"Overcoming the Impasse on U.S. and Russian Arms Control"
Dr. Olga Oliker, Senior Adviser and Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Anita Friedt, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Department of State
Richard Fieldhouse, former Professional Staff Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
Moderated by Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, Arms Control Association
REIF: Good afternoon to everyone and welcome to our panel this afternoon that will examine and assess the impasse on U.S. and Russian arms control and what might be done to overcome it.
My name is Kingston Reif and I'm the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy here at the Arms Control Association. And as everyone in the room knows, key pillars of the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control architecture like the bilateral relationship more broadly are under siege. Arms control may not be dead, but it is certainly wounded.
For example, since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of testing and deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Moscow denies that it is violating the treaty and instead has accused Washington of breaching the accord. And while both sides appear to be faithfully implementing the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, it really will expire in 2021 unless extended.
The Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review, published in February, gives relatively short shrift to arms control. It did not commit to an extension of New START, though it is our understanding that the administration will soon begin an interagency review of the pros and cons of extending the agreement.
The situation took another concerning turn last month after Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about his country's development of several new-generation nuclear weapon systems, including hypersonic weapons, and Moscow announced that it was postponing scheduled talks with Washington scheduled to take place in March on strategic stability.
Putin described the rationale for the weapons largely in terms of the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and concern about U.S. missile defense systems. The impending release of the Trump administration’s forthcoming Missile Defense Review, which appears poised to expand the U.S. missile defense footprint, will no doubt add to Russia's concerns.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House following a March 28th phone call with Putin that "We'll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race which is getting out of control." However, serious planning for such a meeting does not appear to be underway.
The tensions that I've just described prompted a diverse group of experts and former government officials to urge Washington and Moscow, in the tradition of past successful cooperation under difficult circumstances to reduce nuclear dangers, to discuss and pursue effective steps to reduce nuclear tensions, and to avoid a renewed nuclear arms race.
The statement was organized by members of a 21-member German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission, which was established in 2013 to develop proposals to overcome obstacles to sensible arms control agreements and further reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles and you can find a copy of that statement outside the room here.
Here at the Arms Control Association, we've been grappling with these difficult problems and attempting to identify potential solutions primarily through our engagement with the Deep Cuts Commission which we have helped to direct.
And today, we are happy to continue this engagement and fortunate to be joined by three outstanding panelists. To my immediate right, we have Anita Friedt who has been acting assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of Arms Control Verification and Compliance since January of this year.
To Anita's right, we have Dr. Olga Oliker who is a senior adviser and director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington.
And at the very far right, we have Richard Fieldhouse who is the President of Insight Strategies, an independent consulting company and a former long-time staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
You can read their full bios in the program if you'd like more information and our speakers will each provide about eight minutes of opening remarks which should leave plenty of time for questions from the audience.
And with that, Anita?
FRIEDT: Thank you. Thank you very much, Kingston. Thank you for the introduction and thank you very much to the Arms Control Association for hosting this discussion; it really is very timely as you pointed out in your intro remarks and obviously very important.
Overcoming the impasse between the U.S. and Russia in arms control is obviously critical to maintaining strategic stability and in building trust in the relationship down the road, something which we definitely need to get back to, I will say.
So, I will focus my remarks on three areas here. One of my favorites, of course, is the New START Treaty, where we currently stand.
Next, I want to talk about our integrated strategy, the administration’s integrated strategy on the compliance, returning Russia to compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF Treaty.
And then finally, I want to address working strategic stability talks, where we look forward to discussing our arms control relationship with Russia, and hopefully in the very near future. So, those are my kickoff remarks and then obviously I look forward to everybody's questions in the discussion here.
But, OK, before going on here, I want to make a couple of notes, namely first, the State Department recently just last week submitted the 2018 Annual Compliance report to Congress. As some of you insiders and well, obviously experts know, this is an annual "fun" report; it's a lot of "fun" from my bureau–fun in quotes–since we lead this effort.
In this report, the department highlights several unclassified findings. The report as many of you might know has a classified and an unclassified section. Obviously, we will only talk about the unclassified section here.
But the unclassified findings include compliance concerns and violations regarding Russia which are, I mean, really one of the key issues that complicate or have led to the impasse between the U.S. and Russia in arms control. The United States takes compliance with its obligations very seriously.
As I mentioned, my bureau, the Bureau of Arms Control Verification and Compliance, places a special priority on the report but also priority on promoting and coordinating effective verification and compliance analysis of all arms control and nonproliferation agreements to which the U.S. is a party.
This is an enormous report and an enormous amount of interagency work goes into putting out this report every year. We usually begin in the summer and the due date is April 15th. Yes. Yes, I don't know if somebody obviously enjoyed setting that as the date. We did not, by the way, get a reprieve as the IRS team and we submitted it to the Hill on Friday, so ahead of time.
Secondly, there are a lot on the compliance report, or not just the compliance report, but there are a large number of fact sheets and press releases on all treaties that are available on our bureau's, the State Department webpage, and we certainly encourage colleagues to make use of that.
Given compliance concerns and violations detailed in the compliance report, we have grave concerns that Russia is taking apart, brick by brick, agreements which preserve the post-Cold War period of security and stability for the entire world. And that really is a problem and I think we all agree that is problem.
The erosion of trust caused by Russian non-compliance with existing international agreements and repeated refusal to engage constructively to remedy these actions has costs associated with it. And these were very much factors as the administration concluded the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Nuclear Posture Review.
