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TRANSCRIPT: Arms Control Association Annual Meeting - Morning Panel
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DARYL KIMBALL: All right, good morning, my friends. Welcome. If everyone could take a seat, find a seat, there is overflow space in the back. Please turn off you cell phones, put them on vibrate. So good morning, I'm Daryl Kimball, I'm the executive director of the Arms Control Association, and on behalf of the staff, the board of directors, I want to thank you all for being here. I want to welcome our members, our supporters, friends, associates, perhaps some of our enemies - but we all welcome you here this morning.

Let me just explain a little bit about what we're going to be doing through the course of the day - it's described in your program after this morning's panel discussion which I'll turn to in just a moment. We'll have our luncheon address, we'll hear from Gary Samore, special assistant to the president and Senior director for counter-proliferation policy. That will begin around noontime. We are full up for the lunch, so if you have not registered I don't think we've got additional space, but you can check with my assistant and the meeting organizer, Dan Arnaudo.

Following the luncheon, those of you who are Arms Control Association members and those of you who have the stamina for yet another session, you're welcome to join me, our board chairman John Steinbruner, other board members in the Butler Room, which is immediately behind this room in the rear on this floor, for our formal board election for a brief update and discussion on the association's program in finances in 2009 and going into 2010 - which are going to be two exciting years for us, and for all of us.

Now, our morning panel discussion this morning is titled "New Opportunities on Iran, Arms Control and Disarmament in U.S. Nuclear Policy" - a rather broad title, a rather vague title - but it will begin to take shape as you hear from our three excellent speakers. With every new presidential administration there are adjustments in our nation's foreign policies, but the administration of President Barack Obama promises to usher in a new, energetic and overdue period of renewed nonproliferation and disarmament diplomacy that I don't think was seen in decades. You can judge for yourself how many decades, but we haven't seen it in a long time.

In sum, arms control as a vital U.S. and global security tool is back. And as he, the president, outlined in his speech on April 5, in Prague, the president recognizes what many of you in this room, what the Arms Control Association and our community have been arguing for quite some time, which is that American leadership on nonproliferation disarmament and arms control is critical to building the necessary international support to repair and enforce the global nonproliferation system.

He put it very well: He said, and I quote, "As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it." So as I'm sure you'll agree, that speech is a great start, but the hard work of building support for and implementing the plan of action that he outlined is still before us. There is a lot of work that we all need to engage in.

So our expert panel this morning is going to be discussing some of those future decisions and issues and opportunities. And to begin, we're going to hear from Ambassador Thomas Pickering about the diplomacy that's going to be necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As we all know - or many of us might think - the previous administration's efforts, however well-intentioned, vis-à-vis Iran have simply not been working. The sanctions-focused policy did not succeed as Iran has continued to slowly build up its uranium enrichment capacity and string out the IAEA inspections.

In response to the situation, President Obama's secretary of state has promised to engage with Tehran's leaders in a dialogue to try to deal with the problem. Now what does the administration need to do to maximize the chances for success, and what pitfalls should be avoided? Those are some of the questions that Ambassador Pickering is here to share his thoughts about. He's got a long and distinguished bio. As you can see, he's got experience in the region. He is also the principal co-author of the April 2009 white paper by the Iran policy group of the American Foreign Policy Project - which I recommend to you; there are some copies of that outside.

Now, another issue that we're going to be talking about is the long list - the ambitious list - of arms control and disarmament initiatives that the president outlined in Prague, including a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia, ratification of the CTB here in the U.S., a new treaty on ending fissile production - all of which is designed to, in part, strengthen U.S. security and to strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty as a whole, going into the 2010 Review Conference.

Joe Cirincione, who many of you know, who is the president of the Ploughshares Fund and leading expert in the field - he is going to describe and explain what he sees as the growing support for this agenda; what he sees as the new realism of arms control, which was the title of one of your blog posts; and what the Obama administration - and I hope Joe you'll say what our community needs to do to keep moving forward.

And then finally and perhaps most importantly Obama's pledge to put an end to Cold War thinking, and to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and to urge others to do the same - promising words. I think the test of whether he accomplishes that will be known over the next few months as we see the outcome of the nuclear posture review which is due to be completed at years end.

And on that topic - Joan Rohlfing is going to address that topic. Joan is the senior vice president for programs and operations with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and she's got a great deal of experience on the Hill, in the executive branch, and, over the past few years, with Senator Nunn in the NGO community. So we're very glad you could be here with us, especially after yesterday's dramatic events - the meeting at the White House between the four statesmen, including Senator Nunn, with president Obama. So, with that I'm going to turn to Joe - I'm sorry, Ambassador Pickering, to begin. And after each of them speaks we'll take your questions and I'm sure we'll have a vigorous discussion. So, with that, Ambassador Pickering, the podium is yours.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS R. PICKERING: Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity to come by and talk about a subject that's been on my mind for a long time. I'd like to begin with at least four simple confessions. One is, as a product of Washington, I am very much in the thrall of what I used to call the curse of the Congress: Everything has been said, but not everybody has said it yet. (Laughter.) So if you hear things that are familiar, you'll excuse me.

And, secondly, not only is this excellent paper in which Richard Parker played a tremendous role in putting together available, but over the last couple of years, with two other colleagues, Jim Walsh at MIT and Bill Luers in New York, we have written some thoughts about how to deal with Iran in the future on the nuclear question. And I certainly would commend that series to you because the latest paper by Richard I think brings it up to date and I hope answers a number of the continuing questions that have come up.

And then I would say, just finally, that there is an old French proverb, or at least question, that constantly assails us here in Washington: It's working okay in practice, but will it work in theory? (Laughter.) And so I'm going to try to stay away from that and continue in the line of what I think is the process and the product of good ideas. I'm going to talk very briefly about Iran as much as I can, a little bit about some ideas on dealing with the Iran nuclear program, and then talk a little bit without, I hope, tramping too hard on Joe's feet, a little about how Russia, in my view, fits into this and how, indeed, what I think Joe's going to talk about helps us with Russia to fit into this.

To begin, there are lots of experts on Iran, and I have had the opportunity to speak at length with a number of Americans and a number of Iranian experts on Iran, and one of the most startling things I found early on, particularly speaking with Iranians who would often appear in group sessions, that they would all start explaining Iran at that particular point in time, from the same copybook, and as they got into their discussions, each would diverge into different directions.

And so, at the end of the day you were left with a confusing welter of contrary information about Iranian internal politics. My view was that nobody really knows for sure, perhaps even the supreme leader, and that it is therefore a serious mistake to base one's policies highly or totally on an analysis of what you believe may be going on internally in Iran, as beguiling, as interesting, and maybe as logical as that might be.

That's difficult, obviously, for all of us who have been brought up on other systems of analysis and other ways of dealing with logic, but you could understand a little bit about the perspective on Iran if you were to put yourself, say, in a remote island in the Pacific and had to interpret American events from slow newspapers and vicarious television. Some of the same would certainly be the truth.

