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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Events

ACA New Voices Fellow Presents at International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference

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Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Time for Practical Steps

Prepared Remarks by Alfred Nurja, New Voices Nonproliferation Fellow, Arms Control Association
At the International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference:
“The 2011 North America Nuclear Policy Dialogue”
March 27, 2010

When I was selected to present a few thoughts on the 2012 Conference on the WMDFZ in the Middle East and international efforts to shape a constructive outcome from that conference, I was asked to focus on generating new insights on how to answer some of the tough questions on the matter.

I believe you will all agree with me that my presentation, by default, meets the second criteria. The question of a WMDFZ in the Middle East, an objective of the international community since the late 70s, is a very tough issue indeed as both the lack of progress and the persistence of the issue in the international agenda can attest.

Before I attempt to address the question of the 2012 conference and what a constructive outcome would look like, a quick sum-up of the issue may be appropriate.

The UN General Assembly first endorsed the concept of a NWFZ in 1974. In 1980, Israel first accepted the idea and a resolution to that effect has been passed annually by the GA without a vote.

NWFZ are, of course, well-known nonproliferation mechanisms. There are currently five in existence - with four of them covering the entire southern hemisphere. They help fence off entire regions from nuclear weapons. They also reinforce the non-proliferation regime’s normative value and provide a vehicle for securing legally binding negative security assurances from the nuclear weapons states.

In 1990, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak expanded upon the concept by proposing the establishment of a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone (WMDFZ). Such a proposal was intended to respond to Israel’s concern over the biological and chemical threat in the region. It would also formally link Arab accession to CWC and BWC to Israel’s accession to the NPT.

This proposal was officially endorsed by the 1995 NPT Review Conference Middle East resolution, which “called on states in the region to take practical steps in appropriate forums aimed at making progress towards, the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems, and to refrain from taking any measures that preclude the achievement of this objective.” Consensus on that resolution, it is worth remembering, is seen by many as instrumental to securing consensus on the indefinite extension of the NPT.

Following some intense discussions at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, state parties to the treaty were able to endorse for the first time practical steps toward implementing the 1995 Middle East Resolution. It is important to recall that the 2010 final document “emphasizes the importance of a process leading to full implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.”

At the 2010 meeting, the United States, Russia and Great Britain, committed to work together with the UN Secretary General to convene a regional conference in 2012, appoint a facilitator and identify a host country for the conference. The conference will take as its terms of reference the 1995 Middle East resolution.

Developments since May 2010

The United States and the UK announced late last year that consultations to identify a facilitator as well as a host country for the conference had already begun. Speaking at a London conference on the topic, Ambassador Burks also said that there is broad agreement on the qualifications the facilitator must meet, including some put forth by Egypt.[1]

Arms Control Today reported (in the March 2011 issue) that selection of a facilitator and host country may be achieved before summer. According to the same report, Israel has also said that it is examining the question of the conference and consulting with the United States, a marked departure from its earlier statement that it would take no part in the implementation of the steps agreed upon at the 2010 NPT Rev/Conf.

The European Union had also agreed to host a seminar, a follow-up on the one organized in Paris in 2008, to discuss steps that would facilitate work on establishing the zone ahead of the 2012 Conference. According to the same sources, that seminar may now take place this summer.

Regional perspective

The particular challenge of establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East is driven home by the fact that, unlike other regions of the world where such zones have already been created, nuclear weapons as well as other WMD are already an established reality in the region.

Open source reports indicate at least four Middle Eastern countries may already have chemical weapons capabilities. Out of these four, three may also have biological weapons capabilities. Up to eight countries in the region possess missile capabilities of ranges relevant to the WMDFZ. Further, Israel is widely recognized as already possessing a sophisticated nuclear arsenal and is the only country in the region not to have signed and ratified the NPT.

Despite formal endorsement by all countries in the region for a WMDFZ, deep divisions on what that entails have precluded any concrete steps forward. These positions also reflect differing perceptions of the role of arms control and disarmament mechanisms and how they affect state relations.

Arab and Iranian policy has been motivated by the overriding objective to get Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state and accept full-scope safeguards.

Likewise, Arab governments and Iran tied agreement to the indefinite extension of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1995, with endorsement of practical steps toward the creation of a WMDFZ in the region.

To date, Arab states also have generally rejected any linkage between the question of establishing peaceful relations with Israel and the NWFZ.

Israel, on the other side, insists that any WMDFZ agreement can come only as a consequence of [not a precursor to] a comprehensive and durable peace in the region. Israel also stipulates that any future agreement must also address the question of conventional forces asymmetry existing in the region.

In addition to this [often referred to as] “the chicken and the egg” question, Israel’s position on the need for “stringent mutual verification mechanisms” point to an equally challenging problem of ensuring compliance with international obligations in the Middle East.

Identifying a constructive outcome for the conference

With this background in mind, the challenge of discussing a WMDFZ in the Middle East does not lie necessarily in developing new thinking on the subject but rather with recognizing what shifts are now affecting the region, the impact they have on the non-proliferation regime, and various states’ perceptions of their security interests.

As a 1975 UN study on nuclear weapons free zones put it, “the premise upon which [a] nuclear weapon free zone must be based will be the conviction of states that their vital security interests would be enhanced and not jeopardized by participation.” This principle should, I believe, also serve as a departure point for international efforts to move forward towards a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

In considering this question, I would posit at least three key developments impacting the region today and present my reasons for how such events could provide an impetus for overcoming the long-standing positions of some key parties and forging a path forward:

1. Iran’s nuclear program. Since the revelation in 2002 of Iran’s ambitious nuclear program, this issue has preoccupied the attention of the region and risen to the top of international concerns. Iran continues to defy UN Security Council resolutions and refuses to provide the IAEA with the access it needs to verify the nature of its nuclear program. To date, it has produced more than 3,700 kg of 3.5 % LEU as well over to 40 kg of 20 % enriched uranium.

Iran still has not clarified what the IAEA has identified as  “outstanding issues that give rise to concerns about a potential military dimension to its nuclear program.” While continuing to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material from Iran’s safeguarded nuclear facilities, the IAEA can not verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Even though Iran is several years away from mastering longer-range missile capabilities, the progress of its missile program adds to concerns within the region and the wider international community over Iran’s nuclear program. Despite the mounting impact of international sanctions on the program and the Iranian economy, there is still little sign that Iran is seriously engaging in efforts to find a negotiated solution to the issue.

2. Proliferation of interest in nuclear power production programs. I will not dwell much on this subject, since it was discussed in more detail yesterday, other than to note again that since the mid-2000’s the region is experiencing a marked increase in nuclear power generation with about a dozen other countries who have already signed agreements or expressed interest in building new nuclear power reactors.

(Japan’s on-going nuclear crises will undoubtedly affect thinking in the Middle East about nuclear power but it is not clear to what extent.)

While no country in the region has yet indicated an intention to pursue sensitive fuel cycle technologies, there is little enthusiasm for limitations, such as those the UAE has accepted on its programs.

(Again, the subject was discussed yesterday in greater detail and I would only note that very few countries in the region have accepted an Additional Protocol—to date the AP is applied only in Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, and Jordan.)

Correlation does not equal causation, but the recent uptick in interest in nuclear energy cannot be explained by energy needs and global warming concerns alone. Security and public perception interests [in view of Iran’s nuclear program] also provide equal explenatory power for such policy decisions, especially when considering the economic cost and negative feasibility studies that many such projects in the region have.

While fears of the region reaching a nuclear tipping point are, in my view, perhaps overstated, these two developments do point to the fact that the longstanding nuclear status quo in the region may not be tenable and that, unless mitigating steps are taken, the region may be headed towards a more unstable nuclear future.

3. Since the beginning of this year, the region has been undergoing some unprecedented developments. It is indeed near impossible to predict what the repercussions will be and what possible impact it will have on the Middle East’s nonproliferation agenda. I would want to point out a few clues however, that may already be visible.

From a WMD security perspective, as the Libyan example attests, developments in the region raise concerns about the security of WMD-related materials and dual use technology. As the current wave of unrest continues, these concerns will only increase.

Second, in the welcomed event that such developments lead to more representative forms of government, the impact of behavioral norms and domestic politics on a state’s decision making process will introduce a new element that requires close attention.

What is clear to date is that the explanatory power of older security models will need to take into account the potential impact that these changes might have on the policies of various Arab states. The more representative forms of government will most likely also lead to an increased role for public opinion both in shaping government policies as well as the political rhetoric in key Arab states. [As to how this may affect future nuclear projects in the region remains to be seen. The popular support that the nuclear program enjoys in Iran can perhaps, however, provide a few clues.]

A third insight that these developments drive home (I think belatedly for a number of former leaders in the region) is the value of getting ahead and taking anticipatory measures.

In view of regional developments, this lesson could also be equally applied to our subject of discussion. The 2012 conference presents the international community and certain countries in the region with an opportunity, an important venue for locking each of the players into a regional process at a highly critical time. It is important that out of this process a dynamic of forward movement can develop.

Practical Steps Forward

Now turning our attention to what would constitute criteria for a constructive conference.

The United States has emphasized that “the conference … would have to be a discussion aimed at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, including regional security issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.”

To ensure forward movement, however, the conference must go further than that. In the words of a senior British official “we must be prepared to manage expectations over what the conference will achieve…But similarly, we must not set the bar so low that we leave the NPT Review Conference again paralyzed by this issue."

Proceeding from this basic understanding, we could then look at some steps that key states in the region could consider taking—at or in connection to the conference—that come at no cost to their security and which could lay the ground for progress toward a WMDFZ. The list below is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. It’s merely meant to illustrate issues where the parties could identify some commonalities.

“No First Use” Agreement

  • Pledges to actively consider negotiations of a WMD “no first use” zone in the Middle East. Whether initially embodied in the form of declaratory statements or taking the form of a legal treaty, the establishment of a no first use zone as a precursor to a WMDFZ could be a measure that provides security benefits as well as an important step in the direction of a WMDFZ.

    In this context, Israel’s longstanding affirmation that “it would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East” could take legal value without directly requiring an overhaul of its longstanding policy of opacity. Whether this is possible again requires further thought.

    Reinforcing the longstanding customary norms that already prohibit the use of chemical or biological weapons in a region where chemical weapons have been used at least twice already could also mark a reciprocating measure in this respect.

    CTBT

    • Regional commitment to signing and/or ratifying the CTBT by a certain deadline. In a recent meeting on this subject, ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball set 2015, the year of the next NPT review conference, as the target deadline for completing this process. Without resorting to nuclear weapons testing, states in the region would have trouble validating the warhead designs they need for ballistic missile delivery, a development that could contribute to reducing tension.

    Multilateral Nuclear Fuel Supply / Nuclear Enrichment-Free Zone? FMCT

    • Other topics that could be discussed include multilateral nuclear fuel supply arrangements; perhaps even consideration of an enrichment- and processing-free region.

    • In this regard, Israel’s agreement to place its already aged Dimona nuclear facility under voluntary safeguards offer could provide an important incentive for engaging in these discussions.

    WMD Security

    • Increasing cooperation in the field of WMD security could also provide a useful starting platform for improving trust among the parties. Sharing best practices on securing vulnerable WMD-related materials and dual use technology and preventing them from falling into the hands of terrorist and non-state groups could be a non-contentious item in the 2012 conference agenda.

    Practical steps for each of the three key parties:

    To be possible however, such steps would also call for specific action from key parties.

    Arab League States: Egypt, as well as other Arab League states could greatly improve the chances of a constructive outcome from the conference by giving credible indications of a constructive approach. Recognizing the link that exists between peaceful relations and the WMDFZ would provide a step in that direction.

    Israel: From Israel’s perspective, the conference provides an opportunity to not only gain tacit recognition as a state party to the region but also voice Israel’s position that the problems associated with the creation of a WMD-free zone are not just nuclear and that arms control discussions can contribute to an effective reduction of tensions in the region.

    Little noticed is Israel’s statement in the context of the now defunct ACRS talks “that it would be ready to begin negotiations on the WMDFZ two years from the signing of peace agreements with all countries in the region [including Iran].” Reconsidering this policy position with the view of introducing greater flexibility to it could be another such important step.

    Potential Spoilers:

    I will only mention in passing two issues that could act as potential spoilers for progress at the conference, namely the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the question of Iran’s nuclear program.

    I would be in no way qualified to discuss the first topic but I would only point to the fact that we can all recognize that the chances of a constructive 2012 conference are directly linked to the issue of progress in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority. Negative developments in this regard would also raise immediate questions for the viability of the conference.

    Meanwhile, the question of Iran’s participation at the 2012 conference under current circumstances raises significant challenges for reaching any agreement. I would only point out three points:

    First, the place for addressing concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program remains the P5+1.

    From the Israeli and Arab perspective, the conference could also provide an opportunity to drive home Iran’s regional isolation. Perhaps recent developments may have contributed to Arab willingness to voice officially the views they really have on the subject that are now already known publicly.

    The conference could also provide an opportunity for taking Iran up on their past proposals to play a role in hosting a multilateral fuel supply project in the region.

    While I recognize that there are many questions that require addressing when considering each and any of these measures, the scheduled summer seminar to be hosted by the European Union could provide the venue for examining some of these points as well as identifying other green light arms control measures that each of the key parties in the region could consider.

    Conclusion

    I wanted to close with the words of former British Defense Secretary Des Browne, who speaking about this subject last year, said, “the long term options for the Middle East may not include the nuclear status quo… For Israel and other states of the region[,] the long term choice may be between living in an unstable nuclear neighborhood or taking part in [a] serious attempt to build a nuclear free region.”

    Concerns over the health of the nonproliferation regime in the Middle East cannot be separated from the issue of making progress towards the establishment of a WMDFZ in the region.

    Toward that end, agreement on a number of practical steps and the launching of a credible regional process—where issues related to the state of the nonproliferation regime, Israel’s legitimate security interests and its nuclear program are addressed—could mark the criteria for a successful conference.


    [1] According to criteria put forth last year by the Egyptian Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, the facilitator could not come from a P-5 country; it would obviously have to have good relations with all the states in the region and that individual would need to be at a ministerial level.

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    Prepared Remarks by Alfred Nurja, New Voices Nonproliferation Fellow, Arms Control Association at the International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists Conference: "The 2011 North America Nuclear Policy Dialogue” on March 27, 2010.

    ACA Senior Fellow Discusses Next Steps in Arms Control

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    What’s Up Next in Arms Control?

    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
    Grinnell College Roundtable
    March 14, 2011

    In order to answer the question I have posed, I will first turn to what the Obama administration has said it would do and recall what it has done so far.

    The First Two Years

    Three months into his term, President Obama delivered a speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, laying out an ambitious agenda to move the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them entirely.

    Over its first two years, the Obama administration has been extraordinarily busy pushing a number of concrete steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, secure fissile material, and strengthen implementation of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

    In April 2010 the administration completed a new Nuclear Posture Review that narrows the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and rules out the need for new types of nuclear warheads.

    Later that month, Obama hosted an international Nuclear Security Summit that produced an action plan for securing the most vulnerable nuclear materials within four years instead of the eight years that had been planned.

    In May, the U.S. led the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion with a 64-point action plan.  This was in contrast to a disastrous NPT Review Conference in 2005, which could not agree on any action plan, leaving many in despair for the future of the treaty.

    At the UN, the administration pushed through a tougher set of targeted sanctions on Iran in response to NPT safeguards violations.  UN and unilateral sanctions have slowed down Iran’s nuclear program, buying some time and leverage for the pursuit of a deal to establish sufficient transparency to ensure the program is not used to produce weapons.

    The biggest achievement so far has been negotiating and ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  The President and his team negotiated the treaty with the Russians within the first year, and then, just in time for Christmas 2010, won Senate approval, turning back treaty-killing amendments that would have required renegotiation with Russia.

    New START eventually won bipartisan support, passing 71-26.  Put simply it sets new, modestly lower limits on Russian and U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems and re-establishes a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance.  Later this month, a significant amount of data on strategic forces will be exchanged between the US and Russia.  45 days later, teams of inspectors will travel to sensitive strategic sites in both countries for the first time since the original START treaty expired in December 2009.

    New START will increase predictability and transparency through enhanced on-site inspections that will provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

    New START has already helped reset U.S.-Russian relations and boosted U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and of course it opens the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

    By any measure, there has been considerable progress toward the longstanding U.S. goal—as reiterated by the President in Prague—of peace and security in a “world without nuclear weapons.”

    But New START and these other initiatives are just that—a start. There is much more that needs to be done to reduce the nuclear weapons danger.

    What’s Now?

    Deeper, Broader, and Faster Nuclear Reductions

    New START is a vital step, but it will leave the United States and Russia with far more strategic warheads, missiles and bombers than is needed to deter nuclear attack.  In fact, even after New START reductions are implemented, there will still be roughly 19,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, most of which are held by the two treaty signatories.

    President Obama and his team have said the United States and Russia can and should pursue further verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed.

    Informal, early discussions are now underway. We believe the two sides can and should initiate formal talks before the end of this year.

    The goal should be to establish a single, verifiable limit on the total number of nuclear weapons for each nation.  This overall limit would be in addition to a sublimit on the number of deployed strategic weapons—the traditional focus of reductions. This overall limit is important.  As the numbers of deployed strategic weapons shrink, nondeployed and nonstrategic warheads and their delivery systems have to be addressed.  It is also important that the most advanced nuclear arms control process establishes useful precedents for ultimately involving all nuclear-armed states – for example, by adopting a simple unit of measure that can facilitate transparency, accounting, and controls.

    How low can U.S. and Russia go in the next round now that the sides have agreed to limits of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons?  From a geo-strategic standpoint, neither Russia nor the United States can justify more than a few hundred nuclear warheads each (including both strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed) to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.

    ACA published a study in 2005 (“What Are Nuclear Weapons For?”) that outlines the rationale for a smaller nuclear force, 500 deployed strategic and 500 nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad. In a recent Foreign Affairs article, others have also argued that it is possible to get down to 1,000 warheads without weakening security on either side.

    Of course there is the intriguing article in Strategic Studies Quarterly that concludes the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." Those authors argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

    My own wish is that lower numbers will induce the U.S. military to push for movement away from the triad to a diad.  If we can give up the nuclear bomber leg of the triad, relying on the two most responsive and reliable legs, Navy SLBMs and Air Force ICBMs, we will save a lot of money and more easily move to lower numbers.  Of course many Members of Congress and nuclear theologians seem to confuse the triad with the Holy Trinity, but I note with satisfaction that even the Air Force Association recently argued that bombers should give up their nuclear weapons delivery mission.

    For Russia such a negotiation would help address its concerns about the relatively larger U.S. upload potential that exists due to our larger number of delivery systems and reserve strategic warheads.

    For the United States, such a negotiation would finally lead to an accounting of and reduction in Russia’s relatively larger and possibly insecure stockpile of stored and deployed tactical nuclear bombs.

    Such reductions should, ideally, be secured through a New START follow-on treaty with robust verification methods.

    However, given that the next round of talks will likely be more complex and time consuming and the new Congress is generally more suspicious of arms control, there are other nuclear risk reduction steps that should be pursued at the same time. For example:

    • The United States and Russia can achieve the reductions mandated by New START well ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; and
    • President Obama needs to make good on promises to phase-out obsolete Cold War nuclear targeting plans and prompt launch requirements, which help perpetuate excessive deployments and raise the risk of catastrophic nuclear miscalculation. In a September 2009 Q & A published in Arms Control Today, then-candidate Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

    The NPR recommends consideration of measures to maximize the time the Commander-In-Chief has to make a decision to use nuclear weapons.  A reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately, but only the assurance that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems would survive an attack. Now is the time to implement these measures.

    The Obama administration and NATO must also work through two other issues that could complicate further, deeper U.S.-Russian nuclear force reductions.

    First, Russia is and will likely remain resistant to meaningful limits on tactical nuclear weapons so long as the U.S. continues to deploy even a small number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.  As the new NATO Strategic Concept and U.S. military commanders acknowledge, these weapons have no military role in the defense of NATO.  Some may believe these weapons have a function as a bargaining chip or are symbols of the United States commitment to NATO.  Whether they are or are not, they are clearly obsolete relics of the Cold War.

    To clear the way for a potential agreement with Russia on reciprocal measures to account for and reduce tactical nuclear weapons, the United States and NATO should agree to eliminate any formal alliance requirement for U.S. tactical nuclear warheads in Europe.

    Second, Washington and NATO must work with Moscow to achieve meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense.  Otherwise, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. missile defense interceptors targeting Russian strategic missiles could undermine the prospects for future nuclear reductions and exacerbate East-West tensions.

    New START sidesteps long-standing U.S. and Russian differences over strategic missile defense – the parties essentially agree to disagree.  But the next agreement cannot avoid the realities of the offense-defense relationship.

    When Obama shelved Bush administration plans to deploy an untested strategic interceptor system in Poland within five years, he was attacked by critics for placating Russia.  However Obama’s alternative, the “Phased, Adaptive Approach,” made far more sense from the perspective of Europe and the United States, as well as Russia.  It would provide a better capability to address current threats to southeastern Europe from Iran’s short- and medium-range conventional missiles and would obviously not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear retaliatory potential through the current decade.  Because the plan is coherent, it automatically raises less Russian suspicions and thus creates the potential for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia.

    However, unless there is meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense or limits on future deployment of U.S. interceptors, we will be forced to make a trade-off:  Either future reductions in eliminating real U.S. and Russian strategic weapons or nominal gains in defending against future imagined Iranian missiles.

    Let there be no mistake, in the nuclear arms race, we are mostly racing with ourselves.  The only potential adversary, other than Russia, with nuclear-tipped strategic missiles is China and we have about 30 times more deployed strategic warheads.  Clearly we can go lower, and if we do, we can start engaging with the other nuclear powers in multilateral reductions.

    CTBT and FMCT

    Not only must the U.S. and Russia further build down their own arsenals, they must work harder to prevent the nuclear arsenals of other states from being built up. To succeed, the United States needs to solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty and to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production.

    In Prague, President Obama called for ratification of the CTBT.  Today, the national security case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999.  Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing.  We have invested heavily in ensuring the reliability of our existing warheads without explosive testing. Over the past decade, life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads.  Last December, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote that the administration’s $85 billion funding plan provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal indefinitely.  The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTBT.

    Moreover, we know that further testing by other nuclear weapons states—including China, India, Pakistan—could help improve their nuclear capabilities.  We know that nuclear proliferants like North Korea or Iran cannot develop a reliable arsenal without testing.  So we are essentially abiding by the requirements of the CTBT without accruing the nonproliferation and security benefits.

    Reasonable Senators should be able to understand this logic and be able to understand that the old arguments against the CTBT no longer hold water.  As former Secretary of State George Shultz said in 2009, “Republican Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

    It is time that the Obama administration seriously engage the Senate on the subject so that the Senate can reconsider and vote on the treaty at the appropriate time—something the White House has not yet done.

    In 2009, Obama also pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT. The problem is that the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) where this negotiation occurs operates on the basis of consensus.  The FMCT is currently blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

    If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years.

    To hasten progress, the Obama administration should be prepared to act more boldly by proposing that all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production pending the conclusion of the FMCT.

    Conclusion

    The next steps in arms control will not be easy but none of the previous steps were either.  The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat.  Additional pragmatic steps to reduce nuclear risk are essential and urgent.  Doing nothing is not an option.

     

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    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association at Grinnell College Roundtable.

    The Impact of Sanctions on Iran's Nuclear Program

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    ACA Briefing Series:
    "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle"

    DATE/TIME: Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 9:00 am - 11:00 am

    LOCATION:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

    • Robert J. Einhorn (Keynote), Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Department of State
    • Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, Congressional Research Service
    • Kimberly Elliot, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
    • John Limbert, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
    • Greg Thielmann, (Moderator), ACA Senior Fellow

    After four rounds of UN sanctions and on-going discussion of introducing additional measures by the United States and its allies, the effectiveness of sanctions in constraining Iran's nuclear program has come under increased international scrutiny. With an Iranian regime accustomed to withstanding deprivations in the past and increasing political turmoil in the Middle East, measuring the impact of sanctions on the Iranian decision-making process remains a difficult challenge.

    This panel is intended to provide an informed perspective on the Obama administration's policy regarding Iran sanctions and the role they play as part of an overall strategy to address Iran's nuclear program.

    • What impact have the international and unilateral sanctions on Iran had?
    • Under what conditions are sanctions likely to affect behavioral change in Iran?
    • How do reactions differ between Iran's ruling elite and the general public?
    • What effect will the current political turbulence in the Middle East have on the effectiveness of sanctions?

    The briefing is the third in a four-part series of ACA policy briefings "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle." (Transcripts from the first briefing available online here. Transcript from the second briefing available online here)


     

    Transcript by Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.

    GREG THIELMANN:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m glad you made it through the Mardi Gras revelries, and I’m sure many of you came directly here this morning.  We appreciate your presence.

    Welcome to the third in a series of Arms Control Association panels on the Iranian nuclear puzzle.  My name is Greg Thielmann.  I’m a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, so that gives you an idea of what a youthful organization we have.

    Today our focus is the impact of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.  Sanctions constitute a very important part of the international community’s strategy to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.  We have had four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions and various unilateral measures undertaken by the United States and other nations.  Additional measures are being considered by the U.S. Congress.

    I need to mention at the outset one time constraint on our discussion this morning.  Our keynote speaker will not be able to stay until the bitter end, so we will be moving, after his presentation, directly to questions and answers.  Then we will resume our other speakers and have a second round of questions later on.

    Everything will be on the record this morning.  There will be a transcript of this session available in a few days.  And, as usual, we request that you silence your electronic devices, but I understand from the technicians that we have to answer you to – ask you to turn them off completely so that we have no interference.  And that’s a reminder to myself as well.

    There is broad support in the United States for the general concept of imposing sanctions on Iran, but there is some controversy on their goals, on the prospects for their success, and what success really means.

    I can’t think of anyone who can offer a more informed and authoritative commentary on these issues than our keynote speaker.  Robert Einhorn has been at the center of U.S. nonproliferation and arms control policy implementation for many years.  You have a summary of his impressive career on our biosheet.

    I would only add, from personal knowledge in the State Department, that Bob’s expertise and professionalism are legendary.  We’re honored to have him lead off our program.  Over to Bob.

    ROBERT J. EINHORN:  Great, thank you very much for those nice remarks.  I don’t think you’re – you know, you’re not too old to be in the Arms Control Association; I wouldn’t worry about that.  (Laughter.)

    Daryl, thank you very much, the Arms Control Association, for inviting me to speak about sanctions and Iran.  The U.S., along with its partners in the P5+1 have been pursuing a – what we call a “dual-track strategy” toward Iran to – seeking to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.  And as part of that strategy the Obama administration from the outset has sought to engage Iran.

    Regrettably, the administration’s early efforts to reach out to Iran were not reciprocated.  Iran rejected a balanced proposal to refuel its Tehran Research Reactor.  It only accepted key elements of that proposal after the passage of time and the accumulation of enriched uranium by Iran had diminished the confidence-building value of the original proposal.

    Iran continued during 2010 its fuel cycle programs in defiance of a variety of U.N. Security Council resolutions and it stonewalled the IAEA’s investigations, including of the origins of the covert enrichment facility near Qom as well as of the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.

    And given Iran’s failure to engage seriously, we and our partners were left with no alternative but to place greater emphasis on the other complementary component of our dual-track strategy; that is, political and economic pressure.

    In June last year, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1929.  1929 was the strongest of the Chapter 7 Resolutions imposed against Iran.  But perhaps more important its broad coverage of the financial, commercial, transportation and other sectors provided a platform on which U.N. members could build in implementing their own sanctions.

    Soon after Resolution 1929 was adopted, the European Union announced a comprehensive set of measures against Iran, including a full prohibition of new investment in Iran’s energy sector, bans on the transfer of key technologies and strict steps against Iran’s banks in correspondent banking relationships.

    Before long, Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan, South Korea and others followed with their own measures aimed at building upon and complementing the measures contained in Resolution 1929.  Russia voted for 1929, which banned the sale of major categories of conventional arms to Iran.  And Iran had been a major market of Iran's – I’m sorry, of Russia’s arms industry and so this was a significant sacrifice for Russia.  And in particular, the Russians cancelled the sale of the S-300 air defense system.

    China also voted for Resolution 1929.  And although we continue to have concerns about the transfer of proliferation-sensitive equipment and materials to Iran by Chinese companies, there is substantial evidence that Beijing has taken a cautious, go-slow approach toward its energy cooperation with Iran.  The United Arab Emirates, which has long been a financial and trans-shipment hub for Iran, has also taken strong steps in recent months to curtail illicit Iranian activities.

    The United States, of course, has also acted.  Last July, the president signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act, also known as CISADA.  CISADA expanded the scope of existing Iran sanctions to cover refined petroleum products, a wide range of financial transactions and abuses of human rights.  Altogether, this emerged a powerful coalition of states that are willing to impose substantial costs on Iran in the hope of getting it to negotiate seriously over its nuclear program.

    It’s clear that the sanctions have begun to have an impact.  Iran is increasingly isolated from the international financial system, with limited access to financial services from reputable banks.  Major banks like HSBC and Deutsche Bank have pulled out, deciding that the reputational risk of aiding Iran’s illicit transactions is just not worth it.  And without access to financial services, Iran has found that it’s much more difficult to conduct commercial transactions of any sort.

    Iran is increasingly unable to secure needed foreign investment, financing and technology to modernize its aging energy infrastructure.  Major European and Asian firms, such as Shell, Eni, Total and Inpex, have decided to end all of their dealings with Iran.  As a result, Iran may be losing as much as 50 to $60 billion in potential energy investments.  This threatens Iran’s oil and gas production and export capacity over the long term, which is a serious problem for a country that relies so heavily on oil and gas revenues for its government expenditures.

    In addition, major energy traders like Lukoil, Reliance, Vitol, Glencore, IPG, Tüpra and Trafigura have stepped up – have stopped wholesales of refined petroleum products to Iran.

    Jet fuel providers for IranAir have also been affected by CISADA.  Six major fuel providers have terminated some or all of its IranAir contracts.  This is – this has effectively reduced servicing points and routes available to IranAir.  The U.K. and the Netherlands are just two among several places where Iran can no longer refuel its aircraft.

    Iran’s shipping is also impaired.  Large shipping companies like Hong Kong-based NYK are withdrawing from the Iranian market, and reputable insurers and reinsurers such as Lloyd’s of London no longer ensure Iranian shipping.

    IRISL, Iran’s shipping line, has been especially hard-hit.  The U.N.’s Iran Sanctions Committee has noted IRISL’s involvement in the shipment of goods in violation of Security Council resolutions.  And IRISL has been sanctioned by the United States, the EU countries, Japan, South Korea and others.

    As a result, it’s had difficulty repaying loans and maintaining insurance coverage, and this has recently led to the detention of at least seven of IRISL’s ships.  Major shipbuilding companies are refusing to build ships for IRISL and IRISL is finding that it no longer is welcome in the world’s major ports, especially in Europe.

    Major European and Asian businesses are also distancing themselves from Iran.  To name just a few, Daimler, Toyota and Kia have stopped exporting cars to Iran.

    Iran is also being sanctioned on the human rights front.  Individuals responsible for egregious human rights abuses in Iran are subject to travel and financial restrictions.  A key goal of sanctions is to drive up the cost of intransigence and bring Iran’s leaders to the conclusion that unless they accept constraints on their nuclear program, their future will look a lot dimmer.  But sanctions are also meant to impede Iran’s access to the equipment, materials and technology it needs for its WMD delivery programs.