Now, obviously, I've seen my Russian colleague here; I don't see him right now, but I saw him on the way in, obviously, the Russian side has their own version there and believes it is in compliance and there are reasons behind this, but it is a problem and we need to fix it. Cooperative engagement with Russia even on arms control issues which have typically been insulated from the ups and downs in the bilateral relationship becomes more and more difficult in this current environment.
More recently, we had to use--not more recently but just obviously yesterday, we just had talks at the OPCW about use of Russian military grade nerve agents in the United Kingdom that resulted in serious injury to three people. The Salisbury, the UK incident, is further evidence that Russia has not fully declared its chemical weapons production, its chemical weapons development, or its chemical weapons stockpiles.
At the same time, as former Secretary Tillerson said in Paris this past January, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons. By shielding the Assad regime and failing to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russia has breached its commitment to the United States as a framework guarantor.
Moscow has betrayed its obligations to resolving the overall crisis, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2218, its commitment to the chemical weapons convention and guaranteeing the end of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons use.
Nevertheless, we continue to view our discussions with Russia on these issues as important, very important, not just to prevent a crisis from occurring or escalating, but also to maintain a level of transparency and predictability to prevent unwanted and unnecessary arms racing. Dialogue continues, which is a good thing.
We continue to raise and discuss issues related to New START, and this is obviously separate, but New START and INF regularly both at the technical level and at higher political levels. And let me just stop here and comment, we often see we have to return to dialogue or the U.S. and Russia are not talking at all.
There is the perception sometimes that there is no discussion; there are only accusations in the press and elsewhere, but dialogue is continuing. It's obviously difficult and very much complicated by the issues I just raised, but we do have dialogue and it is continuing.
The New START Treaty. Regarding New START, it continues to provide for a degree of transparency and parity for deployed strategic forces and has facilitated predictable, pragmatic interaction since its entry into force in 2011. And I can't, I mean, you can continue to say the New START Treaty implementation is going well and we want to keep it that way. It is extremely important and that is very much a positive.
I would stress to this group the enormous amount of time and energy that goes into the implementation and verification of an agreement like New START. It really is hard work. Making the treaty work requires dedicated service from the arms control policymakers, to the military services, to the folks working 24/7 at the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, also in our bureau. Here I can mark that the NRRC, fondly referred to as the "narc," the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, just celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this month. And then also with our colleagues from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
The regime, the New START regime, includes 18 on-site inspections annually for each party, data exchanges to account for the status and makeup of each country's nuclear forces, and exhibitions of new types of strategic offensive arms. Just last month, we exchanged our 15,000th treaty notification.
So, I think many of you may be familiar or have heard this, but it really is, it's quite commendable and I think it speaks to the importance of the transparency and predictability, the importance of the treaty. As I said, the United States and Russia, we are complying–we're both complying with our New START obligations, which include meeting the treaty's central limits in advance, both of us met the treaty limits in advance of the February 5th, 2018 deadline.
Both the U.S. and Russia have stated we remain committed to implementing the New START Treaty. We look to ensure that our implementation of the treaty continues smoothly as we address more problematic areas in the arms control relationship. And I can say that we've just concluded the Bilateral Consultative Committee meeting in Geneva just today. This is the implementation commission for the New START Treaty. So, again, two weeks of solid, very hard work.
The INF Treaty. Here is a less good story. The INF Treaty is an example of where future arms control cooperation with Russia has been placed at risk. The U.S. remains committed to preserving the INF Treaty and is seeking Russia's return to full and verifiable compliance.
As I think you've seen, the administration's strategy to this point has yielded a few important results. First, U.S. leadership and concentrated outreach to allies, the North Atlantic Council, thanks to the outreach–in December, the North Atlantic Council, the NAC at NATO made a strong statement regarding its concerns with Russia's INF compliance, the importance of the treaty to Euro-Atlantic security, and the need for Russia to resolve these concerns in a substantial and transparent way. That remains the United States' position as well.
We've continued our diplomatic engagement with Russia, including by convening Special Verification Commission, which is the implementation mechanism for the INF Treaty. There was one in December of 2017, the last one. Just prior to this meeting, Russia publicly confirmed the existence of the ground-launched cruise missile which we assess to be in violation of Russia's obligation not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
So, that was a step forward, recognition that we've actually named the or had the designator of the offending missile, the 9M729, and Russia publicly confirmed it. So, at least, we have something to talk about, more to talk about now. Having finally acknowledged this though, Russia denies that the missile is capable of the range that we have pointed out.
The administration, I mean, our point here is to find ways, to seek ways, to increase military and economic costs on Russia. Why? To increase Russia's incentive for diplomatic resolution to the violation.
So, the Department of Defense has begun treaty-compliant research and development of a conventionally-armed system or systems that, if pursued, could be inconsistent with the treaty's prohibitions. We've also identified two Russian entities, Novator and Titan, and they were added to the Department of Commerce's entity list for creating, regarding export control issues.
So, thank you, Kingston. Going along—two minutes here left, so I can race forward.
But the point here is, what we are trying to do, is to incentivize Russia to come back to actually engage in conversation, in diplomatic discussion to resolve this issue.
So, lastly, let me finish with strategic stability and I can quickly up-to-date you on where we stand here. As you may be aware, we had talks, the second round of strategic stability talks scheduled for March of this year, tentatively scheduled. Unfortunately, Russia postponed the second round. At this point though, we believe as the two largest nuclear powers, we have a special responsibility to maintain strategic stability and reduce nuclear risks, and the United States for its part is very much interested in rescheduling these talks and I think Undersecretary Shannon has mentioned this both publicly and privately and we continue to do this.
