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ACA-TLC Bipartisan Nuclear Policy Dialogue Project
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The Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center have partnered to establish the Bipartisan Nuclear Policy Dialogue Project to help foster bipartisan discussion on timely security issues. The program does not seek any policy outcome or enactment of any legislation. Our mission is to provide a forum where senior national security staff across committee jurisdictions and party affiliations can establish relationships and a basis for working together more effectively, as well as increase the overall knowledge base and awareness of WMD risks and risk reduction strategies.

Established in November 2013, the Project organizes a series of private dinners and congressional briefings on specific topics of interest to Republican and Democratic congressional staff. These events emphasize constructive dialogue and provide a forum for staff to engage high profile speakers. Topics will include:

  • Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran;
  • Preventing nuclear terrorism (Cooperative Threat Reduction);
  • Reversing North Korea’s nuclear program;
  • Nuclear force modernization;
  • Engaging China and other nuclear armed states in the nuclear risk reduction process; and
  • Controlling the nuclear fuel cycle.

    For more information, please contact Kingston Reif at [email protected]

    The project is made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

    (Jump to the beginning of: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

    Past Events:

    Global Nuclear Weapons Test Monitoring
    December 1, 2016

    On December 1, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center, on behalf of the Bipartisan Policy Dialogue Project, hosted an off-the-record breakfast event to discuss the technical advances in nuclear test-monitoring and the role of the national laboratories in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System and International Data Center.

    2016 been an important year for the issue of nuclear testing, including: marking the 20th anniversary since the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); the passage of the first-ever UN Security Council resolution reinforcing the CTBT and encouraging continued support for the CTBTO; a hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the proposed UN resolution before it had been adopted, bringing the issue of CTBT back to Capitol Hill for the first time in years; action and responses from Senators and Representatives on the issue of nuclear testing and the CTBT; but also two nuclear test explosions conducted by North Korea, which were jointly detected by both the international verification system hosted by the CTBTO as well as by U.S. national technical means.

    Speakers included:

    • Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization
    • Undersecretary Thomas Countryman, Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Department of State
    • Dr. Jay Zucca, Principal Deputy Global Security Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
    • Daryl Kimball (moderator), Executive Director, Arms Control Association 

    Evaluating Nuclear Risk Reduction Options
    October 31, 2016

    On October 31, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center, on behalf of the Bipartisan Policy Dialogue Project, hosted an off-the-record luncheon discussion to discuss the choices the president is reportedly weighing and exchange views on the benefits and costs of potential changes to U.S. nuclear declaratory policy, force numbers, and force modernization plans, as well as how to address the deteriorating U.S.-Russia nuclear relationship.

    Speakers included:

    • Dr. James Miller, President, Adaptive Strategies, LLC and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
    • Paula DeSutter, Consultant, Tenere' Veritas, LLC and former Assistant Secretary for Verifcation, Compliance and Implementation
    • James Acton, Co-director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Commissioner, Deep Cuts Commission
    • Daryl Kimball (moderator) Executive Director, Arms Control Association


    The Future of U.S. Missile Defense
    August 31, 2016

    On August 31, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center, on behalf of the Bipartisan Policy Dialogue Project, hosted an off-the-record dinner discussion to address the future of U.S. missile defense.

    The discussion was centered on trends in the ballistic and cruise missile threat landscape, the Defense Department’s efforts to improve and evolve U.S. national and regional defenses, and the cost of and challenges to successfully implementing ongoing and planned defense efforts. While the Defense Department seeks to increase the capability of existing U.S. national and regional missile defense systems to ensure the U.S. stays ahead of foreign missile threats, high-ranking military officials voice that the current U.S. strategy to defeat adversary ballistic missiles is “unsustainable.”

    Speakers included:

    • Gen. Kenneth E. Todorov (USAF, ret.), Director, International Programs, Northrop Grumman and former Deputy Director, Missile Defense Agency
    • Cristina Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, US Government Accountability Office
    • Kingston Reif (moderator) Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, Arms Control Association


    An Exchange of Views on the Need for a New Nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile
    June 30, 2016

    On June 30, 2016, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a public lunch discussion on U.S. plans to build a new fleet of nuclear air-launched cruise missiles (also known as the LRSO).