It is, therefore, I think, very difficult to rely on that, and one of the early advices that we offered freely to the new administration was that there is very little value to be gained in trying to pick the negotiators on the other side as much as you would like to, which is a kind of offshoot, if you could put it that way, from my central thesis about Iranian internal politics, that you really have to play, to use the Rumsfeld quotation in a different context, with the hand with which you're dealt rather than to try to change the way in which the hand slides the cards onto the table. It is quite a different set of activities.

I think the third thing that is important for us in looking at Iran is that, as terrible a tantrum-giver as Ahmadinejad is, he is both important politically in Iran and, in hierarchical and in government terms, a great deal less that his title would signify. And we do know and understand in fact that Iran has a supreme leader but it also has a collectivity or a non-collectivity of advisory functions that reach out in one way or another to the supreme leader, and that it remains difficult.

And then I think the final - if you call these home truths or market truths - is that Iran is a great society with its own language, with its own great history, and to go along with it, 2,500 years of bazaar - not bizarre, bazaar - and bazaar is what helps you to understand how you give and take in the marketplace. And to underestimate Iranian capacities for dealing with negotiations, perhaps in their own terms, is a serious mistake on our part.

So let me just take that mistake and begin the second part of my talk and say that with respect to that, there is, in my view, no real substitute in dealing with Iran in the current period to the notion that we have to become diplomatically engaged and that we have to do that without preconditions, because the preconditions are usually the show-stoppers, and people as experienced in bazaar trading as the Iranians know and understand, in fact, that they will not get very far toward their objectives, and that for many reasons that we could examine in greater difficulty, patience is a virtue which at the moment works on their side and not on ours.

But we have to counter, I think, with I would call offers and opportunities and recognize that it will still take some patience to move the question ahead. And indeed, I think that while in fact the meeting on Monday at the White House between the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States indicated a time schedule which, I am convinced, from Iranian perspectives, is vastly optimistic, nevertheless, we are once again folded into the question of time schedules.

We do know that the history of Israeli analysis of the Iranian problem, not to put too fine a point on it, has been for the last six years, Iran has been only a year away from a nuclear weapon. At some point, obviously, like a stopped clock, that will be right. At the moment we have difficulties, obviously, in contending with that question. And I heard this morning on the radio that a group of experts - I don't know who they were, maybe some in this room - decided that we have a five-year window, which may or may not be optimistic at all. We have to wait and see. The DNI has continued to talk about the potential for something happening in the next five years without, I think, a great deal of certainty as to what the near term or the far term is.

I think, secondly, my colleagues and I, who have written on the subject, have quite strongly recommended that we at least offer to open conversations with Iran without those preconditions, and I believe the administration has made it clear that it is in that position. The other two things that we offered are not, in my view, totally appetizing, either to the arms control or the nonproliferation community, nor to the current leadership in that community in places of significant importance in making policy, including your speaker at lunch. But they involve a two-part related approach to Iran on the question of enrichment, which I still believe is important and I'll do my best to try to explain why.

The first part of that, the unappetizing part, is that we ought to think about laying on the table for the Iranians a multinational proposal for enrichment for their civil nuclear activities, but that we ought to couple that and make it inextricably linked with a proposal which also demands the most thorough and obviously complete inspection system we can devise to deal with Iran. My problem at the moment is not, frankly, that somehow the Iranians are incapable of understanding how to enrich with centrifuges, or even, in the long term, somehow genetically incapable of managing cascades, as much as we would like to think that that is something that works very much in our favor.

So if the problem is not that the Iranians can find a way to enrich and enrich to higher levels, and to do so perhaps with trial and error; our problem is basically, I think, either we find a way all over Iran to be sure, in fact, that they aren't doing this, or we in fact give up and accept the fact that they will move ahead to a weapon, certainly something that I'm not prepared to agree to.

I also think, in a kind of typical American diplomatic way, that we have a great deal more leverage with Iran in getting the inspection system we would like if we do a couple of things, and one of those couple of things is to in fact basically say we hear what you say and we're giving you everything you say you want, but we're creating the best firewall we can against everything we say we don't want.

And this obviously would mean putting forward the kind of proposal I have talked about, but filling in all the blanks and the details, not all of which have been filled in, in order, in fact, to make that both what I would call the most generous offer we could make to Iran in light of Iran's profession of non-interest in nuclear weapons but interest in civil nuclear activities on the one hand, and, secondly, in light of our deep concern that either directly or clandestinely they will move ahead.

We have a serious problem, obviously, of breakout. We have that problem under any circumstances, whether in fact we were to succeed in getting Iran to freeze or stop enrichment permanently, even with an effective inspection program, and there I think we have to come to some conclusion at some point in light of this as to whether breakout would produce a military reaction, increased sanctions, or indeed pure acquiescence on our part. But there is no easy way to avoid that, and the proposal I make has no easy answer to that question, nor does the administration proposal have an easy answer to the question.

The difficulty I have with the administration proposal is that freezing, or indeed a permanent commitment not to enrich, aside from the fact of being historically, in my view, unrealizable, but even if you set that aside, has no real quid pro quo for getting the kind of inspection system that you and I believe, I hope, that we need to have in place to prevent a clandestine reproduction of its enrichment capacity and obviously moving toward a weapon.

In any event, I'll leave that point there and say that the other question that I wish to raise, which will help me to segue a little bit toward the Russian piece, because I think the Russians are important here, has to do with the potential now for taking this construct, which we have postulated will have real relevance to Iran, and see whether in fact this construct couldn't be relevant to civil enrichment everywhere, all around the world. In fact, I think it could be.

I think it could be coupled with, as well, a serious effort to phase out reprocessing for civil purposes, which I think you will all understand the importance of. But in fact, if we were then, the United States, perhaps coupled with our friends in Moscow, to take the lead and to say there are two things that have to attach to enrichment for civil purposes which we have been slothful about and somewhat lackadaisical.

One, international involvement, so in fact we - if I could put it this way - de-nationalize the kind of jihadi notion that the Iranians have that this is the sum and substance of their total national being and represents for them the historical future as great people on this earth. And, secondly that we introduce in that process the transparency that ownership and operation on a multinational basis can bring. I'm not a great one for transferring a lot of extra technology under multinational ownership. We'll have to address that question, obviously, if it has any legs, as a proposal, but I think that part is important.

I also think that the inspection systems should be pretty much the same. They should be devoted to dealing with non-recognized non-nuclear powers - recognized non-nuclear powers - with what I have postulated is important with Iran: preventing clandestine replication and other methods to lead toward a breakout.

And the other side, for the weapons countries, because I would strongly propose that the recognized nuclear weapons countries also adopt this proposal, is that there would be a clear inspection system to prevent diversion into military programs, something that is already covered by the moratorium and I hope will be followed by the kind of rapid action that the president at least talks about on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

So I see this multilateral approach as having three purposes: one, to put on the table something that is generic that Iran in fact can be asked to comply with; secondly, putting on something that begins in a more serious way to close the loophole in the NPT for enrichment and reprocessing; and, thirdly, to be an initial down payment on taking the moratorium and moving it toward an FMCT, which is fully verified. So I think it has some significance as well.

