Friday, January 19, 2007
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
HUBERT HUMPHREY INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
HARVARD UNIVERSITY’S BELFER CENTER
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL POLICY
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS
GEORGE WASHINGTON AND AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES
DARYL G. KIMBALL
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
Federal News Service,
Washington , D.C.
DARYL G. KIMBALL: Good morning, everyone. Please settle in. We’re going to get started. Good morning friends and welcome this morning to our Arms Control Association annual event. I’m Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. This morning we have a panel discussion on the topic of the future of nuclear arms control. Later today at our luncheon event, our speaker Congressman Howard Berman will deliver a keynote address on strengthening U.S. nonproliferation policy.
I’m going to provide a little introduction for this panel this morning and then we’re going to get rolling. We have another room back there. I want to welcome the people in the back bench. We’ll get questions from you at the end. Don’t worry. For 35 years, the Arms Control Association has focused primarily on the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous and devastating weapons: nuclear weapons. ACA was formed to widen support for and to strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and to push for reductions in nuclear arsenals, to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons-related technology, and to better secure nuclear bomb material. Over this 40-year period, this arms control nonproliferation strategy has largely worked.
The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has made the world safer by significantly raising the political cost for states to pursue nuclear weapons. It’s raised the technical barriers to the development of nuclear weapons. It’s established global norms against the acquisition, trade, testing, modernization and use of nuclear weapons. But despite all these very significant accomplishments, the NPT, indeed the entire nonproliferation system, is in trouble as the people in this room know very well, and the readers of Arms Control Today know very well. We’re here this morning—the Arms Control Association, two of my board members, and important colleagues of the Arms Control Association—to issue something of a call for renewed American commitment at the highest levels to strengthen the nonproliferation system through more effective U.S. diplomacy and leadership on nuclear arms control.
Just in this decade alone—since the year 2000 that is—we’ve seen new and more deadly forms of terrorism, a Pakistan-based nuclear black market network, violations of IAEA safeguards by Iran, the unfreezing of North Korea’s bomb-making effort, and, of course, North Korea’s nuclear test explosion last year on October 9th. Perhaps today’s most dangerous and greatest threat stems from the existing global stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, and those stockpiles are still growing. At least three countries (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) continue to produce fissile materials for weapons. In the former Soviet republics and other countries, nuclear materials of various types are not sufficiently safeguarded and protected against the threat of theft or sale to third parties.
Another significant problem, of course, is that additional countries, such as Iran, could acquire the capacity to produce fissile materials for weapons purposes under the guise of peaceful nuclear endeavors. This is the so-called loophole in the NPT in Article IV which protects the right of non-nuclear-weapon states to pursue peaceful nuclear technology. At the same time, the United States and other nuclear suppliers are seeking to relax the existing controls on the spread of nuclear technology to states such as India that don’t accept full scope IAEA safeguards. During the congressional debate last year, the Arms Control Association and our luncheon speaker Congressman Howard Berman argued that absent a commitment from India to stop fissile material production for bomb purposes that such trade with India could allow it to accelerate its nuclear bomb production program and encourage other countries to ignore the nonproliferation rules.
Finally, one of the other challenges out there that we’re going to address this morning is the lack-luster progress on nuclear disarmament. As we’ve discussed at Arms Control Association events before, the United States and Russia now are not engaged in further strategic nuclear arms reductions or tactical nuclear arms reductions talks. France, the United Kingdom, and China are modernizing their arsenals, and China is increasing the size of its arsenal. The United States, Russia, and China are at loggerheads about negotiating priorities at the Conference on Disarmament and, as a result, talks on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) have been blocked. Despite the fact that the United States can maintain its nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing, the Bush administration has refused to reconsider the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
So as a result of all of this and other factors, many countries doubt the intention of the five original nuclear armed states to fulfill their nuclear disarmament obligations under the NPT. That shrinking faith clearly erodes their willingness to fulfill their own treaty obligations much less agree to strengthen the regime as the current situation really demands. It’s no wonder that just this week our colleagues at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the atomic clock two minutes closer to midnight. I think everyone in this room would agree that the adjustment is appropriate. I would say it’s perhaps overdue, because for some time already the people on this stage and in the Arms Control Association have been ringing the alarm bell.
In fact, way back in 2004, the UN secretary-general’s high level panel report, A More Secure World warned, “we are approaching a point at which the erosion of the nuclear nonproliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation.” Partly in response to that situation, Joe Cirincione, then at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Arms Control Association put together a campaign to strengthen the NPT that was something of success in raising awareness about these dangers. We put forward a program of action that was endorsed by several leading former U.S. government policy makers. But, unfortunately, the NPT Review Conference in 2005 was a bust, and U.S. policies at that conference were a major factor leading to its breakdown.
But our focus today is not just on the problems. This is just sort of a preface to lead into what our speakers are going to talk about. What we want to do is outline some of the practical steps in several of these areas—not all of them—that we think can and must be taken to reverse these negative nuclear proliferation trends. As you will hear, we will be calling upon this government, the next administration, and the Congress to renew the U.S. commitment to strengthening the nonproliferation regime in all of its aspects. I think it’s also clear given the last few years that we can’t afford to squander further opportunities to build consensus here in the United States and internationally to move forward to deal with these problems. As you will hear, we think the effective strategies exist and there may be a new political consensus emerging around many of the ideas that we’re talking about today; in fact that we’ve been talking about for some time.
Our panel today includes Matt Bunn who’s here on my right. All these people are to my right I suppose. That’s just geographically speaking. (Laughter.) Matt Bunn is senior research associate at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He’s also a member of our board. Matt is going to outline the steps that can be taken to better secure nuclear material worldwide in order to help prevent catastrophic nuclear terrorism, to strengthen export controls, to address the risk associated with the further spread of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies, and maybe a couple of other things in between.
Matt will be followed by Joe Cirincione, who is senior vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress. For those of you who paid careful attention to your programs when we sent out our announcement, you noticed that Joe Cirincione is not Ambassador Gallucci, although they both are of Italian origin. We learned unfortunately just a couple of days ago that Ambassador Gallucci had a family emergency he had to deal with in New York. That takes him away from us this morning. Joe has been very gracious to fill in for the ambassador to speak about what Joe sees as more effective strategies to deal with the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs.
We also have with us today Jack Mendelsohn, ACA’s former deputy director and a member of the U.S. SALT II and START I delegations. Jack, who’s been in this business for a long time and who’s been with the Arms Control Association for a long time, is going to outline his views about the need for and the opportunities ahead for further U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions and adjustments to their respective nuclear postures.
While we may have lost Ambassador Gallucci, we’ve gained Steve Andreasen this morning. He also agreed to join us on short notice. Steve, among other things, served as director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council for the Clinton administration. He is going to provide us with some further background and perspective on a very important op-ed that was published on January 4 in The Wall Street Journal that was written by George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn. They were joined by others. Steve was one of the others whose name was attached to that op-ed. He was a participant at the Hoover Institution meeting in October that helped catalyze and lead to that op-ed.
Following all of their remarks, we’re going to take your questions as we usually do. We will hold off on those questions until all of them are finished. Starting off this morning will be Matt Bunn.
MATT BUNN: Thanks very much, Daryl, for that very gracious introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here. I just want to emphasize what Daryl said about how successful the nonproliferation effort has been. Twenty years ago there were nine states that had nuclear weapons. Today there are nine states that have nuclear weapons. South Africa dropped off, but North Korea added itself. The fact that we have managed to weather the collapse of an empire armed with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and 20 years of the A. Q. Khan network marketing the world’s most dangerous nuclear technologies to everyone without any net increase in the number of states with nuclear weapons is quite amazing.
There are more states today that started nuclear weapons programs and gave them up than there are states that have nuclear weapons. So we have been successful more often than not. I think if we change our policies now and take some effective actions today, there’s at least a chance that 20 years from now we will still have no more than nine states with nuclear weapons, and maybe even be set on a path toward reducing that number. I think we, as a community, shouldn’t be about managing a slow defeat. We should be about trying to achieve victory. It is not yet out of our grasp. The nonproliferation regime has taken a lot of severe blows, but there’s a lot that we can do and we need to do now.
Now, I’m going to talk mainly about technology controls. But I just want to make the point that technology controls largely buy time. Unless you use that time with effective political engagement to convince states that they don’t need nuclear weapons, you’re not going to achieve victory in the end. It’s not that I don’t think that political engagement is important, that simply wasn’t my assigned job on this particular panel.
The first thing we need to do absolutely is keep nuclear weapons and the materials needed to make them out of the hands of terrorists who have been actively attempting to get them. A great deal is being done already. There are dozens of programs in place in several agencies of the U.S. government that are making important progress.
In Russia, I would say the most egregious problems of the 1990s have been fixed. I think it’s very unlikely that there’s any place in Russia today where the kinds of things that did happen in the 1990s still occur: say a single guy walking through a gaping hole in a fence and walking up to a shed and taking highly enriched uranium and walking off without anybody noticing for several hours. That wouldn’t happen today. But the threats in Russia are so big from organized conspiracies of insiders, who are stealing practically everything that’s not nailed down, and substantial outsider attacks of scores of heavily armed people with machineguns that there’s still reason to be worried. There are still upgrades yet to be done in Russia. There is a major problem—as we have in the United States as well but even more severely in Russia—with security culture, guards patrolling with no ammo in their guns, and propping open security doors. There is also the issue of whether the upgrades that we’ve achieved will be sustained as U.S. assistance phases down.
This is not a Russia problem, but a global problem. There are weapons and bomb material in dozens of countries around the world. I am particularly concerned also about Pakistan. They have a relatively small stockpile that’s believed to be heavily guarded, but they have immense threats from nuclear insiders with a demonstrated willingness to sell practically anything to practically anybody and from large remnants of al Qaeda still operating in the country and other Jihadi groups closely connected to the Pakistani security forces. Research reactors fueled with highly enriched uranium are another problem that exists in dozens of countries around the world. Many of them have only the most minor security measures in place.