    Aided by the dual-use restrictions and inspection provisions of 1929, we have alerted potential sources of sensitive items and have stepped up our efforts to interdict sensitive shipments.  We believe Iran has had difficulty in acquiring some key technologies and we judge this has had an effect of slowing some of its programs.

    These various sanctions are clearly registering with Iran’s leaders.  We can see it clearly from the very active efforts Iran has mounted around the world to circumvent the sanctions.  While the high price of oil has at least temporarily cushioned Iran from some of the effects of sanctions, the sanctions are already taking a significant toll and the impact will only increase over time.

    But while Iran’s leaders are feeling the pressure, the sanctions have not yet produced a change in Iran’s strategic thinking about its nuclear program.  So far, they seem only to have made a tactical adjustment.  They may believe that by making superficial gestures, such as simply showing up at P5+1 meetings, they can reduce international support for sanctions.  We saw this in recent P5+1 meetings with the Iranians.  They certainly didn’t come to the Geneva meetings in December or the Istanbul meetings in January prepared to negotiate seriously.

    For their part, the P5+1 countries outlined their approach resolving the nuclear issue.  They pointed out that given current levels of mistrust, it would not be visible to go directly to negotiations on a long-term final agreement.  Instead, they favored a phased approach in which confidence could be built incrementally.  In Istanbul, they outlined key elements of initial – of an initial confidence-building phase, an updated version of the fuel-supply arrangement for the Tehran Research Reactor and several transparency measures which would give the IAEA greater access to Iran’s program.

    The P5+1 countries made clear that Iran can have a civil nuclear-energy program but with that right comes the responsibility to demonstrate convincingly and verifiably that Iran’s nuclear program is devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes.

    Unfortunately, Iran refused to discuss these ideas or any other substantive ideas.  Instead, they set two preconditions.  One was that the P5+1 countries had to publicly and explicitly acknowledge an Iranian right to enrich uranium.  The second was that the P1 countries – P5+1 countries had to lift all sanctions from the outset of the negotiations.

    The P5+1 countries collectively rejected these preconditions as unreasonable and unacceptable and the Istanbul meeting ended without fixing a date and venue for another meeting.  One of the silver linings of this disappointing Istanbul meeting was that Iran’s behavior, and especially the preconditions, has reinforced the unity of the six.

    We have determined that in the wake of Istanbul we have no choice but to increase the cost to Iran of refusing to engage seriously.  This will mean tightening existing sanctions and developing new ones.  It will mean unilateral steps as well as steps agreed with or coordinated with other countries.  It will mean staying a step ahead of Iran as it seeks to set up new front companies, establish new banking relationships, reflag ships and otherwise circumvent sanctions, and it will require a very broad and active campaign.

    But as Secretary Clinton has said, sanctions are not an end in themselves but a means to build leverage toward a negotiated solution.  Even as we sharpen the choice for Iran’s leaders, we’ve left the door open for diplomacy if Iran is prepared to engage in serious discussions.

    We’ve shown Iran that we’re serious about negotiations, and now it’s up to Iran to demonstrate that it’s serious as well.  Thank you very much.  I’m prepared to take questions, hear your comments.

    MR. THIELMANN:  And if we could – if we could start with the press to make sure that they have had a chance.  Yes, sir.  We’ll have microphones going around.  Please give your name and affiliation as well before your short question.

    We’ll go over here.

    Q:  Arshad Mohammed of Reuters.  Mr. Einhorn, what is your – can you shed any light on where things stand in the payments issue that has arisen between India and Iran over Iranian crude exports to India?  It’s my understanding that the Indian central bank barred the use of the payments mechanism that had been used to settle that account at the end of last year, and that while Iran has kept delivering fuel, India has built up a couple of billion dollars in arrears.

    And essentially, I have two questions.  One, is it indeed the U.S. administration’s desire that India not be able to use the previous payments mechanism?  And, two, are you, in a certain sense, moving either deliberately or accidently toward a circumstance where you are actually seeking to disrupt Iran’s ability to make transactions for its oil exports?

    MR. EINHORN:  Frankly, I don’t know the exact state of play between Iran and India in terms of payments for India’s oil imports.  The Indian authorities on their own, without prodding from the United States, decided no longer to use the Asian Clearing Union as a vehicle for paying for Iranian crude.  We think that was a good thing.  We think that the ACU mechanism was not a very transparent mechanism and provided opportunities for abuse, and so we think it’s a good idea that they’re looking for an alternative payment mechanism.

    We know that discussions have been ongoing between India and Iran to try to find an acceptable means of payment but I don’t know that they’ve reached any final conclusions at this stage.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Over here.

    Q:  Thank you.  Indira Lakshmanan from Bloomberg News.  Mr. Einhorn, could you tell us – you said at the end that the U.S. has no choice but to increase the cost to Iran of pursuing a suspected nuclear weapons program – tell us a little bit about the timeframe and what exactly you’re thinking of that could go beyond the unilateral steps the United States Treasury has already taken and beyond the multilateral steps that have already been taken?  What more can be done?

    MR. EINHORN:  Well, a variety of things can be done.  We can tighten the implementation of existing sanctions.  Many countries have adopted these measures, but implementation is not uniform and we will, you know, seek, through consultations with a variety of partners, to get countries to implement existing sanctions effectively.  But we can also expand sanctions in a variety of ways.  And we’re in the process of doing that.  A number of alternatives are under consideration.  I don’t want to itemize them right here.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the middle – AP.

    Q:  Doug Birch, Associated Press.  First, what is the administration’s assessment of Iran’s intentions with its nuclear program?  Is it that you believe that they’re going to – that they intend to build a bomb, that they have not yet decided whether or not to build a bomb?  Which is it, if I could ask?  And if you’re going to – are you going to go for another round of sanctions through the Security Council?  And if so, how are you going to persuade countries like China and Russia, which have shown reluctance to agree to the existing sanctions?

    MR. EINHORN:  In terms of Iranian intent, obviously, we can only speculate on their intent.  And it may not be clear to Iranian leaders what their intent is, in the sense that they – you know, each of the leaders may have a different view of the motivations for this nuclear program and the end state of this program.

    We believe that, at a minimum, Iran is moving to the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability.  They are clearly acquiring all the necessary elements of a nuclear weapons capability, whether it’s the fissile material they would need, whether it’s the delivery systems they would need – they’ve pursued a very active ballistic missile testing program – and also with respect to the weaponization activities that would be required.

    We think that they are consciously moving each of these elements to, kind of, a threshold to give them – at a minimum, to give them the option to acquire nuclear weapons if they, in the future, were to decide to do that.  In terms of prospects for additional Security Council action, right now, we’re not seeking further action by the Security Council.  We believe there are a wide range of steps that can be taken by the international community to increase pressures on Iran before having to go to the Security Council again.  But if Iran’s intransigence continues, and especially if they take further provocative steps, like further boosting their enrichment level, then we would always have the option of returning to the Security Council.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the back.

    Q:  Thank you.  Yong-ho Kim (ph) with Voice of America.  I’d like to ask you about the loophole issues and, a little bit, focus on the twin brother of Iran on the sanctions issues, which is North Korea.  Some experts say that because of their experience in 2005, North Korea may have a very good idea of how to deal with the financial sanctions by the United States and some financial institutions may still want to do business with North Korea.  And also, we have the China factor, which is also related to the Iran issue.  So all these kind of barriers – how do you deal with it?  What’s your response to this, you know –

    MR. EINHORN:  I don’t understand your question.

    Q:  I’m basically asking about the efficiency of the U.S. sanctions on North Korea, specifically.

    MR. EINHORN:  We believe that the measures we’ve adopted toward North Korea – and not just the United States, but other U.N. members in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions – have been effective.  You know, clearly, it’s become very difficult for North Korea to engage in much commercial activity.  It’s become even harder for North Korea to continue to pursue a range of illicit activities that are banned by the Security Council, including the sale of conventional arms.

    A number of shipments have been stopped, have been interdicted, because of Security Council resolutions.  North Korea essentially has no access to international financial centers.  So we believe that these measures have been effective.  But there’s a big difference between Iran and North Korea.  North Korea’s needs are much less than Iran.

    North Korea’s need to engage with the rest of the international community are much less than Iran’s needs.  And if you have a neighboring country that is prepared to meet, you know, many of your needs – many of your relatively small needs, in terms of fuel, in terms of food – then it becomes more difficult to put effective pressure on.  And North Korea has such a neighbor.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the very back.

    Q:  Thank you, Mr. Einhorn.  My question is a follow-up to the previous question.  How are you trying to overcome the challenge that you just mentioned, that China is actually baffling all your efforts to stop the transaction with Iran and North Korea?  Would you touch on the challenges you are trying to overcome with Chinese cooperations toward these two countries?

    MR. EINHORN:  I’m going to stick with Iran at this meeting.  We can do North Korea some other time.  You know, China’s position has been – ever since adopting Resolution 1929 – that they’re prepared to live up to the terms of 1929, but they’re not prepared to go beyond to what they call unilateral sanctions that a number of countries have adopted with respect to Iran.  But nonetheless, they have been responsive, we believe, in their own way, to concerns about China’s engagement with Iran’s energy sector.

    Clearly, they have some investments in Iran.  China places a high priority on energy security.  But we believe, for whatever reasons, they have exercised voluntary restraint.  They’ve adopted what we call a “go-slow” approach.  Now, again, we can only speculate on the reasons for that.  I think a good explanation for this is that Chinese energy companies have learned what all the major European and Japanese companies have learned, and that is Iran is not a good or reliable business partner.

    They’re difficult in contract negotiations.  You know, things take a long time to develop there.  China has very broad energy interests all over the world, and I think China has learned that it’s not good business to place their bets on Iran and that there are other opportunities, including in the United States, available for them to promote their energy security needs.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Back in the corner here.

    Q:  Thank you.  Carey Lynn (ph), Le Monde.  What’s the status of the new national intelligence estimate that’s been mentioned in the press?  And do you feel any – what is the impact, if any, of the global context – the Arab turmoil right now – on the standoff with Iran?  Thank you.

    MR. EINHORN:  The first was the status of the NIE and the second was what?

    Q:  The impact, if any, of the global context – the turmoil in the Arab world – on the standoff with Iran’s nuclear program.  Thank you.

    MR. EINHORN:  The status of the NIE is that it’s a classified document.  (Laughter.)  On the implications of the turmoil in the Middle East, it’s too soon to tell.  We have been hearing a lot of triumphalist rhetoric from Iran’s leaders about developments in the Middle East suggesting that there’s an Islamic wave sweeping across the Middle East, that these protesters have been inspired by Iran’s own revolution.

    I think these statements really distort reality.  As some Egyptians have said, this is an Egyptian revolution; this is not an Islamic revolution.  Clearly, they don’t see themselves as having been inspired by Iran in 1979.  So even though – and it’s very interesting that Iran praises protesters in the Middle East for taking actions that they brutally repress at home.

    I don’t think this irony has escaped anybody that Iran engages in a brutal crackdown on any dissent even while it’s, you know, talking about how noble the protesters are elsewhere.  It’s too early to tell but I think Iran’s leaders are much more concerned about these developments and the implications for Iran’s domestic situation than they let on.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Daryl?

    Q:  Daryl Kimball.  Thank you again, Bob, for being with us here for this discussion of these important issues.  A lot of the attention over the last few months has been on the confidence-building measures, the TRR proposal on sanctions.

    You mentioned that one of the issues that the P5+1 tried to bring up at the Istanbul talks were the transparency measures – safeguards and measures that Iran needs to take that are referenced in Security Council resolutions.  Could you just remind us about what those issues are, what the P5+1 was bringing up, again, at Istanbul and why those are important from a nonproliferation standpoint, given where Iran’s sort of fuel-cycle activities are today?

    MR. EINHORN:  On this Tehran Research Reactor proposal – TRR, I’ll call it – back in summer of 2010, the U.S. came up with an idea for a confidence-building measure.  Iran, in June of 2010, had – I’m sorry, 2009, 2009 – had written to the IAEA and said this Tehran Research Reactor, which was supplied by the United States during the “Atoms for Peace” era was running out of fuel; could you help us?

    The IAEA sent notes to the United States and Russia.  We, in the U.S., in December of 2009, came up with an idea that we thought was a win-win proposition.  We spoke to the Russians.  They agreed.  We spoke to Mohamed ElBaradei, then director-general of the IAEA, and he agreed and took it on as his own proposal.

    And the idea was that Iran would ship out of the country 1200 kilos of enriched uranium – enriched to 3.5 percent, enough to power, you know, a light water reactor.  It would be turned into reactor fuel.  And actually, by Russia it would be enriched up to near 20 percent, sent to France.  France would produce reactor-fuel elements, send it back to Iran to fuel this reactor, which is used to produce isotopes for the treatment of cancer.

    We saw this as a win-win proposition.  The idea – at the time, Iran had roughly 1500 kilos of enriched uranium.  If you send 1200 out, then they’re left with far less than they would need for a single nuclear weapon.  And it would – they could continue to enrich, but it would take them a year or so to build back up.  And we thought that this way, first of all, both sides would have an opportunity to gain confidence in the ability of the other side to deliver.

    And you know, some countries in the Middle East who are concerned about the accumulation of enriched uranium could rest easy because it would take a year or so to build up to the level necessary to produce a bomb.  So we thought it was a win-win proposition.  ElBaradei liked it very much.  He thought it was a great idea.  He pitched it to the Iranians.  He actually pitched it to Ali Salehi, who is now foreign minister.

    And October 1st, 2009, we had the first Obama administration engagement with Iran in the P5+1.  At that meeting on October 1st, there was a lot of sterile plenary statements and then a few of us, led by Undersecretary Bill Burns, asked to see the Iranians privately.  And so we spent about an hour on the side and we had a very good exchange.  And the Iranians agreed to this proposal.  They agreed to a number of other proposals, too – that we would meet again before the end of the month, that Iran would cooperate fully with the IAEA’s investigation of the Qom enrichment facility.

    But within two weeks after that, the Iranians walked back.  They could no longer accept this.  And they had a variety of reasons for it.  But then in May of 2010, Iran, Turkey and Brazil came up with what they called the “Tehran Declaration,” and at that point, they accepted the 1200 kilos leaving the country, which was a good thing, but in the interim period, they had produced a lot more enriched uranium.  You know, they had about 3000 kilos by then, so allowing 1200 to leave the country no longer would have produced the same confidence-building value as the original proposal.

    So it was no longer good enough.  So what we tried to do in Istanbul, just a couple of months ago in January – January 21st, 22nd – was not to move the goalposts, but to, you know, reset the proposal to what it was originally.  So the idea was Iran would have to stop producing enriched uranium at the near-20-percent level.  In February of 2010 it had upped its enrichment level to 19.75, near 20 percent.

    They would have stop producing at that level and ship out the new material produced then.  They would also have to ship out a large amount of material produced at the 3.5 percent level.  We didn’t provide a specific number, but basically, roughly what we were after was, after shipping out that material, they would be left with roughly the amount of material that they would have been left with, had they accepted the original proposal.

    So our idea was to kind of, you know, set the clock back to the original idea and restore the confidence-building value.  So they would be significantly below the amount required for a single nuclear weapon.  So we put these ideas to the Iranians in Istanbul.  We put a number of what we call transparency measures, as well.  And these were measures which, mostly, Iran had accepted before.

    If you recall, in the 2003-to-2005 period, Iran had provisionally accepted the IAEA Additional Protocol.  It wasn’t formally bound by it, but they said that they would act as if they were bound.  And they adopted a number of measures – for example, they allowed the IAEA to visit factories where centrifuge components were produced.  So what we suggested was that they return to some of these measures that they had previously practiced – not to adopt the whole Additional Protocol.  We realized at this stage, they weren’t prepared to do that – but some of these measures.

    And we thought that the combination of this updated Tehran Research Reactor proposal, plus these transparency steps would be important ways of building confidence.  We knew that, you know, this was not the solution to the issue.  This doesn’t get at the heart of the problem.  But it would be an important confidence-building step and, we thought, could be built upon as we pursue a long-term solution.  But unfortunately, the Iranians were not prepared to discuss it.  They insisted that we first accept these preconditions, which I mentioned earlier.

    MR. THIELMANN:  We are getting to the end, here, but maybe a couple more questions.  And you don’t have to be a journalist to ask them.  Sandy?

    Q:  I’m Sandy Spector.  Bob, earlier, you mentioned the progress that Iran was making toward the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.  And you mentioned three areas where progress was being made – I think that was the phrase you used – fissile material production, where they’re continuing the accumulation of low-enriched uranium, missile developments, which you mentioned and then the third area you said was weaponization.  So is it the U.S. view, now, that weaponization activities have restarted?

    MR. EINHORN:  Let me refer to the IAEA Director General’s report, in which he suggested that nuclear weapons-related activities may have continued beyond 2003.  The NIE addresses this issue, but as I mentioned before, it remains classified.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the back – James.

    Q:  Thank you.  James Acton from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  Bob, I wanted to ask you a bit about the new centrifuges – the IR-2m and the IR-4 – that Iran is testing in the pilot plant.

    Would the installation of these centrifuges in the fuel-enrichment plant constitute one of these provocations by Iran that could lead the U.S. trying to get a new Security Council resolution?  And given the IR-2m and the IR-4 use distinctly different materials from the IR-1, do you think the sanctions regime for the control of those new materials is sufficiently robust to prevent Iran manufacturing them in large numbers?

    MR. EINHORN:  Clearly, taking down the P-1 machines, which are pretty inefficient, and replacing them with more advanced machines would enhance Iran’s capability.  I don’t know where I’d put them on the provocation chart and what steps would be warranted.

    But in terms of verification, I mean, clearly, as long as Iran continues to permit IAEA inspectors to go both to the Natanz pilot facility and Qom – and you know, the Iranians have told the IAEA that they plan to install a few cascades of advanced centrifuges for R&D purposes at Qom – as long as they permit access, we’d have a pretty good handle on what they’re doing with their – with these advanced centrifuges.

    Our understanding is that these advanced centrifuges are not yet ready for mass production.  The Iranians don’t yet have sufficient confidence in them to produce them on a large scale and using them for, you know, production of enriched uranium.  You know, it’s taken them quite a long time to graduate from the P-1s, to more advanced centrifuges.  And that’s fortunate.  It’s lengthened the period of time that Iran could break out in a meaningful way.  It’s given us some more time for diplomacy, which is a fortunate thing.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Maybe one more question.  I see Michael in the back.

    Q:  Hi Bob.  Michael Adler from the Wilson Center.  Just following up on James’ question, is the reason that they’re not ready to break out into advanced production because they lack the raw materials or is there a design problem?  And one other technical question:  If they were going to give more LEU as part of a TRR deal, what would the LEU – where would it go?

    Would it be bought by the Western countries or would it be used to make fuel for something else?  And then one overall question:  You have confidence that sanctions will eventually work.  Could you explain, down the line, how sanction would eventually convince the Iranians to come around?

    MR. EINHORN:  No, I can’t answer that question – how they’re – can you answer that question?  (Laughter.)  In terms of breakout, you know, the main determinant of breakout is not, you know, the design of the machine or whether they can have access to, you know, carbon fibers or whatever.  The main determinant is a political one – a decision by Iran to break out.  And you know, we just can’t calculate how they would see their interests.

    But breaking out, leaving the NPT, kicking out inspectors and so forth would be an incredibly provocative action and very risky for Iran to undertake.  And doing that when you have only a very inefficient machine, like the P-1, makes very little sense.  And that’s provided some confidence that they’re not going to break out soon because it would make no sense for them to break out with a machine that produces material so inefficiently.  So I think, the pacing factor – I mean, it’s a political factor.  And you know, we don’t see breakout as imminent at this stage.

    You know, where would the enriched uranium go, that might be sent out under a TRR deal?  There are all kinds of options.  There are all kinds of ways it could be done.  I don’t want to go through all of them but there are many different combinations of it.  And you know, I don’t have any good answer on your third, speculative question.  I mean, we hope that, as the costs mount, that thoughtful Iranians will recognize that things are going to look a lot worse for them.

    As I mentioned in my remarks, they depend very significantly on revenues from sale of oil and gas, you know, to run their government, to run their country.  Production of oil is declining, actually, in their country.  And it’s not going to pick up without lots of capital and lots of technology, both of which they’re having a difficult time getting.  So if you’re a thoughtful Iranian and looking at the future of your country, you see things are not going very well.

    You know, the price of oil is, for them, a nice near-term cushion but it’s not a solution to the problem.  And the only way that Iran can become a successful and prosperous country is for them to get out from under the sanctions.  And the only way to get out from under the sanctions is to address the concerns of the international community about their nuclear program.  So you know, when will they be convinced?  When will they come to the calculation that they have to start cooperating?  I don’t know.  All we can do is try to sharpen the choice for them, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

    GREG THIELMANN:  Bob, thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thanks very much for this.

    MR. EINHORN:  OK.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the remainder of our time we’re going to hear from three experts on the different aspects of our sanctions topic, and the speakers can either remain seated or come to the podium, whichever is more comfortable.

    First we’re going to hear from Dr. Kenneth Katzman, a Congressional Research Service specialist on the Middle East, who should make every member of Congress grateful for their easy access to him.  Then from Kimberly Elliot, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, whose research and writing on the uses of economic leverage will provide an invaluable empirical grounding to our discussion.

    And finally, from Ambassador John Limbert, diplomat, scholar and distinguished professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, whose linguistic, cultural and political encounters with Iranians have helped us all to understand better the task before us.

    After all have spoken, we will then return to taking questions from the floor.  Ken?

    KENNETH KATZMAN:  Thank you, Greg, and the Arms Control Association, for inviting me.  My comments are my own, not that of CRS or any member or committee of Congress.

    As usual, I’m not a diplomat.  I’ve never been a diplomat.  And my comments tend to not be particularly diplomatic.  My goal today is to clear up the confusion over the multiple overlapping sets of sanctions now enforced against Iran.

    Let me say at the outset, with the exception of the United States, which has a comprehensive ban, there is no broad international ban on civilian trade with Iran.  Ambassador Einhorn mentioned that Daimler, Mercedes, basically Hyundai and – was it Toyota? – Toyota also have pulled out, stopped selling automobiles to Iran.

    There is no – there is no international sanction that sanctions the sale of automobiles to Iran.  There is no international ban on buying crude oil from Iran or natural gas from Iran.  The United States has a ban.  The United States has had a comprehensive trade ban on Iran since 1995.  There was a temporary loophole allowed from 2000 until the CISADA law, which Ambassador Einhorn mentioned.

    There was a loophole that allowed the import of Iranian carpets, caviar, nuts, pistachios, pomegranates.  The CISADA law that was enacted last July has now closed that loophole, so no imports from – we’re back to the original trade ban of ’95 to 2001.

    Before I continue further, I just wanted to answer the Reuters gentleman.  It’s my understanding actually that India and Iran have found a new payment mechanism for the Asia Clearing Union.  He’s got his headphones on.  (Laughter.)  Hello?  Well, for the floor anyway, they’ve agreed to use a bank in Germany –

    (Cross talk.)

    MR. KATZMAN:  OK.  They’ve agreed to use the Europäish-Iranische Handelsbank of Hamburg, EIH, which is a bank that is actually sanctioned by the United States under various executive orders, but it is not sanctioned by Germany and it is allowed to operate in Germany, much to the consternation of some around town.

    But anyway, EIH has accounts with NIOC, the National Iranian Oil Company, and therefore it is a mechanism that India and Iran have agreed to deposit Indian payments for crude oil to this bank, which then go to NIOC.  So that addresses that issue.

    Let me also say, to get back to the original theme, there was legislation in the last U.S. Congress to sanction foreign purchases of long-term – long-term purchases of Iranian crude oil, but that measure was not enacted.  That would be payments where a buyer would pay upfront for a large amount of Iranian oil, a year’s worth of oil, give Iran a big upfront payment.  But that legislation was not enacted in the last Congress.

    To obtain a consensus at the United Nations, the U.N. sanctions adopted since 2006 – and, remember, the U.S. – the United States has had fairly stiff sanctions on Iran since pretty much – really since 1984, I would say, when Iran was put on the U.S. terrorism list for the bombings of the Marine barracks – Hezbollah – in Lebanon and the U.S. embassy there.  But there have been no international – no U.N. sanctions until very recently, 2006.

    The U.N. sanctions are intended to be fairly surgical.  In other words, to stop Iran from acquiring WMD-related material – parts, components, et cetera, but not to harm the Iranian population, not to affect the civilian economy, and Russia still to this day – there was discussion of a possible new U.N. resolution, although Ambassador Einhorn seemed to downplay that for now – but Russia’s position is, we do not want to cross the threshold from sanctions at the international level that sanction WMD and move to sanctioning the civilian economy and hurt the Iranian people.

    However, as Iran has, as we’ve heard, balked at – you know, idea after idea Iran has rejected.  There has been on agreement.  Other countries’ national measures have expanded and they are beginning to touch the Iranian civilian economy, particularly the energy sector and the banking sector.

    Iran, I would say, is now viewed by international businessmen, international CEOs as third rail.  If you touch it, you die.  There is simply no economic percentage return to investing in Iran, dealing with Iran will affect your business with the EU and the United States.

    And the sanctions are beginning – have given multinational corporations a stark choice:  You either do business with Iran or you do business with the United States and the EU.  And just for points of comparison, Iran’s GDP is $850 billion a year.  The combined GDP of the United States and the EU is almost $30 trillion a year.  So you have less than 1-to-30.  It’s not a close call who you’re going to choose.

    Sanctions on the energy sector are not mandated by U.N. resolutions but they are authorized by the language in Resolution 1929, passed last year, which basically draws a connection between Iran’s oil revenues and its WMD program.  Very little new investment in Iran is evident.  Many oil and gas projects are stalled, even where there has been memoranda of understanding agreed to.

    These projects do not seem to be moving forward.  Many companies have now agreed to wind down their business and certainly not make any new investments.  There are some European companies that were given an exemption from sanctions recently in September and November.  It’s because they have agreed to not do any new business.

    But they cannot sort of pull out precipitously because under their arrangements with Iran, these companies make the up-front investments.  They find the oil, bring the oil out of the ground, start pumping the oil, and they get paid back as the oil is sold.

    So, if they left today, they would be out all this money that they’ve invested.  So their argument is we need to stay in until we are paid back and then we can leave.  So that’s why these companies, they’ve been given a pass on sanctions but they’re still there for now, but they are winding down their business but not precipitously ending their business.

    The new law, CISADA, has had the intended effect of dramatically reducing gasoline sales to Iran.  We’re talking 75, 80 percent reduction in sales to Iran of gasoline.  Iran, however, is trying to compensate.  And, actually, the law actually enabled Ahmadinejad to get, finally, agreement on reducing subsidies for gasoline.  He was able to argue that the international sanctions are reducing sales to us.  We need to curb consumption of gasoline.  We need to have the price of gasoline rise.

    And this is how the Majlis then adopted the subsidy reduction and oil prices, gas prices in Iran are now closer to the world price and consumption is decreasing.  We have not seen – not clear evidence of any gasoline shortages in Iran.  They have held up some gasoline shipments that they were selling to Afghanistan, possibly because they were fearing some shortages, but no long gas lines like we had in the ’70s here with the oil embargo.

    Further steps, to just wind up.  What are various Iranian Green Movement activists – what do some of them want?  Some of them want a comprehensive worldwide ban on buying oil from Iran.  The downsides are obvious.  We now have oil prices back over $100 a barrel.  If there is a ban on oil sales by Iran, the price will rise dramatically.  It would be – you know.

    Now Libya is somewhat off the market, or half off.  If you take another 2.6 million barrels a day out of the market, the price is going to spike dramatically at a time when the Western economies are trying to recover.  So, it’s very difficult to sell that idea.

    Other opposition.  Activists say mandating or sanctioning oil service companies; in other words, applying U.S. sanctions to oil service firms that are helping Iran explore for oil.  That is a choke point because Iran does not have the capability to exploit difficult fields.

    If it’s a simple field where you just put a drill in the ground, yes, the Iranians can do it.  If it’s a fractured field, a difficult field, crossing geological boundaries – I’m not an oil expert; this was explained to me – the Iranians and even the Chinese and other companies do not have the skills.  That comes from the West.  If these Western oil service companies leave, then that would be very difficult on the Iranian energy sector.

    What many are talking about is economic sanctions have been well-ploughed.  We’ve done a lot internationally, nationally, U.N., and the time – it’s time to look at other areas.  Human rights – some talk about trying to get our European partners to reduce their diplomatic representation in Iran, ask Iran to reduce the size of its embassies in Europe, some talk about asking the – you know, basically dis-inviting Iranian officials not to visit Europe; you know, the visit’s off, this type of thing.

    There’s talk of expelling Iran from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which it acceded to in 2009 and which sort of was a head-scratcher how they got on there in the first place.  Others talk about such things as, you know, World Cup soccer matches, even talk about sanctioning Iran air flights.

    So, there are other areas that people want to explore other than economic sanctions, and I expect these other type of ideas to get more discussion in the coming year.  Thank you.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you, Ken.  Kim?

    KIMBERLY ELLIOT:  Thank you, Greg, and thanks also again to the ACA for inviting me to join this panel.  As Greg said, I’m here not as an Iran expert and so I, you know, rely on Ken’s reports, like everybody else in town, and I’m eager to hear what the ambassador has to say as well, specifically about Iran.  So I’m sort of here to, A, provide some sort of historical and empirical evidence on sanctions in general, and then I’ll offer a few thoughts on how those might apply in the case of Iran.

    Just so you know,– this was work that was done with Gary Hufbauer and Jeff Schott and others when I was at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, right across the street before I moved to the Center for Global Development.  As I said, our approach was empirical.  Our aim was to try and find every case of economic sanctions that we could in the 20th century.  So we have 200 episodes of sanctions, starting with World War I up to 2000.

    And just to give you a couple of – just again, so you know – understand sort of where I’m coming from in terms of talking about success of sanctions, first of all, we looked at a broad range of foreign policy goals – not commercial disputes, not fights over trade with China, but foreign policy but a broad range within foreign policy, from relatively modest, like getting a particular political prisoner released up to, you know, Gulf War I, and trying to get Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or Iran now, or North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.

    So, a broad range of goals, but with success measured against an instrumental standard.  That is, we recognize that sanctions are frequently used for important political signaling, symbolic reasons, but you would use a different standard in terms of assessing success there.  So what we were looking at is, can we identify a change in the behavior or the policy or even the regime itself in the target country?

    And then the third important thing is that in terms of trying to then assess the sanctions contribution to a given foreign policy outcome, we looked at whether or not it contributed importantly.  But in order to call it a success for sanctions, we didn’t require that the sanctions be the only or even the primary factor in a particular case.

    And what you often find – and Ken was talking about now some of the diplomatic things that might be used vis-à-vis Iran – particularly in these very big and difficult cases, it is a range of tools that need to be engaged in order to produce success, including, in some cases, military or covert action.

    So, to get to the bottom line, across these 200 – oh, and one other thing I should say – and I’ll get to the U.S. results, but the 200 episodes are not just the U.S.  We, again, tried to be as comprehensive as possible.  I’m sure we missed some cases that were only reported in foreign language among smaller countries, but about two-thirds of the 200 do involve the U.S.

    Overall, for the 200, about 1in 3, by our standard, we judge to have been somewhat successful.  For the U.S., the overall – again, because it does dominate the dataset – for the U.S. overall was about 1 in 3, but very big changes over the course of the post-war period.