I can stop here. But on strategic stability, to make a long story short, I mean, we've worked for a long time to schedule the first round of meetings which finally took place in September of 2017 in Helsinki and we had a very good start, I mean, very good start to discussions laying out the concerns. And we are anxious to get back to the second round.
Obviously, there are numerous world events that are literally, I don't like, maybe shouldn't use the term “exploding,” but on a daily basis, right and left. And so that has also been one of the challenges in all honesty of getting the next round of talks back on the table, but we certainly look forward to that.
Let me stop there.
REIF: Thank you very much, Anita.
OLIKER: So, thank you, Kingston.
Thanks to the Arms Control Association for convening this conversation. I want to echo Anita's comments about how important this is.
I'm going to start off by talking a little bit about Russian incentives for arms control. I'm not Russian. I'm American so I can't speak for the Russian Federation. But I do study how Russia looks at these issues. So, if there are representatives of the Russian government in the room, I'm sure they will correct me if I get some of this wrong.
So, from a strategic perspective, from a domestic politics perspective, from a budgetary perspective, I would argue that Russia has tremendous incentives to pursue arms control with the United States. And that while there are also disincentives, the incentives outweigh them. Unfortunately, anybody who’s studied history knows that countries don't always act in their own best interests. And that is part of the reason I'm not terribly optimistic about the future of arms control right now.
So Russia, and the Soviet Union before it, pursued arms control for all the right reasons: Because the arms race was dangerous. Because it was a way to constrain U.S. systems and capabilities that they worried about. Because it kept Russia's own costs down and well, it constrained its own defense sector, too.
It meant that arms control made it possible for Moscow to build a force it could afford while maintaining deterrence against the United States and maintaining its status as America's equal, as a nuclear superpower. It gave the Kremlin a voice in how the United States built and deployed its forces and it provided a forum in which Russia could articulate its preferences and concerns even if it wasn't always going to get what it wanted.
Now, I'd say those incentives haven't really changed for Russia. It's still concerned about a lot of different U.S. capabilities, nuclear and conventional, which it worries weaken its deterrent among other things. New technologies may advantage or disadvantage Russia but, in some cases, they certainly disadvantage it.
Russia has a global strategy of increasing its influence around the world in a time of strategic shift and maintaining nuclear parity with the United States strikes me as a pretty important component of that. It also has a stagnating economy which is badly in need of reform, which means that increased defense and security spending comes at a cost to other priorities and could be very dangerous if not constrained.
But if Russia doesn't think that arms control is going to help it get these things that arms control has traditionally gotten, there is little reason for Moscow to pursue new agreements and it might make it less enthusiastic about staying in or getting into compliance with the old ones. Moreover, if Moscow doesn't feel it has a partner in the United States that's willing to come to the table and make compromises even as Russia itself will have to make compromises, then we don't see much of a future.
Now, I would argue that Russia and the United States share the blame for the current situation. From the start, the arms control framework was a whole bigger than the sum of its parts, right? The SALT arms reduction arrangements wouldn't have happened without the ABM Treaty that accompanied them.
And as time went on, it was past agreements that made new agreements possible, so you built on the whole and that's what made it effective, that these things were inexorably linked, nuclear arms control and conventional capability technology limits went hand on hand. So, it's not surprising that the Russians responded poorly to the U.S. decision to withdraw, legally and following all of the rules, from the ABM treaty back in 2002. And it's also not surprising that that led Russia to stop implementing START II, since just as ABM and SALT went hand in hand, ABM and START, which was the successor, went hand in hand.
So, I think it's worth remembering that Russia has generally avoided formally withdrawing from the treaties that remain. It suspended implementation of CFE and then it stopped participating in related decision-making but didn't actually leave the treaty. I'd argue that a decade ago what it was trying to do was force some changes to the treaty. It didn't want it gone; it wanted it amended.
The INF violations which Anita talked about are a different matter. Whatever led Russia to be in violation of the treaty, though, the impasse at getting it back into compliance from the U.S. perspective raises real questions on whether Moscow can be trusted to comply with old or new treaties. And the chemical weapons issues that Anita also raised fall into this category as well. It doesn't create incentives for the United States to come to the table.
And aside from that, it doesn't look to me like the United States is all that interested at coming to the table for things kind of beyond getting everything back to where they were. Aside from Donald Trump's initial brush off of Vladimir Putin's question about New START renewal, we now have rhetoric in the Nuclear Posture Review that seems to view escalation as something that can be managed, which is framed around the narrative that Russia has a different strategy for nuclear use than the one Russia says it has. And it really does raise a discussion that the United States is looking to build new weapons, not shrink the arsenal further.
So, one could argue that it's a negotiating stance, but from Russia's perspective it doesn't look like the United States is that interested. And then, of course, there are always the concerns that have been around a long time–U.S. missile defense plans, which I think we'll hear about, precision weapons… The United States has been very consistent saying these things aren't coming to the table, that there aren't going to be conversations about this. So, insofar as these are the things that the Russians want to limit, it creates a disincentive going forward.
But this said, everyone starts negotiations from fairly maximal positions; you don't give everything away before you get there. But in an atmosphere like the one we have now of tension spiraling, I think we're in danger of kind of: staking out our claims will stop the conversation before it starts. And even as I would argue that overall Russia has some real incentives, there are many people in Russia who don't think that it does.
Just as there are people in the United States that think arms control is a threat to U.S. interests and benefits Russia, there are people in Russia who see arms control as historically benefiting the United States and hurting Russia. And in the atmosphere of tension that's spiraling, neither side is particularly inclined to do favors for the other.
