Pursuing the Prague Agenda: Arms Control Today
Interviews Senior White House Coordinator Gary Samore
For Immediate Release: May 4, 2011
Media Contacts: Tom Z. Collina, Research Director (202-463-8270, x104); Daniel Horner, Editor, Arms Control Today (202-463-8270, x108).
(Washington, D.C.) Marking the second anniversary of President Barack Obama’s historic nuclear policy speech in Prague, Arms Control Today, the journal of the Arms Control Association, conducted an exclusive interview with Gary Samore, White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction terrorism. The interview, which appears in the May issue, is now available to journalists and ACT subscribers.
In the April 7 interview, Samore highlights the Obama administration’s plans on the full range of nuclear arms control and nonproliferation issues, including:
• New talks with Russia: Samore said that to prepare the ground for a follow-on agreement to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the administration will “need to do a strategic review of what our force requirements are and then, based on that, the president will have options available for additional reductions. That review is ongoing.” In the meantime, Samore said “there may be parallel steps that both sides could take or even unilateral steps that the U.S. could take. But those ... decisions haven't been made yet.”
• Missile defense cooperation: Samore said that the United States and Russia are considering sharing early warning data on other nations’ missile launches, as that is an area where “the Russians have something to bring to the table because they have radar capacity that would be useful for us in terms of defense of Europe and the United States.”
• U.S. tactical weapons in Europe: Samore said that the “primary mission or the primary value of tactical nuclear weapons is symbolic” because “whatever military mission they serve could of course also be accomplished through the use of systems that are not ... based in Europe.” He said that one way to start a process to reduce U.S. and Russian tactical weapons on a reciprocal basis “is to have a better understanding of both sides' numbers, doctrine, storage facilities, and so forth, and that's something we would be prepared to exchange with the Russians on a confidential basis.”
• Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT): Samore said that the CTBT “serves U.S. national security interests by giving us one tool to help constrain the nuclear buildup in Asia. I do believe that if the U.S. ratified the CTBT, it's likely that China, India, and Pakistan would all ratify.” The CTBT, he said, “will help to tamp down the one part of the world where there is a nuclear buildup taking place.”
• Iran’s nuclear program: Although there is currently “no active diplomacy,” Samore said the administration and its partners will “continue to try to increase pressure on Iran in order to persuade its government … to come to the bargaining table and be serious about trying to come up with a diplomatic solution.” He added that if Iran were to satisfy the UN Security Council that its nuclear intentions were peaceful, “then we would have no objection to Iran engaging in the full suite of peaceful nuclear activities.”
• South Asian arms race: Samore said “the risk of a conflict escalating to a nuclear war is probably higher in South Asia than in anywhere else in the world.” He said that international approaches, such as the CTBT, are likely to be more effective than a regional approach.
• Nuclear security and terrorism: Samore said that the international community was “on track” to having a successful nuclear security summit in 2012 in Seoul and that “the challenge for us is to find some way to include those countries that are not actually physically present at the summit.”
Even so, he said that in Pakistan, even the best nuclear security measures might break down. “You're dealing with a country that is under tremendous stress internally and externally,” he said, “and that's what makes me worry.”
Journalists who are not ACT subscribers and would like the text of the full interview may contact Tom Z. Collina.
The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.