    So in the early post-World War II period, roughly 1945 through the 1960s, half of U.S. sanctions, by our standard, achieved some degree of success – 60 percent, actually, when the U.S. acted unilaterally.  Those things plunged after the 1970s to around – just a little bit below the overall average of a third for all U.S. sanctions, but to less than 20 percent for U.S. unilateral sanctions.

    So, Ken’s point about the U.S., you know, having comprehensive sanctions for 20 years, you know, not surprising that those didn’t have very much impact in Iran.  What we’re seeing now is the result of getting the U.N. on board, getting the EU to act very strongly.  So I think that’s a very important thing to note, that U.S. unilateral actions have not been very effective over the last several decades.

    So what are the conditions under which sanction are relatively more likely to be effective?  I think this is not going to be a happy message for anyone in the room, but also not surprising when you think about it.

    The first is they’re relatively more successful when the sanctioner’s goals are relatively limited and clearly defined.  It’s important that the target knows what it needs to do and that the sanctioner isn’t moving the goal posts.  It’s sort of what we call our modest category of goal cases – modest goal category.  Sanctions had about a 50-percent success rate to 30 percent in all other cases.

    The second condition was that they’re relatively more likely to work against allies than against enemies – sorry, but that’s what the evidence suggests – and more likely against democracies than autocracies, which, again, isn’t surprising, right?  You have more trade, more aid, more investment, broader relations.  You know, diplomatic relations are more important with your friends than with your enemies.

    And the final one is that the costs have to be in line with the goals.  So when you’re talking about a major ambitious goal, the average impact on the target’s GNP, by our estimation, was 5.5 percent.  That’s a lot – 5.5 percent of GNP.  So, you have to be able to have a pretty big impact, again, when your goals are ambitious.

    So that suggests a not-very-promising outlook for sanctions vis-à-vis Iran.  But I don’t want to leave it on such a pessimistic note, so what I did was to go back, and I looked at the results for sanctions against Libya, because we have – I mean, these have been going on a while so we’ve done – even when the cases are not totally finished we do interim assessments, and some of these are finished, but Libya, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

    And against those four targets over the last 30 years or so, we found – we have nine discrete episodes of sanctions.  And of those nine, against those tough targets, we judged five of them actually, so just over half, to have been somewhat successful.  And you wouldn’t have expected that because they do all involve ambitious goals of dealing with trying to deter weapons of mass destruction, regime change.  These are all autocratic regimes.

    The U.S., as a lead sanctioner, but others as well, often had hostile relations with these governments.  And in most of these cases, with the exception of Iraq, you know, our estimates of the economic costs were not that high, in part because a lot of them were unilateral U.S. or the sanctions by the international community were quite limited.

    Now I think that’s changed.  We have an update and we’re in the process of updating the Iran case right now, so we don’t have new estimates.  But I think Ken’s right that with CISADA and the U.N. Resolution 1929, the impact clearly is growing.  So that’s one element there that’s sort of moving in the right direction.

    But sort of what are those lessons from the episodes that were successful?  I think there are several for Iran, and they probably also apply in North Korea as well.  And the first is simply to be patient.  I know that with Iran, from the U.S. perspective, we’ve already been involved in, you know, trying to change their behavior for three decades.

    But for the U.N. and for the international community, as Ken said, those sanctions are relatively new.  And these things, they do take time.  And I don’t have all of the numbers here, but in our database we have, you know, how long in these other cases.  You know, Libya, the sanctions were in place for 20 years.  Iraq, you know, was a decade or more.

    So, being patient is one thing.  I think, you know, Ambassador Einhorn talked about the first sort of phase of what do we do now being tightening – I mean, those pretty tough sanctions that are CISADA and 1929 have only been in place less than a year, and some countries are still – a lot of countries don’t have the legal machinery to quickly implement, or the enforcement machinery that the United States does.

    So I think giving the existing sanctions a little bit of time to be implemented, to be better enforced is one thing.  I think the other lesson here is it seems to me that regime change is probably off the table now as a goal, but there has been some confusion about that off and on the table in Iran.  That wasn’t achieved in any of these cases.

    I think achievement of other goals is possible.  One, I was interested that the ambassador didn’t really very directly answer the questions about whether or not the sanctions are denying materials for these more advanced centrifuges, but that’s at least – clearly the sanctions are raising the cost to Iran of the program.

    And, you know, it’s hard to know without access to classified information the degree to which they’re slowing it down or impeding the development of these more sophisticated technologies, but that’s certainly possible.

    And then the final thing I would say is, don’t focus only on the cost side.  The kind of framework that we use for assessing sanctions – very simplistic but I think useful is that the costs to the target country of defying the sanctioner’s demands if sanctions are to be successful have to be higher than the cost to the target of complying with those demands.

    And so that’s really – that’s where Iranian intentions come in.  I mean, if they really believe that nuclear weapons are essential to their national security or regime’s survival, they’re probably not going to give them up for any price.  And so then you get into questions about the Green Movement and opposition and divisions with Iran and whether or not sanctions can in any way contribute to deepening those fissures.

    But I think a couple of cautions here.  One is clearly that we don’t want to do anything that would contribute to a rally around the flag, in fact, in Iran rather than feeding the – helping the opposition to the degree we can.

    And, secondly, this issue of unilateral versus multilateral.  And I think that the administration has just done a fantastic job in getting, you know, the international coalition and getting the U.N. to go along with 1929 last year.  But the Russians have sort of said, you know, enough already.  You know, we’ve done the sanctions that we think are appropriate.  We’re not going to do anymore.

    And I think we have to be careful about not starting now to unwind or to undermine that international coalition, which is what I think is really having this isolating effect on Iran that could be quite helpful.

    So I’ll stop there.  Thanks.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you very much.  John?

    JOHN LIMBERT:  Could I –

    MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

    MR. LIMBERT:  Well, thank you very much.

    First of all, let me thank Bob Einhorn, in absentia, for his service.  I worked with him during my brief stint in 2009, 2010 when I was back at State Department.  As you can tell, he has undertaken a very tough issue and he is working at it with a lot of patience, a lot of forbearance, a lot of creativity to work – to help us work our way out of this current impasse.  So he has a lot – he certainly has my respect and my thanks.

    I’d like to pose three questions on this issue of sanctions.  The first is why has – why has the United States used sanctions as a policy tool?  Second, will sanctions bring the Iranian – the Islamic Republic of Iran to follow different policies on nuclear issues and other things?  And, three, in the long term, will sanctions contribute to breaking the current deadlock in U.S.-Iranian relations?

    On the first issue, why have we used sanctions; well, we use sanctions because it is tool that we know – Katzman mentioned since 1984 – actually since 1979, in some unpleasantness that I was involved in back then, we’ve used sanctions against Iran since then.

    They’re something we know.  They’re something with which we have experience, not that they’re easy but we know how to apply them, we know how to negotiate them, we know how to negotiate with the Russians or with the Chinese or with the P5+1 or the E-10 or whatever other groups they are.  We know how to get them through the U.N.

    So, it’s something we’re familiar with, and we’ve had a lot of sanctions.  We can put on new ones.  We can change them.  We can intensify them.  But it’s something that we know how to do.  On the other hand, changing the unproductive relationship what we’ve had with Iran for the last 30 years, now that we do not know how to do.  That’s hard.  That is very hard.  That is very hard.

    We don’t have a lot of experience with that.  Efforts at outreach, as Ambassador Einhorn mentioned, have not been very – have not been successful.  I mean, since President Obama took office now, it’s been over two – it’s been over two years and there’s been exactly one high-level meeting officially between American and Iranian officials bilateral.  And the results of that, as we know, were disappointing.

    So, faced with frustration – and it has been a very frustrating process, and you hear words like Iranian intransigence, Iranian this, Iranian unwillingness to act, and so forth and so on.  Faced with that, our first reaction has been to say, well, we tried.  We tried.  But they are so unreasonable and so stubborn and so irrational and so intransigent that we’ll have to go back to what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years because that’s what we know how to do.

    Now, we heard about a dual-track program.  Well, with apologies to my friends, I’ve never seen a train that could run on two tracks at the same time.  Frankly, the problem with sanctions is they took – they overtook this idea of engagement.  They simply sucked all the air out of the room.

    We heard about the May 2010 tripartite deal.  It wasn’t perfect.  It had flaws.  Maybe it was 80 percent of what was in the original 2009 reactor deal.  But because it came at the very same time that resolution 1929 was tabled, we could not consider it seriously.  Sanctions – this is the whole sanction process.  This sanction train, sanction juggernaut, whatever you want to call it, had pretty much tied our hands.

    And we ended up looking like, unfortunately – this was very unfortunate – we ended up looking like we could not take yes for an answer, although that agreement did – as I said, gave about 80 percent of what we had agreed to less than a year earlier.  Maybe it was six or seven months earlier.

    OK, the second question, will sanctions bring the Iranians to follow different policies?  Well, they might; they might, in the sense – but maybe not from an economic standpoint but from a psychological and political standpoint.

    You know, we talked – some people mentioned North Korea.  You know, it belabors the point to say Iran is North Korea.  Obviously Iran is not North Korea.  Obviously Iran is not North Korea.  But for the Iranians, as I read the policies, they do not like being in the position of international pariahs or polecats.  They do not like being in the same position as the Sudanese or the Libyans.  The Libyans, they go back a little bit.

    But being in that kind of category is somehow at variance with their own view of themselves and their place in the world – place in the world.  And being singled out as somehow international malefactors, violators, whatever they are, is not pleasing to them, whatever the economic – whatever the economic effects.

    The other question about the link to human rights is a very interesting question – a very interesting question, a very sensitive one.  But what I do – what I have heard from some – from Iranian friends is if you can – to say, look, if you, the Americans and others, can do this right and do something that visibly penalizes the people that are beating us, imprisoning us, torturing us, intimidating us, we’re all for it, if you can do that.

    But these things – I mean, these things in general are a pretty blunt instrument, but if this can be done, it would be, I think, seen as constructive internally in Iran.  It brings me to my last question:  Will sanctions bring the Iranians – will sanctions help break the deadlock?

    Well, as I mentioned, they haven’t in 30 years.  You know, for 30 years the Iranians have been defying the experts, who have said, well, all of this economic mismanagement, all this blind ideology, all this inept diplomacy, all of this failure to invest in infrastructure, the failure to make deals being so difficult over in negotiations, it’s got to bring this government – either bring it down or bring it to its senses.  It can’t last.

    Well, guess what?  It has.  The experts have been almost universally wrong on this particular issue.  I’m reminded of what an Iranian political scientist once told me.  He said, look – he said, we Iranians, we never give in to pressure.  We only give in to a lot of pressure.  (Laughter.)

    And, you know, what is a lot of pressure in this case?  Well, judging by history, judging by what happened back in the ’80s, the decisive factor was not sanctions, which were already there – which were already there and had been there for a long time.  The decisive factor was price of oil.  It’s pretty – I mean, people have pointed out it’s pretty difficult to make these things work if oil is $70 a barrel or now a hundred dollars a barrel, but $70 a barrel.

    On the other hand, in the late 1980s when oil was, what, $12 a barrel, the situation was very different and we saw – that was the period when the Islamic Republic did what it said it would never do and agreed to an end to the Iran-Iraq War and a ceasefire.  And one of the reasons it did so, basically because it was broke and its oil was that.

    Now, can we – can we do that?  Can we get that?  Well, you know, I doubt it, politically.  If we could cut our consumption – our own consumption, or others could cut their consumption to the point where it would bring the price of oil down, it might have some effects on our Saudi friends as well.

    But that is what I say falls into the category of a lot of pressure, and that’s what we may be looking at.  But until then, we’re looking at a situation where Iran has essentially defied all of these sanctions for 30 years and takes a certain pride in doing so and is very likely to continue to take a pride in doing so.

    So, on that note, as I say, we do – just to sum up, we do sanctions because we know how to do them.  We have not been able to work other ways.  I am looking for – I still am looking for that second track and that engagement track.  But once the sanctions got going, it was very difficult to get any attention or focus on doing something else.

    Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you, John.  There is much food for thought here, and I know many of you have questions.  Let me just ask one quick question.  And I think this might be more a question for Kim.  But I’m wondering if you can tell us anything historically about how sanctions are unwound because some of the North Korea actions convinced me that sometimes even when we decide to stop doing sanctions, it doesn’t kind of turn off as quickly as we would like.

    Kim, do you have any comments on that?

    MS. ELLIOT:  I actually have an RA right now.  He’s going through and trying to put together all of the sanctions that we have currently against Sudan, so that, you know, if things sort of – if this partition goes well, the independence in the south, and we want to start to change our relationship with Sudan, what would it take to do it?

    So, we’re in the process of, in part, to sort of explore this question.  And I at one point did a chart of sort of every five-year period, all of the outstanding U.S. sanctions, and it just goes up and up and up because they almost never get lifted.  And it does become – I think it’s a general pattern that it is very difficult to unwind these things.

    I think there were some particular reasons in the North Korea case in terms of sort of the particular provisions against – I assume you’re talking about the Banco Delta Asia.  But it’s a general thing that you often have – go back to what I said, that it’s very seldom that we have sort of very clean, clear-cut results, a clear, you know, victory.

    You can see this in Cuba, you know, sort of – well, that’s a clear failure, I would argue, but you almost always have some constituency there that is very, very committed to maintaining the sanctions because there aren’t 100 percent success – I guess sort of an amorphous, you know, unorganized group that may want to lift the sanctions, and that political dynamic is it’s the basic collective action problem that’s very hard to overcome.

    So, I think the unwinding of sanctions, in part because in almost all of these big cases there is – I mean, the list is going to be, you know, pages long of the Sudan sanctions.  We pile on – and you can see this very much in Iran, and Ken knows this very well, having tracked all of the various legislation.  So part of it is just the legal process of unwinding all this stuff, but then you also have the political dynamics can be very difficult.  So it is an issue.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you.  Let me just mention that I know that Ken Katzman has a hard stop at 10:45.  We may be able to go a few minutes beyond that, but we welcome your questions.  Yes?

    Q:  Thanks.  It’s Indira Lakshmanan.  I’m from Bloomberg.

    Ambassador Limbert, I wanted to ask you – very provocative comments you made, and I would like to ask, it sounds like your implication is that since two tracks aren’t working, that the sanction track would have to be lifted for the engagement track to work.  So I’m asking if that’s what you’re suggesting, and what is the logical conclusion of the three questions and answers that you offered us?

    MR. LIMBERT:  No, it isn’t that you – you know, that you lift one or the other, but the point being that, again, just simply based on experience and the laws of – the iron laws of bureaucracy, it’s difficult – it’s very difficult to do more than one thing at a time.

    And when sanctions came under discussion, we met – think about this:  After 2009, when we started – after October of 2009 and the collapse of the first TRR deal, when we started discussing – in the lead-up to the resolution of 1929, I mean, how many times did we speak to the Russians?  How many times did we speak to the Chinese?

    How many times did we speak to the various other members of the P5+1, to the nonpermanent members of the Security Council and so forth and so on?  How many times did our Secretary of State speak to her counterpart and how many times did the President have to get involved and so forth?

    Compare that to the number of times we spoke to the Iranians, who were the subject of this whole thing.  This whole thing was supposed to be about Iran.  How many – after 2000, in that whole period after Ambassador Burns and Jalili met in Geneva, as Ambassador Einhorn spoke – zero.  Now, that, to me, suggests a certain imbalance in where our attention is – where our intention is going.

    But we did that, as I suggested, because that’s what we knew how to do.  And what we did not know how to do was to keep this and get this engagement policy with the Iranians going – not that the Iranians, of course, were going to make it easy for us.

    Q:  (Off mic.)

    MR. LIMBERT:  Well, I’ve always said – to echo Kim here – patience, patience and more patience.  You are – you’re going to – there’s a place at Esfahan called the Ali Qapu.  It’s the big gate.  It’s the big gate – famous historical – and I’ve always said, if the Ali Qapu, if the big gate is closed, you look for what our Hungarian friends call the kiskapu, the little gate, or the loophole – to look for that and not give –

    I mean, we said yes.  We said we were interested in engagement.  We said we were – engagement was still on the table.  But it was, frankly, difficult to tell that from our actions.  And I think we needed to – we need to pursue it with patience, with forbearance, and knowing that you’re not going to have immediate success or quick success, and to measure your – you know, to measure your progress in very small steps.

    MS. ELLIOT:  Could I add to that quickly?

    MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

    MS. ELLIOT:  Just going back to sort of the little framework, I think, you know, it’s bridging that gap between the cost of defiance, which is sort of where we are now with sanctions, and the cost to Iran of compliance.

    And so we’ve put a lot of effort on the sanction side, I think as the ambassador was saying, and the question is, you know, are we really paying enough attention to what can we do in terms of, you know, identifying Iran’s red lines.  What do they really need out of this bargain and can we achieve it?

    Where I’m maybe a little bit more pessimistic is – and I would like to ask maybe both Ken and the ambassador if they have any comments – is not being an Iran expert, my impression is it’s much harder – I mean, I think the Obama administration did try to engage, and then that was right around the time of the election.

    And now they’re in a much – I think they’re feeling vulnerable, is my impression.  And so, the question really is, are the Iranians able to engage with us at this point, given what’s going on politically, and even more so now with what’s going on in the broader Middle East and how that may interact with Iran.

    So that’s my kind of concern is that we may have missed a window of opportunity to engage with Iran, and there’s lots of water under the bridge in terms of the enrichment going forward, increasing to 20 percent, and it’s just getting harder and harder to identify what’s the package that’s going to be acceptable to both parties.

    MR. THIELMANN:  And anything for Ken in particular, who’s got to leave in a couple of minutes?  Yes, Harry?

    Q:  I’d like to ask a question –

    MR. THIELMANN:  We’ll get a mic to you.

    Q:  Sorry.  Harry Blaney, Center for International Policy, National Security Program.

    I’d like to ask Ken – if he wants to go off the record, given the circumstances – the same question that John named:  Do you have thoughts about how a strategy might work that is not necessarily the one which we are on now, or ideas about things that you know about – if you want to put it that way – that you would like to reflect on and share with us.  Thank you.

    MR. KATZMAN:  There’s things I know about that I cannot share with you, unfortunately.  But I did lay out some – you know, some ideas of my own, and talking with opposition people.  You know, I did talk to people in the Green Movement quite a bit.  They are very active.

    And they actually – you know, one of the arguments against sort of a lot of the sanctions has been they will cause people in Iran to rally around Ahmadinejad.  It has been really the opposite.  The Green Movement’s message is that Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader are doing exactly what John, I think, said the Iranians do not want to happen – becoming a malefactor, becoming a pariah, becoming an outcast.

    And this is really what the Green Movement challenge to the regime is, is to say, we do not want to be outcasts.  We are not North Korea.  We will not accept a situation where we cannot visit the West, where we cannot integrate, where we cannot get on the Internet, where we cannot interact with global ideas.

    And the sanctions really have reinforced, in many ways, that message.  They’ve made the Green Movement’s case in many ways that the regime is bringing this isolation down upon them.  This is why I think, you know, the sanctions that are in place are starting to really, really work.

    And I did lay out some ideas that are sort of floating around about, you know, the next phase maybe – you know, some of these human rights issues, “name and shame,” diplomatic sanctions – sanctions that don’t bite the economy necessarily but show that it’s not business as usual with Iran.

    Now, you know, I appreciate, obviously – you know, I agree; I think, you know, the Obama administration did have a sincere approach to engagement with Iran.  There were sanctions also, but there was a different tone in President Obama’s – particularly his early statements, saying we are ready to turn the page; we do want to pursue consistent engagement, not just attend one meeting, you know, and then not others, but we will be at the table at every meeting.  And it really was a different tone.

    And then, you know, things intervened.  You know, we have the – you know, we have these two kids who wander across the border and are there for more than one year.  We have Mr. Levinson, who we now learn is alive and probably was taken by Iran, even though they said they had no information – you know, the Iranians do things – they are their own worst enemy, I would say.

    They are extremely hard to deal with, and I think, you know, it certainly reinforces those who are in the camp of saying there really is no discernable deal to be – to be had with this regime.  There is no way anyone can envision a deal with this regime because they just don’t seem to be obeying international norms of behavior.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Daryl?

    Q: Thanks, everyone, for your great presentations – very rich discussion.  I have a question for John Limbert about the longer-term, broader solution that may be out there.

    It seems as though, as Bob Einhorn has said and several of you have said, the conditions may not be there right now, and that sanctions may help change Iran’s calculus.  But, I mean, if we look back at the negotiations that the Europeans had with Iran that broke up in 2005, and we look at the statements that are being made today by the secretary of state, Ms. Clinton, and the Iranians about the broad parameters of their issues and concerns –

    I mean, could you just outline whether, you know, you, based upon your experience, see the possibility for a resolution that allows the Iranians to continue to pursue a peaceful program under some sort of safeguards – enhanced safeguard system, and that addresses the lingering concerns about the weaponization activities, you know, and how, from a diplomat’s standpoint, you get to the stage in those discussions where you’re getting beyond the specific confidence-building issues and measures like the TRR proposal and you finally get to the discussion about the broader deal that may be out there?

    So, I mean, this is more of a philosophical, theoretical question, but you’ve got real-world experience, and I think that’s a question that many people are wondering as we see this process drag on.  Thanks.

    MR. LIMBERT:  Yeah.  No, it’s a good question, and the question that comes up – I mean, behind it I think is this idea of, is there space for a deal at all?  And maybe there is not.  There may not be.

    But, in a situation like this you use – you fall back on – I guess you call them the traditional tools of diplomacy, which is patience, forbearance and listening.  Some people in this room I think were also witnesses to this.  I cite my favorite authority in this issue, and that’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said at one point – and I say others can correct my memory if I didn’t hear this correctly, but he was asked – at an off-the-record session he was asked, is Iran seeking a nuclear weapon?

    And his answer was – I thought his answer was very interesting.  He said, no, we are not.  We oppose nuclear weapons on ideological grounds.  They are weapons of murder.  We oppose them on political grounds.  They do not serve our political purpose.  They are expensive, they are dangerous, and so forth and so on.

    Now, you can believe him or not.  That’s up to you.  That’s up to you.  The evidence may point the other way.  But this was what was interesting:  He said, so we oppose them, but the decision to build nuclear weapons or not build nuclear weapons is our decision.  It is for us, Iran, to make, not the IAEA, not the United States, not the Security Council, not the United Nations.

    Now, anyone who has ever had an adolescent at home will recognize this kind of reasoning, but it’s very – to me it’s very revealing of sort of the way that at least this particular Iranian looked at the issue.  It was not an issue of HEU or LUE or the additional protocol.  It was a matter of national rights and position in the world and who decides what Iran is going to do.

    MR. KATZMAN:  (Off mic.)

    MR. THIELMANN:  Sure.

    MR. KATZMAN:  Yeah, I certainly take that point.  And, you know, I’m not a proliferation expert, but Iran is a party to the – the problem is Iran is a party to an international agreement whereby they’ve agreed to give up that right in exchange for certain integration.  And so, for them to now say it’s up to us whether we’re building a nuclear weapon or not seems to, you know, make it even more difficult to find a common-ground framework.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Diane?

    Q:  Yes.  Diane Perlman, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason.

    I mean, on that point, according to the law of opposites, the more we pressure them, the more value we put on it and the more they want them.  So, what we’re doing is having the opposite effect, which also goes along with the research on sanctions, which can be, you know, humiliating, intimidating, backing into a corner, if you understand conflict dynamics.

    So, anyway, like after 9/11, I understand there were a million Iranians having candlelight vigils for us, and there was a peace offering in 2003, and then Bush called them, you know, “the axis of evil” and started threatening them.

    And, John Limbert, you said that sanctions is what we do, and our primary approaches are coercive, punitive, isolating, backing into a corner, which, as you suggest, are likely to provoke defiance in what Johan Galtung called in 1967 the “naïve theory of sanctions.”  And also, what we mean by engagement a lot is by pressuring them, except with smiling while we’re doing it, which still can be humiliating.

    So I’m wondering also about other – balancing punitive, coercive e approaches with positive inducements, like we did with the Cuban missile crisis – a face-saving way out, tension reduction, or figuring out what they want.  And you can hold – the punitive stuff can be sort of more quiet, not in their face, in the background.  And I imagine the research on – have you looked at the research on positive inducements?

    MR. THIELMANN:  OK, I think that was a comment, but if you have a response –

    MR. LIMBERT:  Not really.

    MS. ELLIOT:  I have maybe just a quick one, which is I think there’s a lot more attention now to positive inducements.  I guess my own take is it’s carrots and sticks, not either/or – in most cases are going to be what you need to try to deploy.

    But I will also mention there’s a book that’s going to be coming out I hope later this year by – organized by Etel Solingen, UC – I think she’s at Irvine.  I forget.  But anyway, with a series of chapters and case studies on trying to look at positive inducements.  So, there is some ongoing research.  Marc Noland, my former colleague at PIIE, with Steph Haggard, is doing the North Korea chapter.  And I think there’s one on Iran.  I forget who’s doing it.

    So I think that they’re trying to really systematically explore the positive inducement side of these things, so that should be really interesting.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the front row?

    Q:  Hi, Sameera Daniels (sp).  I lived in Iran for a bit at one point.  And in the ’70s, the one thing that I remember very vividly is that at the time, Iran was very – was looking forward in terms of its energy production, and I remember a comment where one oil representative, Iranian, said, you know, we’re not going to have oil – you know, that is going to drop off.   This is, you know, a theory – I mean, they understood their situation over the long term.

    And as a consequence, I – you know, we focus on Ahmadinejad, but, you know, there are rational – there are others, and it’s always an issue of, you know, who are you going to privilege?  And in that context, don’t you think that it is looking – it has been intermittently or continuously looking at its energy, you know, situation and maybe acting rationally and realizing that, you know, maybe the United States and other countries may want its oil as well, or may invade it.  I mean, some may – I mean, that kind of irrational, you know, or rational variable sets in.

    And in consequence of that, what do you think – how can you – I mean, is that a potential scenario that they’re considering?

    MR. THIELMANN:  John, do you want to take that?

    MR. LIMBERT:  Well, just on the energy, you know, experts who are much more knowledgeable than I – and I cite people like Stern at Princeton and Farudin Feshar Aqin (ph) and others – who, you know, for years have been saying, look, this can’t last.

    Their consumption is going like this.  Their production is flat.  They’re not investing as they should.  They are not investing as they should.  They are not making the deals that – even when they were not under the kinds of sanctions that they are today, they were not unwilling to make the deals that they should, and they’ve all been wrong.

    Why?  Maybe they’ve been lucky.  At one point I think they discovered – made a gas discovery that got them 500,000 barrels a day of condensates that they were not counting – not counting on.  Now they can sell their oil for $110 a barrel where they couldn’t – where it was 60 (dollars) or 70 (dollars) before.

    But, for whatever reason, these predictions have not panned out.  But the basic fact that you mention is true, that – I mean, look at – you know, look at Iran’s economy.  Other than oil, what do they have?  Pistachios and carpets.  That’s essentially the same thing they had in the 17th century.  You know, and economically that hasn’t gone – that hasn’t gone anywhere.  But, again, the question that it leads to, you know, politically:  So what?  What has that led to?

    And I should also say that I think every statement that the secretary – the Secretary of State, for example, was asked at one point about the Bushir reactor, when the Iranians announced that they were starting the Bushir reactor.

    The Bushir reactor was there when you were in Iran – when you were in Iran, and it was obsolete then.  The best damn thing they could – the best thing they could do with that is scrap it, sell it for scrap.  But, anyway, it’s a matter of national pride.

    But, anyway, she was asked, what do you think about the Bushir reactor, and she said, we have no problem with it.  There are safeguards, and it’s a civilian – and what was the Iranian reaction?  Ah, there’s got to be a trick.  (Laughter.)  She’s obviously up to something.  You can’t trust – you know, can’t trust her.  But the statement was quite matter of – is a matter – you know, was quite matter of fact.

    MR. THIELMANN:  One more question?  Is that all the questions?

    If so, let me just say that – I guess my answer, John, to the dual-track question is I grew up with NATO’s dual-track decision of 1979, which was both a negotiating approach and sort of the stick of deploying new INF missiles in Europe.

    But, to your point, we had a very well-established diplomatic and multiple diplomatic engagement throughout with the Soviet Union, so that’s certainly a significant difference between then and this case.

    Several themes have emerged from our discussions today.  I think they’ve been very rich.  Certainly sanctions do make nuclear weapons and missile developments more difficult and more time-consuming.  Sanctions do raise the political and economic costs for Iran’s leadership of withholding cooperation from the IAEA and defying the U.N. Security Council.

    But the sanctions are also means to an end, not the end itself, or as Secretary Clinton said, means to achieve leverage.  The sanctions alone will not force Iran’s compliance, so we have more work to do than just the more effective implementation of sanctions.  Our crystal ball is still very clouded on the thinking of Iran’s leadership and what exactly the best way or the portal – to use Esfahan metaphor – through which pass.

    Thank you very much for attending today.  And please stay tuned for the next panel discussion that ACA will host.  And this one will focus on the military option.  And we are talking about Iran, not Libya at this session.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

     

    (END)

    Description: 

    Transcript Available. After four rounds of UN sanctions and on-going discussion of introducing additional measures by the United States and its allies, the effectiveness of sanctions in constraining Iran's nuclear program has come under increased international scrutiny. With an Iranian regime accustomed to withstanding deprivations in the past and increasing political turmoil in the Middle East, measuring the impact of sanctions on the Iranian decision-making process remains a difficult challenge.

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    ACA Senior Fellow Talks Missile Defense at Penn State

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    Siren Song: Strategic Missile Defense

    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
    Penn State University
    March 3, 2011

    Most of you in this audience will recognize sirens as mythical creatures from the Greek classics, dangerous bird-women, who lured passing sailors with their enchanting voices to shipwreck on the rocky shore.  Here is the encounter of Odysseus.  Warned in advance, Odysseus had his men stuff wax in their ears and had himself bound to the mast so that he could hear the sublime singing without dooming his crew to destruction.  Those with a more Germanic bent may visualize the maiden depicted by Heinrich Heine in his famous poem “Die Lorelei” -- Ihr gold'nes Geschmeide blitzet, and so forth.   The message is the same.  The girl’s face and voice are lovely, but if we don’t take our eyes off her and pay attention to the rocks, we’re all going down.  That is the thrust of my message today with regard to strategic missile defense – a siren song of our era.

    Short Course

    Before making my case, let me provide some context with a crash course on the weapons we’re talking about and a short review of the arms control treaties that have been reducing our bloated nuclear arsenals from their Cold War peak

    First, The Weapons

    Strategic offensive missiles are the ICBMs and SLBMs that can be launched from Russia to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental U.S. or vice versa, traveling 5,500 km in some 30 minutes.  The United States has only one missile defense system today that is designed to intercept such weapons, the Ground-Based Interceptor.  The so-called “GBI.” is a large multi-stage missile that destroys an incoming warhead by crashing a refrigerator-sized kill vehicle into it at extremely high speed.  The interceptor is guided by a variety of sensors -- one on the missile itself and others on satellites in space and in radars on the ground, like the Sea-Based X-Band Radar.  By 2020, current plans call for the U.S. to deploy a second type of interceptor missile, which can destroy ICBMs, the Aegis SM-3 IIB.  The other missile defense systems you read and hear about are for tactical or theater threats; they do not offer a means to defend against ICBMs.

