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ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
NEXT STEPS IN ARMS CONTROL:
NUCLEAR WEAPONS, MISSILE DEFENSE AND NATO
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS:
HEINRICH BÖLL FOUNDATION
DARYL G. KIMBALL,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
PANEL 1: NEXT STEPS IN U.S.-RUSSIA ARMS REDUCTIONS
DARYL G. KIMBALL
PRESIDENT AND CEO,
NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE
FORMER CHIEF NEGOTIATOR, START 1,
U.S. CHAIR, GLOBAL ZERO
MOSCOW CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2010
Federal News Service
RALF FÜCKS: So good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s start. I’m Ralf Fücks, president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and I would like to welcome you heartily on behalf of the organizers of this event – the Heinrich Böll Foundation jointly in cooperation with the Arms Control Association. It’s a great start for my trip to the United States. I just arrived last night from Germany, and I really appreciate [the opportunity] to meet such a circle of distinguished personalities, speakers and participants to this event.
When we decided to organize this discussion, together with the Arms Control Association, half a year ago, this decision took place in a very encouraging political atmosphere. It was not only spring in the literal sense of the word. It was kind of a very exciting moment for a renaissance of arms control and disarmament policies after more decades of stagnation and ignorance on these topics.
President Obama’s new Nuclear Posture Review set a new tone by identifying nuclear terrorism and proliferation as major threats, demanding a comprehensive and consistent nuclear arms control policy. The United States pledged not to attack nonnuclear states as long as they are compliant with the nonproliferation treaty, and by signing the New START treaty in Prague, President Obama and President Medvedev showed new confidence on both sides.
A few days later, President Obama gathered several dozen heads of state here in Washington to request commitments from all participating countries to better safeguard nuclear material, and also the result of the NPT review conference did not really satisfy all parties. The United Nations conference managed to reach an acceptable compromise.
For us, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, as a German green think tank headquartered in Berlin, nuclear disarmament is a topic of great importance, and maybe you know that it was one of the driving forces of the emergence of the green political movement in Germany and in Europe, and meanwhile, we managed to get to the heads of government in Germany, and we are looking to go back at the next federal elections with very significant support in the public polls, around about 20 percent meanwhile. So we are no longer a marginal political force, but I would say really we are becoming a driving political force in Germany and beyond.
At the end of this very crucial year for global disarmament and just a few days before NATO will be adopting its new strategic concept in Lisbon, there still remain important issues to be discussed. Global Zero is a vision we should stick to, and to gain political relevance we have to transform this vision into action plans. Nuclear proliferation is just short of passing a tipping point. So this is a very, very critical situation globally, a tipping point when the spread of nuclear weapons exceeds the capacity to rein them in. If we want to prevent that slippery slope into nuclear anarchy, the established nuclear powers need to prove their credibility and political will in reducing their own stockpiles.
So nuclear nonproliferation and preventing the non-haves to become nuclear powers and nuclear disarmament, reducing the nuclear stockpile of the nuclear states are only two sides of the same coin. I therefore hope very much that the U.S. Senate will be able to ratify the New START treaty during the lame-duck session, or at least in early 2011. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty needs to be ratified, and the fissile material cutoff treaty needs to be negotiated. The German foreign minister, in line with the Green Party platform, is advocating the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from German territory, some maybe 20 or some more remaining tactical nuclear weapons, which are more of a symbolical than of a real military importance.
But the disputed issue is if this withdrawal should be embedded in a comprehensive agreement with Russia. Russia still deploys about 2,000 tactical warheads which can be used to exercise political pressure on neighboring countries, and I guess that the most promising strategy to convince the Russian leadership to get rid of their tactical nuclear arsenal and to proceed to the goal of a nuclear-free zone in Europe would be to include Russia in an enhanced and an enlarged Euro/trans-Atlantic security architecture, kind of NATO-plus; a collective security system with Russia.
As Daniel Hamilton and his coauthors pointed out rightly in their 2009 NATO study, “Alliance Reborn,” I quote, “the initiative to withdraw nuclear weapons from Europe should come from Europe itself. If Europeans allies are confident that European and North American security is sufficiently coupled without the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, the U.S. is unlikely to object to their removal.” end of quote. This point puts the question at the center of how best to address the security concerns of our Central and Eastern European allies, and I’m therefore very happy to see that we have many speakers from Central and Eastern Europe[anew ] countries here today.
Last but not least, I want to express my personal gratitude to the Arms Control Association for its cooperation on this joint endeavor. Let me especially thank Daryl Kimball, Tom Collina, and Eric Auner on this side, as well as Sebastian Gräfe and Markus Rutsche from the Böll Foundation for their efforts in organizing this event. I wish you all interesting and enlightening discussions today here at the Carnegie Endowment. Thank you very much for your attention, and now it’s my pleasure to give the floor to Daryl Kimball. Thank you. (Applause.)
DARYL KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Ralf, for that great overview of the issues of the day and thanks to the Böll Foundation for working with Arms Control Association and the entire team of people who pulled all the logistics together for this timely event on the next steps in arms control. As Ralf said, we gather at a very pivotal moment in the long quest to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons, and it’s a particularly key time for the United States and Russia and our European partners to get nuclear arms reductions back on track, and that’s what our first panel is going to address.
We have a great lineup of speakers on our next panel on the next steps in U.S.-Russian arms reductions, and I see that they’re all here now with Ambassador Burt arriving. If you all could – Eugene and Ambassador Burt and Joan, as I introduce the panel, come on up front so that we can get started smoothly.
Let me just remind us all that two years ago, before Barack Obama took office, he outlined some of his ideas about how the United States and Russia should get back on track on the nuclear arms reduction process, and in 2008, President Obama responded to a presidential Q&A that we put together in Arms Control Today, and when that was published in the fall of 2008, Obama committed to quote, “working with Russia and other nuclear armed states to make deep cuts in global nuclear weapon stockpiles by the end of my first term,” and he went on to say, quote, “as a first step, I will seek Russia’s agreement to extend the central monitoring and verification provisions of the START I pact before it expires in 2009.”
Now, the START I treaty did expire on December 5, 2009, and we now have the New START agreement signed in April of , and I would say that Obama has fulfilled that basic campaign pledge with the negotiation of New START and active support for it, which is now awaiting Senate approval, we hope, during the post-election session which begins just next week. But even after New START is completed, the two countries will still each possess 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads on as many as 700 nuclear delivery systems with thousands more nondeployed strategic warheads and obsolete tactical nuclear bombs, as we just heard about.
So in our view, the Arms Control Association’s view, deeper reductions are prudent and possible, especially given that no other state other than the United States and Russia possesses more than 400 nuclear bombs, and from a U.S. perspective, we ought to remember that it’s only China that has 40 to 50 long-range strategic missiles armed with nuclear weapons that we really have to worry at all about. Many of these weapons that the United States and Russia have of course are primed on launch-ready alert.