We all know, in fact, that as this process goes ahead, we may well come, given Iranian attitudes toward negotiations, to a need for additional sanctions to encourage them to move toward what I consider to be a fair proposal on the table, were that proposal to eventuate. We also know that we need, at least in the U.N. context for multilateral sanctions, the Russians and the Chinese, and perhaps also to make a series of unilateral sanctions effective. How and in what way we go about this is difficult.

What has been, I think, important, is that over the last three or four months we have begun to see a change in the Russian-U.S. relationship. It is no longer a relationship, as it had been for the last six or eight years, characterized by a series of negative actions one against the other - ankle-kicking going forward to kicking each other at higher levels when the time came. And this has been, I think, the product of a lack of one simple question between the two of us: Where is it that the U.S. and Russia have a common national interest in working together, and how can we find a way to emphasize that as part and parcel of our going ahead?

Many people make fun of our relationship in the Clinton-Yeltsin period, but indeed it had at least some modicum of that kind of an approach, and having watched that first hand, I believe it did change attitudes on both sides and produced what I would call a mutual investment in some success in the areas that are of mutual interest on both sides. And we can take that back to the Soviet period. And, indeed, disarmament is the centerpiece of that, perhaps beginning with nuclear disarmament. Joe will discuss this in detail, but obviously addressing the START treaty and the talks that Rose and others are engaged in now in Moscow as we speak are the first down payments, we hope, in a process to move ahead.

It's my hope, and only my hope, that two things could begin to help enlist the Russians in dealing with Iran in a situation where they did not believe that the frustration of next American steps, however carefully conceived of on the sanctions side, was a key element of a successful Russian foreign policy. One of those is obviously the one that I've just mentioned, that we are putting on the table and we are actively engaging ourselves for the first time in a proposal that may have a chance of actually working.

And the second piece is that overall, the U.S.-Russian relationship, not just in the disarmament area but being carried forward in things like membership in the World Trade Organization, and serious discussions over the questions of how to deal with near abroads and other things can add a new quotient to that relationship, within which the proliferation piece can be discussed and seen on a much clearer basis as a win-win in our mutual interest.

And while it would be impossible, in my view, to secure a Russian prior commitment to support additional sanctions on Iran at any time, one could, I think, begin to lay out in common a plan of approach which after - in fact is expected by some - Iran were to frustrate talks on these issues against the backdrop of the kinds of thoughts and proposals I put on the table, we would get as much of a commitment as one can get by both Russia - and I think if Russia comes along, China will - and China, to take a serious look at how to, if I could put it this way, incentivize that process through sanctions.

In any event, those are my thoughts. I'd be delighted, when the time comes, to talk to you about questions and issues that you have. No proposal is sufficient unto itself unless it is tested in the marketplace, and I'm delighted to do that. And thank you very much.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Tom, for that comprehensive and masterful overview. Joe?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Thank you very much, Daryl, and thank you for your dedication and leadership, and thank you all, members of the Arms Control Association - oh, I forgot my check. I meant to renew my membership. I promise I will do it later today.

MR. KIMBALL: There's a form on every chair.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Oh, thank you very much.

MR. KIMBALL: We can get you one.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Thank you very much. Can I have that glass of water, please? I'm delighted to be here. I'm delighted to see all of you. And I'm particularly honored that the chairman of the Ploughshares Fund board, Roger Hale, has joined us today, along with the inexhaustible executive director, Naila Bolus, so I have to be very careful of what I say here today. (Laughter.)

On April 5th Barack Obama gave the first full foreign policy speech of his presidency. It was devoted to nuclear policy and was one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and ambitious arms control and disarmament agendas ever detailed by a U.S. president. With this address, President Barack Obama began the transformation of U.S. nuclear policy. The question is, can he finish the job? I see four main obstacles.

First, the global economic crisis, which, if it worsens, threatens to swallow any transformational agenda, including on nuclear policy. Second, the nuclear Neanderthals, those with financial or ideological ties to the existing nuclear bureaucracy and posture. No matter how hard they beat the drums, however, this is a tribe in decline, clinging to tired doctrines and obsolete weapons.

Third is a more serious problem: the divisions within the administration itself. The tensions between the transformationalists, who share the president's vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and the incrementalists, who do not believe elimination possible or proliferation reversible will likely increase. Though all are good people, the half steps favored by the incrementalists will not give us full security.

Going slowly when we must go boldly risks the failure of the president's agenda. Still, with skill, presidential leadership, and the active participation of organizations like the Arms Control Association, I believe these divisions can be softened, coalitions forged, and the forces of reaction defeated. The last obstacle is cynicism. This is perhaps the most serious and deserves a bit more attention. Washington is the perfect place to talk about cynicism. You want to talk about sin, go to Vegas - (laughter) - vanity, L.A. - (laughter) - greed, where else, New York - (laughter).

But Washington - Washington is the capital of cynicism. It is here in all types and flavors. We have right cynicism that holds that nuclear disarmament is undesirable. The arrogance, insults and falsehoods of this tendency are on display most every week on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Moderate cynicism holds that nuclear disarmament is unachievable. That is the pose of many editors and journalists. It argues with vapid phrases, little knowledge, and nonsensical assertions that eliminating nuclear weapons is as futile as eliminating gunpowder. It is the pose of those who wish to appear worldly and wise with little actual effort.

We also have the left cynicism of those who believe disarmament is both desirable and achievable but who do not believe this president is up to the task. They disparage the appointments that are not good enough, the reports that do not go far enough, and a president who does not believe deeply enough. Overcoming this pervasive cynicism will be our greatest challenge, for it can sap the will of officials, filling them with a fear of appearing weak or foolish, and demoralize proponents, who will shrink from commitment to an apparently hopeless cause.

Cynicism is sometimes justified - this is Washington - but it should never substitute for research or reason. We cannot let attitude replace analysis. Obama understands this. In his Prague speech he says, "Such fatalism is our deadly adversary." He says, "There are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it's worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve."

And, speaking directly to our experience, he says, "I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. That is why the voices of peace and progress must be raised together." I share this belief, not just ideologically, not just philosophically, but from a calm analysis of the political and historical trends now in motion. I see the arrows moving in our direction.

I see the threats increasing, having developed a fierce momentum over the past eight years, but also a growing consensus that the policies of the past administration have failed and they are joined with a new consensus that sees disarmament and nonproliferation as two sides of the same coin, and an historic shift of the center of America's security elite to a renewed embrace of disarmament and arms control, as demonstrated just yesterday by the White House visit of Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Bill Perry and Sam Nunn. Indeed, arms control has become the new realism. There is a global sense of urgency that is fueling new efforts, new alliances, new progress. I don't have time for a full analysis here today, but let me provide two examples to demonstrate that.

Conservatives, who, just a few years ago, condemned treaties as the illusion of security, are now embracing agreements to reduce nuclear arms. Exhibit A is James Schlesinger, former Republican secretary of defense and energy, who just endorsed a new treaty with Russia. Quote, "The moment appears ripe for a renewal of arms control with Russia, and this bodes well for continued reductions in nuclear arsenals," said the U.S. Strategic Commission he co-chairs.