We need to forge effective global standards that will ensure that all stockpiles and nuclear weapons and the materials to make them are protected against the kinds of threats that terrorists and criminals have shown that they can pose. This needs to be a top national security priority that’s addressed at every opportunity and at every level with every state that has either stockpiles to secure or resources to help secure them. While there is a lot of good work underway, we haven’t got sustained top level priority.
One key thing we need to do is put a single leader in the White House at a level with direct access to the president to get presidential decisions when they’re needed. This person should have the responsibility for leading and coordinating this whole panoply of disparate efforts and keeping them on the front burner at the White House every day.
Secondly, we need much stronger controls on the nuclear technologies that can be used to make the highly enriched uranium or plutonium that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. It is quite remarkable that the A. Q. Khan network was able to operate for decades in dozens of countries around the world, some of them allegedly with strong export controls, or so we thought before the network was finally exposed and at least pieces of it brought down. They were marketing the technology of choice for the determined nuclear proliferators, the uranium enrichment centrifuge, and actual bomb designs.
As Mohamed ElBaradei, the head the International Atomic Energy Agency has said, this shows that the global nuclear export control system is, in his words, broken. We need to move quickly to improve enforcement and intelligence in countries that do have export controls in place, and to put controls in place in countries without them. No one had ever worried about exports controls in Malaysia or in Dubai because they didn’t have nuclear technologies. But they turned out to be key nodes of the A. Q. Khan network. The next time it might me Thailand or Nigeria for all we know.
Unfortunately, we still have today an export control assistance program that’s targeted on 20 or 30 particularly important key countries whereas we have pushed through a very useful UN Security Council measure, Resolution 1540, which legally requires more than 190 countries to put in place effective export controls. That needs to change. We need to actually make use of that Security Council resolution. At the same time, we need to reduce the incentives that countries have to get enrichment or reprocessing technologies as part of their civil nuclear program. If they do get those technologies then that brings those countries much closer to the edge of a nuclear weapons capability and makes it much more probable that they might decide at some point to cross over that line.
The key thing that needs to be done there is to set up a web of reliable fuel supply assurances with fuel banks and guarantees from major suppliers that will give countries confidence that if there’s ever an interruption that they will have the fuel that they need even if they don’t establish their own enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. This is important, but I don’t want to exaggerate how important it is. There are some people in the foreign policy realm who see that there’s a nonproliferation problem and say we’ll give countries these assurances and that will solve the problem. That’s just not the case. It will help some in a few cases and is therefore worth doing. But it is by no means a panacea for nonproliferation.
I should say in that respect that for the United States to reverse course and begin reprocessing its own spent nuclear fuel isn’t going to help. For decades, our message has been to other countries, “we, the country with the most nuclear reactors in the world aren’t reprocessing, and you don’t need to either.” That message has had some effect. It didn’t solve all reprocessing problems around the world, but it had some effect. As that message changes to “reprocessing is essential to the future of nuclear energy, but we’re not going to let you have the technology,” that’s going to be very much more difficult to sustain with non-nuclear-weapon states around the world. It’s going to be much more difficult to convince South Korea and Taiwan not to pursue reprocessing if we move that direction.
We need stronger inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency needs more resources. It needs more authority. People often don’t realize for example that the IAEA currently doesn’t really have any legal authority to inspect for nuclear weaponization activities. Their authority is about nuclear material. They need more access to information. We are now tasking them to try to figure out what’s going on with nuclear issues generally in a state rather than just what’s going on at the declared facilities. For example, when countries deny a state an export, say North Korea’s shopping for aluminum tubes or something, and Germany stops a shipment of a couple of thousand of aluminum tubes to North Korea that in this case, by the way, really were the right size and shape for centrifuges unlike the Iraqi aluminum tubes, the IAEA ends up reading about it in the newspaper. That’s foolish. We need to create a system where the IAEA has the resources, the authority, and the information it needs.
We need better enforcement when countries violate the regime. Fundamentally, if we’re going to take all these measures we’re going to have tougher security. If we’re going to have more stringent export controls, if we’re going to have stronger inspections, if we’re going to have tougher enforcement, those all involve costs, constraints, and inconveniences for everybody else. We’re not going to get the votes and the political support needed to get those measures put in place that are urgently needed to strengthen the regime unless we, the United States, are willing to accept some constraints on our own nuclear forces and behavior and we’re willing to live up to our NPT Article VI commitment to negotiate in good faith toward nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, that has been very much weakened in this administration. I think that has got to change if we’re going to continue to have nonproliferation victories in the future. I’ll stop there.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Thank you very much. That was terrific. It’s a pleasure to follow you, Matt. And let me just underscore the first points you made about the strategic imperative of a campaign to end nuclear terrorism. I believe this is a winning issue in the presidential campaign of 2008 and the first candidate who takes this up is going to enjoy a significant boost in popularity. The first candidate who says that he or she will make it a priority to eliminate the possibility of nuclear terrorism in their first four years in office will immediately jump to the front of public attention. This is a doable mission, it’s a necessary mission, and we have the resources to do it. We simply have lacked the political will to do so.
But let me turn now to the two more difficult problems. Stopping nuclear terrorism is a relatively easy problem to solve in the panoply of problems we have. The two more difficult ones are stopping new states from acquiring nuclear materials and weapons. I want to talk about North Korea and Iran. I’ll take the easier one first and that’s North Korea.
North Korea remains a deal waiting to be made. It has been there for us for the last 10 years. The Clinton administration made tremendous progress in this regard, but failed to seal the deal before they left office. They teed it up for the Bush administration and I believe if Secretary of State Colin Powell had been allowed to do what he wanted to do, which was “to continue the negotiation process begun by the Clinton administration,” we would not have a nuclear North Korea to worry about right now.
But the administration took a dramatically different approach. The day after Secretary of State Colin Powell made that statement, President Bush undercut him and said that negotiations would have a decidedly different tone in his administration. He proved to be correct. He had no interest in negotiating a deal with North Korea. He thought we could achieve regime change instead. Rather than change regime behavior, we would simply change the regimes. This policy has been a demonstrable failure. We invaded the one country that didn’t have nuclear weapons and we caused the acceleration of nuclear programs in two countries that either had or wanted to have them, North Korea and Iran. Every single member of the axis of evil is a far greater threat to the United States today than it was six years ago.
Still, there’s a real possibility of getting a deal with North Korea. I am virtually alone in this prediction. I believe we will get a breakthrough in North Korea in 2007. I am encouraged by the talks of recent days, but I understand that it’s simply incremental progress. I’m guided in this regard by the wisdom of former State Department official Mitchell Reiss, who said that you can do business with North Korea, but it’s not going to be easy. We have to understand that we can make a deal with North Korea, but there’s nothing easy about it. Here is why I have optimism. I believe there are six trends that are all pointing toward a deal with North Korea.
One, the situation of North Korea itself. It is a poor, isolated country with nothing to export except fear and tyranny. It is in a weak strategic situation.
Two, there is unanimity among the other five nations involved in the six-party talks that North Korea should not proceed on this nuclear program. They differ in tactics about how to achieve that aim, but they are unified in efforts to stop North Korea. That unity recently extended to the Security Council, which passed a unanimous declaration condemning North Korea and then imposing sanctions on the regime for its October 9th nuclear test.
Three, China has played an increasingly helpful role in these negotiations. The October 9th test surprised and humiliated China and upset its greater strategic plans. It does not want North Korea destabilizing its border regions. It does not want North Korea provoking Japan. You may have noticed that after the October 9th test, Japan has started a public debate about whether Japan should get nuclear weapons. That’s the last thing China wants to see. It was because of these factors that China sent its state counselor, its third highest ranking official, to Pyongyang to read the riot act to the North Korean leaders. I don’t want to exaggerate the role that China can play here, but it is still a very strong role. I believe it is Chinese pressure that convinced North Korea to stop its testing of nuclear weapons. One test is not enough to validate a design, or to produce a usable nuclear weapon. Simply in that regard the pressure was helpful. I also believe it was Chinese pressure that brought North Korea back to the bargaining table and was useful in bringing the United States back to the bargaining table. The key breakthrough negotiations happened in Beijing. China is playing an increasingly constructive role here and we’re starting to see the result of it.
Four, the change in Congress. The Democratic control of Congress flips the pressures on the administration from what had existed. I believe it was the week after the election the House International Relations Committee held a hearing still under Republican rule, but it was dominated by members of Congress, led by Congressman Tom Lantos, criticizing the State Department witness, Undersecretary Nicholas Burns, about the negotiating posture toward North Korea and urging the United States to engage in direct talks with North Korea. So that’s a positive pressure point that’s changed.
Five, the change in the Department of Defense leadership. An opponent of direct negotiations with North Korea, Donald Rumsfeld, is now gone and we have in place a more pragmatic secretary, Robert Gates, who seems inclined to engage in the kinds of negotiations that had been verboten in the administration up until this point.
Six, the final indicator is the bleak political force of the president of the United States. In the end, it’s the president that has to decide whether he’s willing to make a deal or not. I cannot see another foreign policy victory that the president can pull out of the hat in 2007. It’s not going to happen in the Middle East and it’s not going to happen in Iraq. It could happen in North Korea. This could give his political fortunes a boost and be used to underscore the wisdom of the policies he’s been pursuing for the last six years whether that’s true or not.
I see all of these trends converging towards an agreement with North Korea despite the difficulty of dealing with that regime. The longer we wait to make the deal, the greater the price of that deal and the greater the risk that we won’t get any deal at all.