So what we’re going to be discussing today is New START and some of the next steps towards reducing these nuclear weapons risks, and let me just also recall that in this Arms Control Today Q&A with Obama, he pledged to seek further reductions quote, “in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, whether deployed or nondeployed, whether strategic or nonstrategic, and work with other nuclear powers to reduce nuclear stockpiles dramatically by the end of my presidency.”
Now, that may be just two years from now. It may be six years from now, but by the end of my presidency, he said. He also pledged to initiate a high-level dialogue among all of the declared nuclear weapons states on how to make their nuclear capabilities more transparent, create greater confidence and move forward toward meaningful reductions and eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons. So that’s a tall order but that I think it is a very useful outline for what some of the next steps could be.
Our speakers are going to be exploring these and other issues, and to begin, we’re going to hear from Joan Rohlfing, who is the president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative here in Washington, which has been a great supporter of further efforts to reduce the nuclear weapons risks, including the work of the so-called four statesmen – Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn – and she is going to be talking about the range of options ahead for Washington, Moscow, and other governments to reduce nuclear risks.
Then we’re going to hear from Ambassador Richard Burt, who was a negotiator of the START I accord, among other things, and he’s currently the chair of the organization Global Zero. Last but not least, we’re pleased to have with us here today from Moscow, Eugene Miasnikov, who is the senior research scientist at the Center for Arms Control, Energy, and Environmental Studies in Moscow, who’s been there for nearly 20 years. He’s one of the leading experts in Russia on these issues. You may have read his work in the past in Arms Control Today.
So after each one of them speaks, we’ll be taking your questions and comments and have some discussion before we begin with the next panel. Joan?
JOAN ROHLFING: Good morning. Thank you, Daryl. Thank you, Mr. Fücks. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be with you today. Let me apologize first of all for my gravelly voice. I’m overcoming a cold. So hopefully I’ll be able to hold out for a few minutes while I make my remarks. So as the program says, I’m here to discuss opportunities for further reductions, and as Daryl greeted me this morning, he asked me what I was going to talk about, and I told him –
MR. KIMBALL: We had so much faith in you, didn’t we?
MS. ROHLFING: We had so much faith, exactly, and I told him in brief that I was going to talk about some of the – in particular, the political constraints that we’re currently operating under, as well as security perceptions of both the U.S. and Russia and how that constrains what we can do over the next several years in particular. And Daryl said, “but you’re going to talk about further reductions, right?” and I said, well, maybe, not exactly.
So I will come to a point on that later in order to address what I’ve been asked to address. But I think we’re in an environment that maybe constrains the art of the possible in the near term. I do believe we’re at a moment in time. We’ve been at a moment in time for the last several years in terms of the historical context in which we find ourselves. Over the last few years, we’ve clearly seen a sea change, a new window of opportunity opening and growing political momentum for nuclear arms reductions as a result of several groundbreaking op-eds by four senior American statesmen.
Also, we’ve been lucky to have a new charismatic president in the United States who embraced the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and as Daryl mentioned, made a commitment to dramatic reductions by the end of his presidency. Unfortunately, four years into the sea change – I say four years, if you mark it by the date of the publication of the first Wall Street Journal op-ed – we find ourselves at a turning point. We see the same president besieged by seemingly intractable global and national challenges and having lost his stroke politically.
Is this historic window of opportunity for progress in reducing the nuclear threat beginning to close? What can or must be done to maintain momentum and progress? I believe demonstration of continued progress will be essential to continuing the momentum and U.S. leadership is essential to that process, and yet, the political shellacking, to use the president’s own words, of the current U.S. presence, severely impedes his ability to lean forward and lead further. So where do we go from here?
Before I provide my short list of what I think are opportunities for action, I’d like to take just a few minutes to discuss U.S. and Russian security and political perspectives that frame and bound any next steps that we can take. Let me offer a few thoughts first about the view from the U.S., and then I’ll talk about the view from Russia.
So the view from the U.S. – President Obama came into the job with this ambitious vision and strong rhetorical commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Through the first two years of his presidency, we’ve seen some positive and important changes emerge in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review and the completion of the New START treaty.
But that said, we also see strong and growing headwind from the U.S. Congress, and the Senate in particular, to thwart or stop the nuclear arms reduction agenda outright. This is evident in the robust modernization program that key Republican members of the Senate have pushed for and in the sizable budgetary commitment that the administration has had to make to garner support for the New START treaty.
Given the numerous political challenges facing this president – the economy and the war, to name only two issues occupying his time – and given the loss of the House and the loss of Democratic seats in the Senate, I see, unfortunately, little capacity – political capacity, that is – for this president and thus little incentive for him to lead the charge for the next round of formal reductions.
Now, let’s talk for a minute about Russian perceptions and in particular about Russian threat perceptions. Russia sees an alliance along its western border that has strong conventional superiority and seven countries within the alliance that either have or host nuclear weapons on their territory, presumably to deter the Russians from potential aggression. The Russians also see plans for a BMD system emerging that they feel could threaten the viability of the Russian nuclear deterrent.
Russia sees the potential for NATO to continue to expand, pushing even further into its historic zone of influence, and Russia would also see the increasing integration of the rest of Europe economically, politically and even militarily. Just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen an agreement by the French and British to share aircraft carriers and create a joint expeditionary force. I’m sure the NATO panel will discuss some of these issues in threat perceptions more later.
And yet, despite all this, I see several reasons for cautious optimism on progress with Russia. Let me name just four reasons. Number one, I see key leaders in the U.S. and Europe beginning to fundamentally rethink the security relationship between Europe, Russia and the U.S. For example, today a prestigious group of leaders from the U.S., Europe and Russia will be releasing a statement that calls on states from North America, across Europe and through Russia to transform this geographic space into a genuinely inclusive and vibrant security community, an inclusive undivided security space free of opposing blocs and grey areas where disputes would be resolved without recourse to military force and the threat of use. This is the work – the statement released later today is a product of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, a commission of prestigious leaders from Europe, America and Russia.
The second reason for optimism – and you may be surprised to hear me say this – is the NATO strategic concept. While I don’t think any of us expect at this point major changes, and some of us will surely be disappointed in the lost opportunity to change significantly European, or rather NATO, nuclear policy in the strategic concept, it does look like a nuclear posture review will be set in motion coming out of that process and this leaves the door open for further change. That’s very important.
The third reason for optimism: there are a growing number of coordinated voices on nuclear elimination in Europe. There has been the formation of two European leadership networks. Top level leaders in both the U.K. and throughout Europe have come together to coordinate their work and to push for change. I think this is an important development.
The fourth and final reason for optimism that I’ll mention is that there are budgetary pressures, very significant budgetary pressures that constrain the space that states can operate in. One example is what we’ve seen coming out of the strategic defense review of the U.K., where they’ve kicked the can down the road on a decision for procurement of new Trident to 2015. I think that’s good news. It buys us time to make further progress on reductions and hopefully have them kick it down the road indefinitely.
So while there’s basis for optimism about the potential in Europe and Russia, I don’t think I can say quite the same for the U.S. But even with political constraints in the United States, I think there are opportunities for leadership, and let me list a few that fall into two categories, the first category being things that don’t require Senate advice and consent. I think this is the world that we’re in for the near future, and the second category is things that we can do that lay the foundation for further change with Russia and Europe.