So, these are all the reasons I'm not terribly optimistic. At the same time, when I look at the strategic balance, I see a lot of things to talk about. I don't think the INF impasse is irresolvable. Look, there are voices in the U.S. and Russia that say the treaty is out of date and inappropriate to modern times. It's a valid view. It's an interesting conversation to have. We should have it.
Outright violations present a real problem. They raise those questions whether Russia can be trusted with new treaties but it could be resolved if everyone comes to the table, talks it through, and agrees to measures that let–don't force anyone to say “gosh, golly I was wrong, you were right,” but let everybody walk away and say “I understand your concerns and here is how I am going to assuage them.”
From the strategic arsenal standpoint, both countries have built arsenals that can exceed New START limits easily if they feel like it. The upload potential Russia has long complained about the U.S. having is now something it has as well. How worried are we about this? How much concern do we have about whether we can tell that uploads are going on? How long it takes to put new tubes into submarines or more warheads on a system, it's an interesting conversation.
Also an interesting conversation is the one to be had about new technologies, new capabilities, how they're deployed, how they're built, whether they should be limited.
Now, we have some positive indications from both parties. I think some of the Nuclear Posture Review language indicates a willingness to talk. The idea that some of the U.S. developments, particularly a new sea-launched cruise missile, is part of a negotiation with Russia. I think that suggests that when one wants a negotiation, strange as it may seem, I think that Vladimir Putin's March 1st speech with its menagerie of weapons, there are silver linings here as well.
First, all of the stuff was not couched as “we're going to attack you”; it was couched as second strike overcoming missile defense as a retaliation. I'm not quite sure what a second strike on Florida accomplishes but, again, I'm not privy to Russian targeting strategy. But I think the other thing that's positive is that Vladimir Putin followed this up with an interview where he did say that these systems could be subject to limitations. That suggests that an interest in talks remain.
My other point of optimism is that we've had impasses before. Arms control has been comparatively resilient in terms of stress, but it hasn't been fully resilient and sometimes it's been resilient in creative ways. Back in 1979, Jimmy Carter withdrew, after SALT II was signed, Jimmy Carter then withdrew it from congressional consideration because there was no way Congress was going to get that treaty through.
And you know what? I'm sure you guys do know what, everybody abided by it anyway. And that is a sign, I mean, that suggests that in times of difficulty, there are creative ways to get these things moving. But in order to get them moving, you need diplomacy, you need skill, and you need patience.
And patience, I think, is going to be particularly hard because negotiations do, they go back and forth, and the other guy doesn't do what you want them to do immediately. And so far, both Moscow and Washington's response in general when things don't go smoothly is to see it as escalatory. So, in that environment, it's really hard to sustain much optimism.
I'll stop there.
REIF: Thank you, Dr. Oliker.
FIELDHOUSE: Thanks, Kingston.
I'll briefly describe the relationship between arms control and missile defense between the U.S. and Russia and then look at the resulting prospects for future arms reductions between the nations. Time won't permit me to go into many details so maybe we can take up any additional items in the Q&A period.
I'd like to start with the historical sort of context. There's a long history, many of you involved in it, of the challenging relationship between arms control and missile defense going back at least 50 years between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and now Russia. The ABM Treaty itself was a recognition that unlimited missile defenses would spur offensive missile build-ups and that limiting missile defenses could permit limits on offensive missiles.
The Reykjavik Summit actually proposed an agreement to eliminate offensive ballistic missiles and it collapsed because of a disagreement on whether United States would stop its research and development on missile defense, the Strategic Defense Initiative. New START, remarkably in my view, faced a lot of Republican opposition in the Senate for matters related to missile defense. And the remarkable part of that is, the treaty had no limitations on missile defense; it was a non-issue that became a serious obstacle to Senate approval of the consent ratification.
So, I want to turn to a policy context now that is to my view highly relevant even though a little past its expiration date in terms of the publication. This is 2009 report of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission on U.S. Strategic Posture. This was a bipartisan effort led by former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, former Secretary of everything Jim Schlesinger, I'm not sure he didn't–he wasn't a cabinet member in any agency.
But it was a really focused bipartisan effort put together by Congress required in law and they looked at all U.S. strategic posture and did findings and recommendations. And one of the really unknown aspects of this was that they included a very brief but very solid chapter on missile defense and U.S. missile defense posture, sort of overlooked.
And in that report, they noted that U.S. missile defense development for the previous decade had been guided by two principles. One, protecting against limited strikes, and two, taking into account the legitimate concerns of Russia and China about strategic stability. And they said these were main, good guiding principles and explained their reasoning by saying, "Defense is sufficient to sow doubt in Moscow or Beijing about the viability of their deterrence and could lead them to take actions that increase the threat to the United States and its allies and friends."
And then they provided some recommendations on development and the appropriate deployment of missile defenses, again, emphasizing against regional sort of nuclear aggressors and including limited strikes on the homeland. But they also made a recommendation which I think is key and I'm going to quote it verbatim. It was, "While the missile threats posed by regional aggressors are countered, the United States should ensure that its actions do not lead Russia or China to take actions that increase the threat to the United States and its allies and friends."
I think that's a really critical bit of wisdom that we need to keep in mind here. Although the Trump administration has concluded that the main security challenge to the United States is long-term strategic competition with Russia and with China, it has so far continued to follow those guiding principles laid you by the Perry-Schlesinger Commission.