I would advise the administration to make an immediate tactical move to help convince North Korea that a deal is in its interest and that we are willing to do that. I suggest to the administration that it release some of the bank funds that it helped freeze in the Bank of Macau. This is a matter of just $24 million. This is a rather piddling sum to be holding up a nuclear deal, but it was the freezing of those assets that caused North Korea to walk away from the September 2005 deal that the United States had successfully negotiated. Our own auditors seem to have determined that somewhere between $8 million and $11 million of those funds are not connected to illicit activities, the alleged reason for the freeze. By releasing some of those funds, you could be making a small, but still significant gesture toward North Korea and expect to see North Korea reciprocate. It’s those kinds of baby steps that we have to take at this point, which if properly sequenced, could lead to a larger deal.
Iran is far more difficult. There are competing strategies out there on how to negotiate a deal. I would say there are currently four major contenders. The first strategy is muddling through. It’s the traditional default option in U.S. foreign policy. It’s particularly the policy option in a period of divided government as we are now. The Congress is held by one party, the administration held by another, and we have a doubly divided government. The administration itself is divided between pragmatists, who have been trying to negotiate deals with Iran and North Korea, and the hardliners, who have no interest in negotiating a deal and are still pushing for regime change through one means or the other.
Muddling through sometimes does work. Germany was united despite the absence of any coherent U.S. policy on how to unite Germany. Sometimes the fates do smile favorably in U.S. foreign policy. I think it would be a disaster in this regard. Muddling through will make the situation worse. Iran would perceive that it is growing stronger while the United States is growing weaker. They are probably right. Our allies will increase their distrust and lower their confidence in U.S. foreign policy. We cannot leave U.S. national security up to the fates.
The second option that’s being pursued is regime change either by aiding Democratic groups in Iran or by the squeeze strategy favored by the vice president’s office and some in the administration. What they’re trying to do with North Korea, they’re trying to do with Iran. Squeeze it, make it harder and harder for that regime to stay in business, and hope that that will cause an internal revolt of some kind that will change the regime. I believe that these mechanisms will take far too long to be implemented in order to bring about the kind of change we want to see in Iran. Democracy in Iran could take years to develop. A nuclear bomb program could be done in a much shorter time. Even if there is a democratic change in Iran, there’s no guarantee that that democratic government would abandon a program that actually enjoys fairly wide support among the Iranian populous.
The third option is military strikes on Iran. This is favored by the neo-conservative press. The same people who brought us the war in Iraq, now want to bring us the war in Iran. If you liked what they did before, get ready for what they want to do next. The Iraq war will seem like a warm-up act compared to the conflagration that will undoubtedly breakout if the United States or one of its allies should be so foolish as to launch military strikes against Iran.
But it’s not just the reaction of Iran that you have to worry about with regard to military strikes. The strikes will unlikely accomplish the objective. They’re almost certain to accelerate the program, not retard it. Whatever short term delay you could get by destroying one, five, a dozen nuclear installations would be more than made up by an end of any debate inside Iran about whether it should be pursuing a nuclear weapons program. There also would be a unifying of the population around an otherwise odious and unpopular regime and the determination by the Iranian leadership to get a nuclear weapon as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary, including some of the means that Matt Bunn has just outlined. There’s no rule that says that Iran has to make its own enriched uranium to get a bomb. It just has chosen so far to pursue that route for other reasons. It could accelerate those efforts. You could produce a nuclear bomb more quickly in Iran if you try to strike it.
Four, the exact opposite of the previous strategy, is a grand bargain where we resolve all the U.S.-Iranian issues in one grand package. This has a lot of attraction to it. It’s been articulated by a number of very knowledgeable individuals including former State Department and National Security Council official Flynt Leverett. I believe that it’s strategically correct that that is the way you have to solve the problem: put all these issues together. I just don’t think it is politically doable at this point. Neither the administration in Washington or in Teheran is interested in such a bargain.
So I am left with a more difficult, but ultimately workable solution that I call contain and engage. You have to increase the cost to Iran for pursuing that program, at the same time offering them a clearer path to greater security and, in fact, regional prominence, if Iran was to turn away from that path. You have to address some of the other issues at the same time, such as Iran’s regional ambitions, its relation to Israel, and its internal human right situation. But you don’t have to resolve all of those in order to get the fundamental national security objective we agree on, which is an end to the Iranian program.
In containing Iran, I would be following basically many of the steps the administration has been doing now: pursuing resolutions at the IAEA board of governors and bringing the matter to the UN Security Council. These resolutions have an impact. They’re derided by some for the relatively weak sanctions, but we’re seeing already the powerful political and financial impact these sanctions have. Stories in the press are now recounting the opposition that’s growing inside Iran to Ahmadinejad’s wild and reckless leadership in this regard. There is a political price that Iran in now paying for following the Ahmadinejad line. The UN sanctions help clarify that price and show the Iranian public and political leadership that this is not a winning strategy for them. I would also support the kind of unilateral sanctions the U.S. Treasury Department’s doing right now. Recently it cut off a leading state-owned Iranian bank from the U.S. financial system. This makes it much more difficult to do financial investment in Iran. It’s a cost to Iran that you want to increase. These are good things.
The key is not to depend on those sanctions to either stop the program or bring about political change. Iran is not in a pre-revolutionary situation. There is not going to be a repeated Iranian revolution. For any of those in the public who were thinking about that, they just have to look over the border to Iraq and see the chaos that can result from a regime transformation scenario. Instead, you have to be engaging simultaneously those parts of the Iranian elite and public that can make a difference. We should now be reaching out to the reformists and the pragmatists in the Iranian government, whether that’s through a private meeting with the UN ambassador in New York, Mr. Zarif, who’s a skilled negotiator and articulator of the Iranian position, entreats to Ali Larijani, the Iranian nuclear negotiator, or public appeals to the Iranian people to let them know that there is a path that could lead to increased security for Iran if it will just forgo nuclear weapons.
I would recommend at this point that members of Congress undertake such liaison directly. Now is the time for contact between members of the U.S. Congress and members of the Iranian parliament. Now is the time to be engaging in increased track two negotiations of all kinds to open up these channels to increase communication, increase our own understanding of what’s going on in Iran, and increase the Iranian understanding of the political forces now operating in the United States. By having a contain and engage strategy, you can adjust your mechanism. The more Iran engages, the less the containment operations have to be. The less it engages, the more the containment operations can be.
By having this kind of flexibility, you can prepare for the eventuality that negotiations don’t work or that Iran is simply not interested in negotiating at this point, which may be the case. You would then have to fall back to another level of containment of seeking to contain the overall program itself and constructing a regime that delays this program as long as possible or makes it as difficult as possible for Iran to get the materials that it needs for the program and to get the investment it needs to move its economy forward. I’ll leave it there and hand it over to Jack.
JACK MENDELSOHN: I thought that I would cast my presentation in the form of a letter to the next president about the sorts of options or moves that he or she—and I’ll try to remember to say he or she—might take during their administration. The letter is divided into two sections. The first part is going to talk a little bit about the area of declaratory policies of the United States. The second part will talk about classical arms control and force structure policies that the next president, whoever he or she might be, could consider. Some of these will be easier than others obviously, but let me just give you a shopping list of things that I think should be done and many of which I think are not that difficult to do.
First of all, to Mr. or Ms. President, declaratory policies. The network of policy statements designed over the last few decades to reassure other states about the obligations and intentions of the United States has been seriously frayed by the past administration. That’s an understatement, but the president will understand. The intent of these policy statements had been to reassure other nations that the United States is serious about restraining vertical and horizontal proliferation, as well as blocking the potential use of nuclear weapons as instruments of war or intimidation. If, as even this administration admits, nuclear weapons are the gravest threat that this nation faces, then it behooves us, Mr. President, to delegitimize nuclear weapons as instruments of war and to reassure nations they do not have to fear attack by the United States.
To this end, a new president should declare at the outset of his or her administration that, comparable to the international consensus on banning the use of chemical weapons and biological weapons, the United States does not consider nuclear weapons to be legitimate weapons of war and will not use them in combat except under a very special and a very narrow set of conditions.
Now, you can get your pencils and paper together. As a part of this delegitimization process, which I think is important to put up front in the next administration, the president should, one, recommit the United States as it is in the NPT to the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons—simple declaratory policy, a goal which the current administration has not addressed, but which all previous ones had.
Two, move the United States away from a preemption and preventive war policy or as explicit policy. By adopting this policy, the current administration has heightened concern among foe and friend alike that the United States will use nuclear weapons hastily, unjustifiably, or irrationally in a crisis or pre-crisis situation. As a result, the policy, Mr. President, has been much more provocative than protective and should be disavowed explicitly. This connection some of you may have seen in the sense of the House resolution recently submitted by Representative Lee, “disavowing the doctrine of preemption.” A somewhat larger leap that you might consider, which I think is important, however, is to abandon the policy of threatening the use of nuclear weapons against any potential threat, be it conventional, terrorist, chemical, or biological.
Following up on your basic statement on the delegitimization of nuclear weapons, you, as president, should announce that the United States is retaining nuclear weapons as deterrent forces and will consider them for use only in retaliation for a nuclear attack or as a last resort if the survival of the nation is at risk. The president could invite other nations to join in this declaration; perhaps in connection with the NPT Review Conference in 2010. In other words, as the current U.S. policy is nuclear weapons are fair to use against any threat, not just in response to a nuclear threat, Mr. President, you should restate the existing negative security assurances and perhaps put them into a legal treaty form in connection with the NPT Review Conference.
The assurances are virtually worthless as they now stand because the United States and other nuclear nations have taken so many exceptions to them: use against chemical weapons, use against biological weapons, all options on the table, vis-à-vis terrorists, et cetera. The president should make it clear that the United States would use nukes only against other nuclear possessors. You should also make explicit as early as possible that the United States does not intend to resume nuclear tests. If the Congress seems politically amenable, the next administration or your administration should resubmit the CTBT for ratification. This no testing declaration could help—this is a footnote to the letter to the president—constrain the replacement warhead program to within design parameters that have a pedigree. This was actually a statement that occurred in an earlier ACA conference. But it will not eliminate the pressures for testing in the future if the new warhead program goes ahead.
