Looking Back on Its Legacy and the Future of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Organized by Green Cross International, the Arms Control Association, the Embassy of Kazakhstan
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 1:30pm-3:30pm
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Mass. Ave. NW
Concluded by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev only months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) was an historic first step toward reining in the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. The LTBT, which banned nuclear test explosions above ground, underwater, and in space, led to the end of the most visible and strongly opposed aspects of the arms race: hundreds of open-air explosions that spewed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination far beyond the test sites of the nuclear powers. Fifty years ago, the Senate debated and approved ratification of the LTBT.
Negotiations of a global, comprehensive test ban were finally concluded in 1996, but the treaty has not yet entered into force. This special event will explore the origins, the negotiations and the legacy of the LTBT and the role of the CTBT in curbing further nuclear competition.
Introductory Remarks - Transcript
His Excellency Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States
Dr. Paul F. Walker, Program Director, Green Cross International
Panel One: The Legacy of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty - Transcript
Chair/Discussant: Thomas J. Putnam, Director, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
Ambassador James Goodby, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, former U.S. LTBT negotiator
Dr. Timothy Naftali, former Director, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Panel Two: The Role and Future of the Test Ban Treaty - Transcript
Chair/Discussant: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Russia
Linton Brooks, Committee on "Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," National Academy of Sciences
Roman Vassilenko, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kazakhstan
Karipbeck Kuyukov, Honorary ATOM Project Ambassador, Kazakhstan
Anita Friedt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy, U.S. Department of State
Federal News Service
PAUL WALKER: So welcome to all of you. Welcome to our distinguished speakers. If you look at the program, you’ll see that we have two panels. We have a panel on the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which is three individuals you see sitting in front of you here now, and we have a second panel on a comprehensive test ban treaty.
So we’re doing a bit of a historical adventure here from prior to 1963 up through 1963, when the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed, on up, of course, to 1996, when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed, and then up to today, talking about the prospects for ratification. We’re really fortunate to have a good number of expert panelists. And I really thank a couple of the panelists who came a long way to Washington to be with us today.
Let me also when we start off, thank the host of this event and the organizers, particularly the Embassy of Kazakhstan, and I’ll subsequently introduce Ambassador Umarov; and also, the Arms Control Association and Daryl Kimball, who is here; and my own organization, Green Cross International. And as you know, in Washington, D.C., we’re – or in the United States, our affiliate is called Global Green USA. So there’s loads of confusion around branding, whether we’re Green Cross or Global Green or Global Green or Green Cross. But it’s all the same – the same organization.
And we just celebrated, actually, our 20th anniversary in Geneva, Switzerland, just a week ago, with a fellow, whose name you’ll all recognize, Mikhail Gorbachev, who came in – he’s now 82 years old, he chaired three days of meetings with us. And we were actually very involved with the sort of Russian-American discussions on the topic of the day, Syria and chemical weapons.
Let me first extend apologies from Senator Edward Markey. He can’t come today. We ran the risk of organizing this this week; it was the best for everyone’s schedule, including Senator Markey, and then, of course, we were all hit with a small issue like Syria and chemical weapons and the threat of Western attacks. So Senator Reid apparently – a couple of hours ago, called a Democrat Caucus meeting in the Senate around Syria and chemical weapons. So Senator Markey just called me half an hour, apologized, said to say hello to everybody, and he’s very supportive of this issue, would like to do something in the future in the Senate when it’s better timing. But he’s very sorry he can’t be here.
So with that – oh, let me first say, this panel will go to about 2:30. We’ll break for five minutes; there will be actually a video while you’re having a slight coffee break on Kazakhstan and Semipalatinsk I believe. And then – and then we’ll come back for the second panel, switch seats and move forward.
So it’s my pleasure now to introduce Ambassador Kairat Umarov, the ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States. Ambassador Umarov has held a number of posts – some of you, I’m sure, know him – in the Kazakh foreign ministry, including ambassador to India, to Syria and has served actually twice before here in Washington, D.C., right in early to mid-1990s.
Also of interest to all of us, I think, because the fact that he was very active in the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement and to close both the U.S. and Soviet weapons test sites in the late 1980s. And I think, as many of you know, this led to the closure of Semipalatinsk – some of you actually were involved in that, I know, in the audience – on August 29th, 1991, 22 years ago.
So we’re here also, I think, a bit to celebrate the closure of Semipalatinsk; we’ve done that the last couple of years too. And you also know that that date is the annual United Nations Day Against Nuclear Testing, so it’s sort of a combination of 50th anniversary of the – of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, U.N. Day Against Nuclear Testing, closure of the Semipalatinsk site, and also, moving forward on the Comprehensive Test Ban.
So with that, I turn it over to you, Mr. Ambassador. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR KAIRAT UMAROV: Thank you very much, Paul, for organizing and helping – all to organize this event. I would like to thank all the panelists who are right now here and who will be coming for the next session.
I think it’s a very important session, just once again, to highlight the importance of everyone to struggle and fight for the ban of nuclear weapons. I think that everybody has already heard today the news that the DPRK has restarted the nuclear reactor, and I think it brings again to the focus of attention the dangers of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons development.
So I think that it’s very timely, and I would like just to say that we have a special say in this particular issue, because for us, it’s an emotional and political issue. And I think today, you will have a chance to talk about both political issues and emotional side of the story.
Sixty four years ago, a tragic page was turned in the history of my nation. The Soviet Union conducted the first test of nuclear device at the Semipalatinsk testing ground in eastern Kazakhstan. In the course of the next more than 40 years, there were 450 tests of over than 600 nuclear devices with the cumulative capacity of around 2,500 Hiroshima bombs, which, you know, were dropped on Japan.
About ½ million citizens of Kazakhstan have suffered from the effects of radiation and continue to suffer today. Vast territories comparable to the size of Germany have been exposed to radioactive contamination, and you know, we cannot use this territory for another thousand of years.
I am telling all these facts because, you know, at some point, someone has to say no to nuclear testing and nuclear weapons development, and Kazakhstan actually did a good example of it. Being still a part of the former Soviet Union, fresh from the Cold War era, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, by his decree, shut down the world’s second largest nuclear testing site. And it was done because of his own conviction and because of the strong popular movement in Kazakhstan to close the testing ground. It was mentioned that I was really involved with this movement. It was really a huge – first, huge grassroots movement to close the testing sites and to show to the world – to the world that it is possible; it needs to be done.
And Kazakhstan succeeded in this. On August 29, 1991, unconditionally, the testing site was closed. That is a good demonstration that by political will, some good things could happen in this world. And we, today, call upon other countries to follow our suit, to follow our example, and show this political will.
It was an initiative of Kazakhstan that in the U.N. General Assembly on August 29th was proclaimed as an international day of – against nuclear tests, and this year, we – the fourth time observing this day all over the world, with different events. And today’s event, we also wanted to dedicate to this particular date.
The historical act – it was a historical act made by the will of people of Kazakhstan, 21 years ago, and I think it has a great civilizational significance. Throughout all those years, Kazakhstan has been strongly committed to the principles of nonproliferation. The reasons for that are quite obvious: We have first-hand experience of how deadly and appalling the consequences of nuclear tests could be. The radioactive fallout left, as I mentioned, 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan with nightmarish health problems, horrific tumors, radiation-caused genetic mutations and defects, and this is going on up till now.
On that ground, we have every right to stress the need for further decisive actions aimed at reducing nuclear threat. We have strong reasons and we have a strong record of our own laws toward that direction. Kazakhstan was the first to close down the nuclear test site, we voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear missile – nuclear missile arsenal from the territory of Kazakhstan, the leftover from the former Soviet Union. We declared a nonnuclear status, we were the founding members of the nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia, and we initiated this international day of – against nuclear tests. And it is a good reminder of the horrific consequences of the nuclear test.
We continue to urge all nuclear weapon states to start developing international, legally binding document on providing security assurances to nuclear weapons-free states. It is time that some countries overcome the misperception or illusion that acquiring nuclear capability will bolster their security, national security. We think it’s a very great delusion and we very strongly believe that what we lack today is not the – any more nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, but what we lack today is the mutual trust and understanding. We lack political will. And whatever initiatives Kazakhstan today has come with, it comes from the genuine belief of Kazakh people that we have to overcome the lack of trust and to build a safer, nuclear weapon-free world.
An early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which could serve as a catalyst of process of nonproliferation, effective implementation of NPT, is among the steps in that direction. We welcome the progress made by CTBTO since 1996, and in increasing global support of the concepts of the summit on nonproliferation. At this juncture, the international community should, through joint efforts, convince eight states that have yet to either sign or ratify the treaty to do so. We are encouraged by U.S. President Barack Obama’s intention to give a new impetus to that process during his speech in Berlin, casting nuclear reductions as the centerpiece of his address.
Kazakhstan itself continues to contribute significantly to disarmament and nonproliferation, as reflected not only in our active antinuclear position, but also in recent progressive actions. Our country is actively engaged in settlement of situation of Iranian nuclear program, by providing Almaty platform for the 5-plus-one negotiations. We actively participate in the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, promoting the development and functioning of International Monitoring System and onsite inspections.
Five stations functioning in Kazakhstan have been integrated into the International Monitoring System, and used to provide a 24-hour monitoring of natural and manmade seismic events in the region. They demonstrated their effectiveness and quality performance when they had timely detected and located nuclear explosions carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We strongly condemned the nuclear tests of May 2009 and February 2013, and called upon the DPRK to take note of our positive track record of nuclear disarmament and successful, peaceful development in cooperation with the national community.
Our example becomes very actual today, as I’ve mentioned, since the – North Korea is starting again its nuclear program. At the Global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April, 2010, Kazakhstan introduced a concrete proposal: In exchange for the nuclear club guarantee for non-use of nuclear weapons and the protection in case of an attack, the entire world must abolish – abandon its nuclear ambitions.
The president also called for U.N. to adopt a universal declaration on the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world – and we’re currently working on it in the U.N. – to advance the commitment to Global Zero.
Kazakhstan today works with IAEA to prevent the countries to acquire nuclear technologies by allocating the International Nuclear Fuel Bank, under the auspices of IAEA, on its territory. We also call upon the states not to delay the drafting of a fissile material cutoff treaty, which will become an important step towards nuclear disarmament and prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons.
We are very much sure that even more decisive steps have to be made in the area of nonproliferation. With the political will and mutual understanding, mutual trust, it could be done.
The ATOM Project, which you will see today – it will be presented today, is an initiative of President Nazarbayev coming on top of the more than 22 years of commitment and actions to achieve global nuclear disarmament. The ATOM Project reminds the world of the tragic consequences of nuclear tests. We call on the global community to take more decisive action to a final and irrevocable ban of these tests.
Today it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to see the exhibition of the artist who is among us today whose life is a testament how the human spirit can overcome the physical disabilities. He is using his works to speak clear and loud that nuclear testing and nuclear weapons are the – very harmful for the entire world community. I would like him, of course, today to talk about his experiencing and his ideas. And it is Mr. Karipbek Kuyokov, who is among us today and who will give his words in order to speak about sad story which stands behind nuclear testing.