    The discussion was centered on the debate about the necessity and affordability of the Obama administration’s plans to modernize the nuclear triad of land-based missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and long-range bombers–and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure. One of the most controversial pieces of this approach is the Air Force’s proposal to build a new fleet of roughly 1,000 new long-range standoff cruise missiles and refurbish the warhead for the weapon.

    Speakers included:

    • Thomas Karako, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for International and Strategic Studies;
    • Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, Brookings Institution;
    • Andrew Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Defense Programs, and Non-resident Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School;
    • Rob Soofer, Staff Lead, Strategic Forces; Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee; and
    • Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, moderator.

    Russia’s Nuclear Policy and U.S.-NATO Reactions
    May 26, 2016

    On May 26, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a private, off-the-record dinner discussion on concerns about the direction of Russian nuclear policy and how the United States and NATO are responding and should respond to this behavior.

    Some questions posed to the speakers to initiate the discussion included: What concerns the United States and NATO about Russia's nuclear posture and doctrine? Are there recent actions Russia has taken that have heightened those concerns? What steps have the United States and its alliance partners taken to date to respond to changes in Russian nuclear policy? Are additional measures/actions needed to strengthen deterrence, assurance, and nuclear preparedness in the region? What steps should Congress take, or refrain from taking, to strengthen strategic stability with Russia and reduce the Russian nuclear threat?

    Speakers included:

    • Barry M. Blechman, Co-Founder and Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center;
    • Evelyn N. Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council;
    • Ambassador Kurt Volker, Executive Director, The McCain Institute for International Leadership, Arizona State University, Washington, D.C.; and
    • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association, moderator.

    Below you can find resources provided for further reading:

    The Last Nuclear Security Summit: What it is, What to Expect, and What’s Next
    March 15, 2016 

    On March 15, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a bipartisan off-the-record luncheon for members of Congress to discuss the upcoming fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C on March 31-April 1.  Representatives Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) joined the discussion along with other congressional colleagues to discuss these important issues. 

    Some questions posed to the speakers to begin the discussion included: What has the Nuclear Security Summit process accomplished? What can be expected at the fourth and final summit? What are some steps Congress might take to ensure a continued high-level, bipartisan U.S. commitment to nuclear security and address current and emerging nuclear security challenges? 

    Speakers included:

    • Senator Richard G. Lugar (ret.), President and Chairman of the Board, The Lugar Center;
    • Joan Rohlfing, President, Nuclear Threat Initiative;
    • Kenneth C. Brill, former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency and founding director of the National Counterproliferation Center; and
    • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association, moderator.

    Below are some resources for further discussion:

    Reducing the North Korean Nuclear Threat
    January 27, 2016 

    On Jan. 27, 2016 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a private off-the-record dinner discussion on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and options to reduce the risks posed by the North Korean nuclear threat. Some of the following questions were discussed:

    • What is the status of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missiles programs? What might North Korea have learned from the fourth nuclear test it conducted on Jan. 6 to advance its program?
    • Does the recent nuclear test demand in shift in the current U.S. diplomatic strategy of "strategic patience" to stem the growing North Korean nuclear threat?
    • Is the U.S. defense posture in the region adequate to protect against the growing North Korean threat? Are additional measures needed to strengthen deterrence, assurance, and military preparedness in the region?
    • What steps can Congress take to combat the North Korean nuclear threat, reduce the proliferation risk posed by the program, and encourage Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table?

    Speakers included:

    • Frank Aum, Senior Advisor for North Korea, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and
    • Joel S. Wit, Visiting Scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and Senior Research Fellow at the Weatherhead Institute for East Asian Studies at Columbia University

    Below you can find resources provided for further reading:

    Pakistan and the Nuclear Dilemma in South Asia
    November 19, 2015

    On November 19, 2015, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a lunch briefing to discuss Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and options for U.S. policy to reduce the risks posed by the program. Some questions posed to the panel to begin the discussion included: What is the status of Pakistani and Indian nuclear arsenals and delivery systems? Why is Pakistan hesitant to accept limits on its nuclear weapons capabilities and fissile material production? What policy options should the United States pursue to reduce the risk posed by Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and the potential use of nuclear weapons in South Asia?

    Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, began the discussion by summarizing the status of Pakistan and India’s nuclear forces.  Pakistan is now unofficially the 6th largest nuclear power. The rate at which Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile increases will likely be based on two factors: how many nuclear-capable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear stockpile grows. In regards to India, Kristensen noted that India’s nuclear posture is generally more focused on China than it is Pakistan. While like Pakistan India initially relied heavily on fighter-bombers as its preferred means of nuclear delivery, India has progressed in developing both long-range land-based ballistic missiles as well as a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine deterrent.

    Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, began his remarks with the observation that the South Asian nuclear issue is an active triangular competition between China, India, and Pakistan, and should be viewed in this context. Unlike in India, where nuclear weapons are controlled by elected political leaders who see them as a political tool, Pakistan’s program is controlled by the military, which views nuclear weapons as militarily useful tools that provide both security and status. Krepon noted that the U.S. ability to convince Pakistan to constrain its nuclear weapons capabilities is fairly limited. Pakistan is quick to balk at any U.S. proposal on limiting Islamabad’s nuclear program that does not include suggested limits on India’s program. These are proposals Pakistan considers “discriminatory” and therefore a non-starter. Krepon noted that a potentially more effective way to encourage Pakistan to limit their nuclear programs would be to encourage an Indian-Pakistani dialogue. Currently India only wants to talk to Pakistan about terrorism, but the United States can encourage India to see the benefit in engaging Pakistan in issues of trade, Kashmir, and nuclear weapons.

    Additional Resources:

    Options for Strengthening Nonproliferation After the Iran Nuclear Deal
    October 19, 2015

    On October 19, 2015, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a private, off-the-record dinner discussion on possible next steps for the Executive Branch and Congress to strengthen nonproliferation after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball kicked off the discussion by presenting a set of options to build upon the nonproliferation value of the JCPOA, as summarized in an Arms Control Association Issue Brief.  Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman and Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow Ambassador James Jeffrey of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy took turns responding to the Arms Control Association’s proposals.

    Thomas Countryman began the discussion by thanking the Arms Control Association for its thoughtful brief that touched on many aspects of a robust nonproliferation regime. He noted that many of the recommendations are generally aligned with U.S. policy.  He noted that timely payments to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United States’ regular budget assessments would go a long way toward maintaining our credibility as a staunch supporter of the IAEA. He also suggested that U.S. policy be focused on region-wide adoption of, and adherence to, IAEA additional protocols, including encouraging Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria to conclude an additional protocol with the IAEA.

    James Jeffrey began his remarks by noting that he does not believe that the JCPOA will be a “transformational” agreement that meaningfully reshapes the entire region or Iran’s behavior. He believes the JCPOA will be more like U.S. arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, which were primarily technical agreements that didn’t change the underlying nature of the relationship. Jeffrey noted however that going forward, the administration and Congress should keep in mind that the agreement is not just about technical adherence to the JCPOA on the part of Iran, but that there are political issues that need to be worked through to keep the agreement from falling apart.  Jeffrey concludes that if the Iranians adhere to all aspects of the agreement and behave responsibly then there is a basis to be hopeful about additional cooperative initiatives with Iran in the future.

    Additional Resources:

    The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal: 
    Implementation of IAEA Monitoring and Sanctions Relief
    July 16, 2015

    On July 16, 2015 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a private, off-the-record dinner discussion to review aspects of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom) and Iran comprehensive nuclear agreement. At this dinner, speakers Richard Nephew, former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the Department of State, and Thomas E. Shea, former twenty-four year veteran of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Department of Safeguards, discussed the implementation of IAEA monitoring and sanctions relief under the deal. 