    Now, the Treaties

    Less than one month ago, a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called “New START,” entered into force between Russia and the United States.  This was the latest way station on the long and rocky journey toward a safer and saner world.  Some would say the journey began in 1963 when the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union signed a treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere (LTBT).  That historic milestone was reached shortly after the world came to the brink of the abyss in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  It also followed the circulation of reports showing that fission bi-products from atmospheric nuclear testing, such as Strontium 90, were showing up in mother’s milk and baby teeth, all over the world.   Others would point to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the starting point.  This treaty required the five countries which then had nuclear weapons to start getting rid of them and the states which did not to forego the nuclear option.  While both of these treaties are in New START’s “family tree,” the first binding bilateral limit on strategic arms was the 1972 Interim Agreement coming out of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and known as SALT I.  The parent of New START is the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), signed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhael Gorbachev.  This treaty marked the first time the sides had agreed to specific numerical reductions in their strategic arsenals, to be accompanied by on-site inspections.

    …and the Dead Ends

    The journey to New START has also been marked by some detours and dead-ends.  The Carter Administration’s intention of ratifying the SALT II agreement of June 1979 became politically untenable once the Soviets invaded Afghanistan a few months later.  The START II agreement reached in 1994 was ultimately doomed by George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which had been in effect for 30 years.  And then there was the 2002 Moscow Treaty (aka SORT).  Although this treaty was ratified, it was deeply flawed, lacking verification provisions, a definition of the items being limited, a timetable for reductions, and durability.  (It was, in fact only scheduled to last one day at the end of 2012.)  Good riddance to that one!

    The Sound of the Siren

    Throughout the long and arduous quest to reduce nuclear arsenals, the strategic defense siren has been singing.  In listening to that song – like the boatman on the Rhine or the heroes of Greek mythology – Americans have been diverted from the deep water channel that provides an eventual way out of our existential dilemma.  Moreover, our boat is taking on water, and may, even now, be heading for the rocks.

    The most successful communicator for strategic missile defense was the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.  Here are some excerpts from his famous “Star Wars” speech in March 2003:

    “…rely[ing] on the specter of retaliation, on mutual threat [is] a sad commentary on the human condition. Wouldn't it be better to save lives than to avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability?

    “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

    ”…isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war?

    “I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.

    “… tonight we're launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history.”

    Adding to the impact of these stirring words, the Pentagon later provided film footage of ballistic missile interceptors smashing into target warheads at incredible closing speeds, producing brilliant explosions against the blackness of space.  Commentators contributed the powerful metaphor of “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”  A lobbying organization called “High Frontier” offered animated videos showing U.S. x-ray lasers in space zapping swarms of warheads careening toward the American homeland.  These fantasy scenarios were picked up by the mainstream media and run whenever the subject of advanced missile defenses was in the news. When the Cold War deflated the perceptions of nuclear danger, the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission on Foreign Ballistic Missile Threats and a 1999 National Intelligence Estimate picked up the slack.   Each offered shrill warnings about the rapidly growing ballistic missile threat to the United States and its allies from “rogue” states.  And for a quarter century, a cheering squad of missile defense enthusiasts has been nourished by Congressional appropriation of some $5-10 billion/year to universities, research labs, and weapons manufacturers.

    Physics Lesson

    I think it’s now time in my narrative to impart a few observations about rocket science and physics.  The first technical challenge with strategic missile defense is related to the extremely high velocity of warheads once the propulsion phase ends.

    Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) travel on a ballistic trajectory like an artillery shell.  Their “boost phase,” when the rocket engines are firing, lasts only 5-7 minutes.  Then, the warheads’ carrier, or “bus” separates from the large booster stages.  At burnout, the ICBM warheads are traveling 7 kilometers per second through the void of space—much faster than shorter-range ballistic missiles that have been deployed by the North Koreans and Iranians.  ICBM warheads are therefore much harder to intercept.  They even travel faster than the defensive missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California.  With our current system “architecture,” we would probably get just one chance to look and shoot, before it was too late.

    As the warheads travel through the mid-course phase in the vacuum of space, they are relatively small and have no heat signature, which could otherwise reveal their presence to infra-red sensors.  So very powerful radars must be used to detect and track these objects from thousands of kilometers away.  These very expensive and huge tracking radars themselves become very lucrative strategic targets in a crisis, because their destruction renders the entire missile defense system ineffective.  The U.S. system relies heavily on the Shemya radar located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain and a sea-based X-band radar floating off Alaska in the North Pacific.  Whether or not they can survive at the outset of hostilities is a largely ignored issue.  Moreover, in a nuclear conflict, the radars’ performance can be significantly degraded by detonating a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.

    But the real glass jaw of strategic missile defense comes from the ease of spoofing the sensors.  The “bus” carrying the warheads can emit a cloud of chaff (composed of highly-reflective foil) as it releases one or more warheads so that the exact location of actual warheads is obscured. The bus can also deploy decoys (basically, mylar-coated balloons) along with the warheads.  During the warheads’ flight through space, most of their flight time, these decoys look the same as actual warheads to the radar.  There is much open testimony over the years about their effectiveness from those involved in designing ways to defeat Moscow’s strategic ballistic missile defense system in the late 60s and 70s.  There has been almost no operational testing of the current systems’ ability to discriminate warheads from decoys.

    As if the problem were not difficult enough, the offense has another trick up its sleeve to defeat the defense. The warheads can be made to maneuver.  So to return to the earlier metaphor, it’s even harder to hit a bullet with a bullet when the first bullet starts to bob and weave.  Even though the U.S. has conducted flight tests with maneuverable re-entry vehicles, known as “MaRVs,” we never actually deployed any because other penetration aids were judged sufficiently effective.

    My bottom line:  Missile defenses against ballistic missiles with conventional warheads may, in certain situations, contribute to national security, whether they are 20% or 80% reliable.  Missile defenses against nuclear-tipped intercontinental range ballistic missiles are worthless in deterring attack – think about “only” 20-40% of nuclear warheads getting through -- and disastrous in curbing the arms race.

    The U.S. defense community has not been deaf to the lure of the siren song, but through most of the Cold War, it ultimately turned away.  It first gave up trying to protect the U.S. population from a deliberate Soviet missile attack, changing the mission of its ABM in the mid-sixties to protecting against a deliberate Chinese or accidental Soviet launch.  Then in the late-sixties it gave up population defense entirely by deploying interceptors around ICBM fields.  This was done in the hope of strengthening deterrence by affecting the exchange ratio in the Soviet calculus – how many attacking warheads would be needed to attack warheads in silos.  Finally, the U.S. won limits on the number and location of strategic defense radars and interceptors through the 1972 ABM Treaty, completely banning systems designed to provide ballistic missile defense of national territory.  The Pentagon and Congress later judged that even the U.S. ABM system allowed under the treaty was not worth the effort, and closed it down after only a few months of operation.  Indeed, it ultimately abandoned President Reagan’s “Star Wars” fantasy because Special Advisor Paul Nitze’s criterion could not be satisfied -- missile defense systems would have to be “cost effective at the margin,” meaning that they made no sense if an enemy could more cheaply counter a missile defense interceptor by adding an additional offensive warhead.

    But alas, our ship of state did not make it free to open waters.

    --  Spooked by a North Korean missile launch, the U.S. Congress passed the 1999 Missile Defense Act, which provided the legislative imprimatur to deploying a strategic missile defense system to defend U.S. territory against limited attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)…”  Senate passage was almost unanimous; the House bill passed by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.

    --  In 2001 President George W. Bush announced U.S. withdraws from the ABM Treaty, which had served for 30 years as a linch-pin of strategic arms control.  Previous UN General Assembly voting had shown strong international support for retention of the treaty.

    -- At Bush’s direction, the Pentagon rushed to deploy strategic defenses in Alaska and California by 2004, even before they had been operationally tested.

    --  This Alaska- and California-based system remain largely irrelevant in defending against the huge potential intercontinental ballistic missile threat we face today (from Russia and China).  And the threat against which they were designed to defend is still not even on the near horizon, seven years after deployment.

    --  The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty acknowledges in its preamble the interrelationship between strategic offences and defenses, but the treaty text itself remained missile-defense-friendly – leaving U.S. missile defense plans unaffected and papering over a significant difference between the parties on the impact of strategic defenses.

    -- The Senate’s Resolution of Ratification decrees that there will be no negotiation on US missile defenses.

    We have thus bought time for implementing New START as the next step in nuclear arms reductions, but we’ve made negotiating follow-on reductions virtually impossible until our divergent views on missile defense are reconciled.

    The View from Moscow

    Russian reactions to the New START treaty and the U.S. missile defense program are complicated and conflicted. Moscow appears satisfied that it can proceed safely with modest reductions in strategic offensive systems under New START and has accepted NATO’s stated intention to develop territorial missile defenses for Europe.

    However, Russian officials continue to voice concerns about future improvements in U.S. missile defense systems, as they did in Russia’s unilateral statement to New START, warning against a “quantitative and qualitative” buildup.  Moscow has been dubious for a long time about U.S. portrayals of a potential strategic threat from Iran and North Korea – in public and in confidential dialogue with the United States.[1] Even after Russia’s acceptance of NATO’s offer to cooperate on missile defense, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin openly declared, “Russia does not see any missile threats in northern Europe, so the [US] defense systems should not be deployed there.”[2]

    Moscow appears to accept the logic of U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense, but remains skeptical such cooperation could ever lead to a safe and truly equitable joint relationship.  Russia demands full equality in the control of any cooperative approach to missile defense.  According to Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov, “We also want to ensure that Russia participates as an equal partner. Only then can a missile defense system be created that satisfies all sides.”[3]

    In spite of President Medvedev’s upbeat rhetoric about his conversations at the November 2010 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, his emphasis on “absolute equality” and endorsement of a side-by-side “sector-based” missile defense system appear to go far beyond the evolving concept articulated by NATO.  In fact, Medvedev’s characterization of his discussions does not seem consistent with the territorial defense plan outlined by NATO.  Moreover, his emphasis on the interrelationship between European missile defenses and Russian strategic offenses gives little support for the notion of a fundamental change in Russian strategic thinking.  According to Medvedev: “…countries still have their nuclear forces in place today, and when we look at missile defence we have to look too at the possible effects a European missile defence system could have on our nuclear forces.”[4]

    So why are the Russians so paranoid?  The Cold War is over.  We’re both threatened by those crazy people in Iran and North Korea.  Why not cooperate to defend ourselves against the real potential enemy?

    The Limits of Cooperation

    It is possible that disparate U.S. and Russian assessments of the Iranian threat will begin to merge if the threat grows – and that continually improving US-Russian relations will permit an unprecedented level of missile defense cooperation.  Yet, there is reason to question whether such efforts will bear enough fruit to satisfy Russia’s concerns about the potential long-term effect of U.S. strategic missile defenses on Russia’s deterrent.  Consider the view from Moscow.  The U.S. internal debate on New START revealed great sensitivity within the executive and legislative branches of the US Government to granting Russia access to telemetry involving missile defense flight tests.  (Congress prohibits it.)  The United States has made clear that cooperation does not mean building a “dual key” system, requiring the involvement of each side to operate.  Sergey Rogov, Director of Russia’s USA and Canada Institute, comments that: “Russia and the United States hardly are ready to agree to create a joint missile defense.”[5] Both sides would likely wish to retain their ability to operate missile defenses independently of the other. This independence might actually contribute to stability in a crisis because each side would be confident of the ability to control its own assets, but it would not foster arms race stability because suspicions of intent would linger.

    The most compelling reason to believe that cooperation will be insufficient is to imagine the United States in a position similar to Russia’s today.  Remember that the U.S. Senate had trouble even consenting to a nuclear arms control agreement that leaves U.S. missile defenses unlimited.  Unlike past strategic arms reduction treaties, New START did not pass overwhelmingly, even though it was a very good deal for us.  (It requires only modest reductions in U.S. offensive forces; it leaves force structures allowing the US to dominate treaty breakout contingencies; and it requires intrusive inspections that provide the US with critical information on Russian strategic forces otherwise unavailable.)  To expect the Russians to accept additional reductions in their strategic offensive forces without constraining U.S. options for expanding strategic missile defenses is unrealistic.

    The Enduring Reality of the Interrelationship Between Missile Offense and Defense

    The nuclear age carries a consistent core message concerning the interrelationship between strategic missile offense and strategic missile defense: a defensive buildup creates pressures for offensive countermeasures – and in such a competition, offenses are likely to cancel out the intended benefits of the defenses.  The offensive response occurs for two reasons:  First, because of the obvious need to compensate for the potential degradation in target coverage that could result from the other side’s ability to intercept incoming warheads; And second, because the missile defense programs tend to arouse suspicions about motives.  When the Soviets started deploying missile defenses around Moscow in the 1960s, the US found it “intensely threatening to our security,” according to distinguished scientist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, writing in 1964, “The fear of Soviet ABM[s]…seems to be more deeply felt than the fear of Soviet offensive forces.… This logic …led many people … to consider the Soviet ABM program as primarily intended to allow the Soviet Union to attack the U.S. without fear of retaliation.”[6]

    A contemporary reference to the offense-defense interrelationship can be found in September 2010 remarks of U.S. Strategic Forces Commander Gen. Kevin Chilton: “As we develop missile defense capability, we don’t want to develop it in such a manner that the Chinese would feel that their assured response, their deterrent, is put at risk, because that would encourage them to build more intercontinental missiles or capabilities.”[7]

    More Shields; More Swords

    Although many missile defense advocates contend that missile defenses discourage the proliferation of offensive missiles, empirical evidence shows just the opposite.  Missile defense systems encourage opponents to hold on to their offensive missiles or create more of them.  This is what happened with the U.S. response to the Moscow ABM system in the 1960s; with the Soviet Union’s response to Reagan’s “Star Wars” in the 1980s; with China’s response to Taiwan’s deployment of Patriot anti-tactical missile defenses in the 1990s.  During the last decade, Iran’s considerable build-up of medium-range missiles has occurred in the face of Israel’s extensive build-up of missile defenses; Pakistan’s continuing build-up of nuclear tipped missiles has occurred as India launched its own missile defense effort.

    The end of the Cold War and rapprochement between the US and Russia have helped convince the last four U.S. Administrations to alter the original mission of missile defense.  Instead of protecting against a catastrophic potential attack from Russia, the current objective is to protect against much more limited threats from “rogue” states.[8] Technical and budgetary obstacles have kept a lid on some of the more fanciful visions of the Reagan administration regarding lasers, particle-beam weapons, and space-based systems, narrowing the focus to more down-to-earth capabilities such as the GBI missiles currently deployed and a souped-up version of the SM-3 theater system (the Block IIB) that would give it anti-ICBM capabilities.  This system is in early development and is planned for deployment in 2020 under President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach.  [Slide 5] Both systems are likely to be in the spotlight during negotiations of a post-New START agreement.

    Some, like former Secretary of State Condi Rice, believe that the offense-defense dynamic was broken by U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002.[9] Yet, this interrelationship cannot be severed by unilateral action or simply dismissed as an attribute of the Cold War, for it flows not from history or treaty language, but from physics and psychology.

    The governments in Washington and Moscow, which control the vast majority of the world’s long-range ballistic missiles, demonstrate today the same dynamic on strategic missile defense they have demonstrated for decades.  One side pursues a major missile defense program; the other side seeks to limit it through negotiations and mitigate its impact through improvements in its own offensive forces.  However, there is one major difference: Moscow and Washington have changed sides.

    The Siren Song Surges

    During a long period of equilibrium under the conceptual foundation of the ABM Treaty, the sides were able to cut in half their huge offensive arsenals.  But the siren song surged and safe passage around the rocks is again threatened.

    Following passage of the Missile Defense Act of 1999 and U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty three years later, the conventional wisdom appears to have hardened around the notion that missile defenses should forever remain outside the arms control realm.  The 2010 elections would appear to have increased congressional determination to reject any limits on missile defenses. Changes in the New START resolution of approval constitute evidence of increased Senate resistance to such limits.

    If we want further reductions in nuclear weapons and better protection against them spreading to other countries, we need to tone down or tune out the siren song of strategic missile defense.

    One Approach

    One approach to tackling this dilemma would be simply to create a strategic missile defense interceptor limit in parallel with limits on offenses, for example, reducing to a ceiling of 1,000 strategic offensive warheads and 100 strategic defense interceptors. The limit also could be geographical because the vulnerability of Russian ICBMs to interception by SM-3 IIBs would be affected significantly by the location of deployments.  Limits on the number deployed near Russia’s borders would be superficially similar to the numerical and geographical limits on strategic ABM interceptors in the ABM Treaty.  But the purpose of that treaty was to prevent the deployment of nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses, principally through qualitative limits on radar construction.  Breakout potential then was controlled further by quantitative limits on strategic interceptors—200 in the original treaty, lowered to 100 in 1974—and by clearly demarking the performance characteristics of strategic and nonstrategic interceptors as was done in a 1997 agreement.[10]

    In contrast to their position when the ABM Treaty was in force, the Russians now have conceded the principle of permitting nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses.  They acknowledged in New START’s preamble that “current defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the parties.”  Indeed, the number of strategic interceptors that were allowed even under the amended ABM Treaty was much higher than the number of U.S. ground-based strategic interceptors deployed today and it’s probably in the vicinity of the number needed for the US to cope with likely contingencies from Iran and North Korea in the 2020s. Even after adding the upgraded SM-3 IIB systems envisioned for the end of the decade under Obama’s plan, total numbers still would be within the limits on strategic missile interceptors last enumerated in the ABM Treaty.  In 1997, Russia agreed that the performance of the original SM-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)  interceptors were “non-strategic” and therefore should not create an obstacle to continued reductions in strategic nuclear forces as they become operational over the next five years.

    We need to begin opening up a public dialogue on the real-world opportunity costs of opposing all missile defense limits. This dialogue should extend to U.S. NATO allies in Europe and the Pacific who directly face shorter-range ballistic missile threats from hostile states.  Let’s check this out.  Consider whether you would be able to answer yes to each of these questions:

    -- Is a highly reliable missile defense potential likely to be affordable in the decade ahead, even assuming that it is technically achievable?

    -- Is the value of unconstrained U.S. strategic missile defenses superior to the value of achieving additional reductions in Russian strategic offensive systems and of adding strategic nondeployed and tactical systems to the list of weapons to be cut?

    -- Is keeping missile defenses unconstrained worth risking the chance of limiting the growth in Chinese strategic forces?

    --  Indeed, can one even contemplate successful pursuit of nonproliferation if efforts to stem vertical proliferation grind to a halt as a result of missile defense deployments?

    Unless we can confidently answer “yes” to each of these questions, it’s time to consider realistic alternatives to unconstrained growth in strategic missile defenses.  Put some wax in your ears to block out the siren song and let’s head for open water!

     


    [1] A February 24, 2010, Department of State cable, released by WikiLeaks, reporting on December 22, 2009, talks on missile threat assessments between U.S.-Russian delegations in Washington revealed significant differences in the two countries’ official, classified assessments of Iranian and North Korean ballistic missile capabilities.

    [2] Mikhail Fomichev, “European Missile Defense System Either With Russia or Against Russia – NATO Envoy,” RIA Novosti, December 2, 2010.

    [3] “Moscow Wants to ‘Participate as an Equal Partner,’” Der Spiegel, October 27, 2010.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Sergey Mikhaylovich Rogov, “The ‘Window of Opportunity’ Is Open,” Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, May 28, 2010.

    [6] Freeman J. Dyson, “Ballistic Missiles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 1964, p. 18.

    [7] Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, “Nuclear Deterrence, START, Arms Control, Missile Defense and Defense Policy,” Presentation at the NDU Foundation Congressional Breakfast Seminar Series, September 13, 2010.

    [8] A small but increasingly influential minority of missile defense advocates, such as Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), have explicitly called for broadening the objectives of missile defense to include providing territorial defense against Russia and China.

    [9] See, for example, Condoleezza Rice, “New Start: Ratify, With Caveats,” The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2010.

    [10] The “New York Agreements on Theater Missile Defense and ABM Treaty Successor States,” signed by the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine on September 26, 1997, included two “Agreed Statements on Demarcation,” identifying 3 kilometers per second as the critical performance parameter separating prohibited “higher velocity” theater missile defenses from permitted “lower velocity” theater missile defenses. For the text of the agreements and statements, see www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc1.htm and www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc2.htm. For a summary of the agreements and statements, see

    www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/pack.

    Description: 

    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association at Penn State University.

    Subject Resources:

    After New START, What’s Next? Remarks at 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit”

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    Prepared Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” Crystal City, VA

    It’s a pleasure and honor to appear once again at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit. Once again Ed Helminski and his Exchange Monitor Publications team have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers and we’re glad to be able to be part of this importance dialogue.

    The organizers have asked me to address what can and should be done to reduce nuclear dangers now that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has been approved.

    First, it is important to recall what the Obama administration has said it would do and recall what it has done so far.

    Over its first two years, the Obama administration has been extraordinarily busy pushing a number of concrete steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, secure fissile material, and strengthen compliance and implementation with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

    In April 2010 the administration completed a new Nuclear Posture Review that somewhat narrows the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and rules out the need for new types of warheads.

    Later that month, Obama hosted the historic international Nuclear Security Summit that produced an action plan securing the most vulnerable materials within four years.

    In May, the U.S. led the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion with a 64-point action plan, negotiated, and hosted the historic nuclear security summit.

    At the UN, the administration pushed through a tougher set of targeted sanctions on Iran and North Korea in response to the NPT safeguards violations, which have improved U.S. and P-5 leverage vis-à-vis Iran, somewhat hindered Iran’s enrichment capabilities and bought some time for the pursuit of a deal to establish some reasonable and more verifiable limits on the Iranian program to ensure it is not used to produce weapons.

    Among the biggest, if not the biggest achievements is New START. The President and his team negotiated the treaty with the Russians within a year, and then with the support of key Republican leaders successfully turned back treaty-killing amendments that would have required renegotiation with Russia and won bipartisan Senate support for the treaty and

    New START won 71-26 because it increases U.S. security. Put simply it sets new, modestly lower limits on Russian and U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems and re-establishes a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance.

    In fact, New START will increase predictability and transparency through enhanced on-site inspections that will provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

    New START has already helped reset U.S.-Russian relations and boosted U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and of course it opens the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

    New START is Just a START

    By any measure, there has been considerable progress toward the goal of the United States’ longstanding goal—as reiterated by the President in Prague in 2009—of peace and security of a “world without nuclear weapons.”

    But New START and these other initiatives are just that—a start. There is much more that needs to be done to reduce the nuclear weapons danger.

    So, what comes next?

    Deeper nuclear reductions: New START is vital, but it will leave the United States and Russia with far more strategic warheads and strategic missiles and bombers than is needed to deter nuclear attack. In fact, even after New START, there will still be roughly 19,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, most of which are held by the United States and Russia.

    I think President Obama and his team have it right when they say the United States and Russia can and should pursue further verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed.

    Informal, early discussions are now underway. We believe the two sides can and should initiate formal talks before the end of this year.

    The goal should be to establish a single, verifiable limit on the total number of nuclear weapons for each nation. This overall limit would be in addition to a sublimit on the number of deployed strategic weapons. Establishing such an approach is important given that as strategic deployed arsenals shrink, nondeployed and nonstrategic warheads and their delivery systems have to be addressed. It is also important that the nuclear arms control process establishes a simple unit of measure that can be applied to future efforts for transparency, accounting, and ultimately controls and reductions involving all nuclear-armed states.

    How low can U.S. and Russian negotiators go in the next round? From a geostrategic standpoint, neither Russia nor the United States need a total stockpile of any more than 500 to 1,000 nuclear warheads (including both strategic and tactical and deployed and non-deployed) to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.  1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons far outstrips any realistic deterrence requirements.

    ACA published a study in 2005, “What Are Nuclear Weapons For?,” that outlines the rationale for such a smaller “500+500” U.S. nuclear force of deployed strategic and nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad. In an article in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Foreign Affairs others have also argued that it is possible to get down to 1,000 warheads without weakening security on either side.

    Of course there is the intriguing article in Strategic Studies Quarterly that concludes that the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." Those authors argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

    Other than Russia, no other nuclear-armed adversary possesses more than 40 nuclear weapons on strategic missiles. Clearly we can go lower.

    For Russia such a negotiation would help address its concerns about the relatively larger U.S. upload potential that exists due to our larger number of delivery systems and reserve strategic warheads.

    For the United States, such a negotiation would finally lead to an accounting and reduction of Russia’s relatively larger and possibly insecure stockpile of stored and deployed tactical nuclear bombs.

    Such reductions should, ideally, be secured through a follow-on treaty with robust verification methods.

    However, given that the next round of talks will likely be more complex and time consuming, there are other nuclear risk reduction steps that should be pursued at the same time. For example:

    • The United States and Russia can achieve the reductions mandated by New START ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; and
    • President Obama needs to make good on promises to phase-out obsolete Cold War nuclear targeting plans and prompt launch requirements, which help perpetuate excessive deployments and raise the risk of catastrophic nuclear miscalculation. In a September 2009 Q & A published in Arms Control Today, then-candidate Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

    The NPR recommends calls for taking measures to maximize the time the Commander-In-Chief has to make a decision to use nuclear weapons. A reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately but only the assurance that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems would survive an attack. Now is the time to implement these steps.

    The Obama administration and along with NATO must also work through two other issues that could complicate further, deeper U.S.-Russian nuclear force reductions.

    First, Russia is and will likely remain resistant to meaningful limits on tactical nuclear weapons so long as the U.S. continues to deploy even a small number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. As the new NATO Strategic Concept and U.S. military commanders acknowledge, these weapons have no military role in the defense of NATO. Some may believe these weapons have a function as a bargaining chip or are symbols of the United States commitment to NATO.  Whether they are or are not, they are clearly obsolete relics of the Cold War.

    To clear the way for a potential agreement with Russia on reciprocal measures to account for and reduce tactical nuclear weapons, the United States should, in the context of the ongoing NATO deterrence review, agree with our NATO partners to eliminate any formal alliance requirement for U.S. tactical nuclear warheads to be stationed in Europe.

    Second, Washington and NATO must work with Moscow to achieve meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense. Otherwise, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors with nominal strategic capabilities could undermine the prospects for future nuclear reductions and exacerbate East-West tensions.

    New START sidesteps long-standing U.S. and Russian tension over strategic missile defense, but the next agreement cannot avoid the realities of the offense-defense relationship.

    Contrary to the view that Obama has abandoned strategic missile interceptors in Europe to placate Russia, the administration shelved the untested and unproven Bush-era Ground-based Mid-Course system mainly because its effectiveness was extremely limited and because Iran is still years away from fielding long-range missiles.

    Clearly the new U.S. “phased, adaptive approach” for missile SM-3 interceptors over the next decade provides a better, though still limited, capability to address Iran’s short- and medium-range missile threats as they emerge. For now, it does not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear retaliatory potential. The approach creates the potential for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia.

    However, unless there is meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors will provide only nominal strategic capabilities against Iranian missiles while increasing Russia’s determination to deploy larger numbers of more capable ICBMs.

    CTBT and FMCT: Not only must the United States and Russia further reduce their arsenals, they must work harder to prevent other states from building up and improving their nuclear arsenals. To succeed, the United States needs to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production for weapons and solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the CTBT.

    In April 2009, President Obama called for reconsideration and ratification of the CTBT and put into motion technical studies to update the case for the treaty, one of which—from the National Academies of Science—will soon be published. It is time to take another, sober, fact-based look at the CTBT and it is time that the Obama administration seriously engage the Senate on the subject so that the Senate can reconsider and vote on the treaty at the appropriate time—something they have not yet done.

    Today, the national security case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999. Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing and further testing by other states—including China, India, Pakistan, or someday, Iran—could help improve their nuclear capabilities.

    We are essentially abiding by the requirements of the CTBT without accruing the nonproliferation and security benefits.

    Reasonable Senators should be able to understand that logic and bea able to understand that the old arguments against the CTBT no longer hold water.

    As former Secretary of State George Shultz said in 2009, “Republican Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

    For instance, on June 4, 1992, Rep. Jon Kyl, spoke in opposition to the proposal to establish a 9-month U.S. test moratorium to match the Soviet moratorium. He argued: “… as long as we have a nuclear deterrent, we have got to test it in order to ensure that it is safe and it is reliable.” The same argument was used against the CTBT in 1999.

    Now we know that argument is just not correct.

    Over the past decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads and can continue to do so indefinitely.

    On December 1, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote that they are "very pleased" with the $85 billion, 10-year plan to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex. The said the funding plan provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

    The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTBT.

    Senators of both parties should also recognize that delaying reconsideration of the Test Ban Treaty will create uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy and jeopardize the fragile political consensus to increase funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.

    By any common-sense definition, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex already has the necessary resources to maintain the shrinking U.S. nuclear arsenal. Even if the new Congress reduces some of the requested additional funding for the NNSA weapons complex there is more than enough funding for the NNSA and the nuclear weapons labs sustain core programs necessary to maintain and refurbish the existing warhead types.

    And I would also caution those who might seek even greater funding for new projects and facilities—such as “scaled experiments,” which is the subject of a forthcoming JASON study--that projects not in the Obama administration “Section 1251” report on upgrading the weapons complex will be hard to justify, particularly in today’s tight budget environment.

    In 2009, Obama also pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT, but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

    If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years.

    To hasten progress, the Obama administration should be prepared to act more boldly by proposing that all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production pending the conclusion of the FMCT.

    Conclusion

    These next steps will not be easy but nothing in this business ever is.

    The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat. Doing nothing or delaying action on pragmatic nuclear risk-reduction steps is not an option.

    Thank you.

    Description: 

    Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball spoke at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” on what's next after New START.

    Country Resources:

    Toward a Negotiated Solution - Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle Briefing Series

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    DATE/TIME: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 9:30 am - 11:00 am

    LOCATION:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room,

    1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

    Multilateral “P-5+1” talks with Iran over its nuclear program are expected to resume in Istanbul on January 21. While efforts to reach a negotiated resolution to the Iranian nuclear challenge are likely to require a prolonged negotiating process, both sides continue to maintain a diplomatic resolution is possible. Now the challenge is to make tangible progress in that direction.

    Please join the Arms Control Association on Thursday, January 20 for expert perspectives and recommendations on the path forward.

    • How can the Istanbul talks contribute to progress toward a negotiated agreement?
    • What are the key elements and steps of such a deal?
    • What kind of ongoing verification and monitoring regime will be necessary to address concerns about secret Iranian uranium enrichment and/or weapons-related research in the years ahead?

    Panelists include:

    • Barry Blechman, co-founder of the HenryL.StimsonCenter and chair of the Stimson-U.S. Institute of Peace joint study group on Engagement, Coercion, and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge;
    • Charles Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists;
    • Greg Thielmann, ACA Senior Fellow and former professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and official with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research;
    • Daryl G. Kimball, ACA Executive Director will moderate.

    The briefing is the second in a four-part series of ACA policy briefings "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle." A transcript of the first briefing, “The Status of Iran's Nuclear and Missile Programs,” is online: www.armscontrol.org/events/IranNuclearStatus

     



    Transcript by Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.



    DARYL G. KIMBALL:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m Daryl Kimball.  I’m executive director of the Arms Control Association.  I want to welcome you to the second in our series of briefings on “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle.”