With this, I would like to say thank you, and if at any time anyone would like to talk to us, we will be ready to continue asking and answering questions. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. WALKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, and also welcome to Karipbek Kuyokov. This – the signs you see here – you’ll see him on the second panel and hear from him, and also the video from the break will also be on what the ambassador has talked about as the ATOM Project, Abolish Testing: Our Mission, which is a Kazakh-led project.
Before I turn the panel over to Tom Putnam, let me just say a couple of words about nuclear testing, remind ourselves what’s been done to date. There have been 2,055 nuclear tests that have taken place since 1945, the Trinity test and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States has tested, by my count, 1,032 times. They top the list. The Soviet Union tested 715 times. And then of course we have the British, French, Chinese. And the only recent tests have been the North Korean. So there’s been a de facto moratorium on testing in the United States and in Russia since 1992. And some of us were involved, actually, in putting that moratorium in place. The North Korean tests, of course, were 2006, 2009 and 2013, and then there’s a question about a test some time ago, whether it was an Israeli and/or South African test that some of you may know about.
So the Limited Test Ban Treaty was an enormous accomplishment in 1963, and I know it took years under the Eisenhower administration and finally the John F. Kennedy administration to put in place. But we’ll hear more about that in a – in much more detail, I’m sure. But I want to remind everybody, it was actually signed in Moscow on August 5th, 1963, so just over 50 years ago, by Dean Rusk – you all know that name – Andrei Gromyko and Alec Douglas-Home, the British representative. And it was ratified, after some considerable debate in the U.S. Senate, on September 24th, 80 to 19 votes. So I think all of us are hoping that we can get close to that vote count for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the foreseeable future. And it was signed in a very famous picture – you’ve probably all seen the photo, with many political luminaries around – by John F. Kennedy in the Treaty Room of the White House on October 7th, and it entered into force on October 10th. So we’re in between all of these dates right now, so this is actually a very appropriate time.
And the reason that I think, in the end, it came about was because of the outrage in the United States and elsewhere, but particularly the United States, over the radioactive fallout and strontium-90 in children’s teeth – do you remember that – back then, particularly from the enormous thermonuclear tests that were taking place atmospherically, and both by the United States and by the Soviet Union.
We had the Threshold Test Ban Treaty in 1974, didn’t enter into force until 1990, so very slow process, to limited underground tests to 150-kiloton or lower, and then the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was voted on September 10th – so we’re just two days off that anniversary – in 1996, by 158 countries in the United Nations General Assembly. And today the CTBT – we’ll hear a lot more about it in the second panel – has 159 states parties who’ve signed and ratified.
So we still have 37 countries that have not joined, although a number of those are signatories; they just haven’t ratified. And you probably all recall that the first Senate vote on the treaty was on October 13th, 1999, here in the United States, and it was voted down 51 to 48. So it was 19 votes short of a 67-vote two-thirds majority.
And as Ambassador Umarov has said, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty requires the 44 nuclear-capable states to join the treaty regime for entry into force. And those – eight countries of those 44 that are still outstanding are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.
So I’m very much looking forward to this panel and the second panel to see how in fact our lessons learned from 1963 interact with our efforts these days to ratify and enter into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
So with those few words, let me turn the program over to Tom Putnam. And I want to thank Tom for coming down from Boston from the – he’s the director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. And I also want to welcome Ambassador James Goodby, in the middle of the table there, who was a negotiator of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, so we have a firsthand – a firsthand account here, and also Dr. Timothy Naftali, who’s a historian and co-author of the 2001 book on JFK, “John F. Kennedy: The Great Crises.”
So the podium’s all yours, gentlemen.
THOMAS PUTNAM: Well, I know I speak on behalf of my colleagues. It’s an honor to be here. We thank you for inviting us. It looks like we have about a half an hour, so we’re each going to speak for about 10 minutes, and if one of us is short, you’ll have a few minutes to ask questions.
It’s no secret that for John F. Kennedy, really, he – his greatest accomplishment, he felt, was the signing of that first nuclear test ban treaty. And I want to just give a few opening comments to set that achievement in context, and I hope I can kind of paint, actually, a very general picture with wide brushstrokes and perhaps use a few of President Kennedy’s words to just capture that moment, and then my colleagues, I think – obviously Ambassador Goodby, who was there, will give us really that internal view, and then my colleague Tim Naftali will give us a little bit more of a historical analysis.
I always remind people that to understand John F. Kennedy, you really have to go back to World War II. His father was ambassador to England. He actually traveled through Europe as a young man and visited both pre-war Germany and the Soviet Union and made his own impressions, came back to Harvard, wrote his honors thesis, which became a book called “Why England Slept.” And the essential thesis there was that in the contest between democratically elected governments and totalitarian ones that when competing militarily, the totalitarian regimes will always have an advantage because they’re able to conscript their citizens into military service, and they can spend as much money on their military as their budgets will allow without the consent of their citizens.
And in my mind, that’s really the essence of his famous inaugural address when he spoke – it’s very much a Cold War address. He spoke to the American people, and he was saying the only way that the U.S. could compete in the Cold War against the Soviet Union were if Americans were willing to sacrifice and care as much about the common good and the national interest as they were about their own individual well-being.
The second essential feature of JFK’s life experience was actually his service in World War II, where he really developed a skepticism of military authority. Again, this was not only forged during his service on the PT-109, but it’s captured by his comical remark at the height of the missile crisis. When an errant U-2 pilot mistakenly flew into Soviet airspace and really almost set off a nuclear catastrophe, JFK quipped, “There’s always one son of a bitch who doesn’t get the message.” (Laughter.)
He was of course both devastated and disappointed in himself that he actually followed the advice of his military generals in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, but the world avoided catastrophe when he disregarded their advice during the Cuban missile crisis. And it’s such a remarkable story, and one we’ll hear more about from the panel, of how in less than a year’s time, we went from the Cuban missile crisis, the highest level of nuclear brinkmanship in world history, to the historic signing of the nuclear test ban treaty.
Really, the over-arching theme of both the missile crisis and JFK’s quest to sign the test ban treaty was his fear that humanity was being gripped by forces it could not control, and he endeavored to do what he could to be sure that that didn’t happen.
A couple of observations. In the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, he sees the nuclear issues as the greatest threat to the world and the greatest challenge for him and other world leaders to solve. He gives a press conference in May of 1963. He said, “If we don’t get an agreement this year, I would think the genie is out of the bottle, and we will never get him back again. Personally, I’m haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we’re successful, there may be 10 nuclear powers instead of four. I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard, and I think we ought to stay it.”
He believed that the arms race was not only costly but was inherently unstable to the world, and he gives a famous address at American University, really the first presidential address in 18 years to reach beyond the Cold War. And that speech began with a commitment to genuine, lasting peace, and I would like to quote from it: “Not a Pax America enforced on the world by American weapons of war, not merely peace for Americans, but peace for all men; not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time.” And he goes on to say, “Our problems are man-made, and therefore they can be solved by man. Some say it’s useless to speak of a world peace until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them to do it. But I also believe we must re-examine our own attitude towards peace and the Soviet Union.”
There’s two other lines from that speech I like. In regard to the Soviet Union, he says, “No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered lacking in virtue.” And he describes peace as “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”
But of course, he had to overcome many obstacles to get the test ban treaty signed. First he had to convince the Soviets themselves, and he had a kind of a difficult dance. He was both extending an olive branch to them, but he also gives that famous speech in Berlin at the time where really he excoriates communism, and McGeorge Bundy, after the speech, worried that Kennedy had gone too far and could have actually damaged the effort they were making to try to sign the test ban treaty with that speech.
Even after the treaty was initialized, it needed to be ratified, and the American people needed to be convinced. Congressional mail at the time, like the White House mail, was running 15 to 1 against the treaty, and JFK was truly worried that he would face the same failure that Woodrow Wilson had with the League of Nations. So he did what he did best, and he addressed the American people. Again, they continued to believe what their leaders had been telling them, that for years the U.S. was in imminent danger of a massive nuclear attack by the Soviet Union and that the communists were evil liars never to be trusted. So the treaty was very high politics and a tough sell.
And let me just read briefly from the famous address he gave to the American people in August of 1963. He said, “I speak to you tonight in a spirit of hope. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, all mankind has been struggling to escape from the darkening prospect of mass destruction on Earth. But yesterday a shaft of light cut into the darkness. This treaty is not the millennium. It’s an important first step, a step toward peace, a step toward reason, a step away from war. This treaty is for all of us. It is particularly for our children and our grandchildren, and they have no lobby here in Washington. And according to the ancient Chinese proverb, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step,” and he challenges the country to take that step.
He made four points in that speech. The reasons that he was for the test ban treaty was that it would reduce world tension, prevent radioactive fallout, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and he argued that limiting the arms race with the Soviet Union would actually strengthen American security, not weaken it. The treaty, nevertheless, encountered tremendous attack. There were nuclear scientists, like Edward Teller, who were against it. He was facing a growing military-industrial complex that had an inherent interest in continuing to build and test weapons. Influential senators like Senators Stennis, Goldwater and Russell all came out against the treaty. And JFK was truly worried that a coalition of conservative Southern senators who were especially angry with him over the civil rights legislation he had proposed would band together with Republicans to prevent the two-thirds needed for ratification.
The heroes of the story were Scoop Jackson and especially Everett Dirksen. Dirksen was known to have said, when he endorsed it, that he would not like it written on his tombstone that he knew what happened at Hiroshima but did not take the first step. And while I wish I could play the tapes for you – and my colleague Tim Naftali’s an expert on the tapes – there’s a fascinating tape where Everett Dirksen is in the Oval Office working with the president to figure out which votes they could get to be on their side, and in the end, they did get a number of Republican votes. And it’s hard to imagine, for instance, President Obama and Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office working together on figuring out which senators could vote on a piece of legislation they both agreed on.
So as was mentioned, in the end 11 Southern Democrats and eight Republicans were opposed, and 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans supported. So it was essential to have that Republican support to get it passed.
Again, JFK stated that no other accomplishment gave him greater satisfaction. And as was mentioned, he signed it in a newly restored Treaty Room, and he probably did that because the desk in the Treaty Room belonged to him and he wanted to sit at his own desk and sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
We actually have it on display now at the library because it is one of his greatest accomplishments. Tim was there last week and we went and looked at it together. It’s on loan to us from the National Archives and Records Administration.
I just want to make a couple more points and to conclude. After he gave that speech, he actually went out and gave almost a pre-campaign tour. He was getting ready for his re-election campaign. He went out to some Western states. And the thing that surprised him was – it was supposed to be a tour about the environment and conservation, but he was getting the greatest applause lines when he actually talked about the Test Ban Treaty. And he discovered that there – he felt that there really was a thirst amongst the American people for this – for the
Test Ban Treaty and for a call for peace, and that’s why he decides to run his re-election campaign on peace and prosperity.