Schlesinger once led the charge against further reductions and helped frame the Bush administration's alternative approach. He wrote in his 2000 article, "The Demise of Arms Control," quote, "The necessary target for arms control is to constrain those who desire to acquire nuclear weapons. In this view, the threat comes from other states and a large, robust U.S. nuclear arsenal was needed to counter this proliferation."

But two weeks ago, Schlesinger switched. The commission, whose leadership he chairs with former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, reported to Congress that, quote, "The United States must seek additional cooperative measures of a political kind, including, for example, arms control and nonproliferation." Exhibit B is Brent Scowcroft, a perennial realist and a representative of a different wing of the Republican Party. He was never ideologically opposed to negotiated reductions with the Russians. However, in 1999 he opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Two weeks ago Brent Scowcroft also shifted. The Council on Foreign Relations task force he co-chaired with the ubiquitous Bill Perry recommended that the Senate ratify the nuclear test ban he once opposed. He also agreed that the U.S.-Russian relationship is ripe for a new formal arms control agreement, one that would reflect current defense needs and realities and would result in deeper reductions.

Charlie Curtis at the Nuclear Threat Initiative describes the effect of these shifts and other changes as the thawing of frozen seas. Each day we see new passages opening to Europe, Russia and Asia. Some routes, like those to North Korea, remain blocked. I don't want to overstate this. Secretary Schlesinger is still opposed to nuclear disarmament. Scowcroft still favors a large U.S. nuclear arsenal, but both, and many of their colleagues, have shifted significantly. While not endorsing Obama's ultimate goal, they support several of his preliminary steps. That is enough for now.

The key is to forge broad agreement on the immediate policies whose fulfillment can build confidence in the realism of nuclear disarmament and the logic of zero. If Obama holds firmly to his ultimate goal, it appears that prospects are improving for building this bipartisan consensus on the actions that can help realize his vision. I believe there is a reasonably good chance of achieving, in the next 12 months, a number of critical threat reduction agreements whose victories can unlock the broader strategic agenda.

These include a follow-on treaty to START, with a further lowering of the number of strategic nuclear weapons allowed under the SORT treaty; negotiations underway for a new treaty to limit total U.S. and Russian forces to 1,000 or fewer weapons each; U.S. Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; a new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review that will reduce the role of nuclear weapons and security policy and begin the transformation of nuclear forces to the 21st century threats; a successful 2010 NPT review conference that will increase the barriers to proliferation and revitalize the grand bargains.

Negotiations are well underway for a verifiable ban on the production of nuclear weapons material; the containment and possible rollback of the North Korea nuclear program; negotiations for the containment of the Iranian program with some tangible signs of progress; finally, an accelerated program for securing and eliminating, where possible, all loose nuclear materials and weapons propelled by an historic global summit here in Washington.

This will be real progress, making our world more secure, but tough problems will remain, most importantly Pakistan, which will remain the most dangerous country on earth for some time and the greatest threat to the United States, Israel and other nations.

The hard work will not be over. It will never be over. But I and the leaders of the Ploughshares Fund believe that, given adequate resources, unselfish collaboration and the skill and determination we know are present in the arms control and security organizations, we can, working with the administration and Congress, achieve these substantial victories in the next 12 months. We have no choice. We have to. Thank you very much.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Joe. Joan, that's a hard act to follow, but I think you're up to it. Joan Rohlfing.

JOAN ROHLFING: Thank you, Daryl. It's a pleasure to be here today and to see so many familiar and friendly faces. It is a tough act to follow. It's always tough to go third, in part because some of the same lines I was planning to use have now been stolen. (Laughter.) But I too am going to talk about opportunities as well as challenges facing our community today and advancing the ambitious agenda outlined by President Obama, and in particular looking at the Nuclear Posture Review.

We do have a significant opportunity to reshape the very framework of United States nuclear weapons policy, posture and operations through the nuclear posture review in the coming year. As Joe mentioned, this is really kind of a strategic opportunity, not in a generation at least and, I would argue, probably not since the beginning of the nuclear age has there been so much political space to really fundamentally rethink our nuclear policy and posture.

With respect to the Nuclear Posture Review, what does it mean to get it right? I'm sure there are many definitions in this room of what we would call getting it right, and many different visions of what we would like to see coming out of that review. Let's talk about first why it matters. It matters because it will set the stage for the most important operational steps that President Obama must take during his administration to reduce the nuclear threat. It will lay the foundation for all of the key initiatives that he has already outlined as his administration's priorities in this arena; for example, the START follow-on treaty, CTBT, fissile material control - or cut-off treaty, excuse me, and also strengthening the Nonproliferation Treaty.

And ultimately what comes out of this posture review is going to help reshape our global norms, practices and the legal context in which not just the United States but our allies and the rest of the world develop their own thinking and approaches to reducing the nuclear threat. So the stakes are high. The NPR really, really matters. And this president will probably have one shot at getting it right, certainly in the first term.

So what does it look like to get it right? Let me lay out six elements that I think are important to come out of the back end of this review. And this is not meant to be comprehensive, but I think these would be my six priorities.

The first is with respect to declaratory policy. Declaratory policy is essential for communicating the strategic purposes of our nuclear arsenal. There was a nice - I'd like to take a quote, actually, from the Perry-Schlesinger Commission. In the very beginning of their discussion about the nuclear posture they say - and this is fundamental - "The design of the nuclear posture must follow from an understanding of the strategic purposes it is intended to serve." This is pretty basic and fundamentally important.

"The Nuclear Posture Review, in my view, should support a declaratory policy that meets the president's objective of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy." Those were his words from the Prague speech. "Such a policy should make clear that nuclear weapons have no military war-fighting purpose, but for as long as they remain in our arsenal, they will be used only to deter."

Declaratory policy is also important for its implications for targeting policy, and ultimately for the number of weapons that the U.S. judges it needs to fulfill this basic mission. The Perry-Schlesinger Commission goes on to define a very broad definition of what it takes to deter. There's a lot of room for debate here and it's not necessarily a helpful debate, in my judgment.

Among other things, the commission report notes that it's important to be able to provide assurance to our allies, dissuasion of potential competitors, strategic equivalency with Russia, the maintenance of calculated ambiguity with respect to our use policy, and even to provide for damage limitation capacity.

I would submit that such a broad definition of deterrence in fact does not advance the ball at all. It's an old definition of deterrence and it gets us to maintaining the same numbers and the same type of posture that we've lived with for the past many decades. In my view, to be consistent with the president's vision and to really reduce the salience of nuclear weapons, we need a tighter definition of deterrence, one that would say something like this, that nuclear weapons are legitimate for only one purpose: deterring their use.

We also ought to seriously be examining, throughout this posture review, the option of a no-first-use policy. This would obviously require careful allied diplomacy before going there. But I do think it's something that the review ought to look at. So that's the first element: declaratory policy.

The second element that an NPR should include, it ought to look at the operational status of our forces. We ought to look at, how can we work to create a global norm against launch-ready nuclear forces? In order to create such a global norm, we ourselves would first have to adopt such a posture. We ought to seriously examine how we might go about taking forces off of their launch-ready or high-alert status.