    As you all know, tomorrow multilateral P5+1 talks with Iran over its nuclear program are scheduled to resume in Turkey.  And efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear challenge are likely to require more than just one more round of meetings.  It’s going to require prolonged, multilateral negotiations.  

    But this meeting, we believe – and this is why we are meeting here today – presents a very important restarting point for the diplomatic process, which is clearly the most effective and practical way forward.

    As we’ll discuss this morning with our three expert speakers, the challenge now is going to be how to overcome the distrust that’s built up between the different parties, how to find pragmatic ways to build confidence and move towards a framework agreement that, among other things, provides stronger assurances and safeguards that Iran’s ongoing nuclear program and activities are not used for weapons purposes.

    As our three panelists are going to explain in much more detail, diplomacy remains the best option.  And it’s now imperative, we believe, for the United States to leverage this opportunity and to make progress while there is time to make progress.  Sanctions have bought time and can increase negotiating leverage, but they are, at best, a means to an end.  And the end goal can only be achieved through persistent engagement and diplomacy, as difficult as that has been and will continue to be.

    And as the experts at the first briefing in this series made clear back in November, Iran’s nuclear program and its failure to answer outstanding IAEA questions about its activities are troubling.  

    But due to the technical challenges they’re facing and perhaps outside interference – I’m referring to Stuxnet, of course – it still remains years away from having enough working centrifuges to produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium for a viable nuclear arsenal, let alone perfect a warhead design that can be effectively delivered.  And now, as was seen in recent days and weeks, U.S. and Israeli officials are publicly making similar assessments about the status of Iran’s nuclear program.

    So to put the latest round of talks into perspective, a broader perspective, we’re pleased to have with us Barry Blechman, colleague for many years and cofounder of the Henry L. Stimson Center.  He is also the chair of the recently completed Stimson Center-U.S. Institute for Peace joint study group titled “Engagement, Coercion and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge,” which just came out in early December, right?

    He’s going to be outlining some of the key findings and recommendations for the United States and the other P5+1 countries concerning the role and impact of sanctions, the risks and dangers of military options, and the longer-term diplomatic objectives vis-à-vis Iran.

    And I would just add that – I want to underscore that as Barry and his colleagues noted in that report – and I agree – turning Iran away from the nuclear weapons path requires recalibrating what Washington and our partners are seeking to achieve through the current pressure and engagement approach.

    For example, we have to consider that it’s been five years since the last serious round of talks with Iran.  And since then, it’s built up its centrifuge capacity at Natanz and begun work on another facility at Qom.  And while a temporary suspension of enrichment and other fuel-cycle activities as the U.N. Security Council has demanded would certainly help restore confidence, it would appear unrealistic to expect that Iran would agree permanently to terminate enrichment activities at those two known facilities.

    So even while – even though there are risks involved with any working, spinning centrifuges in Iran, given its history, we need to remember that the greatest risk for an Iranian nuclear weapons program probably comes from its possible undetected activities – unsafeguarded enrichment, weapons and development facilities – and not so much from the known knowns, the safeguarded facilities that are at Natanz.

    That’s why as Charles Ferguson is going to discuss, it’s important that we focus on how we can improve IAEA monitoring and verification over the long term so that we can have sufficient confidence that Iran’s nuclear fuel-cycle activities are not used for weapons purpose.    So he’s going to describe a bit what such a system might look like, how much confidence would it provide.  Charles Ferguson is the president, of course, of the Federation of American Scientists.  He’s worked for many years on this problem.

    And then finally, how can this particular round of talks and follow-on discussions contribute to the longer-term process of achieving a negotiated agreement?  What are some of the initial confidence-building steps that can be achieved that might be discussed at this round?  What steps could the United States and the other parties and Iran undertake that would enhance the prospects for a lasting diplomatic solution?

    To address those questions, we have with us Arms Control Association’s own senior fellow and former INR analyst Greg Thielmann.  And he will close out the panelists’ presentations.  And after each of them is done, we will take your questions and have a discussion about these and many other issues that are on the table with the Iranian nuclear program.

    So with that, I’d like to invite Barry up to the podium to start us off.  Thanks for being with us, Barry.  And before we get rolling, if you could all just remember to put your cell phones on vibrate.  Thank you.

    BARRY BLECHMAN:  Good idea.  I had a friend who was speaking to a group of fire chiefs, actually.  And he made that announcement.  And two minutes later, his phone went off and three guys in the back of the room – (chuckles) – just broke down in laughter.

    It was my privilege to co-chair, I should say, this study group.  Dan Brumberg was the other co-chair.  We had about 40 people working on it – two-thirds, Iranian experts, and about a third of us, people that work on U.S. political-military policies.  And the work was done mainly over the summer and fall.  But so far, at least it looks like our analysis and conclusions are holding up, and in fact, being reinforced.  

    The group concluded generally that there was an opportunity for diplomacy to work to stop the Iranian program short of a weapons capability.  We noted first that there had been – and this was obvious even over the summer – a slowdown in their progress, in their nuclear program.  And this has been confirmed just the last few weeks both by the Israelis, which is a big shock – I guess they were so proud of their cyberwarfare that they felt like bragging about it – and also by Secretary Clinton.

    And the Israeli forecast now is that Iran won’t have a weapons capability until at least 2015.  So that gives us several years to see if the diplomatic engagement can work.  The slowdown is due, of course, both to industrial sabotage and the cyberattacks, as well as to the sanctions.  The sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to acquire some of the specialized materials and equipment needed for their program.  So they seemed to have had a very positive effect  in a direct way.

    In addition, the sanctions are having strong impact on the Iranian economy.  And I would say it’s been a real triumph of U.S. diplomacy to build a coalition willing to enforce not only the U.N. sanctions but the additional sanctions that we and the EU and the Japanese and a handful of other countries have – important countries have been willing to put on Iran.

    All the Western oil companies have withdrawn from Iran.  Lukoil, the Russian company, has withdrawn as well.  Development has stopped – or plans for development that they had to grow their natural-gas production particularly, but also oil production, have ceased.  The Chinese have signed some contracts, but work doesn’t seem to be moving on that.  And the Chinese may be cooperating more than they like to let on publicly.  

    Production in the old Iranian fields is declining because they don’t have access to the technologies they need to improve their efficiency.  So in that sense, the sanctions have been a great success.

    The other success has come from the financial sanctions, the additional ones that the U.S. and the EU and these other countries have put on, which have made companies reluctant to do business with Iran for fear of losing access to much larger markets in the U.S. and other advanced countries.

    And so Iran is having a great deal of difficulty getting insurance for their oil shipments, for example, or to conduct other transactions.  Their currency is devalued.  They – you know, suffering substantial inflation.  

    Countries on the Gulf in the past year have started cooperating much more in terms of shutting down the front companies that Iran had used to circumvent sanctions in the past.  Dubai particularly has been cooperative.  The Saudis have been selling oil to China at a lower price – lower than market price – in order to supplant some of the Iranian sales.  

    So generally there is a lot of economic pressure being placed on Iran, so much so that you begin to see comments from Iranians about the danger that this situation could lead to political unrest within the country, and not just from the Westernized, secularized students that we saw in the streets following the fraudulent election, but from the so-called real Iranians – the working-class and poor Iranians who are the backbone of support for the Ahmadinejad regime.  

    And so the economic pressures are feeding what’s been a persistent political conflict among the Iranian elites.  Essentially, Ahmadinejad has brought in a new generation of leaders.  That’s kind of reminiscent of when Andrew Jackson was elected U.S. president and brought all these kind of rural westerners in, and the Washington establishment was just up in arms at these rubes that were trying to take over the government.  

    He’s brought in a lot of veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, and people not from the Westernized Tehran elites but from other parts of the country.  And he’s been trying to take over, or exert greater influence over the traditional bastions of power within Iran, and has come into conflict with the foreign ministry, with the Majlis, with the courts and even within some of the ruling religious bodies.

    The supreme leader generally has tended to favor Ahmadinejad to back him in these conflicts, but not always.  And sometimes, he’s been forced to back down when the supreme leader followed the more traditional and perhaps more pragmatic elites.  

    So our recommendation – the recommendation of the study group – was to try to take advantage of this conflict and to shift, to the degree that we can have influence, the balance among the elites to those who might want nuclear weapons but see the price of gaining them to be excessive and believe that the course of better wisdom would be to reach a compromise with the West.   

    And the way we suggest doing this is, one, to continue the pressure both through sanctions and through covert operations.  Secondly, we believe it’s important to accelerate, if possible or as possible, security cooperation with the Arab nations on the Gulf, including intelligence sharing, joint planning, military exercises, training and military sales.  We believe there could be a much greater emphasis on missile defenses.  

    And it would be nice if the Gulf countries would – you know, they claim – or in the leaked cables, we see that they’re very concerned about the Iranian program.  Yet their concern doesn’t go so far as to overcome some of their internal conflicts among themselves.  They find it difficult to cooperate.  Certainly, establishing an effective missile defense system would go much better – a regional system – if the Gulf Cooperative Council (sic) countries were able, in fact, to cooperate and resolve their conflicts.  

    The benefits of this is both to show Iran that its actions, its unwillingness to reach a compromise is only isolating it further within its region, and also drawing the U.S. in militarily through cooperation with these countries, resulting in just what it doesn’t want to see – a greater U.S. military presence in the region.

    Thirdly and most importantly, we believe it’s important to rebalance U.S. policy to put greater emphasis on the positive inducements to Iran to reach compromise.  You know, we’ve had this two-track policy for many years beginning with Clinton.  It’s gone back and forth.  When Obama came in, he emphasized engagement; he was rebuffed.  It was a difficult time politically, internally for Iran, which might help to explain it, possibly.

    And we shifted to the diplomacy to strengthen the sanctions and so forth that emphasize the coercive element.  At this point, stressing the coercive element in our diplomacy and our public statements reminding them of the military option has negative effects.  It only strengthens the hands of the hardliners, those who would not want to compromise – weakens the position of those who might want to reach an agreement.

    So we need to make clear, we believe, in our diplomacy that the potential benefits to Iran of reaching an agreement on the nuclear issue and on other issues are commensurate with the very substantial demand we are placing on them, which is to give up their aspirations for a nuclear weapons capability.  And I have no doubt that they have such aspirations at this point.

    To implement this kind of more positive aspect, most importantly we believe we have to, as Daryl had said, accept Iran’s right to enrichment.  And I noted in December, Secretary Clinton made a statement suggesting the U.S. position was moving in that direction, which I think would be a positive.  

    An enrichment conducted under very strict conditions of monitoring and verification, including implementation of the Additional Protocol, could, we believe – and Charles will speak more to this – permit them to continue what they say is a peaceful program while providing a substantial warning to other countries, should they in the future change their mind and go back to seeking a weapons capability.  

    Secondly, or in additionally, we believe we should establish a separate bilateral track of negotiations with Iran on a variety of security issues in which we have a joint concern, like Afghanistan, like drug trafficking – which is a huge problem in Iran and so forth.  

    We should stick to the P5-plus-1 for the nuclear issue, but in addition, establish this separate track.  The separate track, or progress in that, can’t be permitted to substitute for movement on the nuclear issue, but the two can proceed in tandem.

    Third – or fourth, whatever it is – I think we – we think we should permit normal interaction between American and Iranian diplomats in third countries and international organizations.  This is not gone now, but there’s no reason why in a U.N., multilateral organization, for example, when the American ambassador has instructions to do something, he or she shouldn’t also carry them out with his or her Iranian counterpart.  

    And finally, we should hold out the possibility, at least, of down the road, if Iran does reach compromise on the nuclear issue, that the benefits to them would not only include a lifting of the sanctions – so an end to the punishment – but more positive economic benefits of cooperation and helping them to develop their oil and gas industry, which is in a mess, getting them to work with other countries in the region on solution to common problems like water shortages and energy distribution and so forth.

    Again, I would repeat, the nuclear talks are the most urgent and we can’t allow these other things to go too far without progress on the nuclear issue.  But a more complete package of incentives can or might, we believe, lead Iran to reach a compromise on the nuclear issue.

    Finally, I’d note that the group, which included people who served in Defense and State in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and some former military were unanimous in stating that attacking Iran, attacking its nuclear infrastructure, would be very counterproductive and is not a good idea.  And these deliberations were done at a time when the Israelis were working very hard, saying that Iran’s on the threshold and the U.S. needs to take a military action against them.

    The U.S. certainly could do grave damage and set back their nuclear program quite substantially.  It would not be a kind of pin-prick attack.  As I understand, the planning that has been done – we not only would attack the complete nuclear infrastructure, or much of it, but also try to attrite Iran’s capability to retaliate militarily.  

    Anthony Cordesman has done some estimates of the number of airstrikes that would be required for various levels of attack and it’s quite substantial.  It’s a question of hundreds or even thousands of strikes over a period of days or even weeks, depending on how ambitious the plan turned out to be.

    This would likely lead to continuing military conflict on the Gulf and on Israel’s borders.  Iran has means to cause a great deal of havoc in the region.  It would certainly break up the coalition we built.  China and Russia would leave in a flash.  Many European countries would not want to have anything to do with this.

    It would have very negative effects among developing countries, particularly Muslim – moderate Muslim countries.  If the U.S. attacked a third Muslim country in 10 or 12 years, and we say we’re not on a crusade against Islam, it just – it would provide fertile ground for recruitment of terrorists and so forth.

    It could have severe economic effects if the military conflict persisted and there were disruptions in oil deliveries.  And finally, the effect in Iran would be negative.  It would unify the country.  It would assure the complete repression of any democratic elements and so forth.

    So to conclude, there’s no guarantee that this strategy would work.  We laughingly refer to it as the least bad option.  There are no brilliant, you know, solutions to the problem.  But the fortunate thing is there is time to give diplomacy a chance and the strengthening of the positive component, we think, would be helpful.

    I have a couple of copies of the report if anyone wants them.  And it’s on the Stimson website as well.  Thank you very much.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Great, thank you, Barry.  Charles Ferguson on the verification and monitoring challenge.  Charles?

    CHARLES FERGUSON:  Well, thank you, Daryl.  And thank you, everyone, for being here this morning.  And when Daryl and Peter Crail contacted me about this, I said, your timing is impeccable.  And of course, they consulted with the Iranian and U.S. and others – other sides to make sure that we have this event today, right on the eve of the next round of discussion – I won’t say round of negotiations, but we’re just – as Daryl said, we’re just now getting back into discussions with the Iranians.

    So I’m going to be the science guy here.  So pay attention.  There’s going to be a quiz at the end of this briefing.  (Chuckles.)  Make sure you know all the elements of a nuclear fuel cycle and the possible diversion pathways.  And outside – I think most of you probably grabbed it – there was a one-sheet handout with a rough diagram of the nuclear fuel cycle and just showing a couple of the major possible diversion pathways.

    It’s worth emphasizing that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Iran is pursuing a dual track – uranium enrichment and a possible plutonium pathway – to nuclear weapons.  Now, of course Iran says they don’t have a weapons program.  They don’t intend to have a nuclear weapons program.  Nonetheless, a lot of the elements are basically in place.

    Go back to the NIE from three or four years ago and it clearly said there are three components to a nuclear weapons program.  You need to be able to produce the fissile material – the stuff that goes boom.  You need a workable warhead.  And you need a workable delivery system, like a ballistic missile.

    Well, the NIE said there was some evidence that Iran may have placed the warhead component of it on the side – maybe.  That’s one thing we need to get to the bottom of.  And that’s one issue – and if we have greater openness and accessibility from Iran, that the IAEA should further investigate.

    Clearly, they’re still continuing the ballistic missile development, so that leg continues.  And they’re also continuing with fissile material development, although there may have been some setbacks recently through Stuxnet and other means.  But as an analysis by FAS will show that will be released tomorrow morning, looks like over the past year there actually may have been some improvements in the centrifuge plant as well.

    So the news may not be as sanguine as we may hope.  So we still have to – we don’t want to be complacent and say, oh, we’ve got plenty of time for diplomacy – and I’m all for diplomacy – we’ve got to make sure we make the best use of that time.  So keep in sight these two different tracks, but I’m going to focus on the uranium enrichment pathway in the interest of time and because that’s the most urgent issue before us right now.

    Now, of course the best situation for the United States would be for Iran to say, this is all a mistake.  We don’t need to pursue this uranium enrichment program.  We’re going to call a halt to it.  Well, that’s fantasy land.  I think – practically, I think, all of us in this panel agree that Iran will continue with some kind of enrichment program.

    So the next best thing we can hope for is to keep it limited, to keep the number of centrifuges spinning and enriching uranium rather – relatively small.  Well, we’ll see what we can do on that – on that behalf, but let’s look at the three possible means of diversion – three pathways of diversion into a nuclear weapons program.

    So a state could divert weapons-usable material and technologies from a declared – I emphasize “declared” – safeguarded program into a weapons program.  Secondly, it could operate a clandestine program, as Daryl indicated in his opening remarks and that program would be as much as possible, parallel and separate to the declared program.

    And then finally, a state could say – cite a supreme national security interest and say, we’re out of here, we’re going to leave the NPT, give 90 days’ notice and leave the safeguard system.

    Of those pathways, number three is probably the least likely for Iran, at least in the foreseeable future, as long as Iran appears to derive some benefit from staying inside the NPT because if it leaves it’s clearly indicating to the U.S. and certainly states in the region its intentions to proceed with a weapons program.

    And so there are various options.  I’m going to now explore and walk you through briefly for the interest of time.  And hopefully we’ll get time to talk about them more in depth in the Q&A.  And it’s important to keep in mind that what we want is a defense in-depth type of safeguards and inspection system.

    So not any one element of it is going to be perfect, is going to be a so-called silver bullet to say, a-ha, we can have confidence to detect the clandestine program through that particular option.  But it’s the layering of the options, having multiple means of detection that allows us to develop a more effective monitoring and safeguard system.

    And of course the second pathway mentioned is the most worrisome because right now under the current safeguard system, the IAEA has limited access to only declared facilities.  As we saw back in 2009, in September, it was announced that there was a clandestine enrichment facility near Qom, the so-called Fordow plant.  And then the big question is, are there others?  And Iran indicates they have interest in developing other enrichment plants.  So how can we possibly detect the other activity going on?

    So the next major step that Iran could take to instill greater confidence would be for it to ratify and apply the Additional Protocol to Comprehensive Safeguards.  Now, as most of you probably know, some years back Iran was voluntarily applying the Additional Protocol, and then it backed away from that once it felt more pressure coming on it.

    So if we can get the Additional Protocol, what would be the benefit of that?  Well, the Additional Protocol was developed out of the first Gulf War with Iraq.  Think back to 1991, and then U.S. forces and – coalition forces, I should say, drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.  And then, as part of the condition that – that UNSCOM was developed and the IAEA inspectors came in to look at Iran’s nuclear activities.

    And it was discovered that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear scientists were getting somewhat close to developing a nuclear weapons program.  And they did this even though throughout the 1980s and into 1990 that the IAEA inspectors had been continually going in there and inspecting declared facilities.  And sometimes literally next door to a declared facility, there was an undeclared activity going on.

    So then that was a wake-up call.  And the result of that was by the mid-1990s, the IAEA had developed what was called the model additional protocol to safeguards.  And the big evolution – revolution in that system was that now it requires inspectors to determine whether there are undeclared facilities and to look at, basically, the entire nuclear fuel cycle.

    And it also requires a new mindset for inspectors to not just be the green-eyeshade-wearing accountants and looking over the books and making sure that all the declared material’s accounted for.  And I know that’s a caricature – I don’t want to belittle that – belittle that system too much.  But the innovation is that now under the Additional Protocol the inspectors are required to have a new mindset, to be more like a Sherlock Holmes, to ask those probing questions, to figure out whether there are any undeclared activities or materials present in that state.

    The Additional Protocol offers a complementary and managed access.  And it would be a huge step, as I said, for Iran to take.  And what we can say is this is not something that’s without precedent.  The majority of the states, who are non-nuclear weapon states, have signed on to the Additional Protocol.  Some major non-nuclear weapon states like Japan and South Korea have implemented the Additional Protocol.

    So when Iranian leaders sometimes say, we want to be like Japan – great.  Be like Japan and implement the Additional Protocol.  And it will give the world more confidence that what you’re doing is peaceful.

    So I’m going to walk through, like I said, pretty quickly some major options that we can consider.  And so once – and what I’m going to do is then grade these in terms of low, medium and high in terms of the cost of implementation and low, medium and high in terms of the increase in confidence by implementing that particular option, and then talk about whether it’s compatible with the Comprehensive Safeguard system – what’s called INFCIRC/153-type safeguards and then ask if it’s compatible with the Additional Protocol safeguards.

    So we could apply physical containment measures at uranium mines and uranium mills where what comes out of that is yellowcake – uranium ore concentrate.  And you could try to do that, but the cost of implementation would probably be high.  The increase in confidence would probably be low.  And under the Comprehensive Safeguards, that’s not required.  And under Additional Protocol, there’s no precedent for that type of activity.

    You could then consider having material accountancy at the mines and mills, keeping track of all the atoms of uranium going through.  That would have a high cost of implementation, a low increase in confidence.  And that’s not required under the Comprehensive Safeguards.  But the Additional Protocol does specify a state must submit information on mining and milling activities.  But there’s no precedent for a detailed accountancy.

    You can move the starting point of safeguards further upstream.  So you can look at applying safeguards right as the material goes into a conversion plant – a conversion facility.  The cost of implementation there would be probably medium.  Increase in confidence, probably medium to high.  

    Under this – the Comprehensive Safeguards, it says you must apply safeguards at a point at which nuclear material is suitable for fuel manufacture or enrichment.  But there’s little precedent for actually applying the safeguards on uranium yellowcake.  Under the Additional Protocol, you could use complementary access to try to implement some of that – that safeguards activity.

    You could try to increase the information that’s provided about the IAEA safeguards – publish more of that out in the open.  Now, as you know, every three months or so the IAEA does publish a rather detailed report.  We could try to publish some more information.  The cost of implementing that would be relatively low.  Increase of confidence might be anywhere from low to medium.  

    And under the Comprehensive Safeguard system, that’s considered – safeguards confidential information, so there’s not a precedent for releasing more of that.  And to do that under Additional Protocol, you have to do it in consultation with Iran.  And they would probably object to publishing that kind of detailed information.

    You could move the timeliness detection goal.  You could lower that.  And that sounds very – kind of jargony.  And basically what I mean by that is to try to increase the ability to detect a possible diversion of nuclear material much faster and do it more – more frequent times of inspection of where the nuclear material is.

    Right now, there’s a physical inventory that’s done annually.  And that’s under the Comprehensive Safeguards system.  Under Additional Protocol, you could try to deploy a number of practical measures to try to increase confidence about timeliness.  The cost of implementing that would probably be about medium.  And increase in confidence would probably be high.

    You could try to lower the – or, excuse me, increase the detection probability of a nuclear materials diversion.  To implement that, the cost would probably be low.  Increase of confidence would arguably be – also be low.  And the IAEA typically tries to aim for a 90-percent confidence level to try to keep the false-alarm rate relatively low.  Under Additional Protocol, you’d have to work that out in consultation between the IAEA and Iran.

    You could change the short-notice inspections.  You can increase the frequency of short-notice inspections.  To try to implement that, the cost would be about medium.  Increase in confidence, arguably high.  Under the Comprehensive Safeguards, that’s not permitted.  Under Additional Protocol, it says that you usually need to give at least 24 hours’ notice if you’re off-site or two hours’ notice of inspection if you’re actually on-site and you have evidence that something is going on at a particular facility.  And you would have to work this out in agreement with Iran.

    You could try to enhance the safeguards on an enrichment plant.  And there’s been some work done in trying to move beyond what’s called the hexapartite agreement, to try to have more information about material flows inside an enrichment facility.  To try to implement that, the cost is probably about medium.  You could increase the confidence to medium or high.  

    Under the current safeguard system, that’s currently not permitted, although I said it’s under investigation.  And so if the IAEA can develop a new model safeguards for enrichment plants, Iran could be an important test case for that activity.

    You could try to deploy wide-area monitoring.  You could have sniffers and samplers trying to figure out other clandestine enrichment or reprocessing plants inside Iran.  It’s a relatively big country.  To implement that, you’d probably need several hundred, maybe a thousand – a few thousand of the sampling devices.  

    To implement that, the cost would be relatively high.  Increase in confidence might be around medium.  Under Comprehensive Safeguards, there’s no precedent for that activity.  Under the Additional Protocol, it says it’s permitted but under the conditions that the IAEA Board of Governors gives approval if the method is technically proven.  So it’s kind of a catch-22.

    So yes, we can consider wide-area sampling – wide-area environmental monitoring only if we can prove this technically.  But you might not be able to get it proved technically unless you get, really, a go-ahead from the board of governors.

    You could try to – try to get better verification of centrifuge production, ideally to get access to the companies in Iran or the suppliers of the centrifuge machines and try to account for all the machines that are being produced, or could be produced.  The cost to implement that will probably be at least medium, maybe high.  But the increase in confidence would be high.

    And there’s no precedent under Comprehensive Safeguards to do that kind of activity.  On Additional Protocol, it says that a state could provide general information on that kind of activity.  But this would require a specific agreement for detailed accounting.  So there’s really no, you know, specific precedent under Additional Protocol for getting that kind of detailed access.  

    You could develop a special protocol for inspections.  And Pierre Goldschmidt has recently written about this on the Carnegie Endowment website, so I recommend you take a look at his article.  The cost to implement that would arguably be low.  The increase in confidence would be relatively high.  

    And you can say there has been some precedent for that because Romania, back in the early 1990s, they voluntarily invited the IAEA in to do a special inspection.  There was also a special inspection done on North Korea – I think it was around 1993.  But that was involuntary.  And then there’s been some discussion about doing such an inspection with Syria because of the suspicious activities going on in Syria in recent years.

    And then one of the final things to consider is to do interviews with Iranian scientists and officials, and also with other scientists at universities.  And the cost of implementing that would be relatively low.  And you might be able to increase confidence anywhere from medium to high.  

    Under the Additional – under the current Comprehensive Safeguards, it’s not permitted.  But under the Additional Protocol, you would have to try to work out some kind of agreement with Iran as to what people you want to get access to.  And so far, Iran has been seriously resisting that type of option.

    I’m out of time, Daryl?  Okay, good.  I know – like I said, a lot of options to consider.  And like I said, there will be a quiz at the end.  So I will step off the stage at this time and let Greg Thielmann come up.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you, Charles.  And as Greg comes up, just to clarify, when you were saying that the cost of this option is low or medium or high, you’re referring to the resource costs, the monetary costs of that particular operation?

    MR. FERGUSON:  That’s correct.  I should have made that clear.  And of course, the political cost could be relatively high for almost all of those.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  That’s all.  Greg Thielmann – thank you very much.  

    GREG THIELMANN:  Thank you.  And I appreciate the interest of the audience in this important subject.  I wanted to offer a few thoughts on negotiating tactics.  So it’s a little bit narrower focus than in Barry’s presentation.

    The first point I wanted to make is, the time is right for talks.  We now have leverage.  The fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions are in place.  And their implementation is increasingly effective.  Unilaterally, U.S. and European measures are intensifying the economic impact of the Security Council sanctions.  And I think Barry had a good summary of the different categories of sanctions and how that is working.  

    Moreover, Iranian diplomatic efforts to divert attention from Tehran’s noncompliance with its NPT obligations have basically fizzled.  They were not successful in their last-minute effort to derail the sanctions in the spring.  The last-minute tour that they offered of Iranian facilities just a few days ago also seemed to be not very convincing to the international community.

    And I think it’s also important to emphasize that at least as far as we know from reading statements of intelligence service officials, Iran still has not made a decision to ultimately take that final step to develop, test and deploy nuclear weapons.  So another encouraging aspect, which has already been mentioned, is that the estimates of the time required for weaponization are moving outward.  

    For some months, the Obama administration has been signaling that it would take at least a couple of years to develop a nuclear weapon, even assuming the quickest and least likely path, which would be to use the centrifuges and stored low-enriched uranium that Iran now possesses to enrich to weapons-grade level.  And of course, even the Israelis are now projecting at least three to four years rather than 12 to 18 months for Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.  

    And U.S. officials acknowledged in the fall of 2009, that they had overestimated the speed of Iran’s long-range ballistic missile development program.  Missile experts like Michael Elleman of the International Institute of Strategic Studies argues that Iran’s missile option for threatening regional targets with nuclear weapons is most likely the solid-propellant Sejil-2, which is still, in his view, several years away from being deployed.

    And reports of technical problems in Iran’s nuclear program and more realistic assessments of Iran’s missile capabilities have muffled the beating of the war drums in the U.S. Congress and in Israel.  I would encourage you to recall that Jeffrey Goldberg was predicting only four months ago in his Atlantic article that an Israeli attack was likely in the spring of this year.

    And I second the comments made by Barry that the talk of the military option makes it harder, not easier, to reach agreement.  This is a basic disagreement with others who have opined that we really need to hold the threat of a military option out or wave it around in order to convince the Iranians to negotiate seriously.  I disagree.

    With regard to North Korea, the U.S. has called for strategic patience.  But with regard to Iran, I would suggest something like patient persistence as an appropriate watchword.  Since the end of the Iranian hostage crisis – exactly 30 years ago today, by the way – direct meetings between Iranian and U.S. officials have been rare.  And of course, there is much bad blood to overcome.

    There is also the risk that compromise by Iran will open up the Iranian leadership to attacks from both hardliners and reform elements.  And I think we’ve already seen an example of this in the U.S. suggestion for a fuel swap last October.

    Negotiating on nuclear issues with Iran, we should anticipate setbacks and half-steps.  Arriving at a satisfactory agreement will take months, but we must be persistent in the pursuit.  We cannot passively wait for Iran to run up a white flag and announce capitulation to the P5+1 demands.  So instead of wasting time pushing desirable but non-attainable positions, we should recalibrate our objectives.

    Forget about the zero-enrichment solution.  Pursuit of this objective could have been more productively pursued in years past through persistent diplomacy.  It is not a realistic option today.  We must use our current leverage and the time available to reach a negotiated solution, but a solution that nonetheless diminishes the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons.

    So let me talk about, in a little bit greater detail, some realistic objectives.  Political impediments to fruitful negotiations lurk in the background.  The very success of sanctions in raising the cost of defying the international community can encourage an overreach by U.S. and European negotiators – for example, setting sights on abandonment of the full nuclear fuel cycle or Iranian regime change, both very much in the air whenever we look at our sanctions working.

    We must make sure that the core issue with Iran’s nuclear program is clearly understood and articulated, giving the IAEA sufficient leeway to ensure that the program is peaceful.  Our objective is not to deny rights granted to others or to keep Iran weak.  This may be a part of our negotiating leverage; it is not what we are seeking in negotiations with Iran.

    The U.S. should stress that for Iran to enjoy full privileges under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it must do no less than what is expected of other non-nuclear weapon state signatories.  And I very much enjoyed Charles’ comment about Japan.  Indeed, let’s treat Iran like Japan – or let’s say, Iran should behave like Japan in order to be treated like Japan.

    While the NPT establishes no unconditional right to uranium enrichment, neither does it prohibit uranium enrichment.  And the U.N. resolution calls for suspension, not abandonment, of enrichment.  Secretary Clinton made clear in a December 2010 BBC interview that the United States was not inalterably opposed to Iran’s enrichment of uranium.  

    In her words, “Iran can enrich uranium at some future date once they have demonstrated that they can do so in a responsible manner in accordance with international obligations,” unquote.  This must be repeated often and loudly.  It is rarely said by the U.S. government or many other parties.  