    Shea began the discussion by talking about some of the key verification terms Iran had agreed to in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Shea identified five main domains of interest for IAEA verification. First, clandestine facilities or undeclared nuclear material that may support nuclear weapon related activities. Second, confirmation that declared peaceful nuclear facilities are used solely for peaceful activities. Third, confirmation that declared nuclear materials are not diverted for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Fourth, confirmation that Iran does not import equipment or material except as provided in the agreement. And finally, confirmation that the terms of the July 14th agreement are not breached.   

    Nephew continued the discussion by laying out the timeline that the P5+1 and Iran agreed to in terms of sanctions relief. Nephew discussed some of the key milestones laid out in the agreement. From there, Nephew listed the different kinds of sanctions which are going to be modified—UN sanctions, EU sanctions, and U.S. sanctions—as well as the time frame anticipated for these sanctions to be lifted. He closed his address by discussing how sanctions would be snapped back into place should Iran violate the terms of the JCPOA.

    Speakers and Resources:

    • Richard Nephew, Former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanction Policy, Department of State, former Director for Iran, National Security Council Staff, and current Program Director of Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets, Columbia University.
    • Thomas E. Shea, twenty-four year veteran of the IAEA's Department of Safeguards, and former Head for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    U.S. Policy Regarding Section 123 Agreements
    May 28, 2015 

    On May 28, 2015 the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a private off-the-record dinner discussion with congressional staffers and experts in the nonproliferation community to review U.S. policy regarding civil nuclear cooperation and section 123 agreements. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Professional Staff Member and Legislative Assistant to Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) Stacie Oliver, discussed their viewpoints on some of the following questions.

    • What do 123 agreements do and what goals and principles guide U.S. policy in negotiating these agreements?
    • Are the nonproliferation safeguards in the China and South Korea agreements sufficient?
    • Is Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act in need of nay updates or modifications?

    Below you can find resources from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s recent hearing “The Civil Nuclear Agreement with China: Balancing the Potential Risks and Rewards,” including the testimony from Countryman and opening statement of Corker. Furthermore, the Congressional Research Service recently provided a comprehensive overview of civil nuclear cooperation agreements, also provided below for further reading.

    Speakers and Resources:

    The Role of Nuclear Weapons in the U.S.-Russia Relationship
    April 21, 2015 

    On April 21, 2015, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a dinner discussion to review the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and discuss several questions.

    • What is the appropriate role of U.S. nuclear weapons in defending and assuring NATO allies?
    • Are current U.S. conventional and nuclear forces sufficient to address the current threat posed by Russia?
    • Are the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (NEW Start) still in the U.S. national interest? If not, what are the alternatives?

    Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, began the discussion by noting that in dealing with Russia, the State Department has had to analyze and respond to both negative and positive actions by Russia.. Causes of strain in the U.S.-Russia relationship include Russia’s INF Treaty violations, verbal and militaristic posturing, and the Ukraine crisis. However, Gottemoeller also noted that Russia has been cooperative in several areas, such as the P5+1 (China, Russia, France, German, United Kingdom, and the United States) negotiations with Iran; the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons; and implementation of New START. Gottemoeller maintained that continued implementation of New START is vital because the agreement can provide an area of predictability in a time when U.S.-Russian relations are strained. 

    Ambassador Linton Brooks, currently senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former government official with positions at the National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and National Security Council, discussed his belief that an “adversarial” component to the U.S.-Russian relationship is not new, and has been in place for some time. But now, there is a growing concern that some Russians say or believe that the U.S. is attempting regime change in Russia, either by trying to instigate regime change and that the United States wants a first strike capability. Russian mistrust towards the United States is going to be hard to change. Because of the tensions in the relationship, it is very important to continue cooperation where possible. However he cautioned against removing the residual U.S. tactical nuclear weapons still deployed in Europe and further strategic nuclear weapons reductions without Russian reciprocity. But he also said New START remained in the national interest and that arms control should still be pursued because arms control is most valuable between people who distrust and fear each other.