And this, I think, is captured – and this is my last remark – in the final address he gives to the United Nations, which literally was 50 years ago this week, and I just wanted to read that speech for you. He’s addressing the United Nations, and he calls for, quote: further agreements which spring from our mutual interest in avoiding mutual destruction, for a new approach to the Cold War on both sides and for changes in the U.N. Charter to enable conventions of peace to pull abreast and then ahead of the inventions of war. But peace – and this is what I want to conclude with – does not rest in charters and covenants alone; it lies in the hearts and minds of all people. And if it is cast out there, then no act, no pact, no treaty, no organization can hope to preserve it. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper; let us strive to build a desire for peace in the hearts and minds of all our people.
So I thank you for listening to me. And I’ll now turn the panel over again to my two colleagues, as been introduced before, historian Tim Naftali, who I promise, because I’ve heard him speak many times, is one of the most engaging speakers on JFK that I know – and Tim is in the process of writing a new biography – and Ambassador James Goodby of the Brookings Institution, but most importantly, again, he was a true eyewitness to this history, having served as the officer in charge of nuclear test ban negotiations at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1961 to 1963.
So Ambassador Goodby.
JAMES GOODBY: Thank you very much. And thanks to all the sponsors of this. I think it’s very important to commemorate these days of the Limited Test Ban Treaty’s anniversary.
I’d like to say that I actually began working on the Test Ban Treaty in 1954. And you say: What? It didn’t really get underway until 1958, at least. But I really see the scientific miscalculation, as I call it, of March 1, 1954, as the beginning of the test ban negotiations. That scientific miscalculation was the Bravo shot in the Castle series thermonuclear device, which instead of having something like six megatons, as they had expected, turned out to have 15 megatons and threw debris over a sizable part of the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the sickness and the death of at least one Japanese fisherman and fairly dangerous levels of radioactivity over a lot of the islands in that area. So I really think the serious talks about should we continue to do this began in that year and continued really throughout that period.
The legacy of the Test Ban Treaty has been mentioned already. I don’t need to dwell on it. Children don’t have to drink strontium-90 in their milk, at least that caused by fallout. Had the Limited Test Ban Treaty not been put into effect, maybe people would have done something unilaterally, but the fact of the matter is it did cause us to stop doing something that was devastating to human health. So that’s an important legacy in itself.
But there’s another legacy, a lesson, if you will, that I think people don’t take note of, and I was glad to hear Dr. Putnam mention this today. It is that in a sense, I think – I’ll underscore this – what it proved was that adversaries can cooperate. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game between two adversaries. That lesson, I think, is very relevant today. If you think about what happened in the year 1961, we had the Bay of Pigs disaster; we had a terrible summit meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy; we had the building of the Berlin Wall; we had the breaking of a moratorium that had been started by Eisenhower, with a 50-megaton-yield Soviet nuclear bomb; and finally, a termination of the talks which looked as though that might in fact be the end of it.
In 1962, we saw the Cuban missile crisis, and yet by January of 1963, I was in New York with Bill Foster and others, Charlie Stelle, talking with the Russians – and the British came later – about how can we revive these talks. So I think if you think about today and we think about then, there seemed to be a greater willingness in those days to negotiate with adversaries, to do something that would be in the interest of both countries even if it was only limited in scope. So I regard that as really one of the major lessons of that time, and I think we ought to keep that in mind. We had leaders in those days who were ready to, you know, turn their attention fully to getting something done that would benefit all of humankind.
I attended the 25th anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty. It was at the Kennedy Library in 1988. And of course on that occasion, all the veterans of the Test Ban Treaty were there. My colleagues at that time were Ted Sorensen and McGeorge Bundy and Carl Kaysen and Ros Gilpatric, a number of others. I mention that because I think Ted Sorensen, Ros Gilpatric, former defense – deputy defense secretary and I were the only people there among the group of eight or 10 who thought we had really done as much as we could do when we arranged this Limited Test Ban Treaty. Most of the others were saying, oh we could have done more. I thought they were kind of bellyaching about their hopes that were unfulfilled. Even McGeorge Bundy said, you know, I wish you really had done more, and maybe we should have done better at trying to convince Kennedy to go this route.
Well, my sense of it, frankly, is we’re very, very lucky that he got even that much. And I say even that much in the sense that I think we did a great deal of good through that treaty, because there were innumerable obstacles. Bear in mind this whole thing started in 1958 under a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who convened a scientific conference held in Geneva, which resulted in an agreement between the Soviet Union and others, ourselves included, about a verification system that became known as the Geneva system. And it included virtually all those things we are now talking about in terms of verification – seismographs and detecting fallout and what have you.
The talks began later that year. And at that same time, Eisenhower, to his great credit, declared a moratorium, which continued until 1961. But almost immediately there was resistance to it, and so rather than smooth sailing and negotiating, there were backs and forths, new data came up and so forth. I say this because that was really the story of the negotiations. I can go through each of these years and show you that it was a very close call.
Even the speech of June 10 at the American University that Dr. Putnam just mentioned, a very, very important speech, was fortunate, in a sense, in that it had two items in it that I think Ted Sorensen basically collected and put into it. I don’t think that President Kennedy had in mind initially putting those things into it. One was the idea of a mission to Moscow. He was able to announce that the Russians had accepted that and it would be a mission to Moscow, which became the place where the treaty was actually finished.
That ran into a lot of trouble with the State Department, to be blunt. I had come up with the idea. We talked to the British. The British came back and said it’s a great idea. And then we found that the Soviet people – the Soviet experts in the State Department didn’t think it was a good idea at all. I was astonished to hear that, because generally they favored the test ban. But what they thought was that Khrushchev was too busy with the emerging split with China to pay much attention to it; we didn’t want to bother him. Fortunately, he was overridden and we did go ahead and propose this, and Khrushchev eventually accepted. But it could have gone the other way.
And the same thing with this idea of not testing in the atmosphere, which is the other big thing, I think, in that speech. That was a proposal that we had made a couple of times in 1962. We even had begun consultation with Congress about it. But for one reason or another, it was put aside. It was lying in the White House, and nobody was pushing it at that particular time in 1963, but Sorensen picked it up and put it in the speech.
And so a lot of good luck, along with a lot of bad luck, is what I’m saying to you. And it was certainly not an easy thing to get even a limited test ban treaty.
A little bit about the characters involved. It was interesting to me how much the scientific community got involved in this, I think perhaps more so than any other negotiation that I’m aware of. And it was both good and bad. In a way, they were kind of re-fighting the Oppenheimer-Teller argument about should we go into thermonuclear or not. Bitter, bitter fights between the scientists, which reflected in the ups and downs of negotiations. So that was one of the major elements I saw.
People in the State Department connected with John Foster Dulles, many of whom had actually served in the Atomic Energy Commission, as I had, were very supportive; I think, frankly, during the years ’59-’60, the latter two years of the administration of Eisenhower, managed to keep the thing afloat.
Beyond that, looking at Eisenhower, he deserves a lot of credit for getting this done. Kennedy was able to say, look, my predecessor wanted this done very badly – and which was true. A man who doesn’t ever get much of any credit in this country, Harold Macmillan, Macmillan was close both to Eisenhower and Kennedy and kept pushing both of them to keep on working on this test ban treaty. At one time or another, I think he was probably the key to keeping this whole thing on the tracks.
Khrushchev, to me, is kind of an enigma. He supported the – he did really support the test ban treaty when it first began. By 1961, he had turned against it. He began to link the Test Ban Treaty to general and complete disarmament, which meant basically turning his back on it. In some point in the spring or summer of 1963, he began to say, OK, maybe this is a good idea. People attribute this – Russians do, as well – to the experience of the Cuban missile crisis, but I’m not so sure about that. I saw the Soviet negotiating team close up in January of ’63 in New York, and they didn’t show any signs of that whatsoever, and there was no evidence to me that there was a willingness to negotiate. So I put it down more to other factors – Khrushchev’s internal position, break with China and so forth.
Anyway, I think that’s probably enough time for me to talk, and I’ll turn it over to my friend here.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Thank you very much, Ambassador Goodby.
When we commemorate the 50th anniversary of a world-historical event, it makes sense to take time to see what we have learned about the event since its initial reporting and also to highlight some elements of the event that have current relevance.
In that spirit today, I will focus on three aspects – I promise, quickly now – of the history of the Limited Test-Ban Treaty of 1963. And I’m focusing on them because you won’t know these stories: the personal commitment of John F. Kennedy to banning nuclear tests – this is not a matter of idolatry but history – the role that the Soviets and the British actually played in the achievement of the test ban, one crucial and one peripheral; and the ugly political environment in 1963 that President Kennedy faced – Candide’s evil seems everywhere today; it is so easy to fall into the habit of assuming we now live in the worst of all possible political environment.
Although members of the president’s inner circle have long said that the test ban treaty was John F. Kennedy’s most treasured White House achievement, it was not until the opening of Russian archives that we had a sense of not only the depth of the president’s commitment to achieving a test ban but the political risk he was willing to take. Funny that it took the archives of an adversary for us to understand U.S. history better. But this was the case. And I am pleased to say that my Russian co-author, the late Aleksandr Fursenko, and I were able to bring this information to light for the very first time, and the material is still astounding.
Three weeks after the Bay of Pigs, John F. Kennedy asked his brother to initiate secret talks with the Soviets to conclude a comprehensive test ban with Moscow that Kennedy and the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, could conclude at a summit in a neutral country.
Lest you think that all he wanted was a political victory after the defeat in Cuba, the decision reflected a mature assessment of the Cold War. Kennedy had just learned that the United States was not in fact behind the Soviet Union in missiles; the infamous “missile gap” that had helped JFK get elected was a chimera. But Kennedy did not yet know that the United States was far, far ahead of the Soviets. As far as he knew, the Cold War was a military stalemate, and Kennedy’s goal was to freeze it there to reduce the chances of World War III.
Since 1958, as Ambassador Goodby not only described but knows very well, the United States and the Soviet Union had been observing a moratorium on atmosphere tests while negotiating a treaty banning all tests. Verification was the sticking point in these negotiations. Given the number of seismic events in the Soviet Union, which could easily be mistaken for underground nuclear tests, the United States had requested a set of annual on-site inspections to confirm that the Soviets had not broken the agreement. Senate confirmation, as you can imagine, depended on reaching whatever threshold number was required to build confidence that the Soviets could not cheat. The outgoing Eisenhower administration position was 20 on-site inspections a year, and the Soviets seemed prepared to offer three.
Without notifying any other member of his national security team, including National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy or Secretary of State Dean Rusk or Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Kennedy sent RFK to tell the Soviets that if Khrushchev increased the number of acceptable on-site inspections, the United States would be willing to accept 10, and he would sign an agreement in the neutral country, which later turned out to be Austria.
Imagine the political storm if these backchannel negotiations had leaked. RFK told the Kremlin secretly, quote, improving U.S.-Soviet relations was job number one for the new administration. But he also explained the domestic political situation the United States president was in and why he couldn’t say these things publicly. A later administration would use the term “reset” and probably now regrets having admitted this goal publicly.