We're pursuing homeland missile defense against North Korea and Iran which doesn't have the capability, and we have a variety of regional missile defenses. These include the European Phased Adaptive Approach to protect NATO against Iranian missiles, and it includes cooperation with Japan and South Korea in defending against North Korean missiles.
My view is that although these systems, U.S. and allied systems, do not pose a threat to Russia or China in terms of their strategic capability, both nations have clearly expressed very significant concerns it's a major irritant between the United States and Russia and has been a major problem on arms control and other security matters.
And as a number of senior government officials have been saying recently, our adversaries of nations are making a lot of investments in missile, offensive missile programs that are designed to complicate or negate our missile defenses. And this, of course, is the point that President Putin made rather emphatically with videos in his March 1 speech.
So, even though U.S. missile defenses—our efforts are still limited in scope and capability, they have already contributed to a change in the strategic equation with Russia and China. If the U.S. were to change its missile defense policy and pursue ballistic missile defense of the homeland against Russia or China, leaving aside whether that is technically feasible or affordable, it would increase the likelihood of that Perry-Schlesinger concern happening, that Russia and China would take actions that would increase the threat to the United States.
I don't believe that either Russia or China will permit the United States to negate its strategic deterrent no more than we would do so for them; none of these countries is going to let this happen. So, what does all this mean for the future of arms control with the U.S. and Russia? Given the starkly different and opposing U.S. and Russian views on missile defense and the current situation in security matters vis-a-vis North Korea, U.S. defenses against them and leaving aside all the other controversial issues between the United States and Russia, it's hard for me to see any likelihood of future U.S.-Russian arms reductions under the current circumstances.
I hope I'm wrong. I like to be an optimist, but I don't have much room for optimism right now. One can always hope for what I'll call the "Trump effect" which is a Republican president not expected to do something bold on arms control, you know, suddenly surprising—as I think North Korea is going to be the first chance to see whether that’s possible.
So, despite my pessimism on future U.S.-Russian reductions, I–I want to emphasize that I think it is critical that the United States pursue very vigorously strategic stability with Russia. We are–we are both pursuing things that are making each other worry. We're not talking much about it. I know Anita said that there are–there is discussion going on, but it needs to be more robust, it needs to be focused on strategic stability, avoiding miscalculation, misunderstanding. We've got military forces in Syria, both sides using military force there. That's dangerous. There're a lot of things going on that are really risky.
And strategic stability, I would argue, is absolutely fundamental in the deepest national security interest of both nations. We do not want war. So, this leads me to two very brief conclusions. One is that in keeping with the Perry-Schlesinger Commission Report, the U.S., in pursuing its missile defenses, I would say the U.S. legislative and executive branches need to consider carefully whether any proposed action would lead Russia or China to take an action that would increase the threat to us. That has to be a fundamental calculation about what we do and what we don't do.
And secondly, and I don't think this is a difference in position between the administration, again, I think we need to be pursuing strategic stability with the Russians very vigorously. You know, we did this all through the Cold War no matter how bad things got. We should be doing it now. It's not a favor to Russia. It's not a reward to Russia, it is simply a basic means to try to increase our security and reduce the risks to both sides in the world at a time when there are increasing risks to peace and security. So that's where I'll leave it. Thank you.
REIF: Great, thank you very much, Richard. Thank you for all three of our speakers although none of them appeared particularly optimistic about the way forward. Before opening it up to all of you for your questions, I just wanted to ask Anita a few questions related to the New START Treaty and the future of the treaty.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Rob Soofer, at a Senate Arms Services Committee hearing last week, I believe it was, stated that the administration would soon begin an inter-agency conversation about the pros and cons of extending New START. I was wondering if you could comment on that, if there's any timeline for that review and how long the administration anticipates that taking.
Dr. Oliker mentioned this, but the New START Treaty also provides for a discussion on emerging strategic offensive arms and possible limitation. We mentioned the March 1st speech, several of the strategic-range delivery systems that President Putin described. Does the Trump administration believe that those systems ought to be limited by the New START Treaty, and if so, does it plan to take that up with Russia in the context of the bilateral consultative commission?
And then finally, I would just be interested in your views on when the New START Treaty expires in 2021, if there's nothing to replace it, what are the implications for strategic stability between United States and Russia if there are no verifiable limits on the world's largest two strategic nuclear arsenals? So, I'd just like to get some of Anita's thoughts on those questions and then I will open up the floor to all of you.
FRIEDT: Well, briefly, on extension, which is a hot topic across the board, the president–lots of people have commented on it, but I'll just say–but to Rob's point, I mean his testimony last week, yes, I mean, we are always doing interagency reviews on many things as you know, and it depends on how long they take, but that is a question that we're looking at in terms. But again, as I mentioned, and this is where verification and compliance with arms control agreements really counts because that has to be–that's obviously a factor that one would take into consideration, extension of New START, what does that mean in terms of, you know, Russia is or is not in terms of coming back into compliance with the INF treaty. So, we are reviewing it. There is no timeline, but it's - there is no schedule.
And from my perspective, there should be no schedule. I think I've heard lots of people say, "We have to do it and we have to do it right now and if we do it, extend the treaty, like, everything will be fine." It won't. That wouldn't–that wouldn't really necessarily help things, I would argue. We have until 2021 and I think we should look at it very carefully.
And in terms of where we are in terms of enforceable, verifiable arms control in compliance with treaties… So then let me answer your second or your last question here, what happens if we don't extend it and we don't have a treaty that has importance? As I address, the numerous–and the inspections and the rigorous transparency regime–that makes the relationship, the nuclear relationship, very predictable.