To recap very quickly on the declaratory side, your administration should make explicit early in your term that the United States does not consider nuclear weapons to be legitimate instruments of war. Your policy should further reaffirm U.S. commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons as called for under the NPT and the withdrawal or disavowal of preventative or preemptive attacks on states, nations or territories. You should also state that you do not reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, that you do not intend to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon members of the NPT, and that you do not intend to resume nuclear testing. It seems to me, Mr. President, that this would be a very straightforward, a very quick, and a very direct way of setting a new tone to your administration.
Turning now to the question of force structure policies in terms of strategic nuclear arms control. In addition to jumpstarting U.S. security policy with the set of basic declaratory policy statements on U.S. obligations and intentions as regards nuclear weapons, the next president will have to deal with some specific arms controls issues early in his or her administration. Two obvious ones that come to mind, the START Treaty expires on December 5, 2009 and the SORT, or Moscow, Treaty expires on December 31, 2012. Both fall within the next presidential term and raise a number of issues. Let me just mention what they are quickly and then go back and talk about them for a moment.
This is not the way the letter would go. It’s easier to present it that way. What warheads are actually to be counted under the Moscow Treaty? How is the warhead count to be verified? How quickly can the treaty levels be reached and what will the follow on to the Moscow Treaty look like? What warheads are actually to be counted under the treaty? The treaty says that strategic nuclear warheads are to be limited to 1,700-2,100, but the U.S. position, however, is that only “operationally deployed” warheads are included. So that has not been formally settled. In other words, there is a difference between the U.S. statement of operationally deployed and the classic way of counting warheads as demonstrated by START.
If you use the operationally deployed definition this means that four converted submarines, two submarines in overhaul, empty MX ICBM silos, nuclear-capable heavy bombers assigned to conventional units, spares and trainers, as well as empty downloaded space on MIRV missile platforms are not accountable. Given the current U.S. interpretation, U.S. force levels are currently 3,800 warheads. It’s quite low. It seems surprising to me, but this is using a new way of counting warheads under the Moscow Treaty. Basically, that’s the target figure that was indicated in the administration’s first Nuclear Posture Review. If the Russians agree to this definition, then force reconstitution—or flexibility as this administration likes to refer to it—becomes a problem.
On the other hand, this may not be insurmountable. It’s certainly an issue and in classic arms control vision it is a problem. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be one. First of all, it’s hard to see the circumstances that would lead to a justification for force increases even though you have the spaces and/or the platforms available. There are of course measures that can be taken to eliminate the possibility of this flexibility including actually agreeing to de-wire heavy bombers, and or agreeing to change the platforms on missiles so they no longer have a large number of empty spaces.
Second, how is the warhead count to be verified? The administration will have to address this. Until the end of 2009, the United States and Russia will rely on the START verification provisions to monitor the Moscow Treaty. After the year 2009, which is when START ends and the first year of your administration, the sides can agree to extend its verification provisions and or design new or additional ones for the Moscow Treaty. It is possible the sides could agree to the formulation of operationally deployed if there’s a mutually satisfactory way of verifying compliance. It’s quite conceivable that the Russians will not object to some of the U.S. position on operationally deployed. For example, submarine in dry dock without missiles could easily be not counted and the Russians probably would not be concerned about that. In any case, what is counted and how it is verified are related issues that need to be resolved in the first year of your term.
How quickly can or should the treaty levels of the Moscow Treaty be reached? If, as the U.S. intends, the low levels of warheads established by the Moscow Treaty are to be obtained primarily by downloading missiles and bombers and not by destroying launch vehicles, there’s little reason why the 1,700-2,200 limit can’t be reached prior to the 2012 date, say by the 2010 NPT Review Conference. A useful indication of U.S. commitment to strategic nuclear arms control would be an announcement by you that the United States intended to reach the 2,200 level well ahead of midnight on December 31, 2012.
What will the follow on agreement to the Moscow Treaty look like? The Moscow Treaty expires before you leave office, so some provision needs to be made for a follow on. The simplest arrangement would be to extend the treaty for a number of years. But that presents two problems, Mr. President. The general expectation is that the nuclear warhead reduction process will continue. After all, even your predecessor who banned the term arms control from his political vocabulary agreed to some reductions. Your administration may not have left any other mark on the arms control process other than in the strategic nuclear area. We do not know the outcome of the ratification process, if there is one, for the CTBT or the negotiation process for biological weapons monitoring, a fissile material cutoff treaty, and a space weapons treaty. They’re all unknown and of uncertain outcome.
A simple quick fix would be for you to announce that the United States intends to consider 1,700 warheads, the lower end of the permitted ban under the Moscow Treaty, as a ceiling, not a floor. We don’t intend at the present time to come under 2,200. Of course, 1,700 will not satisfy members of ACA, who will consider it still way too high. Incidentally, that figure coincides almost exactly with the number of ICBM silos and SLBM launch tubes limited in SALT I in 1972. That number was 1710. After 40 years, we’re right back to 1972, a nice point to make in 2012. The Russians would almost certainly agree to an even lower number—1,500 is the one that they most frequently use— and if you had a cooperative Congress that might be a good minimum target for you.
Another issue that you might address that treats in another fashion with the unnecessarily large U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals is the question of non-deployed nuclear weapons. The public is generally unaware of the large numbers of nuclear weapons around the world. About 27,000 are believed to exist in nine countries. Most of these weapons, 26,000, are in the U.S. or Russian arsenals. It would be in U.S. security interests to begin to deal with the non-deployed warhead overhang. In other words, limiting the residual number permitted and destroying the excess. This too could be considered a continuation in the reduction process as well as a significant increase in national security. Paradoxically, weapons that are deployed are generally secure from theft or diversion, but security problems, particularly in Russia, continue to exist with those weapons that are kept in storage or reserve. Reducing their numbers and continuing to assist Russia in securing the remainder works to the advantage of both parties.
Final point, non-strategic nuclear arms control. Mr. President, or Madame President, you should move briskly and forthrightly to withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from abroad, i.e. those deployed under NATO, and engage Russia on limiting non-strategic nuclear weapons. In the early years of the Clinton administration, the Pentagon concluded that there was no longer any military requirement for these weapons in Europe. That was under the Clinton administration. The allies, however, were loath to break the nuclear umbilical cord and the weapons remain as a symbol in the European mind of U.S. commitment to continental security.
The European allies of the United States can be helpful in this regard. We need to convince them to abandon their attachment to European-based U.S. tactical nuclear weapons—the 200 to 400 bombs deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. These constitute the last remnants of the Cold War flexible response policy. If you can wean the Europeans from this perverse sign of solidarity, which might have been made easier by the erratic and bellicose U.S. behavior in this decade, a half dozen NATO allies might finally be cleared of nuclear weaponry. In turn, this move might just encourage Russia to reciprocate by agreeing to reduce and or constrain its tactical nuclear weapons stockpile. Well, Mr. President, or Madame President, you may not be able to do all this as rapidly as Nancy Pelosi did in her first 100 hours, but there’s little reason it can’t be done in the 48 months you’ve been allotted. Cheers.
STEVE ANDREASEN: Well, that’s a hard act to follow. The focus of our discussion is the future of nuclear arms control. Today, that question is obviously linked to one of the most important national security issues in the United States and the international community, which is how to prevent the use of nuclear weapons in the 21st century. Earlier this month, as Daryl mentioned, there was an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal. It was signed by two former secretaries of state, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of defense, Bill Perry, and a former senator and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn. They were joined by 17 other signatories, all of whom had extensive experience in government and working on this set of issues.
Since the article was published, a lot of folks have held it up to the light and asked the question, what does it mean? What I thought that I would do today is simply give you my own interpretation as one of the signatories as to what’s the news here.
The first point that I would underline for this group is that the authors have clearly drawn the conclusion that we are on the precipice of a new and dangerous nuclear era and that the strategy of nuclear deterrence, while still relevant, is becoming increasingly hazardous and increasingly ineffective. The likelihood that non-state terrorist groups will get their hands on nuclear weapons is increasing, a problem made worse by the issues that Matt Bunn was discussing; that is the spread of nuclear weapons related technology and illicit supplier networks. These terrorist groups are unlikely to be deterred from using a nuclear weapon by the threat of nuclear retaliation by the United States or any other nuclear-weapon state.
Also, as more nations acquire nuclear weapons in volatile regions, such as the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and Southwest Asia, nuclear deterrence is more likely to break down, as is stated in the piece. We were lucky during the Cold War that nuclear deterrence held the United States and the Soviet Union. There’s no guarantee that that situation will hold over the next 50 years.
The second point I would underline is that the authors are well aware of and supportive of the many efforts currently underway to deal with the issue of nuclear terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons. Indeed, many of the signatories to The Wall Street Journal op-ed have worked on these programs both in and outside of government. However, the authors of The Wall Street Journal piece also clearly state that “by themselves none of these steps are adequate to the danger.” In other words, given the threat and consequences of nuclear use, we are simply not doing enough now.
The third point I would underline is that the authors have concluded that in order to deal effectively with this new and dangerous era, the United States and international community must embrace both the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and pursue a balance program of practical measures toward achieving that goal. If you were to ask me to highlight what I thought was the most important two sentences of The Wall Street Journal op-ed they would be “Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible.”
The fourth point I would underline without going through each of the specific steps highlighted in The Wall Street Journal piece is that the program of actions is balanced. It requires actions by the five NPT nuclear-weapon states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). It requires actions by those states with nuclear weapons outside the NPT (India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan) and it requires actions by nations who have the capability, although not the intent today to produce nuclear material or nuclear bombs.
The fifth point I would make is that the signatories are not a partisan group. They include Republicans, Democrats, and some whose politics I don’t know. This is not a partisan vision or a partisan agenda. That said, proceeding down the road outlined in The Wall Street Journal piece will require some rethinking of positions by some both in the United States and overseas.