The secret backchannel negotiations continued until JFK boarded Air Force One for Europe at the end of May 1961 for the summit in Vienna. But as we know, they were unsuccessful. The Soviet leader, as we know from Soviet records now, had no interest in achieving an arms control agreement so long as in his mind, the problem of Berlin remained unresolved. What we also only learned with the opening of Soviet records is that Khrushchev consciously withheld a test ban from Kennedy, seeing it as a reward for good behavior and not as a strategic need for the Soviet Union. As he told the Kremlin, no test ban until Berlin is solved.
Kennedy’s other key partner was Great Britain. Although Kennedy’s commitment to achieving a test ban can be explained in terms of his general desire to reduce what one might call nuclear danger, one must also take note of the supportive role played by family friend and later British ambassador to the United States, David Ormsby-Gore, or Lord Harlech, the British Conservative Party’s expert on arms control, who did lobby John F. Kennedy to give test – to put test ban on the forefront of his agenda once he became president.
Until 1963, however, the Soviets and the British were pulling Kennedy in opposite directions. Khrushchev toyed with Kennedy by unleashing a powerful set of nuclear tests in 1961, breaking the informal moratorium that the two sides had been observing after he did not get the agreement he wanted on Berlin in the summer during the Berlin crisis. Meanwhile, the British placed increased pressure on Kennedy not to resume testing in response
Meanwhile, Kennedy faced enormous pressure at home to resume testing in 1961 in light of the Soviet challenge. Quote, personally, I hate the idea of resuming atmospheric tests, Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger in late 1961 in some unpublished diary.
In response to these pressures, in April of 1962 Kennedy once again used his brother RFK to make a secret test ban offer to the Kremlin. If Khrushchev would accept a partial test ban and give up seeking an agreed number of on-site inspections to verify underground testing, Kennedy would not go ahead with the nuclear tests that he was planning for the summer of 1962. Again, imagine the political cost to the president of the United States if the U.S. military, U.S. nuclear laboratories, elements in State and CIA and Congress, all of which supported a resumption of U.S. testing, had learned of this secret offer to the Kremlin.
Kennedy had tried to make this offer publicly. It was in the first draft of his State of the Union message. But Dean Rusk and McNamara had forced it out of the draft, January of 1962. So Kennedy had to maneuver secretly using Bobby.
Once again, Khrushchev turned Kennedy down. Instead, he decided to put missiles in Cuba and push for a Berlin agreement once again in 1962.
So why did JFK get the partial test ban in 1963? It was, I believe, because of his deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It particular, it was because Kennedy had tried to help Khrushchev save face by agreeing – again, secretly, using Bobby – to remove the Jupiter missiles in Turkey. The Kennedy brothers struck a deal with Khrushchev: If he said nothing publicly about the offer, it would happen within three to four months of the end of October 1962.
Both sides stuck to the bargain. From Soviet records, we know how obsessively the Soviets followed events in Turkey, sending their ambassador constantly to check whether the missiles had been removed. And in March of 1963 the Soviet leadership learned that indeed, the missiles had been removed.
And so in late April Khrushchev announced to the Kremlin in a top-secret session we only learned about 10 years ago that he was ending the hold he had placed on the partial test ban. He would no longer block the agreement because of Berlin. When the time was right, he would tell Kennedy he could have it. As Kennedy had hoped in 1961, the test ban became for Khrushchev a symbol of a better working relationship with Washington.
And so when was the time right? When Kennedy gave his American University speech, Khrushchev said, OK, he can have it now. He had already prepared his colleagues for a test ban. He said, Kennedy has now done what we need him to do; he has earned the right to a test ban. And that’s why it happened.
Most of the test ban story, the real story, took place in secret and involved a handful of the very top leaders of the two superpowers. And for that reason, we didn’t know it until a few years ago.
Why did it happen in secret? Why was it not the product of a somewhat more public discussion of what international mores and humanitarian interests ought to be?
It was not because test ban negotiations were a political problem for Khrushchev or for his political standing or because he had opponents in the military. Khrushchev had fired all the opponents in the military in 1960; he could do whatever he wanted. The problem was us. It was our side.
And now, with the few minutes I have left, I’d like to explain to you why John F. Kennedy felt he could not publicly be as pro-test ban as he was secretly with his brother Bobby.
The U.S. military, especially the Joint Chiefs, opposed a test ban. The nuclear scientific community was split, but the scientists who ran laboratories – most famously, as you mentioned, Edward Teller – against the test ban. The director of the CIA, John McCone, the president’s director of intelligence, opposed the test ban. The secretary of state, Dean Rusk, was actually cynical about what arms control could achieve. Vice President Lyndon Johnson, whose national security views were largely shaped by the Joint Chiefs, had doubts about détente with the Soviet Union. Other southern Democrats, who were angry at Kennedy’s new civil rights policy, as Tom mentioned, were eager to oppose a test ban, not because they disliked it on strategic terms but because Kennedy would get a victory.
But worst of all, from Kennedy’s point of view, the most revered military history in the country and the one man who could make a test ban a bipartisan achievement, former President Dwight Eisenhower, had changed his mind about a test ban since leaving office and now had serious reservations. With Eisenhower’s opposition to a test ban, most Republicans in the Senate would not be able to support it.
Eisenhower is an interesting case because so little of the true story is known. Eisenhower’s legacy is currently going through a revival based on some ahistorical assumptions about what he thought about the Cold War. Yes, he had supported a test ban in the late 1950s, absolutely. But he did so because the United States was ahead in nuclear technology. A ban would freeze the U.S. advantage. By 1963 Eisenhower concluded that the Soviets had caught up, and a ban might well favor them more than it would favor us.
The Kennedy administration sent Dean Rusk to sell the test ban to Eisenhower before Kennedy gave his speech to the nation. Rusk, speaking for himself, told Eisenhower not to worry; the test ban would not mean a détente with the Soviet Union. Privately, Eisenhower, who had a passionate dislike of his successor, called what Kennedy was doing a snow job in the Senate. Nevertheless, he decided not to speak out against the treaty because there was so much international support for it. However, he did confess to CIA chief John McCone, who had served in his administration before joining the Kennedy administration, that he would not have signed this treaty.
Kennedy did not have to pay any price for Ike’s support. Eisenhower, in fact, publicly supported the treaty. But he did have to pay a price to get the U.S. military to come along. It is a quaint notion that the U.S. military does not play politics. The Pentagon leaks as well and as strategically as the White House when it feels the need.
The price that Kennedy had to pay, you’ll be surprised to know, was Angola. Kennedy sacrificed briefly the administration’s progressive policy in favor of decolonization in Portuguese Africa to ensure continued access to air bases in the Azores that were controlled by Portugal. This was done to calm Portugal’s allies in the Air Force. As Schlesinger wrote in his unpublished diary at the end of July, there is now a general feeling that an agreement, especially one confined to self-policing environments, would get through without much difficulty. I think that the president still has some concerns about it, though; he has made it clear that he wants no trouble over the Azores in order to husband his strength for the test ban ratification.
As a result, I believe it would be impossible to imagine the U.S. signing a limited test ban agreement if anyone else had been in the White House. Eisenhower would not have signed it. Given Eisenhower’s personal opposition, the Nixon of the early 1960s would not have signed it. Nelson Rockefeller, a leading candidate for the GOP nomination in 1960 and ’64, opposed the test ban treaty. Among leading Democrats, Kennedy was the most skeptical about the Cold War, and as his secret RFK diplomacy illustrated, he was willing to outmaneuver Washington’s national security establishment for the sake of arms control.
The Limited Test Ban Treaty, therefore, is truly the product of political courage. The historical record now speaks volumes about JFK’s role. But it also, sadly, shows the constraints on creative presidential foreign policy making in Cold War America. In policy terms, Washington was a very conservative place in 1963. It is not clear that it is harder to be a progressive president today.
Thank you. (Applause.)
DARYL KIMBALL: If I could ask everyone to take their seats once again, so that we can resume our program. Thank you. And my name is Daryl Kimball. I’m the executive director of the Arms Control Association, one of the cosponsors of today’s event. The Arms Control Association was established in 1971 by several of the men that we heard about in the previous panel, who were part of the Limited Test Ban Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty efforts.
And ACA, along with many of our colleague organizations who are here today, including Women’s Action for New Directions and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council and others have been working for decades to bring about a halt to nuclear testing.
And I want to join Paul Walker in thanking our co-organizers and hosts, the Embassy of Kazakhstan and of course Paul and Global Greens USA for pulling all this together.
Before we begin with our second panel on the role and future of the Test Ban Treaty, we’re just going to take a moment to see a video – it’s about five minutes long – that describes the ATOM Project that was established to highlight the dangers of nuclear testing, particularly in Kazakhstan, but as I’ll say in a few minutes, those dangers extend far beyond the Semipalatinsk test zone in Kazakhstan. So let’s just take a look at this.
Narrator: On August 29th, 1949, the former Soviet Union detonated what would be the first of more than 450 nuclear warheads at their new testing site in Eastern Kazakhstan. Just 100 miles away, the people in the industrial city of Semipalatinsk watched as the sky lit up and radiation filled the air. Today, that city is called Semey.
It has been more than 20 years since a nuclear bomb was tested here, but for the people of Semey, nuclear testing is not a thing of the past. Every day, many residents in Semey live with the legacy of those tests. For these people, the consequences of nuclear testing, the devastating effects of nuclear radiation are clear.
Over the four decades of nuclear tests, approximately 1.5 million people in the region were affected. Today, one in 20 children is born with deformities. The cancer rate is 50 percent higher here than elsewhere in the country. Many of the population die before reaching 60.
Not many of the people who lived in Semey throughout the tests are alive today to tell their stories. But the lives of their children and grandchildren tell their own cautionary tale.
Governments around the world know with certainty that the side effects of nuclear weapons and testing are illness, unending environmental devastation, and death. The people of Semey, the Bikini Atoll, the Marshall Islands, Nagasaki and Hiroshima have lived it.
Some countries, such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and South Africa have already eliminated their nuclear weapons or abandoned their nuclear weapons programs. Through the decisions of its president, Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has also shut down the infamous Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, yet other countries could have done much more to help create a nuclear safe world. The United Nations is working to build national and global security without nuclear weapons, establish regional nuclear weapons free zones, put an end to testing, and ultimately free the world of its nuclear arsenal.
One of the most concrete steps towards achieving this goal would be pushing through the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The very existence and availability of weapons-grade fissile material in nuclear states such as North Korea, as well as the appeal of nuclear devices as the ultimate weapon, increase the risk of global nuclear terrorism. If we stop nuclear weapons testing and secure all fissile material, then we also substantially reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.
The people of Semey, Nevada and the Marshall Islands didn’t know they’d become the victims of nuclear radiation, but if you’re watching this, you now know that their fate could be your own. But together we have the power to stop nuclear weapons testing. Today, we have the power to create a nuclear safe world. By joining together, we can let the people all over the world affected by nuclear weapons testing know we heard their story.
Make your mark by telling the world leaders that you want to live in a nuclear safe world. Go to theATOMProject.org and sign the petition. Let’s act now and stop nuclear weapons testing.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Well, as we heard in the previous panel, the United States and Great Britain and the Soviet Union came close but did not complete the effort for a comprehensive test ban. As successful as the Limited Test Ban Treaty was in stopping the most visible and dangerous aspect of the arms race, the hundreds of open air explosions that spewed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination at the test sites and far beyond that caused this kind of damage was the result.