That is a problem because then we will have less insight, less greater reliance on NTM, there'll be less insight in the actual–the inspections. I can't emphasize how important the mutual inspections are because it's an opportunity to actually look at in terms of both public statements, diplomatic statements, but also NTM, National Technical Means. It's an opportunity to verify that and have a face-to-face look at this and look at it. It is very important.
And then the whole issue of President Putin's yes, infamous March 1st speech and the fun–I'll call them “fun”–things that he revealed, many of which we have been looking at. Yes, I mean that is an opportunity. The treaty calls for looking at new types, new kinds, there is an opportunity to discuss them. We have not done so yet, but we certainly could look at that and take that up.
REIF: Great, thank you very much. Questions, and I think I will follow my predecessors in taking–taking three at a time. First, I believe I see you, Rachel, you there with your hand up in the back and we'll take–we'll take three in there.
OSWALD: Hi. Thank you for a great panel. This question is for anybody who wants to answer it, but the State Department perspective would be appreciated as well. So, it sounds to me like I've been hearing more comments in public from–from senior military officials about how the INF Treaty is constraining the United States when it comes to China. I think this came up at a confirmation hearing in the Senate earlier this week for the PACOM commander.
So, I'm not sure it's just Russia that–that feels like INF is outdated. Can anybody talk to the U.S. perspective about how INF is possibly constraining them in ways they don't like toward Asia?
REIF: And just very quickly, who are you?
OSWALD: Apologies, Rachel Oswald, reporter with Congressional Quarterly.
REIF: Right, thank you. Yes, right here.
THIELMANN: Greg Thielmann, ACA board. Anita, I was happy to hear you mention the agreement on the designation of the–of the system we alleged to be a violation, the 9M729. It seems to me that changed the argument completely from “What are you talking about?” to “No, you're wrong about the capabilities.”
So, my first question there is, why did it take us three years to provide the designated system? The second question is, now that we have a parallel situation with the most serious Russian charge being the Mk-41 launcher of our–of our ballistic missiles that Boeing proudly boasts is the same system that launched the Tomahawk cruise missile which is basically the identical to the Griffin land attack cruise missile banned under the INF Treaty.
Why is the U.S. not inviting the Russians in to look–to inspect the Mk-41, putting pressure on them to let us in to inspect the 9M729?
REIF: Done? OK, your time. Right.
COUNTRYMAN: Anita, thank you for continuing to work on these very difficult issues. I remain more calm because you remain on the job. I appreciate that.
FRIEDT: Well, thank you.
COUNTRYMAN: Earlier, I asked Andrea Hall a question which she helpfully volunteered to have you answer, and that is, which arms control agreements does the United States believe to be enforceable upon the United States? Everybody loves the phrase “enforceable and verifiable,” but it seems to me when the White House says it that the U.S. will do the enforcing on other states but there is no need to have an enforcement mechanism for U.S. compliance, and if that's the case, what state is going to agree to anything with the United States?
So which agreements are enforceable upon the U.S.?
REIF: Anita, several of those were directed at you.
FRIEDT: Oh, okay, how about it.
REIF: Why don't you start and then we can go on down the line to see if there are comments from the other panelists as well.
FRIEDT: Okay yeah, no, please weigh in especially on all of them, on the INF. But the PACOM commander, well he is going to be our U.S. Ambassador designate to Australia. I know yes, he has commented on INF treaty constraining the military. Sure, the reality is everybody–I mean we would like to take a look since Russia is–especially since Russia is not abiding by the INF treaty, I mean there are certainly, if the treaty is not going to be valid and why can't we look at the same things? But I don't know.
I would say there are many of these treaties were outdated. I don't think the INF Treaty is outdated, but Russia obviously does. That's one of the–Russia raised the INF Treaty being outdated during the–during the Bush 43, during the Bush administration in I think it was 2005 or 2006, so at that time, we said we would be happy to take a look at it, discuss it, that certainly is an option, we can discuss any number of variants in what to do with the INF Treaty once we get to a real discussion. That's the real point. We have to have a real discussion with the Russians on that.
And that's–I also have the same answer for–for you, Greg, yes, having the 9M729 has helped–has been a small–I mean it's great game changer when you go from nothing to something, it's a great, great game changer. So, it is a progress, but why did it take so long? Well you worked–you worked in the intelligence community, you worked in the U.S. government, sometimes things take longer than they need to.
But it is an opportunity and yeah–and once we have real negotiations, discussions with the Russians now that we have something, maybe we can get to the point where we can talk about the Mk-41. We can talk more concretely about the 9M729. We can talk perhaps–we can even talk about transparency, but we haven't gotten to that point. So those are all–all issues that we can certainly consider.
And then Tom, you always–always have the clever, clever questions, cleverly worded questions. I mean I'll try–yeah, are you talking about our compliance report? I mean we–yes, the United States has–I mean each country has to look at the–the treaties that they are party to and assess not only your own country's compliance, but other countries’ compliance and compliance and verification, I mean compliance is really a big factor in terms of military planning. That's another good point here, I mean to the INF concerns about the PACOM. If you have a country that's not abiding by its–by its arms control obligations and is violating the INF Treaty, that's a military planning consideration.
COUNTRYMAN: I like the word "compliance," the word that the administration reintroduced….
FRIEDT: Oh enforcement.
COUNTRYMAN: … is "enforcement."
COUNTRYMAN: (Inaudible) what it means to say (inaudible).