    Speaker Resources:

    The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Budget: Fiscal Year 2016 and Beyond
    February 10, 2015

    The Congressional Nuclear Security Working Group, co-chaired by Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), co-hosted a briefing with the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center to discuss the fiscal year 2016 budget request for nuclear weapons and current plans to rebuild America’s nuclear arsenal. The event provided perspectives on the policy assumptions that undergird the current spending plans, the anticipated affordability of the plans given current budget constraints, options for budget savings, and the necessity of the planned spending. 

    Amy Woolf, specialist in nuclear weapons policy at the Congressional Research Service, began the discussion by providing an overview of the FY 2016 budget request for nuclear weapons and the long-term financial implications of pursuing current nuclear weapons spending plans. Woolf broke down how President Barack Obama is committed to retaining the “triad” of nuclear weapons delivery systems as affirmed in the 2010 nuclear posture review and reaffirmed by then-Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter in his recent nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. At the current budget levels Obama has requested for nuclear weapons programs at the Defense and Energy Departments, the United States can reasonably expect to spend $30-35 billion dollars per year over the next 20 to 30 years.  That amounts to nearly one trillion dollars over 30 years. Woolf noted that maintaining and rebuilding the current U.S. nuclear force in an age of austerity was likely going to be unsustainable, but that cutting costs would come with its own set of challenges, which would involve domestic politics as well international factors.

    Evan Montgomery, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, followed Woolf and countered several arguments made in support of reducing nuclear spending. First, in response to the argument that the world is different than during the Cold War and nuclear weapons are no longer needed, Montgomery disagreed that geopolitical competition is a thing of the past, and that in the face of a more hostile Russia and China, geopolitical concerns are still a valid reason for maintaining the nuclear arsenal at its current level. Second, Montgomery countered the claim that if the United States begins to disarm its nuclear weapons systems, so will other countries. He noted that as the United States has brought down its overall numbers of nuclear weapons, proliferation has actually increased globally. Finally, in response to arguments that the United States cannot afford the arsenal it wants to maintain, Montgomery noted that there is a difference between absolute and relative costs. Furthermore, he noted that there are fixed costs associated with the nuclear weapons program that will not be abated even if the number of nuclear warheads or delivery systems are cut down, such as infrastructure, early warning systems, etc. 

    Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, wrapped up the discussion by arguing for further cuts in both the budget and the nuclear weapons program. According to Kristensen, the fiscal year 2016 budget request proposes a “modernization bonanza.” Kristensen noted that U.S. military officials have already determined that the United States has one-third more nuclear weapons deployed than needed to meet current U.S. national security requirements. Kristensen went on to proposes a number of steps that could be taken to scale back current nuclear spending plans without undermining U.S. security, such as reducing the number of ballistic missile submarines, delaying plans for a new nuclear-armed cruise missile, and delaying plans for a new long-range strike bomber. Over all, Kristensen maintained that right now, there is no grave national security threat large enough to justify the excessive size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. 

    Speakers and Resources:

    The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Status, Prospects, and Congress' Role
    January 21, 2015

    On January 21, 2015, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a briefing for Congressional staff in the Dirksen Senate office building to discuss the on-going negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. The event aimed to answer the following questions: What would a good, comprehensive agreement with Iran look like? What is the outlook for such an agreement? How should Congress weigh-in? What impact would new sanctions have on the prospects for a final agreement?

    Paul Pillar, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and former CIA analyst, began the discussion with an overview of the negotiations. Pillar said that Iranians are very keen and well-informed regarding American politics and legislative action, and that Congress doesn’t need to pass legislation right now to indicate that if the nuclear talks fail, further sanctions will be imposed on Iran. Pillar warned that if sanctions legislation were passed, this could weaken Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and their ability to negotiate a final agreement acceptable to the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Furthermore, the United States could reasonably expect the Majlis, Iran’s Parliament, to retaliate.