And one thing that’s important to note is that the same kind of citizen movement that we’re hearing about with the ATOM Project, that did occur in the lead-up to the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The organization I used to work for, many years ago, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with other citizen activists were a critical part of the efforts to bring about an end to testing in the late ’50s and ’60s and was one of the reasons why, in my view, John F. Kennedy’s efforts were so strong in terms of trying to end testing.
And one thing to note also is that though the damage around – immediately around the test sites, Semipalatinsk, Nevada and elsewhere, was – has been extremely great, the damage caused by that radiation, even after the Limited Test Ban Treaty has been tremendous also. According to a 1992 calculation by experts from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, there were between – there have been between 320,000 and 650,000 additional cancer fatalities worldwide through the year 2000 as a result of global nuclear fallout.
And so knowledge about the harm of nuclear testing is still not complete. And the job of ending testing is not complete. The next best chance for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would not come for another three decades after the ratification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on September 24th, 1963, and its entry into force weeks later.
As we heard already, in 1989, Kazak people rose up to call for an end to further soviet testing in their homeland. And here in the United States, about a year later, there was a renewed movement to push the United States Congress to introduce legislation to match the Soviet moratorium that was announced in 1991 by Mikhail Gorbachev in response to that citizen movement in Kazakhstan.
And four years later, multilateral negotiations on the CTBT were finally concluded. And so this panel is going to look at the Test Ban Treaty, the issues relating to the U.S. ratification issue, the technical issues, some of the political issues, and we’re also going to hear again about some of the reasons why we need to move ahead to close the door on testing.
And I would just note that we’re talking about this today because – the Test Ban Treaty, here in Washington, because U.S. and Chinese ratification is critical to moving forward to its formal entry into force. They’re among the few holdout states that must ratify in order to bring the treaty into force.
President Obama, as we heard before from the ambassador at the top, has repeatedly expressed his support for U.S. ratification of the CTBT. In 2009, he said that he would immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification. And again in June, President Obama said we’ll work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
It’s a lot of work to be done. That pledge is important, but there’s much more work to be done in order to move forward to develop a concrete plan of action, to pursue the steps necessary to win support in the Senate. My organization and many others believe that such an effort will take time. The results may not be clear anytime soon. But to move forward, we can and must begin that effort. And it’s important for the White House to name a coordinator to help lead that effort and to use some of the tools that the president now has to help inform the Senate about the key technical issues regarding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
And this panel is going to take a look at some of those issues. We are very happy to have with us here today Ambassador Linton Brooks, who was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which issued its report in March 2012. And Linton is going to describe to us the findings of the panel which addressed some of the key issues that were at the center of the previous debate in the Senate in October 1999, when the treaty was rejected by the Senate.
We’re also going to be hearing from others on the panel. We’re going to be hearing from Ambassador Roman Vasilenko. He serves as ambassador at large for the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan. And he has been central to the ATOM Project’s efforts. He will be speaking second and describing his views about how we can move forward with Test Ban Treaty entry into force, as well as other issues. And we’ll also be hearing from Karipbek Kuyukov, who’s the honorary ATOM Project ambassador, third. And then, at about 3:25, we’ll be hearing from Anita Friedt, who is principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear strategic policy at the U.S. Department of State, on the Obama administration’s perspective on the legacy of the LTBT and the value of the CTBT.
So with that transition and introduction, I want to welcome Ambassador Linton Brooks to begin outlining the results of the National Academy study.
Thank you, Linton.
LINTON BROOKS: Thank you. At the request of the United States government, particularly the vice president’s office and the State Department, the National Academies undertook a technical study. That’s the first thing you have to understand. There are some important issues – will ratification help nonproliferation; if we ratify, can others be brought to – that I am going to say absolutely nothing about because that’s not what we were tasked to do.
So we’ll talk about technical issues. That’s the first thing you need to keep in mind. Second thing you need to keep in mind is that the Academy’s process is thorough but majestically slow. And the government’s review process is equally. So I’m not going to talk at all about money. There’s a good deal in the report about spending. It’s based on the budget situation in 2010 and is now largely of historical interest.
The report was done in a classified version. You’re just going to have to take my word for it that if you had the classified version, it would not be inconsistent with anything I am saying. The recommendations are in almost all cases verbatim the same in the two versions. Classified version has a good deal more about U.S. unilateral capabilities.
We got asked to look basically at four questions. Can we maintain the U.S. stockpile without nuclear testing? How well can we detect, locate and identify nuclear explosions? What do we need to do to make the answers to those first two questions continue well in the future? That’s the money part, which I’m not going to talk about. And what could be done under the CTBT? What kind of evasion could happen and would it matter?
Maintaining the stockpile was most straightforward. It’s most straightforward because compared to the last look, we now have substantially more experience with a program called Stockpile Stewardship. And that has led to systematic capture of past information, major improvements in computing to manipulate the data, major construction of facilities to look at individual aspects of the physics that we used to look at in explosions. And the conclusion of the committee was, quote, “provided the sufficient resources and a national commitment to stockpile stewardship were in place, the committee judges the United States has the technical capabilities to maintain a safe, secure and reliable stockpile into the foreseeable future without nuclear explosion testing.”
That judgment was fairly straightforward and a good deal of detail in it. The adequate resources mostly means a program of surveillance which has not always fared as well in the budget process as we thought it should.
Second question we looked at was monitoring, monitoring primarily underground, but also underwater, atmosphere and space. And here too, the committee drew on the substantial improvements since the last time a National Academy panel looked at this, which is a report that came out in 2002, but probably reflects the situation around 2000.
The majority of the international monitoring system is completed, so instead of talking about what will be, we’re talking about what is. We’ve improved our xenon radiation – radionuclide detection capabilities. We’ve implemented regional seismic detections. And as a result, we’re seeing more and more international capability.
Now, the report is very general on U.S. unilateral capability. I think it would not be unfair to say that most observers believe that the United States’ national technical means are at least as good as the international capabilities. So as you see that improvement in monitoring internationally, it’s fair to assume that it’s been matched by internal effort.
The report spent much of its technical effort on seismology. Seismology is the most effective technology for detecting underground explosions. Unlike past efforts, we had a separate panel of distinguished seismologists. This will become important for one aspect when we talk a little bit about evasion.
And the basic conclusion is that threshold levels for detection are well below one kiloton worldwide and in Asia, Europe and North Africa, which are the places that most people are most concerned about detecting, the detection thresholds are substantially better down to 0.9 to 0.2 kilotons, so 900 to 200 tons.
We also looked at on-site inspection and concluded, as others have, that on-site inspection, if conducted without hindrance and if there was sufficient precision in location would have a high likelihood of detecting evidence of an explosion with a yield greater than 100 tons.
So what that suggests to you is that we concluded that there’s a very strong probability of detection and characterization of nuclear tests. But that assumes no evasion. So what did we look at on evasion?
First, we concluded that if you wanted to evade, the most obvious way is simply to test at very low levels. All of these things scale down so that they are harder to detect at low level.
Now, it’s important here to distinguish between our confidence in detecting something and an evader’s confidence that we wouldn’t. So you don’t look and say we have a 90-percent confidence. That’s important for us, for building our system. But the evader has to be much more certain that we won’t detect. And so typically, when you see numbers in our report that there’s a 90-percent probability we’ll detect something, you should reduce that by about three and say that that’s a 10-percent probability. Would someone take a 10-percent risk of non-detection?
There are two scenarios that have floated around about evasion. One is mine masking. You’re doing things in a mine and when the right seismic event happens, then you take advantage of that to hide a nuclear test. We concluded that for a variety of technical reasons, that’s a much less interesting scenario than it was thought to be 10 or 12 years ago.
Cavity decoupling, of which you will hear great deal in the press, says this. If you take a relatively small device and you put it in a large cavity of the correct geological conditions, that you can decouple. This is based on two-and-a-half tests from a very long time ago and a whole bunch of extrapolation. And it is an increasingly challenging scenario with higher yield.
So when you see things in the press that you can decouple by a factor of 70, that doesn’t mean somebody can go out and conduct a 70-kiloton test and have it undetected.
There’s an extensive amount of information in the report for those of you seismologically inclined to do this. But we concluded that these efforts are credible at most for a few hundred tons and well monitored explosions.
And so we concluded that there are three countries that could probably pull off this kind of complex evasion scenario. One’s the United States, one’s the Russian Federation, one’s the People’s Republic of China. But for both China and Russia, we concluded that anything they could gain by that wouldn’t add significantly to the very robust and complex stockpile they have. So basically, the people who are capable of cheating already have the stuff they could gain from cheating. The people who don’t have that stuff are less capable of cheating.
There was one subset of this, which is what’s called a hydronuclear explosion. There’s a debate in the CTBT about the absence of a definition of a nuclear test. We do not engage on the question of whether that’s good treaty-making or bad treaty-making. We do, however, engage at some length on saying we take all of the definitions people think they use and we can’t find anything that a state could do under one but not the other. So technically, we could – now I’m being very precise – doesn’t mean there’s not something there. Simply means we could not identify anything where are these very low yield tests, exactly how you defined them, makes any difference.
It is fair to note, however, the Russian Federation appears to place much more value on hydronuclear, these very low yield, but under our interpretation of the treaty, actual itty-bitty nuclear tests. That the Russian Federation appears to place much more value on those tests than we do, we don’t fully understand why.
Our important conclusion, therefore, was we could not identify a potential threat that could arise through undetected nuclear explosion testing that would require the United States to return to nuclear explosion testing. The only thing that we could identify as a possible reason for returning to testing was the need to develop some fundamentally new type of weapon. And there, sort of by definition, you don’t know whether you believe you can do it without testing and we note that that is what the supreme national interest clause appears to be intended for.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Linton. (Applause.)
We’re now going to hear from Roman Vasilenko. He’s been with the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan since 1996. And he is presently ambassador at large with the Foreign Ministry and has been in charge of various issues in very recent years, including the ATOM Project.
So over to you, thanks for being here.
ROMAN VASILENKO: Thank you so much, sir. And good afternoon to everybody and thank you so much for your great interest in this panel and in this whole event. Needless to say, I’m deeply humbled to be able to speak to such a distinguished audience and with such distinguished panelists.
As we heard on the first panel and as we heard just now from Ambassador Brooks, I think that between all of the people who have been engaged in nuclear disarmament or disarming the Semipalatinsk nuclear test ground and testing site in Kazakhstan, we can easily get up to dozens of years or up to hundreds of years, I think. There are so many people here who I know have been to Semipalatinsk or have dealt with nuclear disarmament issues for decades over their lives and it would be hard for me to really say something which will be surprising to people who are gathered here today. However, I’ll try.
I would like to mention a few of the initiatives that our ambassador already mentioned, but I would like to a little bit expand on them.
One is the initiative that Kazakhstan has launched and jointly with our four other neighbors in Central Asia and signed the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. The significance of that treaty of Semey signed in 2006, entered into force in 2009, is that it created the first nuclear weapon-free zone in – completely located in Northern Hemisphere and a zone that is bordering on two nuclear weapons states, Russia and China. And that it was a zone created in a place where there used to be nuclear weapons, which is Kazakhstan, obviously.