So in the first category, things that we can do that don’t require Senate advice and consent: we can and should remove forces from their prompt launch status. I personally think this is the single most important thing that the U.S. and Russia could do to show that they are meaningfully reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their security strategies and to lead to their decreasing importance in a way that lays the groundwork for further reductions. Secondly, both presidents – well, the U.S. president in particular – should commit to further changes in declaratory policy. We should move to a sole purpose doctrine.
Third thing we could do, and this has a number of constituent elements, I think both the U.S. and Russian presidents could work together on a transparency initiative. The U.S. and Russia should declare their full weapons inventories. I note President Obama took a step in this direction in disclosing the number of U.S. nuclear warheads just at the beginning of the nonproliferation treaty review in May. But some would argue it wasn’t comprehensive in that it didn’t count every category of weapon, and I think both the U.S. and Russia need to do that.
This transparency requirement should be global. All states that have nuclear weapons should declare the number of weapons that they have in their inventory. Establishing this baseline is going to be essential to next stages of reductions. Another piece of this transparency initiative could include joint or international monitoring of select nuclear sites. Once having declared the number of weapons at a particular site – say, for example, a site in Europe – an international team or perhaps a bilateral U.S. and Russian team could work collectively to monitor that site as a first step to monitoring all nuclear sites on the path to zero. If we did only a portion of these things, the role of nuclear weapons would be significantly reduced and the next round of reductions would be much easier to achieve.
So having said all that and offered this list, I realize I haven’t talked about further reductions, per se. But let me end with maybe a thought on what I would do when I think we’re ready to move to the next stage in further reductions. I’m very enamored of the idea of the U.S. and Russia working together to establish a new limit on the total number of warheads, both strategic and tactical. They have to establish that as a rollup number and then to work on a monitoring system or a verification system that allows us to actually monitor warhead dismantlement.
I think it’s going to be essential in the next round of negotiations to establish the warhead itself as a treaty-limited item, not to continue counting only the delivery vehicles, and we are going to need to declare baseline inventories of weapons in order to begin counting and then dismantling warheads and thus the importance of establishing a limit on total warheads. I think it’s going to be very difficult to differentiate, if not impossible to differentiate, between strategic and tactical nuclear warheads if you’re looking just at the physics package, the warhead itself, which is why I believe they need to be bundled and rolled into one topline number.
So let me conclude by saying notwithstanding the political constraints that President Obama finds himself in, I think there are a lot of things that he can do; I think that this administration should do. I think it’s imperative that the United States continue to lead if we’re going to keep open this window of historic change, and it’s time for some political courage. I hope he finds a way to muster it. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: All right, well, I think that was just what the doctor ordered, Joan. Thank you very much. Ambassador Burt, if I could invite you to come to the podium, offer your comments, thoughts and suggestions at this phase. Thanks for being here.
RICHARD BURT: Well, thanks for having me, and I’m happy to participate in this discussion and dialogue, and I guess I should say at the outset, I don’t have any real differences, fundamental differences with our previous speaker here in terms of the menu she outlined and her kind of – I guess I’m reading as much body language into what she said as what she actually did say about our current political situation – other than to say I think I disagree on one basic point, and she used the phrase “cautious optimism.”
I don’t feel optimistic this morning about either the short-term efforts underway to move the U.S.-Russian arms control process ahead, nor do I feel particularly optimistic this morning about reaching the longer term goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
I think we are rapidly approaching a real crisis in the arms control process that could have some real implications, not only for reaching the longer term goal but actually could reverse, could dramatically reverse some of the good news we’ve had over the last 18 months or so in what the Obama administration calls resetting relationships with Russia. Rather than the reset process itself, where the negotiation and ratification of the New START agreement was the centerpiece of reset, I think it’s very possible that over the next six to 12 months we’re going to be engaged not in the reset but in picking up the pieces.
I think there could be some very unhelpful dynamics injected into the arms control process and the broader political process, and let me talk about where we are now. I was in Moscow just a week ago attending a meeting of American and Russian – these were really more business leaders and political leaders. So they weren’t arms control specialists.
But there was a pretty high-profile Republican figure, former member of Congress, now a very successful lobbyist who stays in close touch with his colleagues, his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, and he basically pronounced the START treaty as dead. He said in his judgment, the treaty would not be ratified in the lame-duck session, that there was just going to be too much other business to do – tax cuts or no tax cuts, continuing resolutions, budgetary resolutions – and that the Republican side was going to say that there wasn’t really sufficient time to give the treaty the kind of debate it deserved, and furthermore, that with the changes that flowed out of Tuesday’s election, that really some new Republican members of the Senate should get a chance to take a look at that treaty.
Now, he went on to argue that if START isn’t ratified during the lame-duck session, that as far as he was concerned, the new Senate would not be capable of mustering the necessary two-thirds votes to ratify the treaty. Now, I haven’t done a vote count and maybe somebody in this room has, but I did hear briefly just this morning as I was getting ready to start the day that I guess the newly elected member of the Senate named after Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, has apparently already publicly announced that he’s opposed to START ratification.
So I think we are going to be living in a period where getting the New START treaty ratified is going to be very dicey, and then we now have to, I think, look at the implications of that. I think there are really four of them that are worth thinking about. One is the implications for an extended period where there are no constraints whatsoever on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces.
As has been pointed out to people, as was pointed out by Joan just a few minutes ago, the existing START treaty that I participated in negotiating has expired. So there are no formal constraints on U.S. and Russian forces. The verification provisions of that treaty, which are very, very rigorous, are not now being carried out. So we’re not able to engage in the on-site inspections. We’re not getting the data exchanges under that treaty that were prescribed. So we’re beginning, as time goes by, to be kind of flying blind. So as time goes by, there will be inevitably people making arguments on both sides that the situation has changed. We’re not certain about this system or that system.
There will be, I think, a gradual kind of unraveling, and we won’t at the same time be able to enjoy some of the benefits, including the reductions, some of the streamlined verification procedures and just the overall sense of political momentum that getting a New START treaty would entail. Discussions like this where people are supposed to talk about the next phase of arms control will gradually peter out as people run around trying to figure out how do you patch up the existing regime as is in a process of kind of fading away. That’s the first implication.
The second is, as far as I’m concerned, forget about reset. There has been a process over the last 18 months or so where Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev have engaged in a kind of unique dialogue on this relationship. I think they’ve met 18 times. I think people I talk to at the White House tell me that, in fact, Medvedev is probably Obama’s number-one discussion partner in terms of their having built a real relationship, having developed real chemistry, having been able to do business together.
Some examples of that not only had to do with New START; they had to do with the Russian decision, which I think was probably – we’ll hear maybe a little about this later – probably very difficult to support the United States at the U.N. Security Council to apply sanctions to Iran, the related decision that the Russians took to not sell S300 air defense missiles to Iran, the work that the United States has done behind the scenes together with Russian trade negotiators to complete a WTO agreement which will not only enhance U.S-Russian trade and investment but will be a step forward in terms of the rule of law and Russia’s integration into the world economy. All of these things could go by the board.