The third element: I think the review must obviously look at how many weapons do we need, must examine the numbers. It needs to provide a basis for a deep reduction in numbers. This may require some clarification that strategic parity with Russia, or for that matter any state, is not necessary. The fourth element, the review ought to clarify that there are no new military requirements that might lead to the need for a new nuclear weapon type. There's a linkage here obviously to a need for testing, and in order to support the president's objective of ratifying a comprehensive test ban, I think having an unequivocal statement about our military requirements vis-à-vis new weapon types would be important.

That having been said, I do think it's important that we understand that for as long as we maintain weapons in our arsenal, they will need to be maintained in a safe, secure and reliable manner, and it is important for us - it will be required to make prudent and reasonable investments in the nuclear science, engineering and production base necessary to maintain those weapons.

The next element - and I've lost track of where I am; I think it's five - is to provide a strategic basis for the withdrawal of forward-deployed weapons in Europe. Again, this would also need to be managed very carefully from a diplomatic standpoint and should only happen after a consultative process with our allies, but I think the groundwork for this with respect to U.S. requirements must be laid in the Nuclear Posture Review itself.

And the sixth element has to do with the role of ballistic missile defense. It needs to be examined as a strategic component of our nuclear arsenal and our strategic requirements, and we ought to - I would hope that coming out of this review there would be an affirmation of the importance of cooperating, not just with allies but also with the Russians on ballistic missile defense.

In other words, coming out of this posture review, there needs to be very clear and unambiguous signals that the U.S. is serious about the vision and the steps outlined by President Obama in meeting its NPT Article VI obligation. The good news is that we have an opportunity to do just that. Prague gives us an excellent framework, the Prague speech, and that speech, together with other statements already made by President Obama, provide the necessary frame in which these kinds of elements can be driven out of a review.

But is the speech, in and of itself, a sufficient scoping document? I would submit it is not. It's going to be essential that there be a guiding document coming out of the National Security Council in order to really drive this process from a presidential standpoint. And I'll say just another word on that in a moment.

So what are the challenges to getting there? And there are some very serious challenges. And let me just talk briefly about three. Number one is the bureaucracy, and some of this overlaps with what Joe said. Number two are the people we need. Number three is the process that needs to be established. And I'll say a further word about each of those.

It's clear that the bureaucracy - our governmental bureaucracy, the pieces that connect to this issue, have vested interests in the status quo. Within the last two weeks we saw, I think, an unfortunate statement by the commander of Strategic Command, where he mentioned that the president ought to keep all options, including the nuclear option, on the table in response to a cyber attack.

It's clear that there are people who still think very differently about the possible use of a nuclear weapon and the role and purpose of nuclear weapons. We have the DOE nuclear weapons complex and the laboratories. They clearly have a vested interest in continuing to work on new weapon types and not just to maintain the old weapon types.

This is one of the biggest challenges I think this new administration is going to face is getting it right, making sure we have the right balance, that we're making appropriate investments in that infrastructure, but not keeping our father's Oldsmobile around, if that's even possible these days. (Laughter.)

Let's talk about people. We need staff in key positions and staff that personally support the president's stated agenda. A number of positions, as this community knows, have been slow to fill, and many of the key staff - I mean, I look at the folks in this audience and all of us who have been working on this issue for decades, we've come up through the Cold War paradigm. Shifting to a new way of thinking is not easy. It's going to take vision, it's going to take leadership, and it's going to take people with vision and leadership in the right positions.

And on the third challenge, that of process, this is perhaps the most fundamental point: The process of the Nuclear Posture Review must be driven by the president and his staff. There must be a presidential - or should be a presidential study directive that lays out both the policy parameters and clearly articulates the options that the president would like to have examined.

This should not be left solely to the Department of Defense. There are some very good people at the Department of Defense, but again, because of the bureaucratic inertia, it's not clear that a process that is exclusively DOD driven will end up in the right place, even if they have people from other agencies at the working level plugged into their working groups, which I know they do. But in the end, these are the president's weapons and it's going to take presidential leadership for him to move this forward, and it's going to take a centrally managed process, through the NSC, to make this happen.

Do we have all of these ingredients today? Not clear to me, and it's not clear to me - not for want of trying to figure out the answers to that but, you know, I fear that we don't quite have all of the right elements in place, so we need to, as a community, pay close attention to this and encourage our colleagues and the senior officials in the White House to do what I would call the right thing, to come out of the back end of this where we need to be to support the president's vision. I will conclude with that. Thank you.


MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much to all of our speakers. You have served up a very full plate of ideas and suggestions. It is now your turn, and we will let the people in the overflow room have a chance too to ask your questions. This is our discussion time.

There are two handsome, good analysts here from the Arms Control Association who will bring you a microphone. Please state your name and your question, and who you would like to try to answer it. So why don't we start over there with Howard, I believe.

Q: Howard Morland. If Iran does indeed aspire to a nuclear arsenal, I would assume that the existence of Israel's nuclear arsenal is a factor in their thinking. What impact would it have on the conflict between Iran and the West if Israel did not have nuclear weapons?

AMB. PICKERING: I think that your conclusion is kind of hard to controvert. I also think that Pakistani weapons play a role. So I think that de-nuclearizing Israel, if it was conceivable, as a single, isolated act at the stroke of some kind of pen, would not in the long run make a difference.

Many have analyzed reasons why Iran would like to have a nuclear weapon. Some of them relate to threats in the region. Some of them relate to feelings about their inevitable important role in the Middle East. Some of them relate to the fact that unfortunately now all of the big powers who are now represented in the Security Council have nuclear weapons, and some of the aspirants seem to be there or headed in that direction. So my feeling is, yeah, but not conclusively so.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Can I just add to that briefly?

MR. KIMBALL: Sure. Joe?

MR. CIRINCIONE: There is a new report out from the East-West Institute. You may have seen a mention of it in the Washington Post yesterday. The Ploughshares fund was pleased to support that report. It was a team effort done by U.S. and Russian experts over the course of the last year that concluded that Iran is indeed capable of building a nuclear weapon within approximately one or two years but it would take another five years or so to fashion that weapon into a deliverable warhead, and during that time they'd have to develop a long-range weapon that could actually hit Israel. They're some time away from that.

They also noted an often-overlooked fact that of course such an attack would be suicidal. People tend to forget about the role of deterrence in nuclear weapons. It is alive and well and it affects Israel just as it affected most nuclear powers during the nuclear age. I encourage you to go to the East-West Institute Web site and download that report. It's the best, most thorough independent analysis I've seen. And Ted Postol, one of the authors of the report, along with Richard Garwin and Phil Coyle and others, was going to be at the AAAS tomorrow, giving a talk on the Iranian and North-Korean ballistic missile capabilities, based in part on the work he did on that report.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, why don't we go up here? Peter, if you'd bring it up - I'm sorry, Paul. Yes.

Q: Herbert Levin (sp). I wanted to ask you to go back to the American domestic side. Is there a thought of we need to revive ACDA? We've seen, just since President Obama came in, that if you need money or acquiescence from the House, you're not going to get assistance from the House Republicans, and in the last couple of days we have seen, and not to our surprise, that the senators all have their own interests on everything from gun control to the environment.