Kazakhstan right now is a coordinator of that zone and working with the P5 to get the so-called “negative guarantees” for the zone so that the zone is finally recognized internationally and is accepted by the nuclear five countries, by the five nuclear weapons states.
However, we think that this was a major step forward and as you well know the whole of South Hemisphere is nuclear-weapon-free. And because of – there has been at least four prior nuclear weapon free zones in – before Semipalatinsk. So there are – there is this process that’s – by which countries declare the intention to free themselves from nuclear weapons and create legal frameworks for this.
One other initiative I’d like to mention is the Universal Declaration of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, which our president has proposed accepting through the United Nations. It has nothing to do with taking away the power from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the yet to be entered into force CTBT. The idea behind this convention is to sort of jumpstart the rather stalled process on nuclear disarmament that we have seen over the past 17 years since the CTBT treaty was opened for signing. And to reconfirm through consensus that nuclear disarmament is indeed the ultimate goal of the mankind and we all are prepared and we all are working towards that goal.
And I know that our colleagues are now working at the United Nations in New York and in other locations to advance this vision.
There has been at least several occasions, even at today’s events, where we heard the words “political courage” or “trust,” when especially we heard this fascinating story of how the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed and how it took a lot of behind the scenes negotiations and how lack of trust – of mutual trust hindered these negotiations for quite some time.
I think that I would completely agree with the assessment that – and with the phrase that – with the notion that it is indeed a matter of trust. And it is indeed a matter of confidence in each other, which the world, unfortunately, is lacking.
And I was particularly impressed by Ambassador Brooks recounting of the technical sides of why a test ban is possible for the United States. But I was also mindful of the fact that the panel looked at this whole issue from the technical side obviously and the panel looked at it from the side of how were the United States to respond if somebody violates this ban basically and how we can introduce the verification mechanisms.
Of course, we all heard – we all remember the phrase verify – trust – doveryai no proveryai – and I think it’s all relevant today. What was it in English? Trust but –
MR. BROOKS: Trust but verify.
MR. VASILENKO: Trust but verify, yes. And it’s important, indeed, but I think the world is particularly lacking on the first part of that phrase, trust. There is plenty of verification mechanisms and Kazakhstan is proud to be part of that mechanism through the hosting of five tracking stations of the CTBT. But trust is the hardest thing to come by. And once the world gets around, I know maybe it sounds utopian, maybe it sounds a little bit out of this world, but truly we have seen in many occasions where only through trust things can happen.
And the other component of the success, as Daryl Kimball mentioned, is civic activism. We have seen over the past 17 years how it is – how hard it was to push for the ratification of the CTBT. However, as we all know, out of 183 signatories, 159 ratified, including three nuclear weapons states – Russia, the United Kingdom and France. So basically, these countries have shown that they are willing to go along with the agreement that they signed in the United Nations.
And in order to really add – not put, but add human elements in the – in order to remind of the horrific human consequences of nuclear weapons testing, Kazakhstan and our president launched the ATOM Project. You have seen the video and I’m not going to talk much about the project, as we have described it in the video and as we have the honorary ambassador of ATOM Project, Mr. Kuyukov. But I would say that already people from more than 100 countries signed the petition, the online petition, calling on the leaders of the world to abandon nuclear weapons, to make sure the CTBT enters into force and to work towards a nuclear-weapon-free future.
It was amazing to hear from Mr. Naftali the history of the backstage negotiations before the Limited Test Ban Treaty was adopted, but it – just as it was amazing to hear the behind the scenes talks during those times, it was amazing to realize that the leaders of the world, indeed, act from the best interests not only of their own countries, but of humanity. And there is hope that they will listen to the people’s voices. And we certainly hope. And with this amazing verification mechanism in place, the United States and other countries that are the holdouts will show leadership and will make good on their promises. We certainly hope so.
I will not take too much of your time and I’d like to – if you don’t mind – OK – to turn over to my colleague. We came jointly to here. We first, actually, on this visit, went to the United Nations General Assembly and there we heard very positive response from many, many dozens of countries who spoke at the special informal meeting of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the International Day against Nuclear Tests on what the United Nations as an organization and what the country members can do to move forward this process.
But we’re here with my good friend and colleague and distinguished person Karipbek Kuyukov. He really truly is an embodiment of the fact that mind can be stronger than the matter. And we’re honored to have him with us. He’s a longtime activist and he can tell you directly what the people in Kazakhstan think about nuclear disarmaments and the way forward.
Thank you. (Applause.)
KARIPBEK KUYUKOV (provided through an interpreter): Good afternoon. First of all, I would like to thank all the organizers of today’s event and I also want to thank you for all that you have done to ensure the nuclear-free world for us.
I’m visiting you from Kazakhstan, from a small village, Yegyndybulak, that is located about 100 kilometers from Semipalatinsk test site. And I’m very proud to say that I come from the former Semipalatinsk test site because I’m very proud that Kazakhstan became the first one to close it and I think we’re a good example for the others to follow in our footsteps.
And now, I have asked my parents, my mom and dad, often, why was I born without arms? And then, while I was asking, I actually found out that before, there was a brother and sister of mine that didn’t live past their six months on this earth.
And my dad was an eyewitness of the testing and so he was telling me how they were instructing when the testing was announced to come outside of their houses and to lay down on the ground and to cover themselves with something. But people who were living there also knew that it was an amazing sight to see. As my father was describing it, it was a beautiful flash that they could see from the explosion. And so they would climb the hills near the village and they would watch how the sky and the ground would come one and how the day will become night.
And as they would go back home, in the streets they would see dead chickens and they would see dogs without any hair. And not only our people, but also animals suffered. We have seen calves born with two heads, six legs, and so this was also a very commonplace occurrence in our area.
And I can tell you that I have been active in this area on the subject for a long time and I have been involved with different people who suffered, families and children. I saw children who couldn’t see, who couldn’t hear, who couldn’t talk, and their parents were very shy to show them to everybody. So they would hide them at home.
And it was hard to look in the eyes of the mother who would have a baby who couldn’t move, who couldn’t talk. And she would just put him in a bucket that she would use for laundry and just put him outside so he can be outside this way.
And so the most amazing was that those people just quietly lived with it for 40 years, being next to the test site, not realizing that there was a quiet war being waged against them.
And so probably for the suffering of those children and for the suffering of those parents that I decided to dedicate my life to this movement. And I started some time ago participating in the movement that united Semipalatinsk and Nevada. This is not my first time in the United States. I have been here before. And I remember, back in ’91, I came here with a peace march. And we went all over the country ending up in Nevada, where we organized a protest by the U.S. test site.
And so this takes a lot of time from my art. And here today, you can see it. This is some of the latest portraits, some people who have no voice to tell the world what happened to them, what they had to live through. And this is my way to show, and this is sort of their soul screaming through my art.
And I’ve been to Japan. I have seen what hurt the radiation caused there in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And as you can see, radiation doesn’t choose its victims, doesn’t choose the color of the skin. We can all be happy, we can all cry together. But this is something that we can do together in order to stop it from happening.
And so I’m here today as a goodwill ambassador of the ATOM Project and I would ask you to go online to look at the petition, to sign it, to tell people about it, about our site, about what you can do, so we can be living in a new world, where we can look differently at things and not have these problems occurring.
And so the fact that you have gathered here tells me that you’re the people who give me – like the people who give me strength, the people who let me continue my fight against this. And what I’m trying to reach at the end is to be the last one who has suffered from the radiation and so we don’t have the suffering anymore.
And so I want to thank you personally. I would like to wish you all success, and I think that this is probably the time when we can hold each other’s hands and change this world and get the success in what we’re doing.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: Karipbek, thank you so much for your powerful testimony, your hard work and your perseverance. And we will succeed in the end in the effort that you just outlined. And before we hear from our final speaker, I wanted to allow the audience, you’ve been very patient with this program to have an opportunity to ask a question, make a brief comment of any of our panelists on the wide range of issues that we’ve just talked about here today. And I would just ask that you identify yourself and wait for the microphone to come by
And before we do that, let me just note that unfortunately, Ambassador Tom Pickering will not be able to make us. He was hoping to come, but I just got a message that he has a hand ailment that requires going to the doctor. So it’s not life threatening, but it’s something that is keeping him from being here. So we’re sorry that he’s not with us.
And so with that, let me open up the floor and ask for any questions, comments. Yes, right here, Alex.
Q: Alex Leibowitz (sp), retired from the State Department.
I think Ambassador Brooks’ presentation was very persuasive, but in some sense, you could have – I mean, it was less persuasive, whatever it was, 13 years ago, but you could still have made, to some extent, the same kind of arguments even back then, especially when, on the other side, we’re not really giving up anything, since we’re not testing anyhow. And so I’m wondering what can we do – what kind of arguments would really be persuasive in this kind of environment that we face in the United States and in the Senate in particular to – I mean, it’s not directly what your mandate was, but I’m wondering whether – because you’ve obviously been around this business for a very long time and probably have some insights into this, whether you have any thoughts as to what we can do to, you know, gain a momentum for ratification in the United States. Thank you.
MR. BROOKS: Well, you’re about to hear it from a representative of the administration who’s much better positioned to answer that. I’ll give you an answer with the understanding that this is not the view of the committee or of anybody else. And it’s not the view of this administration.
Comprehensive Test Ban will be ratified in the United States when there is a Republican president who supports it because then – now, look back – look back. New START is the first time since John F. Kennedy that we’ve ratified anything negotiated by a Democrat. It – historically, in the United States, you get all the Democrats because they like arms control and you get enough Republicans because it’s their guy. And when we have that again, I think the treaty will have a shot.
The important – it’s important to note – and here I can speak for the previous administration – there’s not been five minutes worth of discussion about resuming nuclear testing in a very long time.
If you talk to your friends running the labs, their view is you can do what you want about the CTBT. We’ve been living under a no-testing regime for 20 years and expect to live under it forever. And so I think there’s no chance of resumption of testing and no constituency for it. But I – no disrespect to my colleagues in the administration who are trying very hard to deliver on the president’s promise – I think in this partisan environment it is going to take a Republican president to bring this off. I wish that weren’t true, but it’s – probably is.
Q: Thanks a lot.
MR. KIMBALL: OK. Just a couple of quick thoughts to the same question, I don’t want to pick a fight with Linton Brooks, you never do because you usually lose, but there was one treaty that was negotiated by a Democratic president that has been ratified, and that was the New START treaty. But that was a different treaty, a different time, if – it’s hard to imagine, but it was a different time.
But what I’ll say, and I alluded to this in the beginning, is that any treaty ratification effort takes a lot of preparation. That preparation has really not begun on the CTBT in the way that the administration did it for New START. And it’s time to begin that process.
Now, you were asking about the arguments for moving ahead. I mean one of the key questions I think you’re alluding to is why take the trouble to do this in the first place? And the issues that Linton outlined, yes, those were arguments and issues that were there in October of 1999. In my estimation, you know, the report of the National Academy makes it clear that, you know, that was then, this is now. A lot of things have changed from the technical perspective.