I don’t think, frankly, that the reset policy can survive the nonratification of START. I say that for two reasons. If you can’t get a START treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate, I don’t think you can get congressional approval for a WTO agreement, which would, as some of you probably know, involve lifting Jackson-Vanik – long overdue but there are still people on the Hill who wouldn’t vote to lift Jackson-Vanik.
If you can’t get START ratified, you have to give me a plausible political scenario of how you get permanent normalized trade relations legislation through both the House and the Senate. So those are two big pieces of reset – strategic arms control and WTO and PNTR – and I think both could go by the boards.
Now, I’m not going to spend too long talking about how the Russians will respond to this. But I have to believe at a time in Moscow when there is a debate clearly underway between groups who want to see closer ties with the West, groups who see their economic future lying with integration with the West and another group who believes more in self-sufficiency, is still skeptical and wary about working closely with the West, that by not ratifying START, by not going forward with WTO accession, we are just going to bolster that latter group, the people who don’t want to do business with the West, who want to sort of create a kind of Eurasian autarky, if I can use that phrase, as opposed to a model of Western integration. That would be a very serious blow, in my view, to Western interests and American interests.
Thirdly, what is the impact for nonproliferation? We didn’t talk about it. Joan didn’t say much about nonproliferation. But as far as I’m concerned, this whole process of U.S.-Russian arms control today, not 20, 30 years ago, but today is really focused, has to be built around an understanding that U.S.-Russian arms control is a critical part or a critical component of dissuading other members of the international community to not go nuclear. And if we can’t get a modest arms control agreement ratified, aren’t we giving talking points to Ahmadinejad in Tehran? What impact are we having on Pakistan, on India and on other would-be nuclear powers in the greater Middle East?
So it has to be viewed as a massive setback in what I consider to be the kind of fundamental security problem of our day, which is the spread of nuclear weapons to fragile, weak and sometimes rogue states and potentially on to terrorists.
Finally, I’ll just simply say this. If we can’t ratify this treaty, we are going to send a signal, I believe, of almost total incompetence to the rest of the international community. People on Capitol Hill love to talk about American leadership. Well, I’ve got to tell you, this is not American leadership. I mean, this is what J. William Fulbright in the Vietnam period called America as a helpless giant and that’s what we become if we can’t pull ourselves together to get this treaty ratified.
So how do we do that? Well, I think part of it is to get some of the notable figures who have supported the notion of nuclear elimination. We do get people like George Shultz to come forward publicly, visibly. We get Jim Baker who is on the record in support of this treaty to come forward visibly on this issue. We ask Condi Rice. We get a group of Republicans principally that will come forward and clearly say that the downside, that the dangers of not getting this treaty ratified far outweigh whatever possible risks there are. But this is a moment here where I don’t think we can rest on our laurels. We’ve got to put together a real effort over the next two months or so to get this treaty ratified, either in the lame duck or early on with the new Congress.
Now, there are a bunch of additional issues that I think we need to address. I think that it should be an urgent priority. If we are able to get ratification, assuming we get over that important hump, we do need another round of bilateral arms control negotiations with the Russian Federation. I think we’re making some headway actually on some of the issues that I think have led the Russian side to be a little bit timid on this issue.
I think we are making some headway on the missile-defense issues. I think the noise is coming out of NATO and this administration of working out cooperative approaches to missile defense. I think we can make some progress. I think we do need a conventional arms control window that can deal with Russian concerns about the imbalance in conventional forces, and I think this Obama-Medvedev relationship needs to be focused on a new round of arms control, not now but soon. I think ratification has to be the first priority. But I think we can move to the kind of goal that was mentioned earlier, and that is a comprehensive limit on Russian and American nuclear weapons, including strategic and so-called tactical nuclear weapons and stored weapons. I think such an arrangement down to 1,000, 1,200 or so warheads is a way to go.
If we can achieve that, and you can tell I think that’s a little bit audacious given where we are politically, we need to then conceptually at least take the next step, and that means as we discuss and negotiate a new arms control agreement with the Russian Federation, bringing these comprehensive limits down to lower levels, we need to begin having some very serious discussions with other nuclear powers. We need to talk to the Chinese. We need to talk to the British and French, the Indians, Pakistanis and others because that is what I would outline as the next big goal is to multilateralize this process.
It might not be possible for three or four years or more, but if we’re really serious about not just the reduction of existing nuclear weapons but creating a new international consensus against the acquisition by new states of nuclear weapons, in my view only a truly multilateral nuclear negotiation that brings everybody’s weapons down proportionally is the solution. So Mr. Chairman, I’ll stop here. I wish I could be cautiously optimistic. But I can’t be at this current moment.
MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Ambassador. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: Dr. Miasnikov will be next, and as you’re coming up, let me just add my personal note on the vote count question, and I will respectfully disagree with the individual who you spoke to in Russia about the prospects. I think that I agree with you completely about the consequences of failing to move ahead promptly with advice and consent for New START here in the United States. But the Senate comes back in one week exactly. As has been reported rather widely now, the White House, Republicans on the Hill, Democrats on the Hill and NGOs like the Arms Control Association all believe that if there is a vote, this commonsense, modest treaty would get well over the 67 votes necessary for advice and consent.
The question is getting to a vote and that requires leadership on the part of the White House, the Senate Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership, and this is the critical week that we’re in now to arrange two or three days sometime in this so-called lame-duck session for debate and a vote on this treaty which has been well-discussed. So I am cautiously optimistic that this can be done because I think that the Republican and Democratic leaders do understand the points that you were making, Ambassador Burt. So it’s important that this is done. So with that little footnote, let me turn it over to our friend from Moscow for his perspective on the immediate next steps and perhaps the next steps beyond that on arms control.
EUGENE MIASNIKOV: Thank you, Daryl. It’s an honor and pleasure to be here today, and I’d like to thank the organizers for granting me such an opportunity. It’s difficult to be optimistic after such persuasive presentations, but let me nevertheless try. It’s well-known that when the U.S. and Russian presidents signed the START accord, they came to an agreement that its ratification would be synchronized. Unlike the outcome of the New START ratification process in the United States, the result of similar procedure in Russia is quite predictable. Provided that the new treaty is approved by the Senate, the Russian parliament will almost certainly respond with no delay and approve the treaty.
The New START debates in the United States are followed in Russia very closely. It’s regrettable that the agreement became hostage of internal politics in this country. But I hope, and my colleagues hope, this issue will be resolved in favor of building a better relationship between our countries. The entry of the New START treaty into force is a necessary step in this direction, and I fully agree with the implications which the ambassador just talked about.
Many Russian experts also believe that New START should pave the way to broader dialogue on further nuclear reductions and improving strategic stability. By the way, the Russian expert community welcomes the fact that the phrase “strategic stability” has appeared in the new nuclear posture review. I fail to find this term in the previous NPR of 2001. Moreover, the new NPR sets up a goal to pursue bilateral dialogue with Russia aimed at promoting a more stable, resilient and transparent strategic relationship. Thus, we hope that further dialogue will also be more like between partners and friends rather than between rivals.