Which committees are going to take this - Foreign Relations, Defense, Energy? We've had a lot of these wonderful schemes and we've been convinced of them and then they've died in the Congress, going back to the League of Nations. So tell us where is your support to carry these things forward in the Congress, or are we just talking about what's true and beautiful and good?


MR. KIMBALL: All right, Joe, Joan perhaps?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me start. Did I detect a trace of cynicism - (laughter) - in that remark? Quickly, ACDA never should have been dismantled. This was a serious mistake on the part of the Clinton administration and part of an ill-considered compromise with Jesse Helms.

The purpose, of course, was to not only destroy the mechanism, but when they appointed John Bolton to sow the SALT on the earth so that it would never rise again. Wrong. Arms control is back. The State Department is back. It's got some of the most dynamic and powerful leadership I have ever seen assembled at the State Department.

And might I point out it's an all-female power team - (laughter) - ranging from Secretary Hillary Clinton, to soon-to-be Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher, to our chief negotiator, Rose Gottemoeller, to our NPT representative, Susan Burk, to our director of policy planning, Anne-Marie Slaughter.

This is a powerful, thoughtful, intelligent team. I think they can do the job. In fact, I actually believe the State Department will likely emerge as the lead on this set of issues. I actually don't see a team at the other agencies or departments that can actually withstand the combined talents of what's being put together at the State Department. But they need help, and Rose Gottemoeller has talked publicly about the need to recruit the best and brightest. One of the counters to cynicism is youth, people who haven't quite yet experienced it. We experience that in our lives when we have children. Well, now it's time to put those children to work. (Laughter.)

So there is a rebuilding process underway at the State Department that I think shows great, great promise and support across the agencies, including from the secretary of defense, who argues passionately about the need to increase our donations, our funding for - sorry, Ploughshares Fund - include our funding for diplomacy, and even if that means taking some from the military side of the budget.

Q: What about the Congress?

MR. KIMBALL: Joan, the Congress.

AMB. PICKERING: I can answer that.

MR. KIMBALL: Joan, try the Congress. Let's have Joan.

MS. ROHLFING: Fine, leave the hard question for me. (Laughter.) All joking aside, though, I think, you know, as with the agencies, we've also seen, over the last decade or so, that we've lost a lot of capacity in the Congress in terms of not only the staff expertise on these issues, but also member expertise and attention to these issues.

And so there's got to be a process of rebuilding, but I think the events of the day - I mean, the fact that the administration has made nonproliferation and disarmament a priority will, of necessity, get members to refocus on this issue, and we already see some signs that the Congress itself is beginning to figure out that they need to create some mechanisms for focusing on these issues.

They've reenergized something called the nuclear - excuse me, the National Security Working Group on the Senate side. And so we - you know, we hope that we'll see some renewed energy, renewed attention, and some new policies coming a result of that. I did just also want to echo the importance of building capacity, not just in the agencies but across the board. We need to work as a community to bring younger people into this community. As I look out at the sea of faces in this room, I see only a few people who are below the age of 30, so this is something we need to tackle on a class action basis.

MR. : Does that include you too, Joan?


MS. ROHLFING: Definitely not.



AMB. PICKERING: - could I mention just a few pieces that I think Herb's question raises? I'm not sure that executive branch organizational tinkering makes a huge difference on the Hill. What makes a difference on the Hill is what Joe and Joan have described, a commitment at very senior levels in the executive branch to get the job done.

I have had a feeling for a long period of time, since I started in ACDA at the day of its birth, that there is an important role to be filled by an organization like ACDA, which is a unique way to catalyze the people in this room around a particular objective to fund, where we need it, R&D and other kinds of activities, and obviously to help to bring together the interagency.

I'm not sure that it necessarily has to be stand-alone if you have got a Secretary of State and a State Department that's willing - as it appears to me now - to get behind this. But I've always favored where you had programmatic activities, particularly in AID and in public diplomacy, to use a Defense Department model, which is to create within the State Department a kind of stand-alone agency that can bring together more of the resources and much of the synergy and a lot of the program direction and program management experience, which doesn't exist normally in the State Department, to that end.

And that couples two things: one, a committed secretary and a committed department behind the budgetary aspects, and the synergies and indeed the R&D capacity, if it's necessary, and other kinds of programmatic activities, if they are necessary, to come out of the process.

I have a question mark over whether that kind of a future approach to arms control in the State Department is necessary, only because I'm not sure that all those needs have not yet been successfully met. I do think, however, that Congresswoman Tauscher will have that capacity, either virtually or if she wishes to proceed in a more formal way, perhaps organizationally, to make that happen if that seemed to be necessary.

I think the cluster of bureaus that in fact resulted from ACDA in a marriage with OPM is pretty good, but I don't know yet whether in fact the programmatic requirements and a significant budget for R&D are requirements that in the future need to be provided by somebody. In my view, they ought to be provided by an agency in State if that's the case.

MR. KIMBALL: And just quickly, I mean, a final thought on Congress and what this community needs to do. I mean, I think Joan is right that, you know, we have - there are gaps that have developed over time in terms of the staff expertise, the member expertise on these issues over time, the same kinds of problems that we have in the executive branch that need to be filled with good people.

So, I mean, when I said in my introduction there's a lot of hard work ahead of us, I mean, part of that hard work is explaining to folks - I mean, it's kind of remarkable - what was the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty? It is explaining to reporters, and reporters are smart people but they've got a lot of things on their minds, okay? What are these issues about, et cetera, et cetera. So, I mean, this is a challenge not just for the executive branch and the leadership, but it's a challenge for the nongovernmental and academic communities, who need to fill in this gap in public and expert knowledge that has crept in.

We have several more hands up. We're going to go over to this side of the room here, in the middle - Cole (sp) - and then we're going to take one from the back in the next round, so be prepared.

Q: Good morning. Paul Hughes, U.S. Institute of Peace. A lot of the discussions that we have heard today revolve around the United States dealing with state issues relative to Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, notably lacking China. But my question is really about nuclear terrorism, the non-state perspective on this, and your thoughts on how the United States government should prepare or deal with this particular issue.

One of the buzzwords we hear today is whole-of-government efforts, and I'd be interested in your perspectives on what obstacles and opportunities might present themselves with that. And I would also like to see where you would think the National Security Labs would fit into that whole of government solution.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me just tee this up for Joan - (laughter) - and just on the threat. I have said for years that nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat to U.S. national security, that the Bush analysis that the main threat came from a few hostile states whose - and the answer to this was to overthrow the regimes in those states, is fundamentally wrong and has led to the acceleration of the threats, not their diminution.

Two, I think Obama gets this. They say it repeatedly, that the gravest threat to U.S. national security comes from nuclear terrorism. And it is during the campaign and now in his program it's one of his most urgent actions, and you say it on day four of the administration when he created the office for the coordination and the prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism, and then later appointed Gary Samore to head that office and is staffing it up with 10 people.

So this is not like the old days where there was just a senior director for nuclear policy. No, now we have an office in the White House to coordinate this. That's what experts have long recommended and that's some of the institutional change that can help bring about the whole government. Two, I think it's urgent that we communicate this to our allies. Let me give you one specific and pointed example. I think Israel is dead wrong that Iran is its major nuclear threat. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not likely to have a nuclear weapon for some years, and if it does, will be deterred from using that weapon by the threat of instant and overwhelming devastation.