But you know, now I think one of things that is crucially important to consider as we look ahead, not to 2015 or ’16, but you know, five, 10, 15 years down the road, is, you know, what do we need to do to create higher barriers for future potential nuclear-armed states to develop sophisticated arsenals. And you know, we are looking at North Korea, as was alluded to earlier that is outside of the test ban regime. They are going to, if nothing else is done, slowly amass a more capable arsenal.
So it’s the kind of problem that we need to be thinking about. And because the United States no longer needs nuclear testing, this is manifestly in our interest and the international security interest. And it’s that kind of argument that has really not been brought to bear in this debate to date that I think could be very powerful with a Senate that is – you know, is different in many ways than in 2010, when New START was ratified, very different from 1999. There’s less than a quarter of the senators there today who were there in ’99.
So I’m confident this will be done. Perhaps maybe we should make a wager to see how many presidents from now we’re going to be, but perhaps it’s going to take a Republican, but I think that the task, the work has to begin now.
Any other questions from the crowd here? Shocking. OK, very well.
Well, with that, what I’m going to do is I’m going to invite our next speaker up. We’ll take some more questions, and then I’ll make some brief concluding remarks and we’ll adjourn.
And our next speaker, very honored to have her with us, is Anita Friedt. She’s the principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and strategic policy in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. I’m glad I don’t have to put that on my business card. It’s – I don’t think there is enough space. We’re glad that she’s here. She has been working at the State Department and in the government for 33 years. And this is the second time Anita has been at one of our events. She has a wide range of expertise on nonproliferation, New START, and the CTBT.
We’re very glad you’re with us. Why don’t you come to the podium, please? Thank you.
ANITA FRIEDT: Thank you very much – good to see you. Thank you very much. As the last speaker of the day, here I am – see, maybe that will help with the number of hard-hitting questions. But thank you very much for the very nice introduction, Daryl. And thank you very much for inviting me to speak here. It really is wonderful to be back at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and to be speaking along such distinguished leaders as Ambassadors Umarov, Goodby, and Ambassador Brooks, of course.
Now, I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage since I wasn’t here to hear most of the speeches and the discussion today, but I know I will quickly catch up because as Daryl says, I have followed this issue, certainly CTBT and these issues very closely throughout my career, but most especially now.
As has certainly been discussed today, it has been 50 years since the Limited Test Ban Treaty entered into force. It was limited in the sense that it did not ban underground nuclear weapons test explosions or any other underground nuclear explosion. But of course, at American University, in 1963, President Kennedy called for a complete ban on nuclear explosive testing.
“The conclusion of such a treaty,” President Kennedy said, “so near and yet so far – would check the spiraling arms race in one of the most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963 – the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security and it would decrease the prospects of war.”
A goal was in sight and it was clear how we could monitor tests in the water, in space, and on land. There was, however, widespread concern that states would have difficulty in detecting and distinguishing underground nuclear explosions from other naturally occurring events. So without the inclusion of underground nuclear tests, the LTBT was a good start, but it wasn’t enough.
Moving on. So we pressed on. In 1976, a group of scientific experts, the GSE, was established by the Conference on Disarmament to address the issue of effective seismic monitoring of underground nuclear explosions. The work of this GSE helped propel the successful negotiation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.
So I won’t spend too much time extolling the many virtues of CTBT today, as I certainly know that this is an expert audience, but I will state definitively that a global, verifiable ban on explosive nuclear testing is in the national security interests of the United States of America.
The treaty is central to leading nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons and reduced nuclear competition. Furthermore, with a global ban on nuclear explosive tests in place, states interested in pursuing or advancing their nuclear weapons programs would have to either risk deploying weapons with uncertain effectiveness or face international condemnation and possible sanctions for conducting nuclear explosive tests.
As you all know, the Senate chose not to give its advice and consent to ratification of CTBT in 1999. For almost a decade, this treaty languished with some fearing that the United States would withdraw its signature and that it would not be the end of a – that it would not be possible to have a global ban on nuclear testing. But those fears were not realized and what we have today, I’d argue, is a stronger case for ratifying the treaty than ever before.
There are two primary reasons for this. First, as I know Ambassador Brooks has talked about, Stockpile Stewardship. Stockpile Stewardship was at its infancy in 1999. Today, it is a marvel of modern science. From 1945 to 1992, the United States conducted 1,054 nuclear explosive tests, more than any other country. The United States has observed the moratorium on nuclear explosive testing since 1992. So our policies are already consistent with the central prohibition of the treaty. In fact, our scientists at our weapons labs say that they know more now about our arsenal and under the Stewardship Program than we ever did while we were actually testing.
We have proven that we can maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal without resorting to explosive testing. And as Ambassador Brooks said in the answers to the question here, I mean, that really is true. There’s – I don’t think anyone would say that we would go back to testing.
Second, the treaty’s primary verification mechanism, the International Monitoring System, or the IMS, was not even an infant. It was more a twinkle in the eye of the world’s best and brightest scientists, when the treaty was first considered by the Senate.
Today, the IMS is roughly 85 percent complete and when fully completed, there will be an IMS facility in 89 countries spanning the globe. At entry into force, the full body of technical data gathered via the IMS will be available to all states parties. And this is really impressive in terms of where we’ve come with the facilities over the last decade.
The system has already demonstrated its capabilities under real world conditions, detecting and helping states identify three nuclear explosive tests conducted by North Korea over the past several years. Following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, we saw how the IMS can be useful for non-verification related purposes, such as tsunami warnings and tracking radioactivity from reactor accidents.
Moreover, the United States will always rely on our robust national technical means to provide even greater confidence that we can detect any illicit nuclear explosive tests.
Another area of progress in recent years is preparation for the on-site inspections or OSI, which is another of the treaty’s verification – element of the treaty’s verification regime. Such inspections would be key to clarifying any ambiguity regarding a possible nuclear test.
U.S. experts have been deeply involved in the development of an OSI framework by contributing our extensive inspection expertise to the development of procedures, manuals, training, testing, exercise planning, and inspection equipment and specifications. The United States has helped build up the CTBTO’s capability to conduct robust and effective inspections at entry into force.
In addition to the general preparations for the on-site inspection element, the Provisional Technical Secretariat or the PTS is in the midst of planning and preparing for the second major integrated field exercise in 2014. And this will take place in Jordan. Like the previous integrated field exercise conducted in Kazakhstan in 2008, the 2014 test will test the capabilities of the OSI elements under realistic field conditions. This integrated field test will also test for the first time the integration of various inspection techniques allowed under the treaty in order to provide states parties with the most detailed and robust set of technical data and information on which states could make a judgment of compliance with the treaty.
So as taken as a whole, the treaty’s robust verification system, which supplements and reinforces the existing U.S. state-of-the-art nuclear monitoring capabilities, will make it extremely difficult for any state to conduct militarily significant explosive nuclear tests with confidence that they will escape detection.
I was just in Vienna a few weeks ago, in August, at a P5 CTBT technical experts meeting. It was in this environment, which I have to say there were – the Ph.D.s far outnumbered politicos such as myself, that P5 experts really got into some interesting technical discussions about the treaty. As nuclear weapon states, the P5 have a unique knowledge in the conduct of nuclear explosive tests. And this knowledge gives us distinct perspectives on what is required to verify a ban on nuclear explosions.
It is this sort of collaborative and creative work among technical experts at the PTS that will have to shore up and support the treaty’s entry into force.
It is for these reasons and more that President Obama expressed his support for the treaty in Prague in 2009 and then reaffirmed that support in Berlin just a few months ago, pledging to work to build support in the United States for ratification. Whether it is a senator or a staffer, a schoolteacher or student, we know that it is our job to make the case for this treaty. First and foremost, what we hope to get is a commitment to listen with an open mind.
We need to make sure that people are updated with the latest information about CTBT. We know that this agreement involves a very technical set of issues. And we want people to absorb and understand the basics of the treaty and how it benefits us.
We have no timeframe for Senate action, as discussed here today. And the political situation is dicey here in terms of ratification. So we will continue to be patient, but we will also be very persistent in our education effort. And as Daryl pointed out, we need to start this campaign. I would argue we have, but we can go into detail there.
We will continue to call on all governments to move forward with ratification and, as appropriate, declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test. The CTBT is in the security interest of every nation. There is absolutely no reason for any other state whose ratification is required by the treaty for entry into force to wait on the United States.
So let me stop here, but I do want to leave you with a thought. Fifty years ago, we formally started the process to ban nuclear explosive testing. The reason we will keep pushing, the reason we will keep trying is that this treaty is good for American national security. And we will continue to make that case to the country and we certainly will count on your continuing help in this effort.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. Why don’t you stay here for a moment and we’ve got time for a few questions for Anita Friedt. And just before we do it, let me amend and revise my remarks, as they do in the Senate, to say start in earnest.
MS. FRIEDT: Start in earnest, OK, all right, Daryl.
MR. KIMBALL: Start in earnest. OK. So maybe we can – so we’ve got one more microphone. If you could go over to the other side. Tom Cochran, please. There we go.
Q: You know, Ambassador Brooks mentioned that seismology was our best method for detecting nuclear tests. And I’m wondering if that’s true today or whether signal intelligence is not a better method in light of the revelations about the NSA capabilities. And I’m reminded, back in the ’70s, when defense programs used to conduct small secret tests at the Nevada test site, we discovered how to detect them by calling up the test site and asking when the weather briefing was, which always occurred 24 hours before the test. (Laughter.) We would pretend we were from Washington, D.C., and they would tell us the time of the briefing and we would know that the next day there would be a test. So I think maybe signal intelligence now is a pretty good way for confirming whether the North Koreans are testing.
MS. FRIEDT: I certainly agree with you. That’s an interesting story. (Laughs.) But I certainly agree with you that national technical means or signals intelligence is an important asset. But the seismic remains, so it’s got to be both. As I mentioned, national technical means are a priority.
I think as everyone sees and knows here, collection efforts, NTM, I mean, and our priorities over the last – certainly since the end of the Cold War have changed in many ways. I mean, whereas 30, 40 years ago, we looked at – we have a lot more to look at now, let me just say. I mean, with the threats with Iran, North Korea, elsewhere, there’s a lot more for our national technical means to look at. So we really need both.
MR. KIMBALL: Linton, from a technical standpoint, anything to add?
MR. BROOKS: The National Academy tasking as we understood it was direct detection, not knowledge. And as I indicated the area in which the public report is substantially smaller than the classified report has to do with U.S. so-called national technical means. I mean, take the most obvious case. We detected the North Korean test because the North Koreans announced they just tested.
MR. BROOKS: But you can’t necessarily depend on that, so I don’t – this is not the venue to get into a debate about the relative merits of signal intelligence. We did not cover that because we saw our task as direct detection. But your point’s a good point.
MS. FRIEDT: Yeah. And as Linton – it’s a very good point you make – open source is by far – I mean, it’s bigger and bigger and more important than ever. As you point out, North Korea announced it. And so we can get a lot from open source.