At the same time, the resolution of advice and consent to ratification of the START treaty by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee brought some disappointment because it was written in a language that was very mistrustful with respect to Russia. In particular, Russia is suspected of an intention to cheat, which is totally ungrounded. Russia has also neither will nor resources to build up its rail-mobile missile force, which appears to be a concern for some U.S. senators. After all, the new treaty contains paragraph two of Article 5, which allows both parties to raise the question of new kinds of strategic defensive arms for consideration in the Bilateral Consultative Commission. This clause can be easily applied in case Russia ever decides to develop its rail-mobile missiles.
Another worrisome point with respect to the SFRC resolution is that the document limits the U.S. administration’s flexibility to bargain on the issues which will definitely be the most interesting to the Russian side at the next round of talks. There is no secret that Russia is willing to discuss limiting strategic missile defenses and nonnuclear strategic capabilities. At the same time, the SFRC resolution makes clear that the United States administration shouldn’t accept any restrictions on missile defenses and conventional systems having strategic range, and by that, it undermines efforts to reach the next arms control agreement.
In any event, the vote seems now on the U.S. side. Provided that New START enters is in force, what could be the next step? There are indications that the U.S. administration is willing to discuss limits on both operational and nondeployed nuclear warheads so that the nondeployed category would also include those nuclear warheads that are assigned to nonstrategic delivery systems. Both speakers talked about that.
How Russia might respond to such a proposal? As to nonstrategic nuclear weapons, the Russian official attitude is well-known and it hasn’t changed for years. Before beginning the discussion of nonstrategic nuclear weapons, nuclear states need to withdraw their nuclear weapons from their soil. Since NATO is unlikely to decide to move nuclear bombs from Europe back to the States at the forthcoming Lisbon summit, there is little incentive for Russia to change its current attitude.
Some might argue that limiting nondeployed nuclear warheads is beneficial for Russia because it would help to diminish Russian concerns about U.S. breakout potential. What’s interesting about current – actually, almost nonexistent debates in Russia on the START treaty – the concern is about U.S. upload capability are rarely raised compared to, for example, concerns about U.S. missile defenses. Possibly one explanation for that is the assumption that Russia is not ready yet to talk about nonstrategic nuclear weapons.
However, it would be wrong to assume that the Russian side is not interested in further nuclear reductions at all. Russia would in fact prefer to discuss a different agenda. As I mentioned, the issues of missile defense and strategic conventional weapons have to become the subject of the next round of talks as well. Otherwise, it’s hard to expect any breakthrough in limiting nonstrategic nuclear weapons or even introduction of some transparency measures with respect to this category of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, Russia may not agree to discuss the issue of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in isolation from the problem of conventional forces in Europe, either an area for a compromise between two differing approaches. Let me focus on the issues that are the most important for the Russian side. It may seem that at least with respect to the issue of missile defenses, the sides are currently on the way to come to a mutually acceptable solution. The U.S. side recognizes a need to resolve the issue and tries to initiate joint scientific and technical programs on missile-defense cooperation with Russia.
It looks like there is a hope at least in this country that success of such programs will strengthen mutual confidence between the sides so that Russia will stop considering the future U.S. missile-defense system as a threat to itself. By proposing such a dialogue on joint missile-defense cooperation programs, the United States is likely making an attempt to separate the problem of missile defenses from the dialogue on strategic offensive forces and move it into an alternative frame of another dialogue focused on missile-defense cooperation.
Since approaches of the sides towards the problem of missile-defenses differ fundamentally, it’s difficult to predict a success in the outcome of the current dialogue. However, even if you assume that the U.S. approach allows to solve the problem of missile defenses, a similar approach to the problem of strategic conventional arms is unlikely to work at current circumstances as both sides continue to practice the issue of conventional – the issue – the concept of mutually assured destruction. The issue of conventional arms can only be resolved within the frame of a dialogue on strategic offensive arms.
Perhaps the same is true for missile defense but we will see. I’d be happy to elaborate on that in the Q&A session. I believe that an approach similar to the one that was used during negotiations on the New START treaty might become more successful. Russia’s primary interest was reduction of the U.S. strategic forces, and United States wanted transparency of the Russian strategic forces. In spite of t asymmetry of the interests, the sides succeeded to achieve a compromise.
Similarly, a potential compromise in the next round of talks can be sought in a broader field. For example, Russia might gain substantial benefits for itself in solving the problems of missile defenses and strategic conventional arms, provided that it makes some concessions regarding nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Let me stop here. I’d be glad to take your questions. Thank you for your attention. (Applause.)
MR. KIMBALL: All right, I see a lot of glum faces out there. If anyone needs to go outside and get their Prozac pill or an extra cup of coffee, we will be having a break in a few minutes between the two morning sessions. But I would invite you to join the discussion now. We have a couple of microphones, roving microphones. Please raise your hand, identify yourself, make your comment short or your question brief, please and yes, in the back please? Thank you, and please let us know who you want to address the question to.
Q: Hi, I’m Anne Penketh from the British American Security Information Council. I think this question is for the Americans on the panel. I was just in the Halifax International Security Forum talking to senators from both sides of the aisle about ratification of START, and of course the name that comes up all the time is Sen. Kyl. So I’m wondering what your sense of his calculation is. Obviously the Democrats say they would like this to come up in the lame duck but there’s a problem with Sen. Kyl. Do you think he is going to extract the maximum that he can from the administration and then say uncle, or do you think that he’s actually prepared to sacrifice national security on the altar of political partisanship?
MR. KIMBALL: All right, Joan, Rick, you want to try to take a stab at that? I can also offer some thoughts.
MS. ROHLFING: Yes, I’m certainly aware that Sen. Kyl as a key Senate Republican in a leadership position has tremendous leverage on this question, and I think that he will extract as much leverage in terms of commitment to modernization and additional budgetary resources for nuclear modernization, both of warheads and of the platforms. He’ll extract as much as he can. Whether in the end he will not be budged and will put politics above national security remains to be seen. I certainly hope that’s not the case, and I remain cautiously optimistic.
MR. KIMBALL: Ambassador?
MR. BURT: Yeah, I know Kyl. I haven’t talked to him on this subject recently, although I have had several conversations with him over the years on these topics. I guess he probably hasn’t decided yet, and as described to me, so I want to make it clear this isn’t what he’s told me, but people close to him tell me that there really are two issues that are kind of driving him on this.
One is kind of very concrete, and it’s the one that Joan mentioned, and this is an old tactic that’s usually done in these arms control debates. People want money for their favorite programs and projects, and of course they dress it up as saying that this is necessary, this spending is necessary to keep the country strong under this arms control regime. As I understand it, most of the money is for basically the nuclear weapons themselves, the warheads and keeping them secure, keeping them reliable and ready, which was of course originally what people thought they were going to have to pay for in order to get the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ratified.