This is not true for Osama bin Laden, a sworn enemy of Israel who is in Pakistan, kilometers away from nuclear weapons. That is the most urgent threat facing Israel, and the sooner that state realizes it, the better our alliance will be and the more whole governments approach will be able to take. I believe it's imperative for analysts in America, at the government level and in the private sphere to be articulating this analysis, to be developing this, and to counter the kind of easy, lazy analysis that seems to dominate the press that every time a state does something, that that is our most urgent threat. We have to get away from this idea that North Korea and Iran, however serious, represent existential threats to us. They do not.

MS. ROHLFING: Thank you, Joe. (Laughter.)

Let me take another cut on the question, some of which will amplify what Joe just said, certainly consistent with it but maybe a little bit different perspective. And I think it's a really excellent question, Paul, because so much of what we think about and talk about with respect to the near-term arms control agenda, does connect to states. But in my view, the whole reason we have laid out the agenda we have is precisely to try and get our arms around the much harder and more urgent problem of stemming the proliferation into the hands of terrorist organizations.

And, you know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a lot about getting control of materials. It's materials, materials, materials - locking those materials down, creating a new global architecture for the commerce in those materials, namely the fuel cycle, both the front and the back end of the fuel cycle. And just those two things alone - you know fissile material cut-off treaty, enhanced inspections and safeguards - a lot of things connect to how do we secure materials and create a new global architecture for how they're managed?

This is going to be, you know, a long process of creating norms, practices, legal constraints for doing that, and I think, you know, the president's got it right to be focusing on securing materials as part of his near-term agenda. He's planning to conduct a nuclear security summit, likely early next year, we hear, to engage other states in the world that have nuclear materials that - fissile materials that could be used to make a nuclear weapon. So, you know, this does require broad input from many elements of the government. There is a big diplomatic agenda. There is a big technical agenda.

Here is where it connects to the labs, to answer your other question. In fact, I think that job is so big and the nonproliferation components that connect to the lockdown agenda create an opportunity for our labs to build a new research agenda, an R&D agenda in service of the nonproliferation mission, a new organizing principle for our laboratories that can go a long way in substituting for the work they're no longer likely to be doing on building new weapon types, and I think our government ought to invest some serious effort in trying to refocus the research agenda that way.


MS. ROHLFING: Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: Ambassador Pickering.

AMB. PICKERING: As a former - let me just try to moderate a little between Joe's, I think, well-taken but extreme statements - (laughter) - and Joan's highly rational focus on material because I think the two come together.

I tend to agree with Joe on the over-exaggeration of the Iranian problem. I cannot agree, however, that there is only one source of material for terrorist groups and that's homegrown. We have, in a sense, the possibility - I think remote but not totally impossible - of stealing a whole weapon, and we have the possibility, as Joan has quite rightly brought out, of having loose material.

And we need to guard against that, and I think that the Israelis do see the potential for Iran, and maybe even North Korea, although I haven't said much about North Korea because it's a long way away, and Russia and others being sources of loose material. Whether in fact we have enough capacity totally and radically and rapidly to identify the source of material for any explosion this country remains a difficult problem to answer.

I, finally, agree totally with Joan that I think the labs could play a huge role in all areas of this - everything from being more helpful at identifying material to finding new and very careful ways to deal with material and finding new and better ways to identify when people are moving material up the range of enrichment, or whatever, as the process goes ahead.

And I would strongly urge that the administration, if it hasn't done already, seek to put a permanent interagency operation in shape, led by somebody like Gary, who is very significant, who can't do it in his 10-man office alone, who has to have the full resources of the major Cabinet departments and who have to operate, in my view, with a heavy dose of significant expertise as opposed to merely the turf representatives of the agencies, a kind of mixture of this particular approach.

And my feeling is that that kind of effort in permanent existence, with one other ingredient - and many of these were identified by the Project on National Security Reform, where I have spent a little bit of time - the funding. In effect, if this funding is all going to be drawn out of the existing budgets, we know that that's a two-year process before any dollar appears.

If, in fact, we're either prepared to order new funding or, in effect, to include it in supplementals, if we have anymore of those, we will be a lot better off. But there has to be some kind of funding source. My view is this is so important that we ought to capture funds in some of the large departments and then replenish those as we go ahead on a regular rolling basis to make this kind of thing happen because we know the labs don't do research for free.

MR. KIMBALL: And if you haven't already read it, there is a great article in the latest Arms Control Today by Ken Luango on the next generation of threat reduction that addresses many of these questions, and he tries to put forward some forward-looking ideas. We're going to - Cole is going to ask those of you in the back to raise your hand. He is going to select someone in the overflow area.

You're going to stand up with a microphone and come into this little gap and ask your question, please, so that we can include those in the back. Are we almost there? Okay, I meant the back, back, Cole, but, okay, let's go from the back, back, all right? Peter, with alacrity, please. No one wants to ask you a question. Oh, my god. Okay, then we'll do it over here. Rebecca Johnson. Cole, could you bring the microphone over to this -

Q: Thank you very much, and thank you to the panel. This is very, very interesting. My question really is, President Obama's election and the Prague speech were very, very widely welcomed around the world, so I'd like your views on what other countries could do that would support these initiatives for disarmament, for progressive disarmament, and also perhaps what should be avoided.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, anyone want to take that one?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me start. The United Kingdom is already doing it. Gordon Brown has said that he wants the United Kingdom to be in the forefront of a global campaign for nuclear disarmament and he wants the U.K. to be a disarmament laboratory, and how exactly we do this. I think those kind of statements and efforts have to be encouraged and given the funding and attention that can make them serious.

The government of Norway is providing funding for a number of conferences, initiatives, studies, and using their convening power to bring together experts from around the world. The government of Sweden is doing something on a smaller scale but somewhat similar. Italy is the chairperson of the G-8 this year and make nonproliferation one of its priority agenda items and is moving out smartly on this, including sponsoring a conference just a couple of months ago with the "four horsemen" in -

MS. ROHLFING: Just a couple of weeks ago.

MR. CIRINCIONE: A couple of weeks ago in Rome. I wasn't invited, Joan. (Laughter.) I'd like to correct that.

MR. KIMBALL: There will be another one.

MR. CIRINCIONE: There will be another one. So that's some examples of the sort of convening and diplomatic support for this process. There must be others.

MR. KIMBALL: Ambassador Pickering. Yes?

AMB. PICKERING: Yeah, I would say that what's to be avoided is the famous Nancy Reagan statement about drugs, "Just say no." What's to be encouraged, obviously, is to find positive ways to say yes, but that's a philosophical attitude and we all know that probably there is more interest in this and more willingness to make positive contributions to it, with exception of two or three places where I think things are still scratchy.

One of the issues that's scratchy is of course what threshold do we reach to bring in others on nuclear disarmament? And that will be debated and discussed, and we need to prepare and condition others to do it. And while the U.K. is volunteering to be a laboratory and has basically said it wants to go to zero, it hasn't yet named the level or the date at which it will become involved with the reduction of its weapons, and for some good reason. They want to see where the 90-percenters go and how and what way they determine it.