    Michael Singh, managing director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former National Security Council, noted that the interim agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action, is the second best option for both the United States and Iran in that it offers limited sanctions relief for Iran and limited restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program for the west. Singh doubted whether more sanctions would actually be implemented should the nuclear talks fail and pointed particularly to some international allies who may not be as keen to renew sanctions on Iran. Singh noted that he is doubtful that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will sign a final agreement with the United States and highlighted instances where Khamenei has both supported the negotiators but also undermined negotiators by setting redlines that limited their flexibility. Singh also noted that the White House should work with Congress and show a willingness to implement new sanctions if the talks fail instead of threatening to veto new sanctions.

    Elizabeth Rosenberg, senior fellow and program director at the Center for a New American Security, argued that Iran’s economy is currently weak and that the rollback of certain sanctions and unfreezing of a limited amount of assets under the Joint Plan of Action have had a limited effect on improving Iran’s economy. Rosenberg said legislating more sanctions now could be self-defeating and fatal to negotiations. She said Iran would see new sanctions as an act of bad faith by the United States and demonstrate that the administration cannot actually deliver sanctions relief down the road if a deal is reached. In addition, she said that new unilateral U.S. sanctions would anger the U.S. negotiating partners in the P5+1 and could result in the unraveling of the multilateral sanctions regime. Rosenberg also warned that new sanctions will not result in Iran halting their enrichment, but will likely decrease the transparency in regards to their nuclear program.

    Speakers and Resources:

    • Dr. Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and former CIA intelligence officer
    • Mr. Michael Singh, Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and Managing Director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council
    • Ms. Elizabeth Rosenberg, Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Environment, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, and former Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury

    U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control in Tough Times
    September 29, 2014

    On September 29, 2014, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a dinner discussion to review U.S.-Russia arms control policy issues on the horizon, such as the recent Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) violations by Russia, the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), and, more broadly, how the United States should or should not respond to Russia's recent behavior in regards to Ukraine. 

    Stephen Rademaker, a National Security Project Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation during the George H. W. Bush administration, argued that Russia does not support President Obama’s goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and has been consistently violating U.S.-Russian arms control agreements. Ultimately, Mr. Rademaker noted that the best way to get Russia to return to compliance with standing nuclear weapons arms control agreements would be for the United States to temporarily suspend the implementation of reductions mandated by New START.

    Steven Pifer, Director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, argued that it is not in the United States’ best interest to tamper with the New START because it could lead to unhelpful Russian counter-reactions, such as withdrawal from the INF Treaty and New START, and the loss of the New START data exchanges, notifications and inspections that provide transparency about Russian strategic forces. Mr. Pifer maintained that we should continue to put pressure on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine and INF violations, but the best way to do so would be to continue the economic sanctions that are having a damaging impact on Russia’s economy and influencing Moscow’s policy-making decisions.


      U.S. Missile Defenses: Plans for the West Coast, East Coast and Europe
      June 3, 2014

      Mr. Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy at the State Department, outlined U.S. plans for Ground-Based Missile Defense, the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) test planned for June, and plans to expand the West Coast GBI system based on the outcome of that test. He also discussed proposals to build a new GBI site in an Eastern state, plans to redesign the GBI "kill vehicle," and proposals to accelerate the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) SM-3 missile deployment in Poland.

      Mr. Philip Coyle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave his impressions of the GBI program and his reservations about expanding the system.

      Mr. Richard Fieldhouse, Senior Professional Staff Member at the Senate Armed Services Committee (Majority), and Mr. Robert Soofer, Senior Professional Staff Member at the Senate Armed Services Committee (Minority) and former Deputy Director of the Office of Missile Defense Policy, shared their views on how the Senate is addressing missile defense issues.


      • Mr. Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy at the State Department.
      • Mr. Philip Coyle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
      • Mr. Richard Fieldhouse, Senior Professional Staff Member at the Senate Armed Services Committee (Majority).
      • Mr. Robert Soofer, Senior Professional Staff Member at the Senate Armed Services Committee (Minority) and former Deputy Director of the Office of Missile Defense Policy.

