unfortunately, we have not been able to successfully engage Russia, despite the president’s repeated offers and very good offers, I think, for the reduction of strategic weapons. Because we have not made much progress, thanks – or no thanks to our Russian colleagues, verification and transparency can be one of those issues.
The Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones we are very much making a push, as I mentioned in my remarks, for the ratification of the protocols we’ve signed. We’re working with Southeast Asia on a Southeast Asian zone. The challenges there are – continue to be, at least certainly in the Southeast Asian zone, that – the unfortunate reality is sometimes that the countries themselves, they need to – they need to want this more than we want it. They need to all want this. And I think some of the times they’re often – we need to work harder on this. There’s no question.
And then the security assurances, I mean, I think you’re – everyone is familiar with the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and our position there. I mean, I think we’ve come – this administration has come very far in terms of – further than any other administration in terms of support for Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, and I think that pretty much speaks for itself.
MR. KIMBALL: Gaukhar, do you want to just update people about the disarmament education initiative, which I think is relevant to the question that we just heard –
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: Well, actually –
MR. KIMBALL: – and maybe the other question too?
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: Sure. Actually, these two questions have addressed some of my favorite topics: education and Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.
I think the problem with the gift basket of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones is that we’ve been waiting for the ratification of the protocols to Pelindaba and Rarotonga for some time and there hasn’t been as much as a conversation in the Senate about them.
So what can the U.S. bring in terms of a gift basket to the 2015 – I’m not sure, because I realistically don’t know if the U.S. can – administration can push now for a conversation in the Senate about, you know, the consent to ratification of these two, plus the Central Asian zone that was just signed. And it’s a very peculiar situation there because I imagine there will be a hefty list of reservations attached at the ratification stage to that protocol because of some problems with the treaty.
And on SEANWFZ, on the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, as I understand the problem there is that the states parties to that zone do not want protocols to be signed with reservations and interpretive statements. And they are particularly concerned about statements coming from Russian on the transit.
How to overcome that in the meantime? Well, that’s – that certainly would be a good gift basket if nuclear weapons states were able to overcome that, but that would require them agreeing not to have reservations, which hasn’t happened before with any other zone. So it would be a tremendously great basket if they were to sign a protocol without reservations, but unfortunately I don’t really see that happening.
And in terms of the whole idea of gift baskets, with relation to the NPT Review Conference I call them bunnies out of a hat – (laughter) – because it always – we always approach NPT Review Conference as a crisis and then – and then in last minute someone, usually the United States, pulls out something great out of hat and says, look, progress. And everybody says, oh, great, and in half of the cases they agree to final documents.
So if the U.S. were to pull some kind of a bunny out of basket – out of – (laughter) – bunny out of a hat, I was thinking not only about transparency verification, like, writ large about reporting on the arsenal, but maybe, looking at the fissile material situation, I think there is room for declaring more material in excess, moving it to disposition, making some progress in that respect. And those are real steps. You know, you’re really getting rid of material of which nuclear weapons are made, rather than only reporting on what you have. I think that would be a good gift basket.
On the education, as was mentioned, it’s the other DOE that deals primarily with nonproliferation education, right, the Department of Energy, NNSA. And in that sense, not at the high school level, not at the college level but at the more professional level, the United States has done a tremendous deal. Well, nonproliferation primarily, more than disarmament, for obvious reasons. But there is a good story for the U.S. to tell on its effort to educate about these issues, and the United States has so far failed to tell that story, if there’s any kind of official channel in terms of reporting to the U.N. There is the U.N. resolution. There is a report of the secretary-general’s advisory board on disarmament matters that is devoted to education, 34 recommendations for what states can do.
And so if you are interested in what U.S. can do, you can really look at those recommendations to see where you can play a role. And there’s certainly a big role for the more elementary level, high school level educators. CNS has been a great promoter of education. One of the programs we have is working with high schools in the United States and Russia, and recently I think we added China, in bringing together high school teachers, exposing them to issues, having them develop education programs and then bringing their kids, their students, together for presentation of their projects.
So it’s something that certainly I think the United States can do more, and it’s another good story to tell.
MR. KIMBALL: And one other – in the theme of gift baskets, I mean, one of the things I would emphasize that is an opportunity still for the United States, and we included a suggestion in the report that we talked about earlier this morning, the unaffordable arsenal, which is not just about saving money, a mere $70 billion with respect to the modernization plans, but also outlines the case for further reductions even in this difficult context. And so one of the other opportunities, I think, for President Obama and the administration is to refresh and update and more forcefully articulate the proposal that he put forward in June 2013 in his Berlin speech about being interested and willing to pursue a further one-third reduction in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons.
Yes, we need a willing partner with Russia if these are going to be reciprocal, but I think there are ways in which the United States can reformulate that proposal to make it more appealing and also to, quite frankly, put Russia on the spot for its lack of support for the pursuit of its Article VI obligations. The United States needs to be careful not to allow itself to be tied to the ball and chain of Russian intransigence and recidivism on nuclear weapons policy.
So we have time for a couple more questions before we start to wrap up, and let’s go to Mr. Harry Blaney, and then one more on the right. So go ahead, Harry.