So in a sense, the administration, if they do this and make this offer to Kyl, then they’re not going to have much to give away in order to get the comprehensive test-ban. But I don’t want to get off on that track. But as I understand it, maybe Daryl can help us here, Kyl has been quoted in the press as saying that he hasn’t really gotten an offer from the administration, and somewhere there’s something wrong here because it’s my understanding that the administration has made a proposal, they do have a plan, they’ve talked about amounts of money that they’re prepared to spend at the labs and the Department of Energy and so on to meet Kyl’s demands. So maybe Daryl has a sense of where that stands.
But there is a deeper and more difficult problem here, and this is the second point, and again, as people describe it to me, Kyl is part of a number of Republican members of the Senate that are more worried about Obama, and this almost kind of reminds you of some of the rhetoric you’ve heard over the last two years, and the argument is this: that yes, the treaty has some problems but they’re not big problems and under normal circumstances we could support it. But you know this guy Obama has talked about eliminating all nuclear weapons, and I don’t know if we could support a treaty when Barack Obama is president because we don’t know where he’s going in the long term on nuclear arms control.
That’s a tough one, it seems to me, because what you’re really saying there is you’re not so much interested in the details of the treaty, what it constrains, it doesn’t constrain. You don’t trust the commander-in-chief, and that’s sort of the augment you’re beginning to hear, and what I’m worried about is that if that argument gets traction, particularly if the treaty isn’t ratified in a lame-duck session, I think some of the new Republicans who are coming into the Senate could buy into that argument that it’s not the treaty, it’s the president, and that I think would be very dangerous and very corrosive.
By the way, it was an argument that I remember when I was a young reporter for The New York Times covering the SALT II debate because Republicans in the 1970s made a similar argument about Jimmy Carter. They said, you know, we just don’t know with this guy and it makes it hard for us to vote for the SALT II Treaty.
MR. KIMBALL: Well, a couple of quick thoughts on this. I mean, on the point that you just raised, Mr. Ambassador, the irony is that this New START treaty is not so much a step towards President Obama’s long-term vision for a world without nuclear weapons. This is extremely modest and this is a treaty that is universally supported by the uniformed military, Republican and Democratic national security leaders. It has such broad appeal. I mean, I’m rather astounded by the amount of broad appeal outside of the Senate that this treaty has.
So if Republican senators were to draw that conclusion that you’re outlining, it really would not comport too much with the reality of the situation. But going back to Sen. Kyl and the question that you asked, Anne, which is a very good one, my understanding is as follows: that Sen. Kyl has I think quite understandably been concerned about the adequacy of the funding for the nuclear weapons complex over the near term and the long term.
At this point, however, it would appear to me that he has gotten yes for an answer to his questions. We’ve got to remember that the Obama administration in February put forward a 10-year, $80 billion plan for upgrading the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure, including a 10 percent increase in the fiscal 2011 budget above the previous Bush administration level to $7 billion.
That is a substantial increase. That has remained in this year’s budget, despite all of the other budget pressures, and I would just note that the continuing resolution that was passed in September before Congress adjourned, or maybe it was October, it puts all of the federal programs back to 2010 levels except for the nuclear security administration weapons activities budget. That CR has to be approved – extended, I should say – before December 3 for the entire government to continue operating.
Sen. Kyl apparently has also been asking for updates on this 10-year plan, the so-called 1251 plan. It seems to me that the administration is prepared to provide whatever updates to the schedule that might be available. He’s also looking for a sneak peek about the fiscal 2012 budget submission, and theoretically, the administration should be able to do that too. Kyl is apparently concerned about potential cost overruns in a couple of the big construction projects that are proposed in this 10-year plan.
So I think it is very possible that all the questions that Sen. Kyl has been asking are going to be answered and can be answered in short order, and the question is, is he going to hold out for even more despite the severe costs of not going forward with this very commonsense treaty that Ambassador Burt and others were outlining. So I think the ingredients are there for a meeting of the minds and a vote and probably that discussion has to take place in the next week to 10 days before the members get back and have their party caucuses on the 15th or 16th of November. Anything else from up here?
MR. BURT: I would just make one observation, just a historical observation. No Democratic administration since – and I see Jan Lodal in the audience and he of course played a major role in the first strategic arms limitation agreement back in the early ‘70s – no Democratic administration has ever been able to achieve the ratification of a strategic arms agreement.
They’ve all happened, whether it was the interim agreement on offensive arms in the ABM treaty in 1972 in the Nixon administration, the INF treaty signed in 1987 by the Reagan administration or the START I agreement during the Bush administration. So I do think there’s a kind of sociological problem with the viewpoint that gee, these Democrats – I mean held by Republicans – these Democrats really – you can’t really trust them to negotiate on this kind of stuff.
MR. KIMBALL: But remember, the Boston Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series in a long time. My New Orleans Saints hadn’t won the Super Bowl.
MR. BURT: Don’t remind me of the Boston Red Sox. (Laughter.)
MR. KIMBALL: Oh, I’m sorry. All right, a question up here and then we’ll go around the back.
MR. FÜCKS: Short remark and a question. First, I don’t know, and I’m not sure if it will impress anybody in Washington, especially on the Republican side, but this question of if the New START treaty will be ratified by the Senate is seen in Europe and other places in the world as a very significant signal if the United States will walk away again from multilateral arrangements and these kind of cooperative international politics. It’s not only about arms control policies.
So I would say the global resonance of that decision will be quite severe, and my question relates to a remark of Ambassador Richard Burt. You have been talking about the multilateralization of disarmament policies and of course I can see the importance and the significance of having the New START treaty ratified or not and the fallout of that decision to other areas of nonproliferation and disarmament policies. But at the same time, we have the feeling this is kind of an anachronistic architecture because it’s still part of this old bipolar global policies and this has gone. This is the past.
So it’s no longer about parity between the United States and Russia and NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Of course, we can see that for Russia beyond its energy resources, nuclear arms are the only remaining attributes of their significance as a global power. But at the same time, this is not the reality of today, this kind of bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia.
So we feel that it would be much more important to go beyond this kind of bipolar architecture and to include the emerging countries, the other, the new nuclear powers and these powers who have nuclear ambitions, obviously nuclear ambitions because they found it still attractive to have the bomb as kind of a political currency, maybe even as a military tool of deterrence. So how to manage this step from these American-Russian bilateral arms control policies to a more multilateral frame.
MR. BURT: That’s a great question. I want to just make two quick points. First on your initial remarks, I agree with you on what the international reaction would be to the failure of the United States to ratify this treaty, and as part of a broad-based effort to react to that potential, I’d like to see the Europeans begin to speak out on this issue, and they should do so in a very focused and public way. I would like to see – for example, we have a NATO summit coming up in Lisbon on I think November 21. I wouldn’t want to see the typical kind of NATO boilerplate communiqué language.
I would like to see the members of NATO say something very striking that really goes directly to the Jon Kyl’s in the U.S. Senate, saying that this treaty is very important for Western security, or this is critical to global security, so that these countries clearly go on the record. I would like to see the E.U. say something about this. The E.U. is developing a security element, a personality if you will, and I would like to see major leaders, including Angela Merkel. I’d like to see David Cameron and his new government, which is a coalition but with a dominant Tory personality, speak out on this issue. I’d like to see Nicolas Sarkozy step up on this issue.