The sixth point I would make is that the authors and signatories clearly understand that there are a number of important issues facing our nation and the world today, including the war in Iraq that is about to enter its fifth year. Indeed, one of the four principal signatories to the piece was a member of the Iraq Study Group. That said, all of the signatories thought it essential to underscore the urgent need for U.S. leadership for making progress on nuclear issues, and to make the case for moving the issue of nuclear weapons once again to the policy front burner. Few, if any, of the steps that were outlined in the op-ed can be realized without U.S. leadership. Since everything nuclear in the United States is inherently presidential, the president will have to personally lead the charge. I agree with Matt that we need somebody in the west wing of the White House to focus on this. My experience and judgment tells me that that person has to be the president of the United States. In the absence of both U.S. leadership and focus, we will continue to drift toward the day when we will have to deal again with the consequences of nuclear use.
Finally, I would simply say what everyone here knows: accomplishing the actions required to achieve the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons will not be easy. Among other things, it will require an unprecedented degree of international cooperation, including progress on resolving regional confrontations and conflicts that breed nuclear weapons programs. The signatories of The Wall Street Journal piece, many of whom have dealt with many of these conflicts and confrontations, well understand the magnitude of the challenge. But they also believe we can and indeed we must in the words of Max Kampelman, a former arms control negotiator, distinguished statesmen, and one of the signatories. In his words, we need to take urgent steps to move from what is today a world with increasing nuclear risks to what ought to be a world free of the nuclear threat. With that, I will turn it back over to Daryl.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, all of you for your presentations. I think we’ve covered an enormous range of issues. We’ve got plenty here to discuss and I wanted to again express my appreciation to Joe and Steve for stepping into this on late notice.
CIRINCIONE: You notice that there are two of us to replace Gallucci.
KIMBALL: Well, we’ll have to tell him that. We have quite a bit of time for questions and answers. There are microphones, so please raise your hand.
QUESTION: Jonathan Medalia from Congressional Research Service. A question for Steve Andreasen. I was quite surprised to see in The Wall Street Journal piece a call for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Could you explain how that came about? Thanks.
ANDREASEN: Well, you can assume that all of the signatories to the piece including the four on the byline and the 17 other signatories had a conversation. I should step back and say that this was a piece that was at least months in the works and many of the principle signatories have been talking about this whole set of nuclear issues for quite some time. The issue of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty actually received a great deal of treatment at the Reykjavik conference that was hosted by Secretary of State Shultz and Sid Drell in October where a number of these issues were discussed. In the context of a broad agenda to reduce nuclear risks and delegitimize nuclear use, it actually was agreed by consensus that progress on the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and it’s entry into force were an important part of that agenda.
KIMBALL: I think we have to leave it at that. Next, Norm, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Norman Wulf. A question for Joe Cirincione if I could. We’ve been down this path before with this administration about seeing hopeful signs in the North Korea negotiations. What gives you confidence that we’re going to make it this time? Related to that is my concern that North Korea, as it becomes increasingly isolated and becomes even more poverty prone than it has been for the last several decades, now has something that’s a very valuable commodity that it could sell. Now, it has some separated plutonium and perhaps even after their test something even more troublesome. How can we do what Matt is saying we need to do? And how can we do it in the North Korean context assuming we are in fact in a real negotiation?
CIRINCIONE: First, we have to recognize that it’s far easier to deal with the problem if we can negotiate an end to the program than it is to try to contain that program. I share your concerns about the possibility that the North Korean regime could sell or otherwise transfer some of this material to other states or terrorist groups. I don’t actually believe that that’s as likely as some others do. I don’t think the principal danger from North Korea developing a nuclear weapon is that it’s going to attack the United States or any other states in the region with it or that it would transfer it to a terrorist group. I think the gravest risk is what happens in the region itself, the reaction of the other states.
If North Korea consolidates as a nuclear-weapon state, if it tests two or three more times, I fear there is likely to be an Asian nuclear reaction chain that will ripple out to South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and perhaps other states. That’s the real danger. That’s why we have to contain it. I have some confidence that we can get a breakthrough this year because the political correlation of forces. It’s something that I believe could force the hand of this administration. I believe left to its own devices it would prefer to either muddle through the North Korean crisis or pursue the strategy championed by the vice president and articulated by the former adviser to the vice president: the squeeze strategy. This is the idea that you just tighten the financial constraints on North Korea to such an extent that there’s sort of a mafia coup where the capos overthrow the don because they’re not getting the money that they need to continue their operations. I think this is a complete fantasy, but it is the preferred strategy of the administration.
I think the political correlation of forces has changed both within the administration and within the Congress to push the administration more toward the negotiated solution. There’s also the increased presence of China and the role it’s playing. I don’t want to make too direct an analogy, but China could play somewhat the role that Tony Blair played in convincing the president to get a deal with Libya.
That deal too was opposed by the then secretary of defense and the vice president. They didn’t want to make a deal with a Libya. They wanted to overthrow that regime. The president was convinced at the highest level that he could make a deal and it would be politically beneficial. I think we’re not in quite the same position with China, but those same forces are operating. So I see those arrows all converging toward a possibility of a deal. Finally, we’re blessed with an extremely skilled negotiator at this point, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill. If you would just let the diplomats do their job, we could get a deal.
KIMBALL: I would agree with what you said. Just in the last couple of days there was a first direct meeting between the chief U.S. negotiator and his North Korean counterpart. This morning’ story on the wires was that the North Koreans said that there was a breakthrough. Christopher Hill said he wasn’t exactly sure what they’re talking about but we’ve had positive discussions.
Now, I think one of the things that also has to be pointed out is that the serious negotiations that many of us have been calling for over some time have in some ways not yet been tried by this administration. The six-party talks as Bob Gallucci has pointed out to me several times are really about one hundred-party talks because you got the six countries and all their people. There’s not a lot of time for that quiet back and forth. This meeting just in the last couple of days in Berlin—I’m not quite sure what came out of it really—is a good sign that the administration, whether it admits it or not, has allowed for these kinds of quiet, direct discussions to help lay the groundwork for perhaps the next round of six-party talks. The key, again as you said, is dealing with this financial sanctions dispute, getting that out of the way. Then they can get to the real issue which is figuring out the sequencing of the actions that were outlined in the September 2005 joint statement.
CIRINCIONE: Just let me ad that it’s unfortunate that the Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) test could put a stick in the spokes. This comes at a particularly bad time.
KIMBALL: I want to get to the folks here in the front, but I also want to give the people in the backroom an opportunity. If you’re in the back and you would like to ask a question, please come to the door so the microphone can come to you and I can see who you are. Please do that if you want to ask a question. We have several questions here. I’ll try to get to all of you.
QUESTION: Avis Bohlen. I have sort of a double question, which maybe is cheating. First, one for Joe on Iran. It seems to me that what you’re suggesting—and I don’t disagree with your analysis that led up to it—contain on the one hand and seek to talk to reformers and good guys on the other, is just regime change light? It seems to me that we have to deal with the people who are in power in Iran if we’re going to have any serious discussions. Related to that, what is our objective at this point with regard to Iran? Of course, we would like them to give up any pretensions to enrichment of uranium, but is that really a realistic goal given the national attachment to this idea? It’s become a symbol for all parts of the political spectrum in Iran. Maybe it’s too soon, but maybe we should be looking at something like a suspension with conditions and so on in return for some goodies.
My second question nobody has mentioned and this is mainly for Steve and Jack Mendelsohn. Nobody has mentioned the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal. What do you do with the Indian deal in this brave new world that you are outlining? Thank you.
CIRINCIONE: I’ll start with the Iran. I need all the help I can get on Iran. Please if there are any people who are Iran experts in the room, please weigh in on this. No, I don’t think we can bank on regime change as a policy for ending the nuclear program whatever its character may be. It would be too late to even wait for the next election for Ahmadinejad. The program might be consolidated by then. What I’m suggesting is we take advantage of the fact that the president of Iran is actually a very constrained post. He technically doesn’t have any control whatsoever over the nuclear program or foreign policy. We should start dealing with other people in the Iran government structure who do, for example Larijani. We should also make openings directly to the supreme leader.
I’m saying we should use those conduits and treat them as the conduits they are. We should not believe that by somehow making a concession to Iran, that is by opening a dialogue with Iran, is somehow strengthening the hand of Ahmadinejad. I specifically don’t want to do that. I don’t want to validate Ahmadinejad’s theory that the only way to deal with the United States is to be tough with the United States, to be hostile to the United States, and that and only that will work. We want to prove the exact opposite. We have to find them the mechanisms to do that. Part of that is to engage more with the EU-3 in the negotiations that they are trying to restart. It’s a very tricky business, but a possible path to that was outlined by the Italians last year.
As you know, the issue is the Europeans want the Iranians to suspend operations before they start talks, while the Iranians want to start the talks without any preconditions. There’s a possible way to finesse this which is that the talks begin without any formal suspension, but with the understanding that once they do begin, the United States joins them, and the Iranians temporarily suspend. If both sides knew that there was something that was going to flow from that, I believe you could negotiate that kind of beginning to the talks. You would have to have these kinds of conduits open already in order to convince both sides that there’s a point of entering into these discussions. But the suspension is going to be a short term suspension. Iran is not going to agree to an indefinite suspension at this point. It just isn’t. No politician, reformist, pragmatist, or hard-liner, is going to do that.
You have to then be ready for the next step which is the possibility that you would agree to a temporary restart of some enrichment activities, but with the understanding that that would only be a temporary restart. I am against the permanent operation of enrichment facilities in Iran. We cannot agree to that for a whole variety of reasons. But we have to find a way that’s neither indefinite suspension, nor permanent operation. I believe our diplomats are good enough to find those kinds of formula if both sides believe that by engaging in this they are going to reach a resolution of their issues that don’t involve either side losing and that it’s a win-win scenario out there for both Iran and the United States. Matt?