Q: Harry Blaney, Center for National Policy. This is a question primarily for – (inaudible). Given the current external situation with respect to Russia, but also the – if you would, the complications of present nuclear weapons states, let’s say India and Pakistan, for example, and its nuclear programs – two things. One, we have not in this context discussed deeply the externalities, as one would call it, of the conflicts that in fact exacerbate the possibility of nonproliferation and disarmament that are around the world that seems to me that in tandem need to be integrated into our policy and strategy with respect to trying to implement the NPT goals.
The second question we have to ask is – being a State Department type – is, what has the department done – and probably you can’t answer this – since the president said that given the Congress and given the Senate – and a lot of talk here about passing something by the Senate seems, to be honest with you, a little bit difficult – that’s a British understatement – what possibilities are there for executive action, which the president has talked about in a broader context – that we can do ourselves without the possibility of the Congress giving support, given the current corrosive political situation? And do you have any thoughts about that that you really can share? Thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. And then Kathy Robinson on the right in the red, please.
Q: Hi. I’m Kathy Robinson with Women’s Action for New Directions. And I wanted to ask a question that has a lot more to do with magic tricks from a hat rather than gift baskets, about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This has always been a big part of the national – of the action plans related to the NPT and been very much of interest of all of the states party to the NPT. And we’re really not making any progress towards entry into force at this moment, but there seems to be a growing sort of – you know, this lengthening observation of the more – (inaudible). So my question is, sort of generally, how will this issue play at the NPT conference?
And for Ms. Friedt, in particular, do you see this as providing any opportunities to do more on the sort of education front about lifting up the importance of the test ban treaty and eventually moving it towards ratification?
MR. KIMBALL: All right, great. If you could each take those three questions from those two individuals. Anita.
MS. FRIEDT: OK, thanks. Thanks, Daryl.
OK, first, a very good point about the regional instability or regional challenges. That really cuts to the heart of things, and I’m very glad you raised this. There’s been a lot of discussion in academic writings and elsewhere.
One of the biggest priorities that we have at the State Department, and in fact in our bureau, the Arms Control Bureau, is we have the responsibility for extended deterrence commitments. That does not just – that means NATO, that also means Japan, that means South Korea, that means regional stability throughout the world, and it includes missile defense, which is also a huge part and can be a great addition to regional stability.
But you made an excellent point. Regional stability or regional instability in any region – we talked about the Middle East, weapons of mass destruction zone and the problems and challenges there. Obviously, that’s – front and center is the regional instability in the Middle East situation. We have the issue with China. We have the North Korea issue. We have – (inaudible) – India-Pakistan. There is no question that instability in any region in the world contributes to problems and creates – makes it more difficult for disarmament. There really is a big link to that. And that’s one of the things that we are working on, is to how to promote regional strategic stability worldwide to try to address that – again, through missile defense, through discussions and other – various other avenues.
Now you did – your second question, you did preface that by saying, you probably can’t answer it, and you’re right. (Laughs.) So, yes, of course, people always talk about unilateral actions that the president might take. I’ll just say, I mean, one I’d like to say we certainly have reiterated. I take your point, Daryl, about the president’s June 13th – June 2013 offer, which we have reiterated repeatedly, and Rose in her speech, Rose Gottemoeller, in her speech at the U.N. First Committee. And there, perhaps, we can always do more.
But that offer remains on the table. We have, despite the very difficult situation with Ukraine right now, despite the problems we have with Russian implementation of the INF Treaty, we continue to talk to Russia, as I mentioned. We talk to Russia. We’ve done productive things in the area of Syria chemical weapons. We’ve done productive areas in terms of – we’ve had productive relationship in terms of Iran, in terms of negotiations with Iran and also in terms of cooperation on terrorism regarding ISIL and such. So our offer stands on the table, so we certainly are ready to try to work on that at any time.
With CTBT, that is a difficult issue, and that also speaks to our friends on the Hill, which obviously impact the unilateral actions too, if I might say. But with CTBT, this administration – we’ve tried and tried, and obviously the political situation is very difficult right now in terms of ratification.
That said, I would say in the last couple of months we’ve done – we raised the level of, I think, the profile on CTBT and the importance of ratification of CTBT numerous times. We had an event in mid-September where we had representatives. We had Secretary of Energy Moniz, Rose Gottemoeller, and then a colleague from – the undersecretary from Department of Defense speak at the U.S. Institute of Peace event dedicated to CTBT. Secretary Kerry made a very eloquent speech at the end of September at the UNGA, at the Friends of the CTBT event, I mean and he very eloquently spoke about the importance of ratifying this treaty, to point out how far we have come since we last tried, at least in the United States, to ratify it in 1999. Real changes. As Secretary Moniz said in his speech, there is no challenge anymore in terms of our laboratories and in terms of the need to test, that that’s not an issue anymore. We don’t need to test. So we continue to make that a priority.