I think that there are other pieces of arms control and disarmament that we tend, in our mesmerization with weapons of mass destruction, to put aside, but will become increasingly important as we go to lower levels, and indeed may provide some deterrent mechanisms as well as be the source of some very difficult problems. And of course we know that every war since 1945 has happily not involved crossing the nuclear threshold. So we have serious problems on the conventional side. The Russians, in the midst of what I would call the high dudgeon set of arrangements and relationships have gotten out of CFE, at least in part. We need to think about that.

I think we need to think seriously, with our European friends, which we seem incapable of doing right now, of taking President Medvedev up on his notion that it would be a good idea to sit down and talk about European security. It doesn't mean you have to scrap NATO and destroy the EU, or do anything else. And, in fact, President Medvedev, as far as I know, has invited the U.S. to join, so it isn't Europe and Russia against the U.S. anymore.

And this is, I think, an interesting and important challenge and could lead to some very useful and constructive thinking about a number of these problems as we go ahead. We need to think very much about failed states, which are not purely a question of arms, although arms happen to be a major lubricant that leads to significant difficulty. Very few failed states have become problems without arms.

And so it is a very important thing that we begin to look at. Not that I think we are yet in a position to control the question, but I'll give you one more example. Mexico is driven nuts by the fact that 95 percent of the weapons now being involved in the war against the government by the drug and criminal cartels in Mexico come regularly from the United States. And it is part of the two-way traffic we want to stop.

And in many ways, President Obama has moved out on this. This is not popular, as you know, by the NRA community, but in some sense it is yet another indication of the fact that at the low end we have to think as much as we have to think at the high end.


MR. KIMBALL: Go ahead, Joan.

MS. ROHLFING: Can I add to that? And this builds, I guess, on Ambassador Pickering's point. Other countries are going to need to recognize that to advance this agenda seriously is going to require more than just the U.S. and Russia building their arsenals down. I think there is some sense that other nations can hang back and wait until significant reductions have been achieved by the U.S. and Russia before they need to take seriously their own Article VI obligations.

And I think one of the things that we need to do as a community over the next year and beyond is to clarify that it's not just the nuclear weapons states that have an obligation to work to achieve the Article VI goals. There needs to be constructive engagement of all nations of the world, and there needs to be - we've been talking within our nuclear security project, coming out of the two Wall Street Journal op-eds, about the importance of creating a joint enterprise, an enterprise that includes both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.

You know, a number of things simply can't be done only by the nuclear weapons states. We can engineer a new architecture for the fuel cycle just among the nuclear weapons states. We can only accomplish nuclear material security by working with all states that harbor nuclear materials today, some 40-plus nations.

We could use the help of other states in working with - working to bring into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty the other outlier states who are necessary for CTBT to enter into force, and it ought not just to be U.S. diplomacy working to convince India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the treaty - among others, by the way.

And, finally, this shouldn't also be an effort only funded by, or predominantly funded by, the United States and a couple of other nations. There must be some financial contribution in order to fund the costs associated with this ambitious agenda, and I think we may have an opportunity, looking forward all the way to next year's G-8, when the Canadians again assume the presidency. I think there is an expectation in that there is an opportunity to invest in a renewed global partnership and to up the financial contribution of the G-8 for that purpose. So there's actually quite a healthy agenda for others to assume.

MR. KIMBALL: Great. We just have time for a couple more questions. We'll have Ambassador Wolf here, in the handsome gold tie, and ask - and then if the respondents could be as brief as they can, that would be helpful.

Q: Norman Wolf. I will try to be very brief. I don't want to get into a discussion of whether there should be an act or not. I would like to make a quick observation. My own sense is that the State Department remains a very unfavorable environment for specialists - great for generalists, not great for specialists. The second observation I would make is I think the experience of the last eight years demonstrates that if you want to have a robust bureaucracy in place, you need legislation. It cannot be simply left to administrative determinations.

My question, however, is for Joan, and it's a very - perhaps one that answers itself. I don't know. But you mentioned the need to examine carefully, in the Nuclear Posture Review, the role of missile defense and, given the power of the military industrial complex, the fact that the missile defense people seem to have a constituent in every congressional district, in every state in the United States. How do you see, or do you see a way forward to address missile defense on the merits as opposed to as part of the military industrial equation?

MS. ROHLFING: Sure. The answer is yes. And I think it comes back to the point I made in my conclusion about the importance of presidential leadership. I think for me the question is not whether or not we should have ballistic missile defense; it's what kind of ballistic missile defense can we have?

We need a system that is not threatening to other countries, that is perceived to contribute to not just our security but the security of other nations around the world that might be threatened by a ballistic missile strike of some sort. And this is why it needs to be a cooperative system. So I think, though, the fundamental point is really the president's vision and direction on guiding his bureaucracy toward the right answer is going to be essential, on that and every other issue covered by the review.

MR. KIMBALL: Well, and he has already said that he is not going to pursue a strategic ballistic missile system that's not been proven, that's not cost-effective. And, quite clearly, to anybody who has been reading Arms Control Today or even the Washington Post, the European missile defense proposal is not proven. It's not cost-effective. And as several of you have pointed out, the Iranian ballistic missile threat has not yet emerged and will not likely emerge for quite some time. So, I mean, in the short term, that particular aspect I think - I mean, the issue has been addressed. There still will be that constituency, but as Joan says, we need to think about what kind and how does it work in practice? All right, over here, Elaine Grossman. And Peter has your microphone.

Q: Elaine Grossman with Global Security Newswire. We haven't heard a lot from the Obama administration yet about de-alerting the U.S. nuclear arsenal. And I'm wondering if the panel might address what the significance of that quietude might be at this point. Is there fighting behind the scenes? We did hear a little bit from General Chilton that he's opposed to de-alerting since Obama has come on as president. So if you could address that, it would be great.


MS. ROHLFING: Let me take a stab at that first. I think it's certainly emblematic of the controversy surrounding the notion of de-alerting, even the terminology itself is quite controversial. You have a number of people in the military and the administration, this and previous ones, who say, you know, we're not on hair-trigger alert. This is a definitional question. I think we're certain - certainly our forces are postured to be launch-ready. Whether you consider that a hair trigger or not is just a definitional issue.

You know, I think the other reason is that, frankly, to reach some conclusions on how one might go about taking forces off of their launch-ready status in order to increase warning time is something that needs to be carefully examined through the course of the Nuclear Posture Review. And so, you know, my view is it wouldn't have been prudent for the president to prejudge where that examination comes out, but he ought to make sure that it's included in the review. But I recognize it's controversial, even though I don't honestly understand why.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, with that, I'm sorry; I think we're going to have to cut short this discussion. I know there is much, much more we could explore, but there is lunch awaiting many of you upstairs. We'll be joined in approximately 25, 30 minutes by Gary Samore. I want to ask you to join me in thanking our panelists for their great presentations. (Applause.) Thank you all, and we'll see you in a few minutes.



Transcript by
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TRANSCRIPT: Arms Control Association Annual Meeting - Morning Panel with Cirincione, Rohlfing and Pickering

Posted: May 20, 2009