Q: Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire. Anything you can tell us about a timeline for doing something like naming a coordinator for the ratification campaign effort? Anything about whether the chemical weapons issue before Congress is in any way bringing more concern for WMDs or taking away, you know, scant attention for WMD concerns?
MS. FRIEDT: Well, on the latter point, certainly – thanks, those are good questions. On the latter point, no, I mean, it certainly makes clear that this is – these WMD issues are more prominent than ever. There’s no question about that.
In terms of naming a coordinator or anything like that, as I’ve mentioned, there really are no timelines set. And I think there are good reasons for no timelines set in terms of naming coordinators or doing anything, at least at this point. We just have to see where we are because it’s – politically it’s – we just have to see where – test the waters and see where we are. So I’ll leave it at that.
MR. KIMBALL: Test the waters, so to speak. Yes.
MS. FRIEDT: Test the waters, yeah, not the – (laughter).
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Any other questions from the floor? The gentleman in the front here, Paul Walker.
Q: First of all, thank you, Anita, very much for coming and speaking today. We’re very happy to include you in the program. I want to follow up, I guess, on Rachel’s question, not about the naming of a coordinator, but the last two major arms control agreements that we’ve signed and ratified, but had a real struggle to ratify, was the 1997 fight over the Chemical Weapons Convention.
And part of doing that under the Clinton administration was to in fact name a coordinator out of the White House, in fact, then organize the civil society, NGO, arms control community. And we worked – many of us worked every single month. We met at least every two to three weeks for over a year in coordinating, in fact, the campaign around ratification of the CWC.
Similarly for New START, we had a pretty active campaign around ratification of New START. And it was very uncertain that either treaty, at that point, would be ratified. And we – as you know – obviously ratified them, you know, sort of by the skin of our teeth in the end.
So I’m wondering whether the State Department or the NSC or the White House has actually begun to reach out to the larger community. I personally know of no effort or campaign effort to bring NGOs, arms control community into the discussion at this point. And that’s what a lot of us have, as you know, written State Department and the White House about – that we really feel it’s time to begin this. It can be a year, a year and a half, two years. As you say, no schedule is predictable at this point. But I wonder whether there’s been discussion on building a campaign around the CTBT, regardless of the head count in the Senate at this point.
MS. FRIEDT: It’s a good point and thank you very much. I certainly – well, I was front and center in the New START ratification effort, so I know firsthand. And it was, yes, more than dicey. And it was – if it were not for the massive effort and the very welcome help from NGOs and from the community at large, we would not – and the campaign – we would not have ratified the treaty. There’s no – the chances – it was an uphill battle. The negotiation was quite – in some ways, the negotiation was very tough, but it was almost a cakewalk compared to the ratification, if I – it really was when it was done an eye-opener, to say the least, for me and for many others.
And after that, I mean, the original plan, when President Obama came into office and gave his famous Prague speech in 2009 was to go for ratification of New START, to negotiate and then ratify New START, and then immediately move on to CTBT. Because of the uphill battle and many other political and other factors, it was clear that we couldn’t just kept – keep going because it just was not – it just didn’t make sense.
At this point, we certainly welcome your help. I know you’re ready and willing and out there. And yes, you will be hearing from us soon. I think it’s – again, it’s a delicate – a delicate issue.
MR. KIMBALL: I have a question I wanted to ask Anita or Roman to address, which is that there’s the international aspect to entry into force. There are other countries that do need to sign and ratify. And coming up on September 27th is the eight Article XIV Conference on facilitating the entry into force the CTBT, where almost 100 representatives will gather to exhort the CTB holdout states to get going. And there will be NGOs there making some key points, too.
I was wondering if, you know, each of you could offer your thoughts about, you know, what some of the other countries around the world can do and why to move forward on CTBT entry into force. And as one small example, I think it’s quite interesting, that has been noted in Washington is that just about a month and a half ago, at the behest of the new executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Provisional Technical Secretariat, Lassina Zerbo, China agreed to transmit the data from their certified IMS stations to the international data center in Vienna, which they had not been doing for some time. And so that’s a small step forward for China, which has also, like the United States, signed but not yet ratified.
But there’re other countries that have their part to do. The U.S. is, of course, critical. But I was wondering if you could just address, you know, that aspect of the problem, what kind of diplomatic strategy could be organized in order to help that effort and what you expect out of this next entry into force conference, which, you know, is an opportunity to help pull together a serious multilateral diplomatic strategy for the Test Ban Treaty.
MR. VASSILENKO: Thank you so much. And I thought it was going to be quick, but it seems like we have a lot to discuss here.
Well, I wouldn’t be inventing the wheel when I say that there are countries, and not just Kazakhstan, but many others, who are trying to chip in and to contribute to the whole discussion and to move the process forward, trying to influence the remaining eight countries. I would particularly mention Norway, which hosted the conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons testing in March this year. A hundred and thirty-five countries participated, but no P5. That just tells you the challenges of even maintaining the dialogue on this issue. There were India, Pakistan, Iran there, but no P5.
The next event that this group of countries is organizing is in Mexico, in February 2014, which is just next door to the United States. So I hope that this is – this gets more attention from P5.
In terms of the next conference on the entry into force, I would just revert back to what I said earlier, that there is obviously a great need in a better and more open dialogue. And once this dialogue is in place, everybody knows what can be done. And there are dozens of specialists from every country who are part of this process. I’m sure that they will be able to find even incremental steps forward to convince the remaining holdouts to move forward.
MR. KIMBALL: Any thoughts on this topic, Anita?
MS. FRIEDT: Sure, yeah. No, no, we’re certainly looking forward to the Article XIV Conference next – well, the week after next.
In terms of getting other states to ratify, as I mentioned in my remarks, I mean, the fact that the United States has not ratified should not hold other countries back from ratifying. I thank you for mentioning the Chinese. They’re putting their stations on – that really was – it was a small, but it’s arguably also a very large step. And that was an extremely welcome step forward.
As I mentioned, I think that the work of the CTBTO in Vienna is really – I’ve been out there twice now, which is not a lot, and I’m sure many of you have much more experience – it really is an impressive, impressive organization which has come so far. The organization has been doing a lot in terms of getting out and trying to get Annex II countries to ratify. And we certainly support those efforts.
Other than that, I really – I’m big on supporting the organization, also keeping up monetary support. I mean, the United States has paid all its bills and then some and I think that’s another – it’s an argument that we have there sometimes, but in terms of contributions to the organization, keeping that organization and building out the organization is really of very high importance and something that we need to continue.
MR. KIMBALL: All right, yeah. I think we have time for one or two more questions. Jennifer, why don’t you take the microphone? Thanks.
Q: Hi, I’m Jenifer Mackby and I served as secretary of the Group of Scientific Experts, not back in 1976, but more recently when the treaty was being negotiated, and also served on the negotiations for the treaty and then in Vienna and – on the verification work. And I was just wondering just a technical thing, how far along you perceive the OSI manual is and how close to being finished that is.
And the other thing, at this next Article XIV Conference, Sweden and Mexico were the previous outgoing two coordinators on this. They didn’t do a whole lot, quite honestly. And I’m wondering if the next two could be prevailed upon by U.S. and the rest of the NGO community to do a little more.
MS. FRIEDT: I support that. In terms of the manual, now you really have – I’ve got my technical – I’ve technically advanced to some point, but not to the point where I know where the manual is. But I know there are other people, including my colleagues here who can answer that maybe when we finish.
MR. KIMBALL: Yeah, just what we’re talking about here is the finalization of the manual that will provide the protocols for the on-site inspections, which can only take place when the treaty enters into force and if there’s a challenge inspection authorized by the executive committee.
Any other questions from the audience? None? Yes, sir. Yes, Mr. Ambassador. Here we go.
Q: I just want to comment saying that, you know, of course, probably it’s more theoretical thought, but of course if U.S. will show the leadership in ratifying the treaty, I think the other countries will follow. And the – why I think so is that China, as you said, has already started to move. And of course, they won’t do anything without having U.S. as a superpower just to move in that direction. But if this is to be done, I’m sure that China will follow and India and Pakistan, you know, it’s again, the pair which is looking at each other. And if one of the countries will follow, the other one also follow the suit.
And you know the position of India, which is actually for equal position for all other countries, especially P5 countries, if they go for the reduction of nuclear weapons, they will join NPT and they will be just, again, for all of this anti-nuclear movement.
So we have here a good situation when, if the West shows the leadership and as we hear today in the panel that there is no any reasons why U.S. has to kind of stop itself from ratifying the test ban because verification system is there, everything, technologically we have all the capabilities to check and verify.
So I think that at this point of time, U.S. should show the leadership. And if that is done, then the rest of the countries will follow the suit. Of course, I understand the internal political situation which does not permit it, but with all of this data, with all of this good information which you have, research and opinions, I think today is more probably in the hands of NGOs who can really galvanize the public opinion and make a bigger push on those in the Congress who really should be accountable to what is going on and what is the opinion of the public on this issue.
So I think that probably today we have to start from the other side, from the side of the public opinion to grow and just provide the conditions for Senate to go ahead and do that. Thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: One thought about that, if I could actually comment on your remarks. I would say that historically speaking, victory has 1,000 fathers and mothers. It’s going to take all of us to make this happen. And if you look throughout the history, prior to 1963, after 1963, just before 1991, there were a combination of people – local leaders, national leaders, legislators, doctors, physicians, ordinary mothers, NGOs, all together.
So it’s – we’re going to have to stitch together a campaign to achieve this. As somebody who’s been working on this for a long time, I appreciate the support for the NGOs and the recognition of their importance, but we can’t do it alone either.
So one other thing I would just also mention that is important about the Article XIV Conference and non-governmental organizations – we’re going to mention this in our statement – is that there are powerful reasons for some countries in Central Asia, Iran in particular, to take steps towards ratification, too.
And I know that Kazakhstan has a very good dialogue with Iran. And President Nazarbayev just met recently with Hassan Rohani, the new Iranian president. And you know, that Iranian ratification could be a useful step in proving that their program is for peaceful purposes. And I say that reminds me of an incident in 1996 when I was in Geneva lobbying countries for the negotiation of CTBT. And I was praising the Iranians for a draft treaty that they had just put down for negotiations. And I came back to Washington and some people criticized me for giving the Iranians praise, in 1996, quoted in the Financial Times. But, you know, they have played a role and they can play a helpful role in the future still on this issue.
Any other questions from the audience? OK. I think we are running out of time. I want to thank everyone here for their remarkable contributions. I want to thank, in particular, Karipbek for your inspiring testimony and your hard work. I think everyone here has been moved and motivated to work harder on this.
I want to thank Roman and Linton and Anita for your contributions. I think we’ve had a very diverse and rich discussion. Our thanks to our friends at the Embassy of Kazakhstan for helping to make this possible, to Paul Walker and Global Green USA, and everyone here for your attention and your interest. We look forward to seeing you again at some point in the future.
And let me just also note that the – there’s a video – there will be a video of this discussion and a transcript for those who want to go back and relive the experience. So thanks everyone. (Applause.)
The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding and effective policies to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons: nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as certain types of conventional weapons that pose a threat to noncombatants. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.