So that would be an enormously helpful statement. I think if they do it in a visible and a focused way it would be noticed. It wouldn’t be ignored. Now, on your second question, I completely agree and the only reason I’m promoting another – myself and Global Zero and I think other people like the Nuclear Threat Initiative and other groups –another round of U.S.-Russia arms control is that politically, further reductions are necessary to draw in these third states.
The crucial country here, in my judgment, is China, and the Chinese still operate under a strategy of minimum deterrence. They are modernizing their forces but they’ve always maintained just a small capability here, and as a result, I think there’s a kind of interesting interaction, particularly with the Russian forces. The Russians increasingly argue quietly that, you know, [as] you get down to too low levels, we get worried about the Chinese. They’re going to be a problem, [a] potential problem for us in the future, and the Chinese of course will argue that they shouldn’t be brought into this process while the Russian forces are so numerous.
So we can do a kind of win-win it seems to me. If we can bring down U.S. and Russian forces down to the neighborhood of 1,000 or so total warheads and at the same time talk quietly to the Chinese, we can really bring them into a negotiation where they realize that their willingness to join in a negotiation is part of the process of the Russian willingness to come down to lower levels, and the Russian willingness to come down to lower levels is based in part on the understanding that the Chinese would then enter the process.
Secondly, bringing the Chinese in then opens the door to India because people think of the Indo-Pakistani relationship as being the driving force. I think the Indian decision was largely driven by China. So that should be our goal. But as a precondition for that goal, I think we do need another round of U.S.-Russian reductions.
MS. ROHLFING: Can I jump into that as well?
MR. KIMBALL: Sure.
MS ROHLFING: I would agree completely with Ambassador Burt that we do need another round of U.S.-Russian negotiations. While you’re right, on the one hand it’s anachronistic to talk about a bipolar world, it’s also true that the enormous legacy stockpiles that both of these nations have will need to be reduced further in order to bring other nations in. But I wanted to make one additional point on the road to multinational negotiations and that is that we need to look at more than just reductions in number of warheads.
As we move down the road to zero, we also need to look at mechanisms and we need to become creative about developing multilateral regimes for controlling the technologies and materials for weapons. It’s the only way you’re going to reach zero in the end and in particular we need to be serious about controlling and regulating the production of nuclear materials, highly enriched uranium and plutonium, that are the fuel in nuclear weapons. So there we already have a platform to work on a fissile material cutoff treaty that would be a multilateral negotiation and these are steps that we need to take in parallel with the reductions that we’re working on.
MR. KIMBALL: All right, I think we’ve got some other questions. Why don’t we go right here with Miles, Peter, and then we’ve got two in the back that I see.
Q: Hi, Miles Pomper from Monterey Institute. A couple of questions, the first one is one subject – not the START agreement but that could also affect U.S.-Russian relations is the nuclear cooperation agreement which, given the length of the lame duck, will probably not end up getting through the waiting period that would be required for approval. What do you see the chances, given that we’ll have quite a different Congress, we’re still dealing with the Iran issue and they’ll probably be more critical of Russia’s approach to Iran in the next session? What do you see the prospect for that getting through in the next session of Congress?
Sort of a different question, which is trying to get a little bit beyond the kind of arms control box and both Joan and Ambassador Burt alluded to this a little bit, but this is in sort of the broader U.S.-Russia relationship, it seems to me that the thing that we’re not talking about that actually brings the U.S. and Russia together and it was just talked on a little in the last question, is China. If you want to make an appeal to Republican members of the Senate of why the United States and Russia need to move forward with these agreements, is because we need – another look at the world is that we both have an interest in dealing with a rising China and finding some way to counter it.
This was the argument that got the India deal through in a certain way for the Republicans and I think this is an argument that would actually work with Republicans dealing with START and other negotiations.
MR. KIMBALL: Before you all respond, why don’t we take one more question, please? Thanks.
Q: Thank you very much. Peter Sawczak from the Australian Embassy. Given that I’m at the end of my posting, I’ll be more incautious than diplomats typically are, but I’m among friends, so please forgive me. Just three very broad points, it was a very interesting discussion and I must say I’m a pessimist by nature mainly because pessimists can always anticipate a pleasant surprise because they expect the worst. Certainly I agree with Dr. Fücks’ comment in relation to the disconnect between where mutual threat perception should be and where we are in terms of an imperative behind START, post-START negotiations, which is strategic parity or strategy stability, the same thing.
Part of the problem of course is where Russia’s foreign policy is. I’m not absolutely persuaded that the Obama and the Medvedev relationship will see this going through. There is a very strong vertical foreign security structure under Mr. Putin of course as well. So that structure has had some problems overcoming a perception of the U.S. as a rival. So this is something we’ll need to work with and it creates a couple of problems.
I mean, we’ve already discussed tactical nuclear weapons and I agree with Ambassador Burt entirely. Russia will be motivated by China’s modernization and looking into developing tactical weapons. They have a very long border and a problematic relationship given that China is now where the Soviet Union was during the Cold War in its relationship to America. The second issue is budgetary problems, which Joan alluded to.
Certainly there will be budgetary pressures in Western countries. But Russia will have the reverse budgetary pressures and potentially, and perhaps Dr. Miasnikov could comment on this, is that given that they are not going to really have a conventional catch-up because it’s going to cost a lot of money, never mind professionalizing the army, the stopgap measure of course is to keep modernizing its nuclear forces and keep some ambiguity there. So those are two real challenges.
A second bullet point I’d make is in relation to Joan’s very interesting comment in relation to getting around Senate advice and consent. I think the suggestion is very sound and one way of overcoming the strategic parity paradigm is in fact using a weapons count – a weapon is a weapon is a weapon, as I’m thinking the commission on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament concluded in terms of midterm objectives.
My concern is that some of the things you suggest in relation to getting around the Senate might antagonize the Senate just when we need to get some milestones down in order to get to multilateral negotiations. We’re not going to get there, as has already been mentioned, until further reductions are decided bilaterally. But also we need to have an FMCT. We need to have the CTBT ratified and entered into force and those seem to me minimal preconditions and we can’t risk jeopardizing those on the Hill here.
One way of perhaps engaging the Senate in an informal way is to engage on threat perceptions and extended deterrence obligations. There’s a lot more debate now on the Hill in relation to extended deterrence, though it’s very unsophisticated, and I think more allies making public comments, as Ambassador Burt suggested, would be very helpful to undercutting arguments that some senators are making in relation to having to heed these obligations. We saw that some senior public U.S. officials did say publicly in relation to the NPR that one of the things that curtailed how far the administration could be were concerns by allies. So we need to bridge this disconnect among allies between political assurances and once operationally acquired for extended deterrence.
Just a third very broad comment, I’m not sure whether nonratification of the New START would effectively set the reset back. There are a lot of other common interests that are coming to the fore in the U.S.-Russia relationship, aside from the WTO but also imperatives in relation to modernization. I think Russia is a very pragmatic partner and potentially is not as interested necessarily in formal movement on arms control as the U.S. is in practical terms.