BUNN: I agree with what Joe just said. I think that we have to understand that Iran is a very complicated policy at this point. Who is in charge is an ever shifting situation that frankly the U.S. government doesn’t understand very well, and the Europeans don’t understand very well either. We are undertaking policies the point of which is to convince a foreign government to take certain actions when we don’t actually know what the key issues are from the point of view or the perspectives of the players inside that foreign government and what things are likely to cause them to take one action versus another. I see it as putting our foot to the accelerator of a car that we’re driving in a heavy fog with little idea of whether there’s a brick wall in front of us or not.
In particular, I think that some of the sanctions approaches that people are focusing on may be more likely to foment the Iranian national culture of resistance to foreign pressure than to lead to a positive result. We have allowed Ahmadinejad to frame the issue as colonial powers are trying to take away our god given right to technology. In that frame, we would lose for sure. One of the key lessons that President Kennedy took away from the Cuban missile crisis is you have to give your opponent a face saving way to back down. I think that’s going to be true in Iran.
We’re not going to get zero enrichment forever in Iran as Joe said. But I think there are a variety of options. I can imagine that if the political engagement was sufficient and the Iranians really felt that we were going to shift on our long term efforts to overthrow their regime, the sanctions, and so on, that we might very well be able to get essentially more or less a freeze where we are of about 300 centrifuges + at Natanz that perhaps would operate without any UF6, uranium hexafluoride, being put into them. I’ve written a paper describing that as a warm standby option for those centrifuges. But I think we need to engage, as Joe was saying, with a lot of the different factions, and come to understand what the heck is driving Iranian decision making better than we do in order to have a better chance of influencing that decision making. People talk a lot about how we need better intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. I want better intelligence on who the heck is making the decisions and what causes them to make one decision rather than another. That’s much more interesting to me than which components they still have to get from abroad rather than indigenously. Of course, that’s an interesting question as well.
KIMBALL: We had another question on India. Jack or Steve on that, or on Iran?
ANDREASEN: The question on the India deal, what next? First of all, I should make clear that the issue wasn’t addressed specifically in The Wall Street Journal piece, so I’m answering you in my personal capacity so to speak. We do have a new framework agreed to by the Congress and signed by the president. Time will tell whether the Indians accept the framework and whether the associated agreements that need to be worked out can be worked out so that the deal goes forward. I think if your objective is to limit or control the production of fissile material for weapons and strengthen the NPT, and if you believe those should be high national priorities, which I do, you can conclude that the India deal was not a high-water mark. I would say at a minimum, we should not encourage others to believe that a similar deal is possible, and, in effect, as a matter of policy, we should state that this is not going to be repeated.
BUNN: I should add that some of my Iranian colleagues—I’ve been making an effort to try to understand what is going on in Teheran, although with limited success—have told me that in Teheran the nuclear hardliners are pointing to India and saying basically, look what happened to them, they tested, everybody in the whole world sanctioned them, and then six months later Clinton was crawling back and saying, please be our friend, et cetera. Now, they’re getting this nuclear deal. The hardliners are using that as an argument that while there may be sanctions now, if we just move forward, eventually the world will roll over and acquiesce to what we’re doing. That’s a plausible argument. That’s not obvious to me that they’re wrong given the huge pool of oil and gas that Iran is sitting on.
KIMBALL: Let me just put a little more detail into what Steve said about the next steps. We held a press conference here in this room in November on the eve of the congressional votes. One of the successes of the arms control communities lobbying effort of Congress was that Congress did reinforce and include in the legislation a couple of things that are important. They passed the overall package, but the legislation requires that the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has to agree by consensus to the necessary rule changes to allow India to receive civil trade from the United States and others.
The Indians and the International Atomic Energy Agency have to negotiate a safeguards agreement on the civil facilities that India has put on their civil list. I was just in Vienna, Austria in December for a meeting on the fissile material cutoff treaty issue. I also visited the IAEA offices and it’s clear that there are differences between the Indians and the IAEA about the nature of that safeguards agreement. There are questions about who’s going to pay for those safeguards. The IAEA officials I talked to only said it would cost a lot, which I was told to interpret as tens of millions of dollars a year. The other issue that has to be resolved is of course the formal U.S.-Indian agreement for nuclear cooperation.
Since the congressional legislation there have been no talks between the U.S. side and the Indian side. Steve alluded to the fact that the Indian atomic energy establishment is not happy with some of the other provisions in the congressional legislation, so this is not a done deal. One of the things that the Arms Control Association and others are doing is we’re talking to some of the other countries that have a stake in this. They will have a vote at the NSG, so to speak, to look at this deal closely and to evaluate whether and how the deal should be conditioned at the NSG to deal with some of the problems that Congress did not address. We will have another press conference about that one at some other time.
QUESTION: Thank you. During the discussion on the North Korean nuclear program there was a passing reference made regarding the ongoing debate in Japan about the possibility of developing nuclear weapons. Recently there have been some press reports regarding the preparation of another possible test by North Korea. I would like some of the distinguished panelists to probably comment on the significance and popularity of this concern in Japan, and also whether the risk or the probability of another such test by North Korea will translate into the weaponization of Japan? Unlike North Korea or Iran, where most of the efforts are aimed at denying them the capability in terms of technological expertise rather than focusing on political will, in terms of Japan it’s probably the other way around. How serious is this probability of the weaponization?
KIMBALL: Before you jump in Joe, let’s take one other question.
QUESTION: I just wanted to go back to the topic of Iran and confirm the statements from Mr. Cirincione and Mr. Bunn. Having lived in Iran myself for more that 10 years, I can certainly support that it’s a very difficult political landscape and certainly the last person calling the shots is the president, even the current one. You have to go back to the people surrounding Ayatollah Khomeini, who is the supreme religious leader in the country and also the head of the armed forces. My question actually is concerned with Pakistan. I just wanted to imagine the following situation. CNN Breaking News, General Musharraf assassinated and a country 140, 150 million people with the Secret Service and the Army with close ties to radical elements; some people sympathetic to al Qaeda. What will be the next steps from the West to try to contain this situation?
KIMBALL: That’s an interesting question, one that I think we have thought about at two in the morning in our nightmares. Joe, why don’t you take the first one on North Korea and Japan and then maybe we ask Matt to answer the Pakistan question.
CIRINCIONE: Right after the North Korean test, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Japan to consult. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times ran these very reassuring stories that showed the secretary sitting down with the foreign minister and other dignitaries and the headlines to the stories were that Japan assures the United States that it has no nuclear intent. I don’t think the editors actually read the story. They were headlining. The very first paragraph of The New York Times story says that Prime Minister Abe said that there should be a debate in the parliament about whether Japan should have nuclear weapons.
The last time a senior official suggested that was in 1999. It was the deputy defense minister and he was forced to resign for making that suggestion. Not only do we have Abe saying that, but the fourth highest ranking official, Mr. Nakagawa, made a similar statement that there should be a debate; that this was the right of a democracy to debate whether we should have a nuclear option or not. The former prime minister Mr. Nakagomi also suggested that there be this discussion, and this discussion is now happening. I don’t know about you, but this worries me.
There are some in this administration for whom this does not worry because they have a different proliferation view. They believe that there is good proliferation and bad proliferation. There are good guys and bad guys. It’s okay that India has nuclear weapons. In fact, one of my former colleagues in this very building made the comment a while back that the problem is not that India has nuclear weapons, it is that it doesn’t have enough nuclear weapons. The idea is to build up a nuclear alliance against China for what some see as the inevitable war between the United States and China in the middle of the next century. Japan fits into that. So from their view it’s not bad that Japan has it.
In my view it is terrible. It would be a disaster for Japan to conclude that the threat from North Korea and the example of India indicates that the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is dead, this 60-year-old effort to control nuclear weapons is over, and it’s off to the races and they’d better join. That is a huge challenge for the current administration that seems relatively complacent about all this. It’s certainly going to be a tremendous challenge for the next administration. We cannot allow that to happen.
BUNN: First, on the Japan front. I again agree with Joe, but I think the balance in Japan is still heavily weighted against going nuclear.
CIRINCIONE: Yes. I agree.
BUNN: What we need in the case of both North Korea and Iran are policies focused on trying to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons, but at the same time already implementing a plan B that focuses on reassuring their neighbors and containing their programs in the sense of making sure that they don’t lead to the cascade of proliferation that people have been worried about. With respect to Pakistan, fortunately or unfortunately, Musharraf is not the only thing holding the place together. He is very important, but I think that Pakistan is a deeply dysfunctional society. But the military, corrupt as it is, is one of the only functioning institutions in Pakistan and the people guarding the nuclear weapons will still be guarding the nuclear weapons if Musharraf steps on a landmine tomorrow.
I think that the risk of an actual sort of takeover by the sort of Jihadi-leaning parties in Pakistan is real but modest. Unfortunately, if one of those awful things does happen, I think our options are very limited. We don’t know where all the nuclear weapons are in Pakistan and actually going in there and getting them if in a situation of state failure in Pakistan would be very difficult. I’m confident that people have made contingency plans thinking about that situation.
The only way that that kind of thing would work is if the situation had become so dire within Pakistan in terms of collapse and state failure, that those actually controlling the nuclear weapons agreed that is was time to get them out of their country and were sort of cooperating with us to help make that happen. But I don’t see that likelihood as being very substantial in the next five years or something like that. In the longer term, Pakistan, in terms of proliferation and in terms of terrorism, is clearly one of the most dangerous and difficult problems that we have to deal with. I don’t have brilliant answers on that subject.
ANDREASEN: I would just briefly go even further than that and say you could make a strong case that Pakistan is the most dangerous country on the planet today. One of the reasons to oppose the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal is that you’re introducing a dangerous dynamic into the subcontinent security arrangements. What that means is that we really do need to, in the words of The Wall Street Journal signatories, redouble our efforts. It’s incumbent upon the United States having struck that deal to deal with the regional conflict and confrontation on the subcontinent to see if we can’t stabilize that situation. That is a tall order, but we need to make a greater effort than we’ve made to date on that.