    Realism also requires that we separate our distaste of personalities and regime characteristics with the task at hand.  Negotiating with Iran means negotiating with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran as it is, not as we wish for it to be – and I apologize for sounding like Donald Rumsfeld.  (Laughter.)  One would think we had learned this basic principle from our nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union, hardly our favorite interlocutor or our bosom buddy.  

    Let’s talk about some small steps that are needed initially to build confidence because I think in the route to a negotiated agreement, small steps are absolutely essential for making larger steps possible later.  One small step is an agreement to meet again after the talks in Istanbul.  This may be setting a very low bar for success, but I will be satisfied if the talks starting tomorrow lead to a firm commitment for another round.

    Initiating bilateral conversations on the margins at Istanbul between American and Iranian delegates would be another constructive small step – it did not happen at the last meeting; establishing procedures and venues for future talks – and by that, I mean for regular, substantive, detailed and confidential exchanges on all nuclear issues; identifying common interests outside the nuclear portfolio and opportunities to open up parallel discussions in these other areas.

    And as Barry said, one important piece of this subject is to drop the current restrictions on diplomatic contacts between the United States and Iranian diplomats.  This is very counterproductive to our pursuit for a constructive diplomatic engagement.  

    So thinking a little bit beyond the small first steps, I think we do have to think about creative approaches.  The ultimate requirement for resolution of our current impasse is Iran’s acceptance of IAEA measures, such as those outlined by Charles, to ensure sufficient confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

    But there is room for interim steps in the meantime.  Even though it wasn’t successful, the proposal for swapping Iranian low-enriched uranium for the manufacture of plates to refuel the Tehran research reactor was a creative and positive attempt to create a win-win, confidence-building measure.  And indeed, this basic formula continues to be a real option even now.  

    As a more direct interim confidence-building measure, the P5+1 could offer to freeze future tightening of sanctions in exchange for Iran capping the current number of working centrifuges.  This is sometimes called a “freeze-for-freeze.”  And this could perhaps be coupled with relaxation of certain categories of currently prohibited trade goods.  There is a list of things that would not break sanctions, but it would be a significant contribution to lowering the heat of the tension between Iran and other countries.

    Another confidence-building measure and one, by the way, which was previously proposed by Tehran, would be for Iran to ship low-enriched uranium to other countries for manufacturing fuel pellets to be used in Iranian civilian-power reactors.  

    So these are a number of creative possibilities.  There are many more, obviously.  This is something worthy of more attention.  In the pursuit of such opportunities, I would just like to say that I think the U.S. has to take full advantage of collective efforts, exploiting the good offices of other countries.  

    We should be wary – and I’m particularly talking here about the U.S. Congress – should be wary of passing more stringent unilateral measures that could end up subverting the overall sanctions regime.  The last thing we want is to create fissures between the United States and other countries in the enforcement of these sanctions that the U.N. Security Council has endorsed.

    And I would say the potential contributions of other countries such as Turkey and Brazil should not be ignored or dismissed or denigrated.  Both of these countries can help us solve the Iranian nuclear puzzle.  Accepting Turkey’s offer to host the Istanbul talks is a good start.  I don’t expect dramatic progress at the talks.  But let’s hope that Istanbul becomes another step in the patient and persistent pursuit of a negotiated outcome.  Thank you.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Greg.  Now, it is the audience’s turn.  We have ample time for questions and discussions.  We have a couple of gentlemen from the Arms Control Association with microphones who are ready to come to you if you raise your hand with a question.  So FredI, if you could come up here.  If you could just identify yourself.  And please state your question as a question.  That would be great – thanks.

    Q:  Yeah, Hugh Haskell from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.  My question is for Charles.  You talked about the confidence levels of the inspections as being set at 90 percent in order to reduce the false-alarm rate.  Does that mean that the earlier confidence levels were lower?  Because it seems to me if you’re reducing the confidence levels from a higher – you’re actually going to increase the false-alarm rate.

    MR. FERGUSON:  Right.  Maybe I misspoke, Hugh.  But typically, IAEA, whether it’s inspecting Iran or other places under Comprehensive Safeguards, seeks a 90 percent confidence level.  And that’s a balancing act between trying to keep the false-alarm rate relatively low, but also having fairly high confidence that you could detect a diversion of nuclear material.  

    So what I meant to say – maybe I didn’t say it correctly up there – is that if you want – just so you’re saying – if you want to increase the confidence, say, from 90 to 95 percent, that’s going to increase the false-alarm rate.  But that could give you more confidence that you could detect a diversion of material.  But I was basically arguing against – did I say that wrong or no.

    Q:  (Off mic.)

    MR. FERGUSON:  No.  Maybe it’s discussed offline.  Yeah.  I don’t think it’s such an important point because basically, I was trying to downplay that option.  I don’t think it’s really going to – I think its cost – it will cost too many resources to implement.  And increasing in overall confidence – the detection, something – isn’t really worth that price.  Okay.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Yes, sir.  Right here, in the middle.  And then we’ll move over here.  And then to the back.

    Q:  Yeah, Dan Lieberman (ph).  Iran has greatly improved its relations with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and also with Venezuela and Brazil.  Now, will this new arrangement help Iraq as a safety valve against all of the sanctions imposed upon them by the West?  Will it provide relief to Iran to gain both the materials and know-how that it will need and not be dependent upon the West anymore?

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  And Barry, do you want to address that?  I’m sure your study group looked at all these different issues.

    MR. BLECHMAN:  We had a working group that looked at Iran’s relations with other countries.  And there are – particularly, Turkey – some banks and companies in Turkey have, in the past, helped Iran in the recent past to kind of slide past some of the sanctions.  The U.S. is working on them through the Treasury Department to make clear to them the cost of continuing to do that, as well as the EU representatives.

    MR. BLECHMAN:  You know, much of their diplomatic gains with countries who have their own beefs with the U.S., like Venezuela, are – you know, it helps Ahmadinejad and his stature in a way, but there’s no tangible benefit to it.  So probably the most troubling is Iran’s influence in Lebanon through Hezbollah, and that situation is a very dangerous one.  But the – you know, the globetrotting, visits to Latin America and so forth, I think that’s all theater and not very important.  

    MR. KIMBALL:  Greg or Charles, anything on this question?  If not – or yes?  

    MR. THIELMANN:  I would just say that most of the countries – I think Barry identified some of the dangers, but in terms of acquiring materials and know-how, these are not the countries that Iran most needs help from.  

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right. Paul Kerr with Congressional Research Service, your question.  

    Q:  This question is directed at Barry.  Did your – I was wondering if your report looked at the – or your group looked at the question of sort of the history of U.N. Security Council sanctions related to proliferation, because it’s a fairly ugly history.  I mean, in the case of Iraq, they started to comply; we invaded them anyway.  In the case of India and Pakistan, they are – did not comply with Security Council Resolution 1172 and, to say the least, haven’t suffered because of it.  

    It seems like because of that, a reasonable strategy for Iran – and I’m reasonably sure they’re thinking about this, based on some of their statements – is to simply wait out the sanctions, or to progress to the point where people will say, well, we need to change our strategy because Iran is now nuclear-capable or whatever.  So it seems to me that there are some potential limits to how long we can enforce sanctions.  We can’t do it for it perpetuity.  So I was wondering how that factored into your analysis, or if it did.

    MR. BLECHMAN:  Yes, we did look at that. And the history of sanctions more broadly is not very effective.  The Peterson Institute has done a study looking back decades at sanctions for various purposes, and they work best when core national security issues are not at stake.  They tend to work poorly when something like nuclear program is at stake.  

    One change is this development over the past few years of enforcing these financial sanctions and raising the danger to potential violators of sanctions, that they’ll be barred from operating within the U.S. market or other advanced markets.  So they have – really have something to lose by violating the sanctions.  

    Nonetheless, we don’t – I think we state explicitly we don’t believe that sanctions in themselves can cause Iran to drop its program or to reach a compromise on it.  That’s why we say the sanctions are putting this pressure on them, accentuating the political conflict.  Now, let’s take advantage of that and try to bolster those who are more pragmatic, might wish to reach compromise by showing them more positive incentives to reach agreement.  

    But I think certainly – there – we’re really just starting to tighten enforcement of the sanctions during the past year, so I think there’s time to go on that.  

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right. Over here, please.  

    Q:  Hi.  I’m Adam Melkitz, in Georgetown Security Studies program.  I have one for Mr. Thielmann.  There’s like – Paul Bracken had the concept of the second nuclear age, and obviously we’re going to have a lot of more counterproliferation challenges in the future.  Is Iran’s case providing any sort of lessons for nuclear diplomacy in the future with these types of states?  Or is it just so sui generis that we can’t generalize anything out of it?  

    MR. THIELMANN:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  I would say both.  It does have lessons, and it’s sui generis, as with most things, I guess, in the realm of international affairs.  I think we’ve clearly learned things.  We’ve learned things from our Iraq experience, with direct applicability to Iran.  One hopes, anyway, that our learning curve is not flat, that every time the world confronts a crisis we figure out what works and what doesn’t work as well.  

    I think one of the things that we realize a lot more deeply or thoroughly now is that some of the encouragement that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the whole IAEA operation for nuclear power, that if we could renegotiate the NPT it would have included additional protocol right off the bat, that there would be more safeguards for – to prevent the diversion of nuclear weapons.  

    And we have seen in the Iranian case how far a country can go professing adherence to the NPT as a signatory and claiming to be operating consistent with its safeguard agreements, but actually doing something very differently.  So I think some of these things – obviously the additional protocol came about as a result of trying to make up for some of our mistakes at an earlier era.  And I think we’re still learning.  

    I think it’s important all the way along not just to get to a negotiated solution with Iran but to always be conscious of what other signals are being sent around the world to other countries, to potential Irans, to countries of proliferation concern, to see that we’re not actually rewarding Iran for bad behavior.  And that’s one of the dilemmas in trying to construct a policy:  How do you make proposals that can be perceived, as Iran, to somehow benefit them or give them a solution that is also to their advantage without, then, compromising the international standards and the message to other countries?  

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, I think we had a couple questions here.  And if – Howard, and then we’ll go in the back, and then we’ll come back over here.  

    Q:  It’s Howard Morland.  This is the usual question I ask at these things.  If it’s okay for Israel to have a nuclear arsenal, why is it not okay for Iran?  And does your – how persuasive is your answer to this question to the other nations of the region?

    MR. KIMBALL:  Okay, I can take a crack at that, unless others of you have a more clever –

    MR.    :  Please.  (Laughter.)  (Inaudible.)

    MR. KIMBALL:  Well, because we’ve heard this question before, Howard.  It’s a good question.  And it is one that, you know, we do need to address in the context of the broader Middle East.  It is not okay for anyone to have a nuclear weapon.  All countries are obligated to support the – not just the pursuit of but the achievement of total nuclear disarmament.  But we’re at a point in history where there is one country in the region, Israel, that has nuclear weapons.  It’s had a secret program for many years.

    And, you know, the Iranian program I think we all – we all have to recognize is not there simply because of Israel.  There are other historical reasons why the Iranians have pursued nuclear research.  So, you know – plus, of course, the fact that Iran has – is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Israel, unfortunately, is not.  And so there are different obligations – legal obligations, international obligations – that Iran is obligated to pursue that it has not been fully pursuing.

    So the – you know, the broader question of how we’re going to deal with the other countries in the region with nuclear programs, you know, it – that is also a longer-term question.  There is a unique opportunity, I think, coming up in 2012 with the agreement on a meeting about the pursuit of a – zone-free weapons of mass destruction in – Middle East.  And that is – that – the planning for that is on the very early stages.  It’s a very tenuous opportunity, but it’s an opportunity that all the countries in the region should look at as a way to increase their own security and the region’s security, including Israel.  And so there’s an event next week at which I’ll be talking about that particular issue.  And maybe you can ask your question again, and I can answer it a little bit better now that I’ve rehearsed it.  (Laughter.)  So we’ve got a couple other questions.  In the rear, please.  

    Q:  Harry Blaney, Center for National Policy.  Daryl kind of raised what I was going to ask a little bit about.  My assumption is that Iran does not want to give up the chance of having nuclear weapons, that in some way this is a fundamental element of their national security policy in the present context.  The second element that’s at work, it seems, is that what we are doing, either in carrots or sticks, in that context is probably not sufficient to change their mind.  

    And the question I want to ask is the macro question, which Daryl, in some ways, brought up:  What is – could be put on the table in a macro way to change the game and to change the assessment?  And of course, one possibility is what Daryl mentioned, and that is a larger agreement in the region and in other elements.  

    So I’d like to ask particularly Barry and Greg what their thoughts might be.  Would it be a game changer, essentially, beyond what we are doing now, the bits and pieces that might change the environmental landscape that would induce, either by carrots or sticks – carrots or sticks, that game changer?  Thank you.

    MR. BLECHMAN:  Well, I agree with your assessment that Iran has desires – or the Iranian elite desires to acquire nuclear-weapons capability.  The question – the purpose of our policy should be to persuade them that the cost of doing that is too great – not only the cost being imposed by sanctions and covert ops and so forth, and isolation – diplomatic isolation, more or less – but also the opportunity cost in terms of what they’re forgoing in terms of improving the economic well-being of their people and of themselves.  

    Iran is not a happy place.  There’s, you know, 25- to 40-percent unemployment, there’s terrible drug problems.  The economy is going nowhere.  And, you know, one, just have to shift the calculus, the weight of opinion within these elites so that they can say, well, yes, we still want nuclear weapons, but let’s put that off for a while.  For now, let’s come to some agreement that satisfies the West that is not humiliating to us, you know, by permitting us to continue enrichment and so forth; and let’s see what – you know, what the West can deliver to us.  

    And that buys you more time, and hopefully then you can reach a broader regional solution to the problem, or we could move down the road toward disarmament more broadly in the world, so.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I would only add a couple things to that.  Game changers are a little bit hard to articulate before the game has changed.  I do think that it’s worth noting that, looking over the long term, there are a lot – there are a lot of interests in common on the part of the United States and Iran.  It’s just – it’s just sort of in the – in the nature of international affairs and geopolitics that there are a lot of things that Iran and the U.S. could pursue in common.  

    And so I don’t think that we’re in a situation where here are two countries that are destined to always be adversaries all across the board.  So I think if one considers that that is in the background context, I think it’s possible to hope for a change in the game, even if it’s not dramatic and quick.  

    The other thing I would mention is that there are things related to nuclear disarmament and arms control which I think one should also keep in mind.  If more progress is made on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty – and I think more progress is possible in the next – in the next few years – that will create a higher barrier to one of the things that Iran would need to do, which is to test nuclear weapons.  Iran does not want to be a North Korea.  And the higher the barrier – the obstacle is to actually lighting off a nuclear explosion and then Iran explaining to its people why the fatwa meant nothing, and all the other things that they would have to do in order to do that, this suggests that progress on the CTBT would help with the Iran situation.  

    And I’m – I don’t rule out – I can imagine an Israel that could accept a CTBT.  That would also be a step which would make it that much harder for Iran actually to test nuclear weapons.  So I don’t think it’s – things are quite as glum as they always seem to appear.  

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, we had a question over here.  

    Q:  Mark Gubrud, University of Maryland.  Barry, part of your proposed strategy was to increase emphasis on ballistic-missile defense.  You blamed the Gulf states for not cooperating and creating an effective missile defense, but you didn’t tell us what you meant by effective or what kind of missile defense you thought would be effective.  

    One thing we do know is that the systems that the United States is selling to NATO, and would probably push on the Gulf states, will have at most a limited impact on Iran’s ability to threaten Europe and those states with its current conventional ballistic missiles without countermeasures; would have essentially no effectiveness against future nuclear missiles with simple countermeasures that are well known.  

    So there are other concepts out there for potentially more effective forms of missile defense.  But these are also – we have to consider perhaps that they would create a more dangerous situation, a greater confrontation by forward-deployed interceptors and so on – interceptors on aircraft.  

    Well, while you’re thinking of an answer to that, I have a second question I can throw out for the entire panel, which is, when we hear that Iran will have a nuclear weapon next year, and then a few months later some of the same people tell us, well, it’s going to be four years in the future, you have to wonder about political manipulation of these numbers.  And I wonder if the administration is taking advantage of the recent publicity about Stuxnet just to try to throw some cold water on the need for immediate nuclear attack.

    MR. KIMBALL:  So Barry, if you could deal with the first issue, please?  

    MR. BLECHMAN:  Yes; I was – what I was talking about was a sort of regional defense system for the Gulf countries – I wasn’t think of a European context – something that would give the Gulf countries some confidence to help us avoid additional proliferation should we fail in our efforts to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  And thinking of the sort of system we’re developing with Japan, and probably will with South Korea, against the North Korean attack that might involve some land-based missiles like THAAD and the Aegis system on U.S. warships, all internetted and dependent on U.S. early-warning and tracking systems.  

    On the second question, I think it was the Israelis that were manipulating the threat.  The U.S. has been pretty consistent.  In recent years, General Cartwright, back in June, said they were two to five years away.  And the big change was the Israeli announcement from the retiring head of Mossad that they were in the same ballpark.  So I don’t think that’s being manipulated by the U.S., the greater thing.

    MR. KIMBALL:  And I would – on this threat-assessment issue – I don’t want to interrupt you, Charles – but there is an op-ed that Greg Thielmann and Peter Crail, our nonproliferation analyst at ACA, did for the Christian Science Monitor, that’s out on the table, that tracks what some of these past threat assessments were.  I mean, I would just say that, you know, the mainstream-media discussion on the threat assessment has not tracked with what the credible government and credible nongovernmental estimates have been.  

    And so that’s one of the reasons why we continue to try to reiterate the point that, while the program – Iran’s program and its lack of cooperation with the IAEA is troubling, we do have time.  And it will be certainly some time, some years, before Iran has the capability that we’re worried about.  But Charles, you were going to comment on that.  

    MR. FERGUSON:  Yeah, basically, I was going to just amplify what Daryl just said.  And it’s kind of – I’ll take it and almost treat it as a softball question – (chuckles) – saying that’s why we need organizations like the Arms Control Association and Federation of American Scientists to do those independent credible assessments.  And I don’t want to preempt too much:  The report is going to be posted tomorrow morning on FAS’s website.  But Ivanka Barzashka, who’s a Bulgarian physicist, she’s done the calculations.  She’s set up the computer model, done the math, solved differential equations, et cetera.  

    And you know, her analysis a year and a half ago indicated that the centrifuges were underperforming by about a quarter.  They’re about a quarter as effective as the mainstream news media was saying they were.  And so then that was good news, in effect, in terms of diplomacy.

    But now, her latest calculations show that, you know, it looks like Iran has made some progress in the past 12 months, putting aside Stuxnet and also their covert ops aside.  So we have to continually be doing these assessments.  We need to do the peer review of what the government and other sources say.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Just to state the obvious:  that intelligence assessments are very difficult for the public to absorb.  For one thing, they’re secret – (laughter) – and so you’re absorbing usually leaked or carefully scripted summaries of complicated intelligence assessments.  And it’s hard for the press to capture the essence and headlines without losing some of the important qualifications and so forth.  

    I would certainly never want to imply that any governments ever distort intelligence assessments for political gain.  That would be far too cynical.  (Laughter.)  But the public and interested public like the people who are here need to read things carefully to make sure that you understand the qualifications of intelligence assessments as given when there is information available.  

    And I think that means, also, however enthusiastic one can be about the success of industrial sabotage, to disabuse yourself that we can sabotage our way to a satisfactory solution to the Iran nuclear problem.  The National Intelligence Estimate, as reported, that – our last glimpse of this pointed out that Iran can develop nuclear weapons if that is what it decides to do.  And so I take that as a reality, and that sabotage and sanctions are a way to delay that outcome and not to prevent that outcome, if Iran is ultimately determined to achieve it.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right, we’ve got some other questions.  Yes, sir?  Any others?  Okay, thank you.

    Q:  Alan Krass, formerly with the State Department.  Last week, I attended an event at which David Albright talked about the potential Iranian program.  His claim is that they have a design – this is relevant to Greg’s statement about testing being necessary – that they have a design which they feel confident can be deployed, I guess, without testing.  

    Now, the Israelis, of course, have developed what everybody believes to be a very credible nuclear-weapons capability without testing.  Do you – do you really believe that somehow it’s going to be necessary for the Iranians to test in order for them to convince the world or persuade significant parts of the world that they have a capability?  Or would they reserve testing as a different – actually, a more political kind of statement, that they would, in fact, handle it in a very – that would cause them to come out in a very, very different way?  Thank you.

    MR. THIELMANN:  My quick answer is yes, I believe that Iran would want to test a nuclear weapon before it deployed systems that it wanted to rely on as a nuclear deterrent.  That’s just my opinion.  I think you can respectably argue the opposite.  And I listened to what David Albright said; I raised my eyebrow; I wondered.  

    But some of the things that you are saying I’m not sure are generally accepted.  I mean, I personally believe Israel did test a nuclear weapon in the south Atlantic.  That’s a divided opinion, but there are a lot of experts who believe that they did.  So how many countries have deployed a nuclear arsenal and have not tested nuclear weapons?  I mean, if I’m right about Israel, then I can’t think of any, right offhand.  So I think it’s a reasonable assumption.  

    The other thing I would say is that if one looks at the Iranians with regard to their ballistic-missile program, one sees a very different approach than that of North Korea.  You know, we heard from everyone in the late ’90s that we had to completely rethink our view about ballistic-missile testing, because the North Koreans had only one successful test of the Nodong missile and then started deploying them.  And so I think that we all over-recalibrated our thinking to say, oh, well, that’s what emerging countries do.  

    But then we watch Iran, and Iran tests and tests and tests, spends years improving the Shahab-3 before they deployed it, before it was operational.  So the way Iran approaches its ballistic-missile program and some aspects of its nuclear program, I think they’re very serious and sober about how they do things.  They are not a North Korea.  So I think that they would want to do that.  And having said that, I would just acknowledge the final point is, it is true that you don’t have to have a nuclear potential that everyone knows would work to achieve the gains of nuclear deterrence.  And that means both for Iran and for the other countries reacting to Iran.  

    The example I often give is, if a – the national security advisor to the U.S. president, in a crisis with Iran, assures him that we are 80 percent confident that Iran has no nuclear threat against the United States, the president will act as if there’s a hundred-percent chance of a nuclear threat against the United States.  

    So yes, you can accomplish a lot without nuclear testing.  It’s just my own reading that Iran, if they – if they wanted to – if they wanted to benefit from – if you want to call it that, “benefit” – and be penalized by an open nuclear deterrent, that they would want to make sure that they had a nuclear deterrent.

    MR. KIMBALL:  And I would just add quickly that, you know, we – as we look at Iran and the Middle East and the second nuclear age, I mean, we need to think about, how do we increase the barriers that help prevent – “help” prevent, but not totally prevent – countries from acquiring more fissile material and more sophisticated capabilities.  

    The test-ban treaty has been and continues to be one of those barriers, because even if Iran could build a – manufacture a device based upon a design that someone else may have tested, that may be – you know, that – it would be useful if that would be the limit of its capabilities.  A decade later, if it could conduct a nuclear – a series of nuclear test explosions, it could produce a second-generation device that’s smaller, more compact, and could more confidently be delivered on a – you know, on a medium- or a long-range ballistic missile.  

    So we can’t just be thinking about, you know, what’s going to happen in 2015.  We got to think about what the situation might be in 2020, ’25 and beyond.  

    All right.  We had a couple more questions.  What I want to try to do is take those two questions and pair them, and then our panelists will answer.  

    Go ahead, ma’am.

    Q:  Is this working?

    MR. KIMBALL:  It is working.

    Q:  I’m Samira Daniels (ph).  I’m interested in negotiation capacity.  And the question that I have in these last 14 years, 15 years is whether – and this – probably Greg Thielmann can respond to this, and anyone – whether you see the emergence of a – in terms of nuclear diplomacy, real progress.  I mean, do you – do you see countries or these international bodies looking to really improve the quality of negotiations, given that you have a – as one person said, this cacophony of voices within the United States, you know, some very strident towards Iran and so forth.  And there’s got to be more, you know, research in terms of how to really improve, you know, diplomacy, you know, given that Ahmadinejad is, you know, responding and reacting to one person one day, another person –  you know, this is a problem I see.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Right.  Okay.  All right.  

    And then we had one other question in – yes, sir.

    Q:  My question is about the sanctions.  Firsa Kiafa (NOT) (ph) at the State Department – about the sanctions and the role of Turkey.  Specifically, you mentioned that we have finally gotten the Europeans on board and the Japanese and the South Koreans and some of the Gulf countries, especially the UAE, where the Iranians did the bulk of their business with the – with the front companies.

    But the question that I have is about Turkey, given the fact that they have a government in power there with the AQ party, which, you know, given what happened during the Gaza crisis and trying to get the ship over there, they’re not very pro-Israel, and they have their own issues with Israel.  And so there’s some kind of a sympathy now with Iran, and this alliance that has been building between Tehran and Ankara.  How difficult is it – I mean, okay, given the fact that you know, again, Turkey being a NATO ally – but I guess the question is, how we do – how do we convince the Turks to cooperate more with us when it comes to the sanctions?  Because I honestly look at Turkey as a – as a big sort of hole that the Iranians are taking advantage of.  

    MR. KIMBALL:  Okay.  All right.

    Q:  Before, it was Dubai, and now it’s Turkey.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Barry, maybe Greg, if you could address those questions?  And then we invite each of you also just to make any concluding – closing comments.

    MR. BLECHMAN:  Turkey certainly is a problem.  And Turkish policy has changed dramatically in recent years, not only with regard to Israel but with regard to its stance toward the Middle East overall.  It’s – has this no-enemies policy now, and – in part a reaction to Europe’s rejection of it, in part because of the growth of greater religious spirit and political power of the religious elements within Turkey.

    And it is a problem for Iranian sanctions.  I don’t think it’s capable of negating the effects of the sanctions; it’s just kind of a loophole.  And I believe Mr. Levey from Treasury is working to see Turks have a lot of interest in U.S. economic relationships.  So hopefully the worst of it can be controlled.  But it’s certainly a problem.  But as Greg said, we can use Turkey also as a conduit, and should use them as a way to improve communications with Iran.

    On the broader question, I’d say there has been positive movement on the nuclear issue, broadly, over the last 15, more years.  Nuclear weapons increasingly are marginalized, and it’s in part because of the no-testing moratorium, in part because of the progress the U.S. and Russia have made, in part because of concerns of nuclear terrorism and the progress made in securing nuclear materials.

    So we have these bad actors, but they’re very isolated.  It’s North Korea, it’s Iran, it’s – maybe it’s Burma – not really, but possibly.  And although progress has come slowly in terms of what’s acceptable, what’s considered acceptable international behavior, nuclear threats and nuclear aspirations I think are increasingly being pushed to the margin.

    And if I take any comfort from what’s happened in the nuclear field over the years I’ve been in it, it is this marginalization of nuclear options and thinking of nuclear weapons, which I think has much to do with the test ban and the treaty and the moratorium on testing.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I’ll try to respond briefly on both questions.  First of all, since I spent 25 years as a diplomat, I can only applaud any study of diplomacy as worthy of attention.  I think case studies on – particularly on arms-control negotiations are very worthwhile.  I mean, we do – we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few decades negotiating things that ultimately determine the survival of the planet.

    We need to pay close attention to what we have learned and what happened in previous circumstances when the world was really on the brink.  So what’s out there, we have to study and be aware of it.  And I think one of our – one of our great needs is for Congress to have more of an appetite to do some of that studying.  

    And one of the ways is for the Congress to be involved in study groups, arms-control study groups, actually spend time with negotiators, talking to them about the task at the hand and talking to the foreigners with whom we’re negotiating to make them more aware of the complexities of the issues.  So I certainly endorse that.

    On Turkey, let me make a brief point about both Turkey and Brazil, since I think they got a lot of bad press from their efforts last spring to come up with a way out of the impasse on the swap issue.  Turkey does have a no-enemies policy now, as I understand it.  They want to improve relations with all of their neighbors, which doesn’t seem to me a bad thing.

    And Turkey is also – has provided us with an example of a country that mixes democracy, prosperity and Islam.  That also seems like a very good thing in our current times.  And in the case of Brazil, you have a country that has a conspicuous effort of success, historically, at helping facilitate serious border disputes in South America.  And you have a country with a world-class diplomatic corps.

    It seems like with the characteristics of these two countries, this should be an asset for us, that these two countries are both much more trusted by Iran than we are.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have complaints with Turkey and Brazil.  And I’m very sorry that both countries could not at least have abstained in the sanctions vote rather than voting against sanctions.  

    But nonetheless, there’s a lot to work with here and I think it would be very foolish for us not to take advantage of it.

    MR. KIMBALL:  Charles, any final thoughts?

    MR. FERGUSON:  Well, if there’s any hope for any of the increased technical measures I talked about in terms of increased competence of monitoring safeguards, it’s through what Barry and you and Greg have been talking about in trying to develop better relations with Iran, but not necessarily just letting them have what they want.

    But you know, sanctions can play a role, but coercion alone is not going to get us to increased confidence in Iran’s nuclear program.  So we have to offer clear incentives that play to Iran’s interest and also support our interests as well.

    MR. KIMBALL:  All right.  Well, I want to thank all of our panelists for their short, smart and insightful comments at this critical time.  And we’ve had a very rich discussion on issues beyond what we planned to talk about.  

    Let me just remind everybody that this is the second in our series of briefings on “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle,” and there’s a transcript of the first briefing, which was about the status of Iran’s nuclear-missile program.  So that’s online at armscontrol.org.  And there’ll be a transcript of today’s session online early next week.  

    And next month, we plan to pull together the third session in the series, and that one will be focusing on the effect and the limits of sanctions and where to take that in the months ahead.  So thanks, all, for coming, and please join me in thanking our expert panelists.  (Applause.)

    (END)

     

    Description: 

    Transcript available. The Arms Control Association on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 hosted the second in a series of briefings on Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle with panelists Barry Blechman, Charles Ferguson, Greg Thielmann and moderated by ACA's Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball. The panel examined what a viable diplomatic solution with Iran would look like and ways to achieve it.

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    Keeping Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Peaceful: What Must the Obama Administration and Congress Do?

    Sections:

    Body: 

    December 2, 2010, 2:30pm to 4:00pm

    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
    Root Room
    1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20036

    Click here to register

    Recent revelations regarding North Korea’s uranium enrichment program underscores the danger that the proliferation of such technologies may allow still more nations to use peaceful nuclear programs to  create a weapons option. This raises some pressing questions:

    • How will President Obama’s proposal to bring India, a non-NPT member, into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) affect nuclear export control efforts?
    • Should the United States require states to foreswear pursuing uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing as a condition of future nuclear cooperation agreements?
    • Should Congress call upon nuclear supplier states to adopt nonproliferation policies that are as stringent as those exercised by the United States?
    • What should the U.S. response be to China’s bid to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan, a non-NPT member, in violation of NSG rules?

    On Thursday December 2, please join the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the Arms Control Association for a panel discussion on these questions and related topics with: Executive-Director of the Arms Control Association Daryl G. Kimball; Minority staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thomas Moore; Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Henry Sokolski; and Staff Director for the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Don MacDonald.

    To register click here

    If you have difficulty registering please contact Matt Sugrue
    [email protected]

    202.463.8270x100

    Description: 

    Recent revelations regarding North Korea’s uranium enrichment and reactor program have increased concerns that more nations may develop peaceful nuclear programs as a way to develop a nuclear weapons option. Please join NPEC and the Arms Control Associations on December 2, 2010 for a panel discussion.