      Final Phase Negotiations with Iran: What Makes a Comprehensive Deal?
      April 4th, 2014

      Mr. George Perkovich, Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argued that the United States should structure a final agreement around demonstrably practical requirements for a purely civilian nuclear program, include an Iranian commitment to put all of its nuclear facilities under safeguards, resolve IAEA concerns about “possible military dimensions, ” and include more-extensive transparency and verification procedures. Mr. Perkovich concluded by noting that Iran also has concerns, which tend to be neglected by Western governments and experts. Iranian leaders are skeptical that the United States will live up to its commitments. In particular, Iranian leaders doubt that they can rely on Washington to take all the steps necessary to remove pertinent sanctions on Iran at the national level and through the United Nations. Given that implementation of a final agreement would take place over several years, one must ask, how can Iran be assured that a future U.S. administration and Congress actually would lift sanctions?

      Mr. Michael Singh, Managing Director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued that the U.S. shift away from zero enrichment to limited enrichment represents a significant diplomatic victory for Iran. Iran has no practical need for enrichment. It is blessed with abundant natural resources of oil and gas. Even if one accepts Tehran’s argument that it wants to diversify its energy supply, enriching uranium makes little sense as importing fuel is much more economical. Furthermore, allowing Iran to enrich complicates the task of verifying that Iran is not diverting ostensibly safeguarded material to a parallel, covert nuclear weapons program. Verifying nondiversion at every point along the supply chain is a formidable task. Allowing Iran to enrich also raises questions about broader U.S. policy on enrichment. Finally, permitting Iran to enrich will be seen as a defeat for Washington. At a time when U.S. influence in the Middle East is already low, the message to allies and adversaries alike would be one of diminishing U.S. will. Yielding on enrichment may hasten a nuclear agreement, but would threaten vital U.S. interests such as nonproliferation and regional stability.


      US Nuclear Weapons Spending
      February 18, 2014

      David Mosher, Assistant Director for the National Security Division at the Congressional Budget Office and Michael Bennett, a nuclear spending analyst, provided an overview of their recent report, Projected Costs of US Nuclear Forces, 2014-2023. They explained that their report is not an alternative estimate, but a projection of current spending. The major takeaway, according to the CBO analysts, is that modernization costs over the next decade will mostly go to cover research and development; only after 2023 will the procurement costs kick in, which are significantly higher than current expenses.

      Clark Murdock, Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, does not think that the United States spends an unreasonable amount of money on its nuclear forces. In fact, compared to other countries, the US spends a smaller percentage of both its total defense budget (4%) and total GNP (though the actual dollar amount is much more). Mr. Murdock believes that Russia is actually spending a higher amount than reports indicate and warned that future cyber technology could make our submarines obsolete. Therefore, Mr. Murdock advises that we stop designing and planning our nuclear forces as continuations of the Cold War models and start from scratch.

      Steve Pifer, Director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution, argues that there is an opportunity cost for our nuclear forces, even at 4% of the total defense budget. It is possible to have a robust and secure nuclear force at 500 deployed warheads and fewer SSBNs in operation. However, Mr. Pifer believes that the ICBM leg of the triad is worth keeping, as it is by far the least expensive to develop and maintain. Finally, while the bomber leg is vital as a physical projection of power, its purpose as an insurance policy against another state developing an omnipotent missile defense system is rather farfetched. Missile defense is extremely difficult, and a handful of bombers would be sufficient to project United States power.


      • David Mosher, Assistant Director, National Security Division, Congressional Budget Office
      • Michael Bennett, Analyst, National Security Division, Congressional Budget Office
      • Clark Murdock, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues, Center for Strategic and International Studies
      • Steve Pifer, Director, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, Brookings Institution

      European Perspectives on the Nuclear Deal with Iran
      January 23, 2014

      On January 23, 2014, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center hosted a second discussion on the nuclear deal with Iran featuring the views of key P5+1 European partners and their respective positions on the deal and the path forward.