KIMBALL: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: I am Naeem Salik from Brookings. From the comments by the panelists and the question which was asked by my friend, you said just now that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world. But the world thinks otherwise. It thinks the United States is the most dangerous country in the world. These are just questions of perception, you see? It only comes from which you come from and from what angle you are looking at things.
Let me clarify here that Pakistan is not a one-man-show. The general prevailing perception in the United States is that if Musharraf goes, everything will crash. Pakistan, let me tell you, is not Somalia. There are government institutions which are functioning. There is a parliament, whatever its credentials. I don’t say it’s a democratic parliament or whatever, but there are institutions which are there. There’s a command and control structure. The national command authority consists of ten of the top policymakers in the country. Even if Musharraf or anyone else goes, there are people who handle these things.
Matt said that no one knows where those weapons are and that only the Jihadis know they’re there. If we don’t know with all your research and technical and human intelligence, how would they know where those weapons are and how are they going to grab those? I think these are all fantasies which are being peddled along by the media and, unfortunately, some of the experts. But I would request you, my friend, Mr. Bunn, to go on a visit to Pakistan, read some briefings, and see the things for yourself. Probably most of these misconceptions will be clarified. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thanks for your perspectives and the only thing I would just add and I think this is what was driving these comments was that Somalia doesn’t have nuclear weapons. We worry when anybody has nuclear weapons. I think that’s one distinction here.
BUNN: I think actually that most of what I said was actually in your direction. There are institutions handling this thing.
KIMBALL: Right over here. Larry Weiler.
QUESTION: Larry Weiler. I’d like to comment briefly on the question of our policy on nuclear weapons use. It seems to me that this is the elephant that’s been in the closet or in the room for a long time. It makes our entire nonproliferation policy illegitimate, and that was recognized when the NPT was drafted. It’s the thing that if we change that one item, it has ramifications throughout the entire arms control spectrum. Everything that everyone else has talked about is affected by this policy.
Actually, if we were negotiating the NPT today with the present situation in Europe, the effort that Matt Bunn’s dad made on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Sunday afternoon picnic sessions with their Soviet counterparts, would have had a very real chance of putting in place a negative assurance clause in the NPT. But the situation there was such that no one could figure out a framework of words that met the NPT. Now, we have a completely different situation in Europe and that makes the major barrier to a nonproliferation statement or a no-first-use statement much easier today. What also makes it easier is that most Americans think that is our policy, which is something that people tend to forget.
I would add one other thing and that is it seems to me this is the kind of a thing that has got to come from the top not from the bottom up through the bureaucracy. It never will work going upward. The reaction you’ll get is traitor, I know. I also want to refer again to the little exchange I had with President Bush. When I made the point that there was a bargain and that we needed to consider no first use. The transcript doesn’t relate this, but he stood there, he thought a bit, and he said, “I will take your words to heart and I’ll think about that.”
Okay, if I had suggested we withdraw from NATO and he’d said, “I take your words to heart and I’ll think about it.” That would have been something. My point being, I don’t think he had the slightest idea what our nuclear weapons policy really, really was. I think that we make a mistake in assuming that leaders are very familiar with what things are. The point being that you have to get to these people before they assume office to have a better chance. That means our effort really ought to be on the key people before the election that comes up. We will have chance maybe of getting a dynamic statement of the kind that Jack was stalking about. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thanks a lot, Larry. Larry, for those of you who didn’t know, had an amazing exchange at a press conference the president did about a year and a half ago and he had the chance to ask this question. Larry, of course, was with George Bunn in the early days when the NPT was being negotiated.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. My name is Masa Ota. I’m a Japanese journalist with Kyodo News. I have just a quick question to Mr. Mendelsohn. I think it’s a great idea to delegitimize the use of nuclear weapons, but my concern is the discussion noted by Mr. Cirincione. Some conservative politicians in my country are talking about the possibility of going nuclear after the North Korean nuclear test. What would be the consequences for deterrence, of the nuclear umbrella, after the United States made a declaratory policy to not be the first to use nuclear weapons? What’s going to be the impact on extended deterrence? Also, how we can balance between the conservative argument in Japan and also a delegitimization of nuclear weapons?
MENDELSOHN: That’s a good question. I felt constrained in the formulation of the no-first-use idea in this letter to add that there will be certain narrow and specialized circumstances. The ones I had in mind were mentioned there and that is in connection with the use of a nuclear weapon or if the survival of the state is in genuine jeopardy. I think that’s actually the only really extended deterrence that we have in mind. During the Cold War we did indeed argue that we would use nuclear weapons in other less, if you will, high threat situations.
But I think we’re unlikely to use a nuclear weapon unless another one has been used or threatened to be used. So extended deterrence from the national survival point of view of a country like Japan I don’t think would be affected by this. You could argue that its security might actually be enhanced by the fact that the United States had reduced, if you will, the level of threat that existed around the world. Referring to the statement earlier, there are some points of view that the United States is the most dangerous country in the world.
ANDREASEN: Just a brief comment on what was asked previously in terms of the comment made about our target audience, leaders and presidential candidates. I think it’s not a coincidence that The Wall Street Journal piece appeared in January of 2007. There are two years to go before the next president assumes office and that really provides the opportunity to focus on our current and future leadership. Remember the Reykjavik Summit meeting that we consider in retrospect last October happened in the seventh year of the Reagan administration with less time to go than President Bush currently has in office. A lot of progress was made after Reykjavik on specific instruments across the board on nuclear weapons. On presidential candidates, I think you’re exactly right that candidates need to be thinking about these issues before they become president. This Wall Street Journal piece and the broader efforts of the Arms Control Association and the arms control community are very important in this stage we’re in now with two years to go before the inauguration of the next president.
BUNN: Let me cite a specific anecdote that Steve may remember differently. He can correct me if he does. During the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton said he was in favor of a Comprehensive Test Ban. When he was in office there was quite an internal debate about whether we were in favor of a real Comprehensive Test Ban or whether we were in favor of a Comprehensive Test Ban that would still allow one-kiloton nuclear tests. That was a petty hard fought discussion inside the Clinton administration. It’s my view at least that had Clinton not publicly endorsed the CTBT already during the campaign, if he wasn’t already on record that way, that that debate might have come out another way than it did. Making people make their views clearer during the course of a campaign can be quite important.
ANDREASEN: Well, I’ll just add to that. I remember going to a lot of meetings in 1993 and reading what the president had said in 1992 so that definitely is a factor. But a piece like the recent piece provides a broad tent, so to speak. In some way it’s the proverbial big tent where there’s a lot of room for candidates to get underneath that tent. It will be interesting to see if that happens in the next six, 12, or 18 months.
KIMBALL: Great. Ed, please.
QUESTION: Edward Ifft. I’d like to go back to the India deal for a moment if I may. I was at a nonproliferation conference in the United Kingdom last month and I talked to several people there who worked very closely with the Nuclear Suppliers Group trying to get a clear answer to the question, does the NSG have a veto over the deal or not? Yes or no? I was not able to get a clear answer. Now, it appears that there’s a veto via the congressional bill that was passed which was mentioned earlier. However, the president in a signing statement said he wasn’t bound by that, so even that is muddled. Now, one of these NSG people finally said to me, look, you don’t understand how we operate. The NSG is unlikely to say either yes or no. What they will probably do is issue a Delphic policy statement which the United States can interpret as a green light and others may interpret differently. Can you shed any further light on this? Thank you.
CIRINCIONE: I think you have just stated it about as clearly as it can be stated. I know there were many members of Congress and their staffs who believed that if the NSG does not approve this deal, it will not go through. Many members of Congress, including people who were moving the legislation, believed this to be the case that the NSG has to approve this before the Congress will then continue the approval process. I also believe that the president’s signing statements are unconstitutional. I don’t believe they’re valid. I don’t believe the president can pick and choose the component of the laws that he signs. We’ve allowed this practice to continue for the last six years. I don’t believe it could hold up, and I don’t believe Congress believes that those statements are valid.
BUNN: This is an amendment to Atomic Energy Act, right? If he does something that is not permitted by the Atomic Energy Act – I can’t imagine even this president actually consciously violating the Atomic Energy Act. This is law that has constrained all of us in this room for so long we sort of feel as though it’s almost holy writ in a certain sense.
I had a fascinating discussion with a senior nonproliferation official at the Department of Energy a couple of months ago about this issue of multilateral fuel assurances. The United States has taken 17 tons of highly enriched uranium to blend down and offer it as a reserve that states could draw upon if they had a problem with their supplies. But they’re going to have it sitting in the United States under all the constraints of the Atomic Energy Act. That means that none of the countries that we would be most nervous about if they were doing enrichment or reprocessing will see it as any assurance at all because they won’t be able to get access to it because they don’t have agreements with us under the Atomic Energy Act. I said to him, well, what you ought to do is take some of this material and sell it to the French and have the French or somebody like that take some of their material and put it into a reserve. Then, it’s not under all the constraints of the Atomic Energy Act. He said that it may surprise you to learn that I do not conceive my job as figuring out ways to violate the Atomic Energy Act. Despite the signing statement, I think the NSG has to approve it. It’s not going to happen if that doesn’t happen.
KIMBALL: Yes, I’m not a constitutional law expert, but I think another reality, Ed, is that if the NSG does not reach consensus, they could theoretically decide to vote on this by majority, which would be highly unusual. In that event, I would say the NSG is dead, okay, because you have the founding country basically saying, if you don’t agree with us, we’re going to do whatever we want. Signing statements aside, I think there’s a global nonproliferation reality that the United States has to face. And it’s not just this president, it is still the next one and the next one.