    The Status of Iran's Nuclear and Missile Programs

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    Body: 

    SOLVING THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PUZZLE
 BRIEFING SERIES

    "The Status of Iran's Nuclear and Missile Programs"

    Monday, November 22, 2010, 9:30 am - 11:00 am

    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036

    As renewed talks with Iran on its nuclear program are poised to begin and discussions are held in Europe over missile defense, it will be important to take an informed look at where Iran's nuclear and missile capabilities stand and answer some key questions:

    • How long until Iran could have a viable nuclear weapons capability?
    • What are Iran's ballistic missile capabilities and what can we expect in the years ahead?
    • What developments might inform the new National Intelligence Estimate?
    • What will the new Congress need to know about Iran's capabilities and the options for addressing them?

    Please join the Arms Control Association on Monday, November 22 for a panel discussion on these questions and others featuring former IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen, International Institute for Strategic Studies Senior Fellow for Missile Defense Michael Elleman, and former National Intelligence Officer Paul Pillar, moderated by ACA Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann.

    The briefing will be the first in a four-part series, "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle," which will examine the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program and the most effective strategies to address it.

     


     

    For a PDF version of this transcript, click here
    Michael Elleman's presentation is available here
    Olli Heinonen's presentation is available here

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    THE STATUS OF IRAN’S NUCLEAR AND MISSILE PROGRAMS

    WELCOME AND MODERATOR:

    GREG THIELMANN,
    SENIOR FELLOW,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    SPEAKERS:

    OLLI HEINONEN,
    SENIOR FELLOW,
    BELFER CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
    HARVARD UNIVERSITY

    MICHAEL ELLEMAN,
    SENIOR FELLOW FOR MISSILE DEFENSE,
    INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES

    PAUL PILLAR,
    DIRECTOR OF GRADUATE STUDIES,
    CENTER FOR PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES,
    GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2010

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.

    GREG THIELMANN:  Welcome to you all on this Monday morning, on behalf of the Arms Control Association.  In the unlikely event that any of you are not intimately familiar with the ACA, I would just mention that we’re a nonpartisan public organization – public education organization.  We publish a monthly magazine, Arms Control Today.  There were a number of free copies on the table if you wanted to take one along.  The magazine provides an authoritative source of information on arms control issues.

    My name is Greg Thielmann.  I’m a senior fellow at ACA and head of our realistic threat and response project.  I’m your moderator this morning as we kick off the first in a four-part series of briefings under the ambitious rubric “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle”.  An outline of the series is available on the table outside.

    In today’s session, we’re going to be focusing on the status of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.  Before we can get into detailed discussions about policy options for dealing with the Iranian proliferation threat, we need to construct a solid foundation of facts and consider judgments about the status quo.  And we have a distinguished panel of authorities on this subject to help us with this task.

    Before we turn to the panel, let me make the usual request that you silence any electronic devices you may be carrying.  This session is being taped and will be on the record.  We’re going to be inverting the order of participation we had originally planned because our third speaker has to leave us soon to join a meeting with the vice president later this morning.

    You have biographic material on each of the speakers, but I’ll review a little bit of the background information in introducing the speakers.  We’re first going to hear from Professor Paul Pillar who is now a director of graduate studies at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University.  I first heard Paul’s name when I was serving in the State Department’s intelligence bureau 10 years ago and he was national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia.

    But I really became familiar with his contributions later when I was serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  During the committee’s extensive investigation of intelligence-community failings on Iraq, the committee discovered the prescient analyses he produced in January 2003, describing the likely impact of invading Iraq.

    And I would characterize his pieces as bright lights of insight in a very dark firmament.  Moreover, his later testimony about the analytic process helped senators on the intelligence committee gain a realistic understanding of the potential and the limits of intelligence.  So as we seek to shed light on the mysteries of Iran’s nuclear missile programs, we invite Paul to set the stage.

    PAUL PILLAR:  Good morning and thanks, Greg, for that very kind introduction.  And I want to apologize, first of all, to everyone in the room, including my fellow panelists, for having to peel off early and not stay for the whole proceedings.

    Greg asked me to address two different topics.  One is the intelligence community’s contribution to this whole subject.  And the second is relevant issues involving Iran and its region and more specifically Iranian attitudes toward its neighbors, the neighbors’ attitudes toward Iran and how Iran moving toward a nuclear weapons capability might affect regional dynamics.

    First of all, the role of intelligence.  And I want to start by saying I know absolutely nothing about what’s in the mill with regard to this estimate or that paper, whatever.  I don’t walk the corridors anymore.  I haven’t walked them for five years of the agencies who do those sorts of things.  I don’t have a security clearance.  So I am blissfully ignorant of what’s going on.  I do have some things to say in a more general vein, though, about the role of intelligence on this topic.  And they are mainly things that I would describe as cautions.

    One is to caution against an excessive focus on national intelligence estimates, or NIEs.  People wait with bated breath – well, when is the next NIE on this topic?  Well, that’s an art form that’s been around for a long time, so everyone’s heard of it.  And I guess I can understand the focus, but the fact is that it is one of only many different channels through which the intelligence community produces its work, its assessments.  There are many different art forms even if you are talking about strategic assessments and even if you are talking about multiagency intelligence community assessments, there are other art forms.

    I expect that numerous judgments have been flowing all along over the last couple of years from the intelligence agencies to the policymakers with regard to this topic, and that the White House and the Department of Defense and others concerned are well-informed of whatever is the state of thinking by intelligence community experts on this.  So it is a mistake to wait with bated breath for any one document, even if it has a label that is a label we’ve all heard of.

    Another major caution about the role of intelligence is – the main issue here is not, in the end, an intelligence issue.  It involves questions of what costs and risks we want to incur in order to try to achieve certain results with regard to Iranian programs and behavior and what are the best strategies for trying to achieve those results.  Those are not questions that intelligence agencies can answer for us.

    The bated-breath approach carries the hazard and it encourages the mistaken notion that the presumed existence of some state of affairs, such as an unconventional weapons program that could exist in some other country, is to be equated with a particular approach for doing something about it.

    That’s exactly the trap that we collectively in this country all fell into with regard to the Bush administration’s selling of the Iraq war with the false equation of a presumed unconventional weapons program on the one hand, the need to eradicate it by invading a country and overthrowing the regime on the other.

    And that’s exactly the kind of trap that I hope we will collectively avoid with regard to any other countries, including Iran.  And it’s a trap to avoid, not only with regard to military action, although that is the most important one, but also with regard to any other course of action – sanctions or anything else. It is not to be equated with a certain judgment that comes out of the intelligence community.

    And finally, with regard to cautions, as to what we can or cannot expect from the intelligence community, we’re talking about Iranian decisions, I think, that have yet to be made.  Or so far as we know they have yet to be made.  And in this case, the decisions, whether to proceed to a weapons capability or how close to come to it, will depend in large part, among other things, on what the United States does vis-à-vis Iran.  And again, these are all questions about which we cannot expect answers from the intelligence community, which among other things is not charged with assessing the future direction of U.S. policy.

    Now, there was this one estimate, which was called an NIE, back in 2007, that got a lot of attention.  So it’s helpful to recall what was said back then.  And what got most of the headlines regarding that document was a lead judgment that Iran had suspended or had stopped weapons design or weaponization work four years earlier, in 2003.

    And this got equated, partly through some unfortunate use of terminology in the estimate itself, with Iran having stopped working on nuclear weapons four years ago.  Now, a couple of words about why that estimate was constructed the unfortunate way it was.  It was not originally intended to have an unclassified version.  It was originally put together with the intention that there would only be a classified estimate.

    So the estimate writers were writing for their sophisticated, inside audience that was well-versed in what was going on with regard to uranium enrichment.  And so they led with what was the news for that sophisticated audience, this business about the weapons-design work allegedly being suspended in 2003.

    But then between the White House and the intelligence community, they realized, well, the chance for a leak is very, very high, so we might as well preempt that by putting together an unclassified version of the judgments, which they did.  And once they decided to do that, they were stuck with the original organization, which this thing about “weapons design work suspended in 2003” was the lead item.

    If they started rearranging things for the public audience, they would be justly accused of massaging the message for the public.  So they were kind of stuck based on this unfortunate sequence of events with what they got.  And then what happened was a big public reaction to the effect that, well, this takes the military option off the table, this changes things enormously, there was all kinds of speculation about what the intelligence community was really up to in terms of its motives and trying to subvert policy, and so on and so forth.

    It was a vastly overblown reaction to what was, really, in the end, a kind of unfortunate way in which the product evolved and was designed.  And President Bush was quite correct in pointing out in response to some of this reaction that the most important thing, the uranium enrichment program, had not stopped in 2003, and that that program is what the analysts would describe as the pacing factor, the one aspect of the program that most determines when Iran would be capable of producing a nuclear weapon.

    Well, given that unfortunate experience in 2003, I suspect the intelligence community has little appetite these days for more unclassified papers on the subject.  In fact, for a lot of intelligence officers, if they had their way, they would have nothing to do with any unclassified products, ever, on anything.

    That doesn’t happen to be my view, but I think you can perhaps sympathize with it when something like this happens.  But you’ve still got the leak problem to deal with.  So what they’re going to do with the next waiting-with-bated-breath estimate on this topic in terms of classified/unclassified products, I simply don’t know and I’m glad I’m not trying to make the decisions on this.

    Whatever the intelligence community does on this topic, all it can do is provide, at best, a snapshot of the physical state of programs insofar as there’s information available on those programs.  And we can expect that the information, as usual, is going to be fragmentary and incomplete.

    And if we need a reminder of this, we can just think about how some of the – what is today’s knowledge of the Iranian nuclear activities has come to light, some of it based on tips from none other than the Mujahideen-e-Khalq.  I mean, it’s almost embarrassing to point out that some leads have come from a group like that, but that’s the case.

    The community is on far shakier ground when it tries to offer – and there’s the expectation of this, so maybe it will offer this – judgments about what this snapshot of the physical state of a program implies with regard to Iranian decision-making.  That’s a whole lot harder to do, mainly because of the factor I already mentioned.  We’re talking about decisions yet to be made.

    One can look at, say, weaponization work, and analysts will give you some inference.  In fact, analysts may consider that this is part of their mission; this is part of what they’re paid to do – that they will give you inferences about what this probably means or might mean or likely means with regard to decision-making at top levels in Iran.  But we don’t really know that and neither do the analysts.

    We don’t know whether there is weaponization work going on.  It reflects a decision already made to go all the way to the last few screwdriver turns of putting a bomb together or just short of that, keeping those last turns unturned.  Or maybe it’s all just kind of on a contingency basis. And decisions haven’t even been made to get to a short fuse, few turns of the screwdriver away from a bomb.  We simply don’t know based directly on whatever this fragmentary, physical evidence may say.

    Well, that’s all I’m going to say about intelligence.  Now, to turn to the regional-relations topic and where nuclear weapons fits into this.  Iran has major tensions with its neighbors on a number of things including with its Arab neighbors, a number of things that have nothing to do with nuclear weapons.  Iran is the big kid on the Persian Gulf block.  It likes to think of itself as the successor to the old empire going back through millennia of history.

    And by the way, as one possible motivation for developing a nuclear weapon, I think part of it is just the vague view that the major power in the Persian Gulf region as the Iranians see themselves ought to have, as a proper accoutrement of being the major regional power, a nuke.  That would be one of several motivations.  That’s just speculation on my part, but I think it’s reasonable speculation.

    You have various lines of contention that have underlain these tensions with neighbors for quite some time.  The ethnic one: Persian versus Arab.  The sectarian one of Shia versus Sunni which, by the way, has been accentuated and underscored by the sectarian violence of the last several years and continued political strife in Iraq, which has made people throughout the region, not just in Iraq, more conscious of these things.  And you’ve got specific territorial disputes.  You had one that was one of the things at stake in the Iran-Iraq War and of course today, you have disputed islands in the Persian Gulf.

    One thing Iran is not appearing to do right now is foment revolutions amongst its neighboring states.  That is a change in Iranian behavior from the first few years of the Islamic Republic.  During those first few years, there was an almost Trotskyite kind of view of permanent revolution that if similar revolutions did not break out and take hold in the region, that the revolution in Iran would fail, that the new regime would fall.  And then as the years went by the leaders in the Islamic Republic realized, well, that wasn’t happening.

    So they didn’t see it as essential to their own survival anymore to, say, overthrow the regime in Bahrain.  So they’re not trying to do that.  I think their current strategy in Iraq for example, which is one of not trying to install a Khomeini-like regime but instead to place all kinds of bets on the Iraqi chessboard so that the Iranians can maximize their influence and increase the chance that whatever regime is in Baghdad is not going to be a hostile regime as Saddam Hussein’s was.

    The Gulf countries do not want to see an Iranian nuke and they do express a vague concern about it.  But they don’t have any particular ideas to what to do about it.  If you talk about the topic of military attack, they’re opposed to that and I think there was a lot of misinterpretation, by the way, of Ambassador Otaiba’s remark.

    I was in the UAE as well as in Saudi Arabia in the spring and that’s certainly not the message that I got.  The message was, yeah, this is a source of concern and you Americans ought to figure out something to do about it, but if you raise the military-attack issue oh, no, no, no don’t do that.  I think the statement that Prince Turki made in a Carnegie event just a couple of weeks ago, along those lines, was fairly reflective of Saudi thinking as well as Gulf thinking in general.

    Finally, what would be the effect of an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability in the region?  And I have to say there’s an awful lot of fuzzy thinking on this.  The more sophisticated commentators realize that the specter of a bolt out of the blue in time of peace would be very unlikely; it would be suicidal, it would be absolutely contrary to Iranian interests.

    But even the more sophisticated commentators still express the kind of vague sense that somehow, an Iranian nuclear weapon even if it’s never fired is going to make a difference in encouraging troublesome Iranian behavior in the region.  It’s sort of a sense that Tehran would feel its oats more in ways that we wouldn’t like.  But if one thinks more precisely about just how this would work it’s hard to see – it’s hard for me to see how this would be the case.

    Ultimately, nuclear weapons affect behavior only insofar as the possible use of those weapons comes into play in thinking, somehow, about the strategic logic of a situation.  And I think what you need for them to come into play is three things.  You need to envision some kind of Iranian behavior that the Iranians are not doing already or at least not to the same degree.

    Secondly, you’d have to envision some likely response to that behavior that somebody else would take as long as Iran did not have a nuclear-weapons capability that would be detrimental to Iran.  And finally, you’d have to envision that that response would be so detrimental to Iran that an Iranian threat to bring nuclear weapons into play would be credible.

    Well, I find it hard in thinking about the ways in which Iran might be interacting in the future with the states of the region to envision any situation where those criteria which you could get straight from Tom Schelling or Herman Kahn as far as rigorous thinking about nuclear weapons and escalation is concerned would come into play.

    And let me close by just contrasting it with another situation elsewhere in the world where I think nuclear weapons had made a difference and that’s Pakistan and India and specifically the Pakistani nuclear weapon.  Pakistan has faced – and this is why the nuclear weapon is relevant – a situation of severe, conventional military threat from India.  You know, the so-called “cold start” doctrine and everything.

    Pakistan faces the threat that if they behave in a way that’s going to get the Indians too angry, the Indians are quite capable of launching a conventional armed strike that, in short order, would slice Pakistan in two.  That’s pretty darn serious and it certainly makes credible the idea of Pakistan bringing nuclear weapons into play.  And this may well have been behind and encouraged some Pakistan behavior like Pervez Musharraf’s cargo offensive up in the Kashmir region.  Nuclear weapons, I think, have made a difference there.

    But translate that strategic logic to the Iranian situation and the question becomes who plays the role of India?  Is it us?  Is it Saudis?  Is it the Israelis?  Is it the Iraqis?  Who’s going to have the armed invasion that slices Iran in two or the existential equivalent to that?  And I just don’t see it.  So I will leave it at that and Greg, I don’t know how you wanted to proceed at this point.  I can stick around for a few minutes and take some questions.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Well, what I’d like to do is break our usual routine by stopping at this point and allowing you to ask Paul Pillar some questions.  We probably only have five minutes or so.  So let me just start with one question and then we’ll go to you.  Is there anything, any generalization you would make about whether there are deep differences between our friends and allies on the facts that we’re going to be getting into on nuclear and missile issues in Iran?  The press sometimes gives the impression that the Europeans are much more convinced that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than the United States is.  Do you have any impressions you want to share on that?

    MR. PILLAR:  Well, again, I’m not walking the corridor so I – you know, the specifics that analysts and intelligence services might get into – some of which this talk that you mentioned, Greg, may reflect – I simply don’t know.  My overall sense is since everyone, for the most part, is looking at the same information and for the most part, information is shared on a liaison basis among friends and allies.

    I think some of the commentary probably overstates the actual analytical and judgmental differences.  And some of the things, especially when you talk about the Israeli perspective vis-à-vis the U.S., I think some of what comes out publicly is more politically driven than driven by differences between experts and intelligence services.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you.  Try to be more concise than I was and give your name and ask questions.  Michael.

    Q:  Michael Adler from the Wilson Center.  Just, if I can, two quick questions.  One, I know you’re not walking the corridors, but how much better do you think the intelligence is now than it was, say, 10 years ago?  Because certainly they made an effort to get better intelligence.

    And the second thing is, when you speak about who plays the role of Pakistan; wouldn’t it be all of the above?  And wouldn’t one thing the Iranians would get out of a nuclear weapon would be a certain immunity from attack?  From attack on their country?  And wouldn’t that, some fear, embolden them to be more active in small regional disputes such as things about islands in the Persian Gulf?

    MR. PILLAR:  On the first one, this has clearly been a major topic for all the services involved for quite some time and the same reasons that have made it a tough nut to crack have been there all along.  And that’s true not just of Iran but other nuclear programs and I’m thinking of North Korea which I think you’re going to get into with some of my fellow panelists later on.

    And Sig Hecker coming back with this story about this plant and there were some statements by, you know, U.S. officials that, well, we really weren’t so surprised about that.  I don’t know, that’s a tough nut to crack too.  (Laughter.)  And I wouldn’t be surprised if Sig Hecker, when he was invited to visit, discovered some things that we simply didn’t know.

    On your second one, let me just go back to the logic that I was trying to lay out.  What would we or anyone else do that would pose an existential threat in the same way Pakistan is threatened by India to Iran?  Are we going to launch an armed invasion of Iran that’s going to slice that country in two or anything remotely resembling that?  I just don’t see it.

    Are we going to do anything like that or will the Emiratis or the Saudis do something like that with regard to the islands dispute which you mentioned?  It simply doesn’t raise up to that level.  So insofar as a forceful, highly threatening response against Iran doesn’t come into play, then an Iran counter threat in which the nuclear weapon is brandished doesn’t come into play either.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Mr. Kessler.

    Q:  Glenn Kessler with the Washington Post.  How credible do you think the theory is that if Iran gets a nuclear, that it would unleash an arms race of other countries eager to have their own nuclear weapons such as the Saudis and the Egyptians?

    MR. PILLAR:  I think that’s not likely to happen.  Mainly, they’ve had the Israelis around for years and years, of course, and this hasn’t happened.  They’ve had the Iranian conventional superiority, in many respects, in the Gulf region for quite some years and it still hasn’t happened.

    And mainly for those reasons as well as for reasons of capability, I think that the image of a proliferation, a nuclear-proliferation race in the Middle East as being touched off by something that the Iranians – a threshold the Iranians would cross sometime in the next year or two is overblown.

    I think our focus on this as a legitimate concern reflects our collective tendency to over-speculate on such matters.  It’s the same thing that led President Kennedy many years ago to talk about, you know, we were going to have 25 nuclear-weapon states or whatever he said it was, you know, 20 years from now and that never materialized.  I think it’s the same sort of thing.

    It is an important issue.  I don’t want to minimize the significance of it; I’m just saying my bottom-line judgment is it’s not going to touch off quite the race toward nuclear weapons that is often talked about.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Patrick, Avner.

    Q:  Patrick Clawson, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  Iran’s supreme leader, for 20 years said that we [the United States] constitute an existential threat to the Islamic Republic and has organized hundreds of thousands of his basij to deal with what he sees as our efforts to overthrow his regime through promoting a velvet revolution and soft overthrow and he sees 3 million people out in the streets of Tehran as the product of our imaginations and he repeatedly states that only a militarily strong Iran can prevent this and that only through Iranian greater strength can the regime be sustained.

    Are you suggesting that we should ignore the supreme leader’s 20-year record of saying that we constitute an existential threat to his regime because you don’t think that there’s a possibility that we might invade Iran?  Or should we pay attention to what the supreme leader has to say about what constitutes an existential threat to the Islamic Republic?

    MR. PILLAR:  No, Patrick, I’m saying we should pay attention to that and draw the appropriate implication as to what U.S. threatening statements and behavior does and not what the Iranians would do if they actually got a nuclear weapon.  What you pointed also underscores an additional prime motivation for the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon if they proceed to that step which is deterrence of the United States.  Deterrence means not using it, it means preventing the other guy from using it.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Avner.

    Q:  Avner Cohen. You, I think, somewhat put too much emphasis on the word, on the idea of decision, that a safe decision has to be made, political decision.  You may be right that no political decision has been made in Iran about the bomb, so to speak, grand political decisions.

    However, we know that very often, nations can reach the bomb or almost the bomb without making decisions.  There’s a drift and there is all sorts of decisions to make much lower-level, nonpolitical decision that ultimately lay the foundations.  So I think that just to qualify that the emphasis on the decision is, in my view, a little bit misguided.

    MR. PILLAR:  That’s an excellent point and I was speaking at shorthand.  The basic point I was trying to make in talking about the intelligence contribution was that by looking at the state of a program and trying to infer from that what decisions had been made is risky business and I think the same would apply, taking into account your very correct comment, that it’s also difficult to infer, well, who’s making the decisions or what bureaucratic processes are being reflected in the program that we see.

    I think, in fact, everything you point is an additional set of complications.  We’re trying to make those sorts of inferences and it’s all the more reason why it’s difficult.  But thank you for pointing that out.

    MR. THIELMANN:  In the front.

    Q:  Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service.  I’d like to ask you, Paul, to think with us about the implications of the history of other states that have, in fact, gone to have nuclear weapons: Pakistan, India, North Korea – or had a program at one time, and compare what the intelligence community was able to figure about those situations with the situation with regard to Iran.

    One of the things that strikes me is as I read the history of various nuclear states, or would-be nuclear states, is that the U.S. intelligence community, in fact, picked up very clear, hard evidence early on in these other cases that, indeed, the country was – had a nuclear-weapons program.  That does not appear to have happened in the case of Iran.

    At least, you know, the hard evidence didn’t appear for the decades of the past.  Could you tell me if this is completely wrong?  Do you have other – another interpretation of what the intelligence community knew about the other cases?  Is there something to be gleaned from this history?

    MR. PILLAR:  Gareth, I think there are other people in the room who are better qualified to, sort of, review the other cases.  I would just say – I won’t attempt to answer your question simply because I’m not that knowledgeable about it.  I would just reiterate in my point that these sorts of programs are always tough intelligence nuts to crack and perhaps the Iranian one has been a little bit tougher than some of the others.

    But it reflects the nature of the programs; it reflects a lot of the things that Avner Cohen just mentioned where, you know, it’s – you’ve got different bureaucracies and different elements within a regime that are involved and in most cases, a strong desire to keep all this secret.  But I just am not conversant enough with the other programs to respond.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I think we have –

    MR. PILLAR:  One more question.

    MR: THIELMANN:  – one more in the back.  Miles.

    Q:  Miles Pomper from Monterey Institute – two questions.  One, I mean, you kind of emphasized, kind of, the military aspect of whether or not Iran developed a nuclear program.  There’s a lot of people who look at the political argument, for example, on the peace process with Hezbollah and Hamas vis-à-vis Fatah and other groups, and they are, sort of, emboldening the hardliners in the peace process?  (inaudible) and I’ve got the regional cache that I feel like we need to combat.

    Secondly, you sort of talk about the – when you talk about the Iranian decisions on these issues you tend to emphasize the rational calculation of Iranian leaders.  Presumably, the Israelis are making rational calculations, too, and they tend to emphasize this question of Iran’s influence on other groups, if it should get a nuclear weapon.  So you are then basically saying that the Israelis are irrational but the Iranians aren’t?  (Laughter.)

    MR. PILLAR:  Your words, not mine.  (Laughter.)  You know, you’re quite correct to underscore the sort of vaguer nonmilitary, political dimensions of Iranian motivations.  I got into this a little bit when I talked about nuclear weapons – being seen as a proper accoutrement for the dominant power in the Middle East – or in the Persian Gulf, which is the way they like to see themselves.

    I think what you talk about is part of the mix of motivations, along with deterring the United States and perhaps some internally driven ones of the sort that we talked about a moment ago.  That is not the same as the question of, what difference would it make if they got a nuclear weapon and how would they use it?

    So with regard to things like relations with Hezbollah and how it would affect events farther west from the Persian Gulf, you have to ask yourself the same strategic questions about how exactly do they come into play.  Or is it just this kind of vague feeling-your-oats kind of thing?  And when you come down to actual Iranian leaders making actual decisions about interacting with Hezbollah, interacting with anyone else, how do nuclear weapons come into play?

    It’s really hard to lay out a chain of events where you can make the case that they would behave differently from the way they’re behaving right now.  But you’re absolutely right to emphasize the range of motivations – which are probably political, at least as much military – if they do proceed to get a bomb.  And with that, my apologies again for having to run off, but thank you.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I’m thinking maybe we should have constructed this with Paul going first at any rate because now our appetites are whetted to hear some of the judgments on what exactly the status of the nuclear and missile programs are.

    We are very fortunate to have our next speaker join us from Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  For many of us in Washington, Olli Heinonen’s name is much more familiar than his person.  And that’s partly because he spent 27 years in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency, not always directly in the limelight but always behind the scenes, serving his last five years as deputy director general and head of the IAEA safeguards department.

    In our circles, anyway, he’s certainly the most famous Finn that we know.  Few outside Iran know the personalities and the facilities of Tehran’s nuclear program better than Olli Heinonen.  He will not be able to share all he knows but enough, I’m sure, to leave us considerably more enlightened than when we began.

    And as Paul alluded to in his remarks, I would like to offer one additional prompt concerning the recent news from North Korea.  And I’m sure we would benefit from a little bit of commentary on how we should think about the comparative threat of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs.

    OLLI HEINONEN:  So good morning and thanks for the nice words.  I don’t think that I’m the most famous Finn because – (laughter) – Formula 1 racers are so popular here.  In Europe, it’s a different thing.

    Well, let me start by saying something about the IAEA reports and Iran.  During this period since 2003, IAEA has produced 30 technical reports.  The 31st one will come tomorrow [Nov. 23], I was told.  It was supposed, actually, to be out today, but for some reason there are – they’re a bit delayed.  Actually, I was worried when I prepared the presentation because maybe this would be immediately obsolete when we walk out from this room.

    These reports have been written for the [IAEA] board of governors and certain of them, also for the U.N. Security Council.  And they have been written to comply with the requirements of comprehensive safeguards agreements.  So these reports don’t have assessments.  They don’t measure intentions.  They just provide facts on how the state might or might not be in compliance with its safeguards agreements and undertakings or Security Council resolutions.

    But at the same time, you can read a lot from them when you look it on different way.  My father used to be a lawyer, and he said that the law is how it is read, not how it is written.  (Laughter.)  So you can also read these reports on some other way, and there’s a wealth of information which tells where Iran is today with its nuclear program.

    Iran’s ambitions for enrichment started already in the 1970s.  That’s also the time when they probably started to have difficulties in compliance with their safeguards undertakings under the comprehensive safeguards agreements because the first step on the uranium enrichment, which stated practical, involved laser enrichment, which they failed to report to the IAEA all the way until 2003.

    Many Western countries were involved on that part of program.  And Iran didn’t hide at all its intentions to get to the fuel technology, and in particular in the beginning, to the enrichment.  They also started to look at that point of time at heavy-water reactors as one alternative.  Then came the revolution which changed everything.  They lost all their Western partners for quite some time, and they tried to compensate this with the know-how from Russia and China and then later from Pakistan.

    This concealment which was in place went on for two decades, so it was a daily business, I would say.  And then from ’80s, they forget to tell about the uranium conversion activities, and then from 1990s, the uranium enrichment.

    And then let’s look at where we are today.  Iran continues, actually, on all of these areas of nuclear technology with the exception most likely of reprocessing.  There doesn’t seem to be any ongoing [reprocessing] activities.

    With regard to uranium exploration and mining – the mining compaction [audio unclear] is operating. It’s a small mine, produces perhaps 20, 25 tons of yellow cake per year.  This is minimal.  If you look at the needs of Bushehr nuclear power plant, you need to have maybe 20, 30 caches to feed that one.  So this is a very special effort there, but it’s very rich in uranium, so that might – the ore – so that might be one of the reasons why they were looking it.

    A second mine which has been under construction last 15 years with the help of Chinese doesn’t seem to be yet operational.  You see from satellite imagery that they are digging there, dirt is coming out, but this is still probably preparation for the time they’ll start construction.  Somewhat puzzling why it takes so long time.

    Uranium conversion, Esfahan – this is an industrial-scale operation.  The facility’s able to produce 200 tons of uranium hexafluoride per year.  It has been running for the last few years with half of the capacity.  Today, if I remember correctly, it’s about 360, 370 tons of UF6 there.  That’s quite a lot.  If you look at the needs of Natanz, maybe you can feed some 20 tons, in a good case, now through that facility.  So this will be enough for quite a few years in front of us, in terms of the uranium needs of Iran.

    They brought from South Africa a little bit more than 500 tons yellow cake in early 1980s.  The contract was just done, actually, just before the revolution.  So that’s why they got that one.  If you look now how much is left of that yellow cake – I think they have now turned roughly half of it to UF6 or little bit more.  So they still have yellow cake also for quite some time.  So it’s not the bottleneck for the nuclear program.

    They may need something for Arak research reactor, which I’ll now talk next.  They are constructing, as you know, a heavy-water reactor in Arak.  It’s a 40-megawatt research reactor.  When Iran announced- research reactor or kind of test reactor –the reactor in 2003, actually, it came with a caveat.  They said at that point of time that this reactor is to replace the aging research reactor in Tehran – TRR – the one where they now want to have 20-percent enriched uranium.

    So in 2003, they said that they were phasing it out.  They say that it’s not safe, it’s in the city of Tehran and it’s about 40 years old.  Now that thing has apparently changed, maybe because Arak is delayed or some other reasons to have that reactor in Tehran.  Actually, if you look at technically the way this reactor is designed, these type of reactors are designed, they are ill-suited for isotope production.  They are not the best machines.

    If you really go seriously to produce isotopes for medical and agricultural purposes, you need much more powerful neutron sources.  And with the natural uranium reactor, you cannot achieve such kind of neutron flux.  So if Iran wants to produce medical isotopes, the best way is actually to abandon this project, build a research reactor based on the principle of light-water reactor and have much more powerful neutron source.

    The uranium enrichment in Natanz continues.  I will come later to that, as I do with the -- Qom plant.

    Bushehr – they are loading the fuel on to the light-water reactor at Bushehr with the help of Russians.

    Actually, this operation is practically all done by the Russian engineers.  It’s not too well-known, but during commissioning of such a reactor, first two years normally, the Russians are running the whole facility.  And only at the end of that period, when it’s the first refueling – after that, the full responsibility goes to the state or the owner of the reactor.