FRIEDT: Okay, well this–I mean we have to have enforcement measures to deter future violations and we're not talking about military enforcement. I think there was an article at some point talking about military enforcement. That is absolutely not what we are talking about. We're talking about what does it take to–to–to make sure that countries comply with these arms control agreements, that violators face consequences. So, there is obviously international law–where is Mallory when I need her, my lawyer.
But no, there are obviously international legal means that we can take, and we can enforce it as well.
REIF: And Rachel, oops, sorry, go ahead, any other comments from–
FIELDHOUSE: Tom, if I can just jump in on this, I think the term “enforcement” is a very unfortunate term to bring it to the arms control debate, because unless you are going to go war and occupy a country and, you know, that's been the discussion, how do you enforce arms control? You don't enforce it. You monitor, you verify, you know, you do all the things you can do to make sure compliance is happening and if it's not, then you work everything you can to make it happen.
I just think it's an unfortunate term to bring it to that debate, so I–I second your point exactly.
OLIKER: Well, the one thing you can do is incorporate in treaties what happens if somebody is violating.
OLIKER: And that's, you know, that's not enforcement, but it is–it kind of–it lays out for all parties what can happen if you break out. And I think that's a valid thing to consider doing.
FRIEDT: Good point, Richard. It is interesting, but it was used actually after this article appeared in the debate on enforcement team out in NPR, we did a look and it was actually in the 2010–it was in previous–it's been in our compliance reports. It's been–I think it was in the 2010 NPR. So, it is a term that we have used. It's not just in this administration.
But it's perhaps not the–not the best. I will take that on board.
REIF: And I will just say, Rachel, really quickly in response to–to your question about INF Treaty in China. General Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked, I can’t remember if it was a House or a Senate hearing last year about the military utility of INF-range systems in the Asia Pacific. And General Selva's response was that United States PACOM DOD can meet the requirement that it has and target what needs to target using treaty compliance air and sea launched systems. I just wanted to make that point. Other questions. Right here in front.
FRY: Thank you all. Very interesting, you used two phrases if I may, I'm paraphrasing now, Russia taking apart brick by brick of the Cold War deals and the other one was the dialog continues. What's interesting, this is not isolated to the present administration, this has been going on for a while, the question I ask is, why does it continue?
I mean the underpinning with–with the Ukraine dynamic, if you will, and all the underlying factors that this is just a continuing ratcheting up of something that's been going on for a while. And also, I mean you're not at DEFCON whatever-the-level-is with this situation, what do you think will change that dynamic?
REIF: And can you just quickly identify yourself?
FRY: Oh, I'm sorry, Bob Fry.
REIF: Okay, thank you. I saw a hand on the way back? Yes, right here by the door coming, great.
MACDONALD: Hi. I'm Bruce MacDonald, and a question. First a comment, Richard, I appreciate your comments about the strategic posture review commission, report language on missile defense, as senior staff there, I had a hand in working with a couple of other people on drafting that. And I was–I was ready for the roof to fall in with controversy about it and fortunately it was accepted without much debate.
But I think that the point of the–the language is as true today as it was then. And thanks for acknowledging it.
My question goes to, I guess, primarily to Anita, but not just–and that is my sense, I could be wrong on this–is that what Russia was looking for was almost any kind of restraint on–on missile defense and it's puzzled me that the United States has been unwilling to agree to any limits. I mean I understand the political realities, but I think if Russia–if we offered, you know, 200 interceptors, the original ABM treaty, they would have jumped for joy in order to have just some kind of a limit. And yet we have–right now, there are no limits at all and even though we would have no plans maybe to deploy anywhere remotely near a very–a higher level of interceptors, we still are steadfast in not doing that. And we have to–it costs us diplomatically. It costs us in terms of–of opportunity cost. If we were to agree to any kind of a limit, we could probably get some significant concession from the Russians back on an issue that we care a lot about.
So, we're holding onto a limitation that, if we don't plan to build anything like that, a higher number doesn't do us any good. And I just wanted to–is there any prospect in which there would be some kind of a restraint on missile defense, and do people take into account the fact that, were we to agree to something like that, we might get something important to us back and return? It wouldn't just be us giving something up.
REIF: Thanks, Bruce. One more question if there's someone out there that can take? Right here, yeah, sure.
UNKNOWN: Right behind you, sir.
LARRY WEILER: I’d like to comment on the–the–the last observation. And for those who are new in this business, never forget what the big bugaboo has been about arms control. It's been the American withdrawal from the ABM treaty. That was a very significant factor and it was two countries who said to each other, “We are in this together,” and to do that they wrote language that said, “We agree that we will not build a defense for the territory of our–we will not build a defense for our–the land of our country,” words to that effect.
And that was a fundamental decision that we got the hawks and the doves to agree to, and we withdrew from it. And the Russians have since then said, "You can't trust the Americans," and they have a very valid point. It was regarded as a fundamental basis for international security. And we withdrew at a time when Russia was in turmoil. As soon as they became weak, we withdrew. And Bush didn't–Bush Two didn't know what the hell he was doing, and he listened to a bunch of hawks in his Vice President's office and that's how we got out of it.
And the American public didn't react to it, and since then we have been living with that, and that's fundamental to what the Russians think about it and what other people should think about us. So, keep in mind the fundamental nature of the American withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.
Obama tried to fudge the issue and was reasonably successful by restating what our missiles were for, but now we are faced with a prospect that we may be in an elimination of that moderating aspect of what Obama did. But keep in mind the fundamental nature of the ABM Treaty that we withdrew from.
REIF: Thanks, Larry. Yes. So, several questions on the table, I think we're going to end with that round. So, I’ll have you respond to questions, any final comments you might have. Why don't we start with you, Richard, and we'll come back down.