      Caroline Hurndall, Head of the Middle East Team at the British Embassy, presented her state’s policy with candor. The United Kingdom believes that the nuclear deal with Iran, while not comprehensive, is a solid start and the best way to test Iran’s true intentions with respect to their nuclear program. The deal does not signal planned détente with Iran, but Iran’s current regime also presents the best chance at negotiations in thirty-four years. Hurndall said it was her government’s view that the November 24 first phase agreement provides time for negotiations on the final phase agreement and the key now is the make sure that the P5+1 states negotiate the best possible comprehensive deal. To do that, there must be a common understanding that both sides will honor and sustain their commitments, there must be unity amongst the P5+1 states, there must be political space for both sides to negotiate a realistic outcome, and economic pressure on Iran must be maintained. The EU has put in place limited sanctions relief as set out by the Joint Plan of Action, but will continue to enforce all other sanctions.

      Denis Chaibi, Head of the Political, Development, and Security section at the European Union (EU) Delegation to the United States shared details about the EU legislative process to adopt sanctions and to enforce them. He noted the important role played by EU Member States who have been trading partners with Iran in the past and who curtailed such activity to keep with EU policy and UN resolutions. He pointed out some of the expectations of the negotiating parties in the regular talks that will take place over the next six months to conclude a final agreement.. He noted that the other P5+1 negotiating partners, including Russia and China, were convinced that negotiations were the best means to reach s shared objective of a nuclear weapons-free Iran.


      • Caroline Hurndall, Head of the Middle East Team, British Embassy
      • Denis Chaibi, Head of the Political, Development, and Security section, European Union Delegation to the United States

      The First Phase Nuclear Deal with Iran and Next Steps
      December 9, 2013

      On December 9, 2013, The Lugar Center and Arms Control Association hosted a discussion evaluating the November 24 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob Einhorn, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former State Department Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, was involved in the negotiations with Iran from 2009 to May 2013. He examined the deal in the context of the current international environment: it’s not perfect, but it is the best we can do given the circumstances. Iran is not going to give up its nuclear energy program. The next best option, therefore, is to stop the clock and “freeze” its current program until a comprehensive agreement can be reached.

      Chris Griffin, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative and former Legislative Director for Senator Joseph Lieberman, recognized the merits of the Administration’s agenda, but disagreed with its end-state. For Griffin, a perfect, comprehensive deal would ban all Iranian enrichment and reprocessing. Its practical needs for nuclear energy are miniscule, and the number of current Iranian centrifuges dwarfs the number needed. This deal does nothing to address Iran’s other activities in the Middle East, such as its support for Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. Griffin further argued that the deal sets a dangerous precedent and could lead to proliferation in the Middle East. And finally, the deal only imposes a modest freeze with reversible steps.

      The speakers agreed that the United States should quickly adopt a credible, and public, response to any future Iranian breakout attempt.


      Eliminating Syria’s Chemical Weapons
      November 19, 2013

      On November 19, 2013 the Arms Control Association and the Lugar Center brought together three individuals with firsthand experience in chemical weapons destruction and the current situation in Syria. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Simon Limage stressed the incredible accomplishments that have been made thus far, particularly the aggressive timetable for chemical weapon destruction. This is not only a technological achievement, but also a testament to the international community’s ability to positively influence the Syrian regime. Internal conflict aside, the Assad regime’s willingness to strictly and honestly follow all protocols set forth will be critical to completing the mission.

      Major General Jay Santee, Deputy Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) spoke to the technological capabilities that have enabled the OPCW to commit to such a plan. Last year, the Threat Reduction Advisory Council engaged DTRA to develop the mobile CW-destruction technology that will now likely be used. This foresight would have been futile without the funding provided by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. This enabled DTRA to pursue the technological achievements we have seen faster than any thought possible.

      Despite the best-laid plans, there are always dangers and further considerations. Providing a unique perspective as the former director of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer warned that many parties – from American politicians to Syrian rebels – will attempt to disrupt the success story by questioning the intelligence reports and disputing claims. He also emphasized the value of the OPCW-verified destruction of the mixing and filling equipment to date, which prevented the Syrian regime from producing additional chemical weapons.


      Posted: November 12, 2013