There has been a tendency perhaps, and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, perhaps for Russia to be quite interested in process rather than results in the sense that they do maintain a residual superpower status by being formally engaged with the U.S. in arms control negotiations.
MR. KIMBALL: All right, we’ve got a lot of things to respond to. If I could just ask the panelists in responding to try to be concise because we still have a couple more questions. We’re coming up on the end of our time for this session. Joan, do you want to start?
MS. ROHLFING: I’ll be very concise, and I want to just tackle one of the issues Peter just raised about getting around advice and consent, but doing it in a way that does not antagonize the Senate because we need their help to ratify other treaties, the CTBT and hopefully at some point in the future the fissile material cutoff treaty. I would just say I think it’s a little bit of a chicken and an egg problem, and the administration, the president in particular, is going to have to make a judgment call about to what extent does he do things that may be antagonistic towards the Senate but are required for progress. I see – well, we don’t have a fissile material cutoff treaty today.
So there’s nothing before the Senate for them to advise and provide consent on. I don’t see – I regret to say, and here I am unfortunately pessimistic – I see no room, no prospect of ratification of the comprehensive test-ban with the new Senate. I just don’t see it. We’re going to have to – that can is going to have to get kicked down the road before the necessary political support can be garnered. The worst possible thing that could happen would be to bring it forward and to have it rejected. So regrettably we’re in the camp of needing to find things that we can do that would demonstrate our continued commitment to reductions and to making progress on nuclear threat reduction, and I think the president should be bold on this.
Miles, with respect to your question about the 123 agreement, the cooperation agreement with Russia, I do not have a good crystal ball on that one. I agree with you. I don’t see how it can get done given the provision to lay and wait before the Congress. So it’s going to get pushed into the next Congress and I think it’s a little too early to tell how prospects are going to shape up given the changing political complexion. Why don’t I leave it at that?
MR. KIMBALL: Okay, Eugene or Ambassador Burt, do you want to – any thoughts on the questions that we just heard?
MR. MIASNIKOV: Well, just a response to your question. First of all, I think it would be a mistake to think about that there is a lack of coordination between the politics of our president and of our prime minister, particularly with regard to arms control. The second is in response to this question regarding possible buildup of nuclear arms because Russia doesn’t have enough resources to improve its conventional forces. Joan just mentioned the article by four prominent American former officials which was published in the Wall Street Journal.
Perhaps some of you know, maybe many of you, that in October a group of Russian prominent officials also published an article which was entitled “Moving From Nuclear Deterrence to Comprehensive Security.” This article was signed by former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, ex-Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, president of Kurchatov Institute Academician Evgeny Velikhov and former chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces Mikhail Moiseyev.
Let me just make some short quotes from their article. They argue that the world without nuclear weapons is not our existing world minus nuclear weapons. We need an international system based on other principles and institutions. A nuclear-free world shall not become a world free of wars using other weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, advanced nuclear weapons and systems based on new physical principles.
It’s not just about major wars but about local conflicts as well. Today, small countries view nuclear weapons as a means to offset the huge advantage of great powers in terms of conventional weapons. It is this idea that provokes nuclear proliferation at the regional level, triggering the threat of nuclear terrorism. To eliminate such threats, it’s necessary to build reliable mechanisms for peaceful settlement of major and local international border conflicts.
I would say that the op-ed written by four prominent Russians is broadly supported by Russian experts and understand the Russian position, I would suggest that you take a look at the op-ed. Thank you.
MR. KIMBALL: Okay. Why don’t we go ahead and take the two other questions, two other hands I saw in the back? Raise your hands again, please. Great.
Q: Mark Gubrud, University of Maryland. Question is for Eugene. It’s a little bit technical, so bear with me. In the current issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, George Lewis of Cornell and Professor Postol of MIT have an article. Their main point I think is that to reiterate that the current ground-based missile defense and the SM3, which the Obama administration has put such great faith in now, are demonstrably ineffective, since they attempt to discriminate between warheads and decoys and achieve an intercept in space and any exoatmospheric system is likely to be similarly ineffective against very simple and known countermeasures which North Korea, Iran or anybody else who can build ICBM can certainly undertake.
Washington, of course, seems to be deaf to this message even though it’s fairly uncontroversial in the technical community. They wrap it around a brick which is their proposal that if the U.S. is really serious about building an effective missile defense, what it would do is put interceptors with high acceleration for boost-phase intercept on stealth drones which would then fly around outside or perhaps even inside North Korean or Iranian airspace and would intercept any of their missiles in launch phase.
One of the things that they argue is that Russia and China would have nothing to fear from this because, well, their missiles are faster and we wouldn’t have enough of them to do anything serious against Russia and China. But I think the Russians and Chinese might feel differently, particularly if they don’t know how many of these the U.S. has produced or what their actual characteristics were.
MR. KIMBALL: Could you come to your question? We’re running out of time.
Q: I wonder what your thoughts are about this and in particular about the entire American obsession with missile defense.
MR. KIMBALL: All right, and let’s take the other question, please? Subrata here in the middle? Thank you.
Q: This is Subrata Ghoshroy from MIT. Just a quick question for Eugene – I guess there is going to be discussion between the NATO and Russia in Lisbon about cooperation in missile defense. What is the Russian view of what the nature of this cooperation could be in terms of the European missile defense? Thanks.
MR. KIMBALL: Let me just remind everybody that we do have a whole session on missile defense this afternoon. We’re going to be getting to many of these exact questions with the panelists. But do you want to address those two questions on missile defense?
MR. MIASNIKOV: Well, let me try. First of all, in response to Mark’s question, I saw their article by Ted Postol and George Lewis. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go into specific yet. But I think they make a very interesting point because the most difficult part in defining missile-defense cooperation with NATO or the United States is to make a threat assessment. If they are serious people and if they really want to make a joint and efficient missile-defense system, we need to define the threat, where it comes from, and it’s a very sensitive issue, especially for the Russian side to define the threat.
In case of the system that is proposed by Postol and Lewis, I think it would be a little bit easier task to do so because the system they are proposing is mobile and can be deployed anywhere as the need be and it has limited capabilities. I think definitely this is an issue to look at. With regard to Subrata’s question, well, I think it’s hard to say what will come out of this meeting in Lisbon. I hope there will be some substantive discussions there and there will be substance of the proposal, and if it creates better understanding between the sides, if it helps to build up cooperation in the field of missile defense, and it can boost some other joint projects, I think it could be useful.
MR. KIMBALL: All right. Let me just ask the panelists if you have any brief closing thoughts that you want to leave us with. We’ve covered a lot of territory here, and we just have a couple more minutes left before we take a break for the next panel. So that’s just an open invitation. Any final thoughts on this set of subjects? No? We’ve left our panelists speechless, and the audience will have to be speechless because I want to keep us on schedule. I want to ask you all to join me in thanking our three panelists for their presentations. (Applause.)
I want to thank the audience for your excellent discussion. We’re going to take just a very quick two or three minute break as we change seats here. Please be back promptly. Thanks.