FIELDHOUSE: So a couple of things. Bruce, to your question about limitations on missile defense–not representing the administration of course, this is a personal view–but having lived through an awful lot of this when I was in the Senate and we all have since then, the administrations both–since we withdrew from the ABM treaty, all the administrations have–have taken the view that because they don't know what's coming next with North Korea, with Iran, not Russia and China, but these other countries, they are not interested in placing limits on our missile defenses.
And the–the second half of that thought is it's very clear where Congress has been on the issue. I mentioned the–the difficulty with the New START treaty, that was an awful lot about missile defenses and insisting there would be no limits on missile defenses, period, or the treaty doesn't go through. That was a lot of the discussion.
And so, Congress has been very active in making the point particularly during the Obama administration because there were a lot of concerns that the administration was going to–remember the hot mic issue and the administration was going to cut a secret deal, or such thoughts. And so, the irony of this is, is that the U.S. sort of concern is not in Russian or Chinese ballistic missiles. We obviously are concerned, but we deal with that, as General Hyten from Strategic Command said, by using deterrence and other military means, but our missile defenses really are focused on North Korea and Iran both nationally and regionally, and the United States has made the point, no legally binding limits on missile defenses. That's been a standard platform for the Obama administration, all of them.
And it seems to me that the way forward that might be useful and lend itself to strategic stability is trying to–to really engage in what I'll call transparency, predictability, sort of having a dialog where we make clear, look, here's what we're planning to do, etc. Now, that may or may not be acceptable to this administration. I think it makes sense as a proposition to try to have clarity and predictability and transparency as the sort of achievable thing.
REIF: Thanks, Richard. Dr. Oliker?
OLIKER: There's something religious about missile defense, right? I mean it's–I would argue it's faith-based regardless of which side you're on. The United States is building systems where there's not a lot of evidence that they work even against the threats that the United States has them being built for, moreover it's not clear if those threats are going to emerge in the ways that the United States says that they will. So, you can understand why the Russians are confused.
From the Russian perspective, you can't convince them of that, you know, because to the Russians it doesn't work either. And American defense industry isn’t going to say this stuff isn't going to work the way we say it will. And, you know, you end up in this weird set of conversations where we say, “Don't worry about it, it can't threaten your deterrent because it just doesn't have that capacity,” and they say, “Yeah, but it could if it develops enough.” And you say, “Have you looked at the physics?” And they say, “Yeah, but you guys are saying it can do X, Y and Z, so surely it can do A, B, and C too,” and you keep having this conversation.
And I do think saying “no legally binding limits” creates a real problem. It keeps us away from the table. And making unilateral commitments won't do the trick, you know, saying we'll just do this. If I were Russia, I wouldn't be comfortable with that, and I certainly wouldn't come to the table offering anything else up. I might be able to do it as a gesture of good faith, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, that could be helpful, but they are not going to give us anything for it, I don't think.
I would also, you know, come to the question of, “Why keep talking to the Russians despite all the problems, why should the Russians keep talking to us after we withdrew from ABM?” I would say the same incentives apply. We don't care as much about parity. We do care about limiting certain Russian capabilities. We do care about limiting our own defense industry. Sorry, we do. And we also care about verification. We care about understanding what their capabilities are–which, absent some of this verification–will be a whole lot harder.
If anything, you know, I would say, it would be nice for both sides to get more transparency. For instance, on this INF issue that was raised earlier, we can see what the other guys are doing, we'll feel a little bit better about it. So that–I mean there are really good reasons to push this forward, and we are also in a political situation which makes it really hard.
REIF: Last word.
FRIEDT: I totally agree with both Olga and Richard on–on all the points and I like the–the–the religious point about missile defense. There is no question missile defense is a religion, period. And that speaks to, I mean, to your point about the ABM treaty and the Russian sensitivity about our getting out of it, even though as Olga pointed out in the beginning, we did so in a fully transparent, legal way, and the treaty had withdrawal provisions and we faithfully abided by those and we got out.
But it obviously it has colored the Russians and it has colored the dynamic ever since then. And there are so many domestic, I mean, Russian domestic issues–and I'm not going to address it. Olga addressed some of the Russian issues and certainly I look forward. And the Russians do have some real concerns about the treaties, with the CFEs certainly. INF, I mean all of these treaties, one could argue they could be updated, but the question is how does Russia do it?
For example, we have important things that got in the way of many efforts in terms of dialog. This also gets to missile defense. We had a very good dialog for years in the Obama administration about missile defense transparency, we were on the road to do something very positive to get an agreement. Then we had Russians invade Crimea. No–it didn't help. In fact, it cut off our discussions again.
But let me just end on this. I am very much an optimist. As I have said in many forums, one has to be an optimist in dealing with these issues. I firmly believe there is a way forward and I do think, “Why does the United States–why do we need dialog?” Because the United States is committed to arms control. Because we are–even more importantly, we are committed to strategic stability with Russia. We have been pursuing strategic stability with Russia–and with the Soviet Union–for decades. It is in our mutual interest and dialog is the answer to the question. We have dialog, we need more.
UNKNOWN: And they're still (inaudible).
FRIEDT: They are, it's not as good as we would like. We both–but it's there, absolutely.
REIF: Well, thank you, Anita Friedt, for ending on a more positive note. These are very difficult processes and challenges that the Arms Control Association will continue to work away at. And thank you to all of you for your engagement and continued support for that effort. And finally, let me thank all of our speakers. Thank you.