Under Secretary Gottemoeller, there is no greater proponent of ratification of CTBT than Rose Gottemoeller. And she has personally been the leader in terms of efforts to educate both the population in the United States – and this is, again, a generational thing, but also the fact that – as she pointed out recently, or she points out quite often – that in 1999, I think it was, there was an 85 percent awareness of the importance of CTBT and the ratification issue; now I don’t even want to guess how many people in the United States are aware of what is a CTBT and what is the importance of it. So, yes, we have a lot to do in terms of education.
We also have a lot to do in terms of educating the Hill, and we’re doing this for understandable reasons, given, well, just say the politics involved here and the current climate. But we’re doing it in a low-key manner because it is important that we continue the education effort.
And in the meantime, I think as Lord Browne has pointed out, and others, we’ve done – the CTBTO, the organization in Vienna, has done incredible things. I’ve been very lucky to be part of that. We have a big exercise that’s coming up in Jordan with the United States again at the forefront in terms of participation and leadership. Rose Gottemoeller is going to participate in the VIP event. So we’ve really done – we’re definitely working it. So very much appreciate your comments and suggestions and continue to work for a ratification.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Gaukhar.
MS. MUKHATZHANOVA: Thank you. I’m not sure if anything was addressed to me, but the CTBT, the lack of ratification will be just another sort of item on the list of things not done at the upcoming review conference. No one is holding out expectation that there will be any breakthrough by April. And in some senses it’s good because, I mean, I think a lot of states, most states have recognized that right now the treaty is a victim of domestic politics. Does it make them particularly happy with the administration? Not necessarily. But I think most states recognize that this is kind of stuck in a situation out of the president’s hands.
If there were to be progress on the CTBT, I think it would improve the atmosphere tremendously. That said, I’ll be a little cautious it’s like a payment on the overdue interest on an old loan. It’s a really old loan and the interest payment is really overdue. So if you pay it, the bank will be happy but it won’t forgive the loan. (Laughter.) So that would be my long-term perspective.
But you’re right that CTBT is very, very tightly linked to the NPT and the very promise of nuclear disarmament, so it would be a very important step for the United States to ratify it wherever it actually gets around to it. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are other proposals and other ideas coming up in the meantime because people cannot sit and wait for the domestic situation to resolve, and put everything on hold in terms of disarmament.
And in terms of things that the U.S. administration could do without the Senate, again I will not be terribly original. President Obama can go back to the June statement about the possibility of further reductions and say – and think, at least – I’ve been a leader on this, or at least I came in as a leader on this, in the Prague speech and in the overall sort of direction of the administration; I am going to finish my presidency as a leader on this and I will do this unilaterally.
There is absolutely no strategic reason, I think, for the United States to wait for Russia to do the exact same kind of mirror reductions. I think the United States has already decided it can guarantee security of itself and its allies at exactly the same level with fewer weapons. So you can wait for an obstinate partner to come around and dance, or you can just go to the dance floor and show how it’s done.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Well, I want to thank both of you for your remarks, your answers to these tough questions. Many of these are not yet answerable at this stage in the process, but I can guarantee you that the Arms Control Association will come back in the spring with probably another forum about the NPT situation and what can be done beyond the May conference, as well as to talk about what more President Obama can do in his final two years of his second administration to realize the promise of the Prague agenda.
But for now please join me in thanking these two for their remarks. (Applause.)
And before we break up for the day – we’re at the end of our program – I want to just offer a couple of reminders and thank-yous, first of all to my great staff for pulling together all the pieces that make up an annual meeting, to Shervin Taheran and Tim Farnsworth for their meeting organization skills, and also to Tim Farnsworth, our communications director, on the launching of our new website. And we really do want your feedback on that. It’s a work in progress. And after looking at the website for 15 years myself, I’m still getting used to it. I’m sure you’ll have to get used to it a little bit too. We would appreciate your feedback on that.
And I want to thank our excellent board of directors. Many board members are here. John Isaacs here earlier, Paul Walker, Michael Klare. And others who I may be missing. But thanks for all your hard work and help in leading the organization.
We will have online in the next couple of days a video – what do we call it? – a video archive of this event. This has been webcast. It will be up there. For those of you who don’t want to relive it in the full time it takes to look at it, there will also be a transcript, provided by our friends at Federal News Service, that will be up in maybe three or four days.
Finally, a couple of reminders about upcoming Arms Control Association events. We do have a reception for all of you this evening beginning at 5:00, not here at Carnegie, at a much more exciting, non-work-oriented place. It’s the Beacon Sky Bar, which is at 1615 Rhode Island, just a couple blocks south of here. That will begin at 5:00, go to about 7:00. And you should have received a blue ticket for a complimentary drink if you want to join us for informal conversation about today’s event and other things.
Also, on October 29th here at Carnegie, we will have another event on the Iran nuclear issue that we’re co-hosting with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishops Pates will be reporting on the delegation that he led back in March to Tehran to talk with senior Iranian religious leaders about the morality of nuclear weapons, the fatwa of the supreme leader; and our board chairman, John Steinbruner, will be one of the other speakers at that event. He accompanied them on that trip.
And finally, in December, on December 12th, we’re going to be hosting a conference on chemical and biological arms control, in the name of our former board member Jonathan Tucker. There will be more details about that coming out in the coming days.
So thank you very much, everyone, for being here. We’ll see you again soon.