As to what the NSG will do, I still have my questions about that too. There are some people here in this room I could point you out to. You should discuss with them what the NSG might do because they represent NSG countries. But the other thing to remember is that the NSG may come up with a different formulation for granting India this unrestricted trade. Some countries may want a criteria-based approach rather than a country-specific approach. That could create another layer of difficulties because different countries might have different ideas about which criteria should be included. Some people might want other countries included in addition to India, while others like the United States do not. There are a lot of questions that are still out there about the NSG and I don’t think the Indians, the Bush administration, or the Arms Control Association have the answers yet. In the back, Michael Klare, please.
QUESTION: Yes. I apologize if this question was asked in some form earlier, but I wonder if the panelists could tell me whether they have reason to believe that a clock is now ticking on Iran? What I mean by that is it was very obvious to knowledgeable observers in July 2002 that a plan was in motion for an attack on Iraq. I spoke to some senior military people at a meeting at the Naval War College in July 2002 and objections were raised and they said, well, you make good arguments, but the decision has been made already. I don’t know if it was March 16, 2003 in particular, but there were clear signs that a time period had been set. I feel in my bones that there is now a clock ticking on Iran. I don’t know if it’s May 15, 2007 or something like that, but I wonder if you gentlemen believe that there is a clock ticking?
CIRINCIONE: Let me start. I think there’s a clock ticking in two senses. I think within Iran the nuclear hardliners are trying to establish facts on the ground as quickly as possible to make their program irreversible. I believe that we have about two years to stop that effort before it may become unstoppable. I also believe that in this administration there are some who have their own clock ticking on planning strikes for Iran. We know that a plan to strike Iran has been drawn up and is in the White House. It exists and it is different in kind than the other plans that exist for all kinds of options. This is ready to be implemented. We see pieces of what would be required to implement that plan being put in motion.
What we don’t know is whether there are innocent explanations for moving the second carrier battle group into the Gulf or appointing a naval aviator to be the head of Central Command or whether these in fact are part of setting the table for military strikes. Moving Patriot anti-missile systems into Iraq strikes me as a less ambiguous signal. There’s no purpose for Patriot missiles except to defend against Scuds. The Iraqi militias and insurgents do not have Scuds. Only Iran and Syria have Scuds. Why exactly are we moving those Patriot batteries in there? I don’t know what exactly the odds are of this administration launching a military strike, but it is not zero.
Before the election I thought the chances were 60 percent that this president will extend and expand the war into military action against Iran. After the election I thought personally it sort of dropped to around 30 percent. It just went back up. My personal guess is it’s 50-50, that there are some people in this administration who want to do it and do not want to leave office with the Iranian regime still in place. My only question is whether cooler heads will prevail.
BUNN: It’s been publicly reported—I don’t know whether it’s true or not—that the president has said to France that he would consider it a personal and national humiliation if the Iranian nuclear problem hadn’t been solved by the time he left office. I am a little bit less pessimistic than Joe. I’m still in the 20 or 30 percent range for my estimate of the probability of military action before this presidential term is out. But that’s a big enough probability given what I believe would be very catastrophic consequences or set of actions to be worried about it. We should try to do everything we can to make the case as to what the consequences of military actions are and what the risks of other options are and the potential costs and benefits of the different options. I think one of the things that this community ought to be doing that hasn’t been done to my satisfaction yet is a really detailed analysis of the likely impact and consequences of limited military strikes against Iran.
The one thing I would add to what Joe said is the Israeli factor. I was at a meeting recently where a senior neo-con with very good connections to the White House and in Israel made the following set of points. He said, number one, there isn’t any major leader of any party in Israel who is willing to just sit back and deter a nuclear armed Iran. That’s just unacceptable to all of them. Number two, the Israelis see the Iranian program moving much faster than the international sanctions are having any effect. Therefore, number three, eventually the Israelis may get to the point where they feel that they have no choice, but to take military action. And number four, that the perception in at least some quarters of the Bush administration, possibly correctly, is that the Israeli military action would be the worst of all possible worlds because we would suffer essentially all of the costs that we would suffer if we had done it ourselves. In addition, the Israelis don’t have the military capability to do it as effectively as we would be able to do it. He didn’t go on to draw the conclusion, but my conclusion from his remarks was that under those circumstances there might well be people in the government who would say to the Israelis, don’t you do it, we’ll do it ourselves. I think it’s a genuine factor that has to be considered. I do think the odds are better given all the other things going on in that region and in our situation militarily and politically that it won’t happen. But I don’t think it’s a non-trivial risk that it will happen.
MENDELSOHN: I agree very much to what Matt has just said. If the clock is ticking, it is ticking faster in Tel Aviv than it is here. If that’s not a violation of relativity; actually it’s a demonstration of relativity. We need to be concerned because if it does happen, we will indeed be implicated and assumed to have in fact sponsored it. If not sponsored, certainly, tacitly approved it.
KIMBALL: We’re closing in on the time for this session this morning. In fact, we’re a little bit over. I want to take the three last questions in quick succession and we’re going to try to answer them quickly because such good questions have been asked. I have this gentleman right here, I have Mr. Paulsen, and then this gentleman in the back row. We’ll go one, two, and then three.
QUESTION: Thank you. Erik Paulsen from the Norwegian Embassy. I just would like to ask the panel for reactions to the Chinese ASAT test that was reported a couple of days ago. As I can tell, the Chinese have sent a strong message through this test to the United States. In Congress, people like Congressman Ed Markey has said something to the effect, point taken, now let’s try to work to avoid an arms race. But, as far as the Congress is concerned, do you think this Chinese message will prove counter productive? Thank you.
QUESTION: Hi. Mark Goodman. What do you expect this new Congress to do and what do you think they should do in the coming two years?
QUESTION: Herbert Levin. You’ve discussed that the justification for the Indian agreement is that it will help contain China by increasing India’s nuclear capabilities and we have the smiles from the U.S. government on that vocal minority within Japan who like to see them move toward nuclear weapons. The Chinese in their customary manner have been rather quiet and not publicly discussing this. What reaction do you anticipate from the Chinese when they decide to react against the American effort to have nuclear containment around the edges of China?
KIMBALL: ASAT test, did you want to address that quickly?
BUNN: I’ve practically found it a little bit amusing that the National Security Council issued a statement saying, this is inconsistent with the kind of civil cooperation we’ve been looking for given how absolutely dedicated the Bush administration has been to promoting a space weapons agenda and stomping on any suggestion of international, negotiated controls over space weapons. At the same time, the tests created a mound of space debris that’s going to be a hazard to satellites in similar orbits to the one that was destroyed. I think that is a symbol of one the reasons why we do need to figure out some way to move forward to constrain testing of weapons that are going to create that kind of debris and constraints on space weapons.
No space weapons regime is going to be perfect. As with all arms control, you’re talking about reducing risks and having one tool in your toolbox for protecting your satellites. But I think we need to move forward on space arms control. The test will actually make it a little more difficult to move forward on space arms control because now everybody will be saying that the Chinese already have the capability, et cetera, et cetera.
On what the Congress should do, I think there is a great deal of opportunity for more vigorous oversight of a lot of nonproliferation policies and more pressure on the administration to take sensible actions on nonproliferation. I would like to see authorizations and appropriations related to a lot of the steps I outlined related to strengthening security for nuclear material around the world, strengthening export controls around the world, strengthening the IAEA, and so on. Some of those measures are included in some of the legislation now being discussed, such as implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendation, but by no means all. Ultimately, the reality is more than 90 percent of nonproliferation is something the executive branch has to do and therefore the key is figuring out ways that the Congress can influence the policies that the executive branch undertakes. It’s not always successful, but it’s not impossible.
KIMBALL: On that subject, there is a short and good piece by Arms Control Today editor Miles Pomper in the current issue of Arms Control Today about that very question. I suggest you read that. For those of you joining us at the luncheon upstairs in a few minutes, that’s a great question for Howard Berman. He is the second ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. So we’ll hear more from him about what Congress might be doing in this realm.
The last question was about what China’s reaction on the India deal is going to be. Clearly, we’re going to have to have some more discussions on the India deal because a lot of questions are still coming out about that. China has issued mixed signals publicly about this. Some have been deeply opposed, claiming this is an affront to the nonproliferation system. Others have been a little bit more open to the idea. From my contacts and my communications, it’s pretty clear that if China is going to accept anything, it’s going to seek a criteria-based rule at the NSG to give India access to civil trade. To what extent it seeks to include Pakistan in that criteria-based approach is not yet clear, but I think that’s probably the direction that China will probably go in. That may not be good news for India or the United States because, as I said before, a criteria- versus country-specific approach could be very difficult to work out at the NSG, which does not work very fast at all. But we need to wrap up quickly.
MENDELSOHN: Let me say one thing on Asia. Some of you may remember a very strange reaction by the Chinese, must be about five years ago now, in connection with the U.S. Missile Defense Program. The Chinese in Geneva and probably also in Beijing said that in response to the U.S. strategic system, they intended to consider interfering with any satellites that were connected to that system. They would not permit them to overfly China. You might go back and check. I actually can give you some sources for that. It’s interesting that at the time, of course, the reaction of the United States was, they can’t. Now they can.
KIMBALL: We’ve provided for you today a very broad ranging set of presentations. I would urge you to check back with us because we’re going to be dealing in much more detail in each of these areas through the course of the year at our briefings and in Arms Control Today. I want to ask you to join me in thanking our panelists this morning. (Applause.)
Finally, on each of your chairs is this slick little brochure from the Arms Control Association. If you’re not a member or a subscriber, think about becoming one. Our brochures are slick, but we still need your money and support to help produce them and the magazine, so please consider doing so or asking a friend to do so. For those of you joining us upstairs, let me just give you a couple of directions about logistics. The program hopefully will be starting at noon, but that means that we need to ask you to start moving upstairs to find your seats. Those of you who have these should keep them. There’s a coloring system which will tell us whether you’ve paid or not and where you sit. Please go ahead and move upstairs, find your seat, and thank you very much for joining us this morning.