    And then Iran has also announced that they will construct a light-water reactor at Darkhovin.  This place is the same place where the French were planning to build one of their reactors in early ’80s.  And actually, there was some groundwork already done for that.  I know you have seen satellite image of its – has a kind of concrete platform which has been staying there for decades.  How successful they are with this project, I don’t think anyone really knows.  But apparently they have a lot of people involved on that project.

    And let’s go, then, what we don’t know.  First of all, Iran is not implementing the additional protocol.  It doesn’t provide early information about the design of new facilities and construction.  The agency will face them only when the chance is come.  And then it’s not heeding to the requests by IAEA Board of Governors and U.N. Security Council resolutions.  They require Iran to provide IAEA with original information.

    So therefore, it’s a very difficult to forecast, what happens next in Iran. Where are they going, whether it’s to do with uranium enrichment, whether it’s to do with the laser enrichment.  You might remember that few months ago, President Ahmadinejad said that they are also owner of the laser enrichment technology, but at this point of time, they have put their efforts in using gas centrifuges.

    R&D on reprocessing is not known.  And what’s happening with those four new research reactors they announced few months ago?  Where they are, what kind of reactors are they – heavy-water reactors or are they using enriched uranium as a fuel?  And then, the questions related to nuclear weapon design and manufacturing – those allegations remain to be answered.

    These are the numbers of centrifuges which have been spinning in Natanz.  And in last one year or so, actually, the number of operating centrifuges has not changed very much.  This had gone little bit down.  At the same time, the production of UF6 has been about the same, which means that there is a slight improvement in the operation of the centrifuges.

    But having said that, they are not performing the way they should.  They run only perhaps at 60 percent of their design capacity.  They have been doing it now for one year, so it doesn’t look that things are okay.  You might also recall that the number of centrifuges which were installed a year – a half [year] ago – was higher than what is today.  And the operating centrifuges at one point of time, they boasted that more than 4,000 machines were operating.  Today, about 3,000 or little bit more.

    So there has been a substantial reduction at one point of time.  Actually, you can see from the IAEA records that they removed a lot of centrifuges. There was a time when almost 1,000 centrifuges which had been installed were taken away entirely from the facility and the new ones brought back.  This indicates that there is a problem.

    And what is the reason for that problem is difficult to say.  Most likely, this has to do with the design itself.  These are the so-called IR-1 centrifuges, which you see here.  The original Dutch design was then copied or was taken by A. Q. Khan, modified little bit, and then he passed this information in its totality to Iran.

    And Iran got the full information on those centrifuges: how you machine, how you put it together, how you test them, how you build your gaskets – all in documentary form.  We have seen the same information also in electronic form from the A.Q. Khan network, people who were working with the Libya project.  And this is most likely the stuff, which then also went to North Korea around 1990 – or 1999 or 2000.

    And this is firm informations that they got it.  President Musharraf has written it in his memoirs – what’s the name,  “In the Line of Fire”.  There’s a small paragraph which talks about it.  And the Pakistani authorities have confirmed that.

    But the information which went to North Korea most likely had more to do with the P-2 centrifuges rather than the P-1s.  And I saw the P-2 here.  This is from the video.  This was shot during the national nuclear day in Natanz.  This is actually half of a P-2.  This is called “IR-2” in their language.

    So what Sig Hecker saw there a few weeks ago was probably twice higher than this one.  This is about this high.  A little bit more than a meter.  So he should have seen about this-high machine.  The rotor here – you see the black one is made of carbon fiber or Kevlar.  The speed of that is much higher than the speed of the IR-1 centrifuge.  Plus that the radius is higher and as a result of that, the separation power is much, much bigger.  These are all indigenously produced in Iran.

    With ElBaradei, we visited once in 2006 the laboratory where they were manufacturing them.  And that’s the only time when IAEA has ever seen the laboratory where these things have been developed.  Their goal at that point of time, Aghazadeh told us, was to have everything indigenously produced.

    Anything what you see here should have come from Iran.  And that’s now the problem for the international community.  And when I say that, we don’t know where they are heading.  Because once you call for indigenous design, it’s very difficult for intelligence and others to find out what happens.  It is done in secrecy in a country.

    There’s no export-control information.  None of that.  The only thing what it has impact the nuclear program: it ties a lot of resources.  You need to do these things using, most likely, reverse engineering, every screw and bolt you need to produce yourself.

    So it takes a lot of talented resources.  It’s a quality-control problem.  Reverse engineering: people think it’s easy.  Actually, it’s not because many of these components and machines, they have very special things which come only through the experience – how you manufacture them, how you maintain the quality, how it operates.

    So it’s not an easy undertaking.  And maybe this is what we see here now in Iran’s nuclear program – tremendous slowing down.  It doesn’t progress whether you look at the IR-1 in Natanz, the underground facility or you look the R&D which is there.

    If we saw R&D in 2006 that they had already rotors, they were spinning, they had got them tested – 2006.  There is a thumb rule here which says that if you have that, let’s say, that year, the first machine, you do the enrichment test.  Next year, you should have about 10 machines and a fairly small cascade running, according to the thumb rules.

    And then on the third year, you should be able to have a full cascade, maybe 100 to 200 machines testing.  And then on the fourth or fifth year, you should have a kind of semi-industrial demonstration facility with maybe 1,000 machines or 2,000 machines.  We don’t see it for these new centrifuges.  They are still – when you read the IAEA reports, they are doing single-machine tests, small cascade, et cetera.  So the question is, what’s the reason?

    There can be several reasons.  First, certainly, is that they still have a problem with the design of these machines.  Most likely not, because if you look the experience which they have, and the kick start they got from information provided by A.Q. Khan, by this time they should be able to handle the centrifuge bit.

    The next thing is, maybe they don’t have raw materials.  That’s probably the most likely thing because if you look, there’s no sign of exports of big amounts of carbon fiber, high-strength aluminum.  Most likely, they depend from foreign services.  And this might be where the sanctions are biting.  It’s difficult to buy big quantities.  Small quantities you can have and those you see probably on these experiments.  So it may be also a combination of those two.

    Then, there is a third one.  This is certainly the scary one.  That this whole thing happened somewhere else.  We just don’t know.  On the other hand, that might be less likely for a number of reasons.  First of all, you don’t have information pointing to that direction.  For Qom facility – for Qom facility was a case in time.

    But there was no evidence that – or there’s no big evidence that they have got this raw materials and they are building them in big quantities.  So I think that what we see here is perhaps more on this first part, which is that they are still struggling with the final design and they have a limitations in getting raw materials.

    And then if you’ll turn, then, it to the program, Paul Pillar talked about the breakout scenarios.  It looks like there might be still time for the negotiations.  Since IR-1 seems to be a cul-de-sac, they made there those 3,000 machines.  They produced 120 kilos of UF6 per month.  Constant – and even if they put them all in operations, it’s only 200 kilos per month.

    Who breaks away with one nuclear weapon?  I think it’s a very simple question.  Unless there is a place which we don’t know.  And into that direction, they should have materials.  Then, these are the IR-2s there at the background.  You see those machines, this Aghazadeh who was the previous head of Atomic Energy Organization.

    This work in Qom is a bit puzzling in the sense that, you know, it’s a fairly small facility.  Three thousand machines – there’s a space.  And they said that they started in 2007 when they stopped the implementation of Code 3.1 which provides facility information.

    However, there is quite a lot of information which points to the direction that this project has been started earlier.  When you talk about the 3,000 IR-1 machines, they don’t produce very much even in the ideal conditions.  Production of – from such kind of installation is very modest.  But you can any time put there an IR-2 which is more powerful – or P-2.  It doesn’t take more space.

    So in reality, that floor space is enough to run an IR-2 or P-2 facility if the people so desire.  Since then, they have also, as you know, announced that they are building 10 additional facilities.  But – and the first one should be –construction should start sometime next year.

    I don’t think people have much of idea where these places might be.  The Agency has repeatedly asked for access to these locations where the R&D is taking place, but Iran has not heeded to those.

    The Tehran Research Reactor.  I mentioned that originally the idea was to actually replace this with a heavy-water reactor, but then they seem to have changed their mind.  This 1200 kilos, which is here on this screen at the low end, is uranium.  This is actually what you need if you just want to produce fuel for next 10 years for Tehran Research Reactor.  You don’t need more.

    I think this is good to keep in mind.  Because the discussions are going on that so technically, Iran is correct when they say that – 1200 kg.  I think it – this is – I don’t want to call to this nuclear-weapon related R&D.  We seem to have no more time so I look forward to your questions.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And we’ll try to hold our questions until after we’ve heard from our last speaker.  Completing our portrait of the Iranian threat is Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington.  Soon to be moving to Bahrain – and at least Mike is going to be moving.  A veteran of UNMOVIC inspections in Iraq, Mike worked on DOD cooperative threat reduction programs as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.

    And I might say as a participant in earlier national intelligence estimates on foreign ballistic missile threats, I am no longer easily impressed by expert opinion on this subject.  But I am impressed by Mike’s empirical approach to missile development programs and would recommend his IISS study on Iran’s missile programs as the best available in the open literature.

    And I think – I had one to wave here, I guess Mike does also.  But I think it’s worth looking at.  Many things are not rocket science, as the saying goes.  But our next presentation will be.  (Laughter.)

    MICHAEL ELLEMAN:  Which button do I hit to advance?  That one, there?  Okay.  Great, thank – thank you very much for that nice introduction.  I would also like to indulge in a bit of self-promotion.  (Chuckles.)  The dossier that we did produce – and I had a lot of help with it with Mark Fitzpatrick and others – is available for order at the iiss.org website.  So enough of that.

    Over the course of time, we’ve seen a number of projections as to what Iran may or may not be able to do with respect to their missile programs.  And to date, really, the worst-case scenarios that have been put forth by the intelligence community just haven’t come to be.

    So this drove us to take a different approach in looking at Iran’s missile programs.  The dossier – although I was the lead author, so if there’s any mistakes I’m responsible for them – did benefit from the participation of experts from around the world including Russia, Germany, France, Israel and of course, the United States.

    The key – or the principal contributors all have had experience in either building, doing research or fielding ballistic missiles.  So we kind of introduced a new perspective in assessing capabilities.  What I’m going to walk you through today is kind of a current picture of what Iran’s arsenal looks like, the utility of the missiles that Iran does have.  I try to assess their industrial capabilities and look to the future – what might they develop and how long would it take and what signals would they generate.

    Now, the basic philosophy we took in conducting this study was to look at capabilities, not threat.  In other words, we ignored intention.  We wanted to strictly focus on capabilities.  And we tried to construct a most-likely outcome picture – not worst-case scenarios, not best-case scenarios.

    So with the next slide.  This is just an overview of the missiles that Iran does have or is currently working to bring to an operational status.  The top four are all solid-propellant systems. And these are all produced in Iran itself.  The liquid systems – which is, I guess, the six or seven there below that – are all based on imported technologies.  And I’ll talk about that in a little more detail.

    In terms of numbers, they probably have hundreds of these Zelzals and Fateh-110s.  They’re still developing the Sajjil and I’ll discuss that.  With regard to the Shahab-1s and -2, they probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of two (hundred) to 300.  Really, the limitation is the number of launchers that they possess.  That number’s believed to be in the neighborhood of 12 to 18.  And then for the Shahab-3 or the Ghadr-1, they have six launchers that we know of.  And the total number is really hard to estimate.  But it’s probably on the order of 25 to 50.

    This is just an overview of the range capabilities.  I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it.  But I would note two things: one, the original Shahab-3, or the Nodong that they imported, lack the range capabilities to strike Israel unless launched from right on the border with Iraq.  So they undertook a lot of effort to extend that range.  And secondly – and I’ll discuss this in more detail – is the range estimates for the Sajjil-2 which appear to indicate that it’s capable of hitting targets in Southern Europe.

    The liquid-propellant family of missiles they have are really based on two things: either the Scud engine in the case of the Shahab-1 and -2 – which in reality are the Scud-B and Scud-C missiles that were originally developed in Russia.  And then you have this series of missiles and space launchers.  All of them are based on the Nodong engine.  And I’ll discuss each of these systems a little bit more detail.

    What I wanted to focus on is the development route that Iran took and what it tells us about their indigenous capabilities.  Originally, they started with the Shahab-1 and -2 which had ranges of three (hundred) and 500 kilometers, respectively.

    Then they procured a new system: the Shahab-3.  And as I mentioned, the Shahab-3, which is essentially the Nodong, lack the range capabilities to threaten targets in Israel.  So they undertook a program to modify the Shahab-3.  They introduced a new airframe, lengthened the propellant tanks so that it could carry more propellant, and reduced the weight of the warhead.

    There were some other modifications they undertook.  They replaced the steel with aluminum and et cetera.  But they were able to extend the range to approximately 1500 kilometers depending on the size of the warhead.  If it’s the new baby-bottle shape, as some have called it – the triconic design – it probably holds about 600, 650 kilograms of high explosive.  So the overall reentry vehicle is 750 kilograms.  And that’s the point I’ve indicated on this chart.

    What’s interesting about this development program – and that was undertaken in the late 1990s and early 2000s – is Iran already had in their possession the Scud missiles.  They could have clustered four Scud engines to form a new missile system which is much more capable than the Shahab-3 or the Ghadr-1.  So why didn’t they take this approach?

    We believe that during the late ’90s, early 2000, they just did not have the indigenous capabilities to make the modifications necessary to create such a missile.  They probably now have that capability.  But this is a good indication that they were still very reliant on imports up till about 2000, maybe even as late as 2004.

    Last February, they introduced a model of a new space launcher, the Simorgh – if I’m pronouncing that correctly.  And it is, in fact, based on the cluster of four Nodong engines.  The mock-up presented – there’s a lot of inconsistencies with what Iran said it was capable of doing, how much it weighed, et cetera.  They claimed it was 85 tons in weight, 27 meters long.  And that it was intended to launch about a 100-kilogram satellite into an Earth orbit about 500 kilometers above the surface of the Earth.

    If you take those projections as a ballistic missile – if they underwent the modifications and tested the system, they could toss a 700-kilogram warhead about 5,000 kilometers.  But I want to make sure that you understand that, one, this is as mock-up.  This hasn’t even been tested as a space launcher.  And it is not a missile waiting to happen, if you will.

    But they do have – in the bottom photo, you’ll see – they have invested greatly in infrastructure.  And we see this across the full realm of Iran’s missile programs.  And this is its launch site for this rather large space-launch vehicle.  They’ve claimed that the Simorgh will be initially flight-tested or launched in February of next year.  But we’ll wait to see if that happens.

    Now, what I think is the more significant developments in Iran is the introduction of these solid-propellant systems.  In the late 1990s, they began producing the Zelzal rockets.  They are on the order of about two-tonned rocket motors.  The overall rocket probably weighs about three-and-a-half tons.  Then they started converting the Zelzals into a semi-guided system, the Fateh-110.

    There have been a number of reports coming out of the Middle East press saying that the Fateh-110 is extremely accurate.  Those reports are probably wrong.  There’s no indication that this system has an ability to terminate the thrust precisely nor does it really have the ability to do any guidance after the boost phase so it is very likely highly inaccurate.  But is an improvement over the unguided Zelzal rocket.

    Now, the Sajjil-2, this is the most important development that I’ve seen in Iran.  There were rumors or statements made by the Iranian military leaders that they had successfully tested the rocket motor for what would become the Sajjil-2.  They first flight-tested this in, probably, late 2007 but it failed, so in 2008, 2009 we’ve seen a number of tests of this two-stage system.

    What’s problematic, at least from my perspective is that Iran has now created the tacit knowledge within their own country to produce solid propellant rocket motors and rather large ones.  The first stage here is probably on the order of 13 tons.  This means that if Iran wants to develop longer-range systems, they have the capacity to do so with very little outside help.  However, it will take a lot of time and involve a lot of testing and I’ll discuss that in a moment.

    So what could Iran use its missiles for?  In other words, what’s the utility?  The missiles they have remain highly inaccurate, therefore militarily, they have very little utility.  These two charts just show – I very generously assigned a circular-air probability for the Shahab-1 and the Ghadr.  They’re probably twice as inaccurate.  Is that the proper phrase?

     

    But nonetheless, if you look here you’ll see that in order to destroy a hardened target, some kind of fixed-site target, the Shahab-1 has between a 1-in-a-100 and 1-in-a-1,000 chance of probability of actually striking that target.  If you convey that same information in a different way, how many missiles would they have to assign to a specific target to have a level of confidence that that target would be destroyed?

    You see, again, with the Shahab-1, in order to have, say, a 75- or 80-percent confidence that they could destroy a single target they’d have to allocate a thousand missiles which is more than they have.  So in terms of being able to affect the battlefield with their missiles, it’s just – it’s not possible.  They could conduct harassment operations on oil facilities and airfields but, again, the utility would be quite limited.

    As a terror weapon, of course, they could be used to strike cities.  We’ve seen this in the past but I would also –looking at it in a very cold-hearted analytical fashion, historically, we see that missiles when they do strike cities they kill typically only around two to three people per missile.  In other words, if they unleash their entire arsenal, the casualty levels would probably be in the hundreds not in the thousands or tens of thousands.

    Now, nuclear weapons obviously – or warheads, obviously, make a lot more strategic logic.  The challenge Iran will face in trying to develop a nuclear warhead for their missiles is it’s going to have to be quite small.  The warhead or reentry-vehicle design is 600 millimeters in diameter, therefore they’re going to have to create a bomb in size and weight that was really, you know, basically consistent with the nuclear weapons that the United States was making in the early 1960s or 15 years after the first test in 1945.

    However, I would urge a little bit of caution in kind of accepting this description because there are a number of weapons designs out there and I’m sure Olli can talk about this much more authoritatively than I can.  So we have to bear in mind that it is within the realm of possibility that Iran has access to designs that could fit into the Ghadr-1 or the Shahab – or the Ghadr-1 or the Sajjil warhead.

    As I noted, there’s been a lot of debate in the public realm about the range capabilities of the Sajjil.  Uzi Rubin has one view, Ted Postol has another and essentially the arguments they have it’s as I say is the tail wagging the dog.  What I’ve tried to do here is, based on what we know about the Sajjil now, the range payload capabilities really could vary from a maximum to a minimum, try to look at what the most likely outcome would be.  We see that the Sajjil can fly with a 750-kilogram warhead about 2,000 to 2300 kilometers.

    What’s interesting is if the initial design of the Iranian nuclear warhead is closer to, say, one ton, which is something on the order of what A.Q. Khan was looking at and some of the other bomb designs, say, Iraq was looking at.  The range capability of the Sajjil suddenly falls to about 1600 kilometers which is fine.  They can still launch the missile from the middle of the country and strike as far away as Israel.

    However, but if you put that same heavy warhead on top of the Ghadr-1, it only flies about 1100 kilometers which means it would have to be launched very close to he border with Iraq.  So there is some thought that this Sajjil was actually tailored to accommodate a heavier warhead in the likelihood that, that’s what they’ll be faced with, you know, coming out of their industries if they so chose to develop a nuclear warhead.

    Now, Iran is invested very heavily, obviously, in its indigenous production capabilities and they’ve made great achievements.  However, on the liquid-propellant side, they are still reliant on importing, probably, engines, definitely guidance and control systems.  I think they are approaching a capability to actually produce the Nodong engine but we just don’t know if they’re actually producing them now.  If they are, the reliability would be quite low and we’d be seeing a large number of tests and we’re just not seeing that.

    And the solid-propellant industries are much more self-capable and they can produce larger rocket motors if they chose to do so, which means they can build longer-range systems if they chose to do so.  I think the most impressive thing that we observed in looking at the Iranian program was really the disciplined, robust engineering processes that they’ve adopted in running their programs.

    They take a very sophisticated approach in developing new systems.  You don’t see that in North Korea.  In fact, I would argue that they’re much more capable than the North Koreans at this stage.  But their missiles still are inaccurate and they will remain so for the foreseeable future.

    In terms of what they can develop in the future:  They are simply constrained that they only have access to the Nodong engine and the Scud engines.  They do not have the capacity to design their own engine based on higher-energy propellant formulations, et cetera.

    As a result, any large long-range missile they attempt to build with these technologies, the resulting missile will be extremely large.  An ICBM, for example, would weigh over 100 tons.  That’s very problematic because you can’t make it mobile, you’d have to launch it from a static site, you can’t be above ground because it would be very vulnerable, so you’ll have to put in a silo.  Silo-launching a 100-ton missile is not simple and they would have to develop some very sophisticated technologies in order to actually launch such a large missile from a silo.

    It’s our belief that liquid-propellant systems that Iran is using now will eventually be used to sustain their space-launch programs.  They have some very great ambitions, in fact, they’ve talked about putting a man in space before the end of the decade and they just might be able to do that.  I suspect that it’ll be closer to 2022 or 2025 but bear in mind it is possible if they wanted to take certain risks.

    In terms of extending the range of the Sajjil, this is a system that has not been proven and they still have a number of years of flight testing required before that can go operational.  They could conceivably make a three-stage system out of this missile.  Would require two to five years of flight testing and that would most likely occur after the Sajjil-2 is brought operational.  So a 3500-kilometer range missile is many years away.

    Now, they could develop a second generation intermediate-range missile based on a larger engine or motor.  But if you look historically at the pace of such developments in other countries like China, France, Russia, the United States, that’s probably six to 10 years away.  Anytime they introduce a new missile, especially the solid-propellant ones, you’re looking at a four-year test program minimum.  In other words, we will have a lot of advanced notice of any new capabilities because it’s very difficult to hide flight tests.

    Based on Iran’s history and the very methodical approaches they take to missile development, they will most likely develop an intermediate-range missile before they develop a ICBM so any notion of a 9,000-kilometer ICBM is at least a decade away.  Now, some of the recent developments we’ve seen, well, Iran has not tested any missiles this year except for this one Qiam missile that they tested a few months ago.

    I’m not quite sure why they’re not testing this year whether it’s lack of materials, they’re having technical difficulties with their systems or they just don’t want to be provocative.  I don’t know, I don’t have any insights to it.  But this Qiam test is quite interesting because it’s essentially a Scud-C but they’ve taken the fins off and they’ve replaced the warhead with something that’s very similar to the warhead we see on the Ghadr-1 and the Sajjil.

    Why would they take the fins off?  Well, it’s possible that they want to introduce or start launching these missiles from silos or from canisters where if you remove the fins it’s a simpler process, or they’re trying to reduce the radar cross section of the missile.  The warhead design is very interesting because it essentially makes the warheads interchangeable with the Ghadr-1 or the Sajjil, which have a 1.25-meter diameter.

    The separation plane on the Ghadr-1 and the Sajjil has interestingly always been midway up this first flange that you see and the diameter of that separation area happens to be 880 millimeters, which is the diameter of the Scud.  So for some reason, they’ve decide they want to have a common warhead for all their missiles.

    Yes, okay, just – I want to touch on something that we saw in North Korea earlier or actually, late last month.  They paraded what appears to be the Ghadr-1.  This is probably just a mock-up but more interestingly, they paraded the Musudan or BM25 which has been rumored to be in Iran as well.

    It is based on the R-27.  The comments on the launcher vehicles, I don’t know why they’ve adopted this six-axis launcher for the Musudan because it’s the same weight as the Nodong.  It’s just an interesting – just real quickly want to say something about the R-27 or BM25.

    Originally, this is a Russian missile capable of 2400 kilometers with a 650-kilogram warhead.  It does use an enhanced-performance propellant combination.  However, if Iran or North Korea want to use this missile as a mobile platform, they’re going to have to introduce some very significant changes.

    It’ll no longer be contained in a nice, benign environment of a submarine.  Structural reinforcements are required; probably three (hundred) to 400 kilograms worth.  And the oxidizer used, in this missile as opposed to the ones used in the Scud and Nodong systems is very temperature sensitive so you have to protect it from outside environment.

    It appears the Musudan is about two meters longer than the original R-27.  This is probably done to increase the tank space for the propellants so they can overcome the added, inert weight of the structural changes and such.  So the range payload performance of this new Musudan is probably very similar to what the original R-27 is.  I’ve seen some reports out there talking about it being capable of 4,000 kilometers.  I believe those to be wrong.

    Last thing to say:  The Musudan or BM25 is a new missile.  We’ve not seen it flight tested in North Korea nor have we seen it tested in Iran.  So because it’s a new missile it’s at least three years away from development once we see them start to test.  So I’ll conclude with that.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)  Okay, we’ll move right to questions.  We’re coming close to the end of our scheduled session, but I think we can go a few minutes over.  Yes, sir.

    Q:  Hi.  I’m Allan Krass, formerly with ACDA in the State Department.  This question is for Olli Heinonen.  Thank you very much for a very, very informative talk first of all.  I’m curious about the centrifuges that made the 19.75-percent uranium which I assume was the facility at Qom.  And can you tell me, did they use the same basic cascades as they use at Natanz or were these reconfigured cascades?

    And the second question I have is when they made this 19.75-percent LEU, do they have any capability that you’ve seen for fuel fabrication so that they could make the fuel for the Tehran reactor themselves?

    MR. HEINONEN:  First of all, you know, the production of 19.75 percent takes place in this power plant in Natanz which is above ground.  And they started to use the first cascade in February this year with just putting 3.5-percent enriched uranium from one end and from the other end you get 19.75 out.  There was no change to the cascade, per se, it’s the same 164-machine cascade.  You can read it perhaps on the IAEA report.

    MR.            :  (Off mike.)

    MR. HEINONEN:  Yeah.  It seems to be the same thing.  But then a change came in during the summer when they – because when you fit in you can – you put in 3.5 percent enriched uranium and you get 20 percent out from the other end.  But your tail is still 2 percent enriched so you – really, when you produce 20 percent enriched uranium this way you lose your previous enrichment effort which you have been doing.

    So what they did then in summer time was that they turned this 2-percent enriched uranium to another cascade and then when you put it into the other one, you get 10-percent enriched uranium from the other end on that second cascade which you then feed in the middle of the first cascade.

    And then as a total you put in 3.5 (percent) you get, practically, natural uranium as a tail and then 20 percent out.  And this is important from the economical point of view but also if you want to go to higher enrichments that you gain and you learn a lot.  So that’s what has taken place there.

    Then what we know about the fuel-fabrication capabilities.  When they could use this conversion facility from China, the design actually had a very small laboratory-scale plan to produce uranium metal 19.75 percent enriched.  So that part of the process, they know what to do.  But the fuel for Tehran research reactor, actually, it’s a fairly complicated thing to do.  It’s not simple.  It’s, I would say, rocket science.  (Laughter.)

    So to have a homogeneous high-quality fuel is not easy and you have to make, instead of uranium metal you have to have a certain alloy.  Whether they have that knowledge from Argentina, we don’t know because in early 1990s when they got fuel from Argentina, they certainly went to see how this is done.  But this is still sometime away before they can produce that fuel indigenously.

    When you read the September IAEA report, they say there that they have undertaken some pre-steps which are actually to produce oxide from UF6, using depleted uranium as a test matter.  So I would say a year to two for sure will go before this is in that stage and then you need to make sure that the fuel is of high quality because any leaking of it or whatever will jeopardize the whole isotope-production process with it taking place almost in the middle of the town.

    MR. THIELMANN:  All right, next to.

    Q:  Norman Wulf, formerly with ACDA in State.  First, could I just a quick word about Olli.  He did the North Korean account back in the ’90s and ended in Iran and now five years as a DDG for Safeguards.   He really, I think, epitomizes what we think of as an effective international civil servant.

    Two quick questions:  On Iran, could you say a word about all the newspaper speculation about this, I don’t know how you pronounce it, Stuxnet computer virus, whatever it’s called.  (Laughter.)  And secondly, comment about the utility in your view of the IAEA seeking a special inspection in Syria if we can go there for a moment?  Thank you.

    MR. HEINONEN:  So I am of the opinion, like (Carthage ?) was in Rome, old Rome which says – (in foreign language).  So every speech he started – ended by saying that he’s of the opinion that Carthage would be destroyed regardless what he was talking.  So I guess should start to talk in such a way that I finish every time that, you know, and that we need to have a special inspection in Syria.  (Laughter.)

    I will return later to Stuxnet.  But why special inspection?  Because I think that the agency has now hit the wall in order to rectify the situation and to find out whether that was a reactor and whether there have been undeclared nuclear material and activities in Syria.

    And there are number of reasons I think it’s time Syria has to consider.  First of all, information is deteriorating.  We have to remember that the destruction took place three years ago.  All the corrosion, erosion, people moving – it’s more and more difficult to find out what really was there.  Every sandstorm which blows over the place will mix and take the uranium away.  That’s one reason.

    The second reason is that I think it’s a flagrant violation, maybe the biggest if this turns out to be a reactor.  It’s probably the biggest violation of the safeguards agreement ever.  Iran is more modest – you can’t compare.  They’ve had centrifuges, they have small amounts of material.  But these guys went and they’re planning to build a nuclear reactor which had it not been destroyed would be producing plutonium today – probably under IAEA safeguards but nevertheless.

    So and you know, if the international community cannot rectify this situation, this I think is also erosion for the NPT regime because if the regime is not able to solve it, then individual states will think the task is on their own hand – like Israel in this occasion.  So do we want that?  And then what’s the purpose of IAEA?  What’s the purpose of NPT if that’s the case?

    And then there are other reasons.  Think about the prospect where perhaps North Korea’s involved.  What are these engineers and scientists doing today?  Are they doing this or are they doing something else?

    And there are quite a few questions out there which need to be rectified.  Was the uranium – what were these experiments done in Damascus?  What’s the relation of Homs uranium recovery or yellow cake production experiments to this – which all point to a direction that they might be or might have been undeclared nuclear material and activities.

    So I think we have come to – like Caesar to the Rubicon River.  And now it’s time to decide whether to cross the river or continue like it is.  And every day which passes from here on, I think there are less opportunities to verify what is there and what took place.

    The Stuxnet,  I think it’s very difficult to say whether this is the one which is causing the troubles with the Iranian nuclear program.  There are people who are better off in touching it than me ever.  I’m not computer scientist, but, well, this kind of processors are used to control nuclear processes, so it may be possible that they are also in Natanz or Bushehr or elsewhere.

    But to get it going there, that’s a hard thing because if you do it, you need to have a lot of insider information in order to do that – how to get the centrifuges to go out of balance and run too fast.  It’s also dangerous because if you sell this to some other process in some other country, doesn’t go to Iran.

    It may cause a lot of havoc.  These controllers are used widely in industry, so I’m personally a little bit skeptic that whether this was really aimed solely for that purpose.  But I don’t think that there is any evidence and inside knowledge in the IAEA or from the IAEA reports.  It could be one of the factors.

    And I go back to some of the statements by the Iranians, and I think was in 2006 – January – when Aghazadeh said that they have had problems with the frequency converters.  So he gave an interview to one of the newspapers in Tehran.  And this the time when he started to advocate that they need to have more indigenous production in order to keep things under their control.  So that’s my answer to the Stuxnet.

    Q:  Thank you very much.  (Inaudible) – university.  I’d like to ask Mr. Elleman to say a few words perhaps about Iran’s defensive-missile capabilities.  I think much of what you said were – offense systems.  In your opinion, how much they have advanced and specifically – I think, a couple days ago, it was mentioned that Iran has – or trying or planned or decided on developing their own S-300 systems.  What do you think about that?  Thank you.

    MR. ELLEMAN:  Very interesting question.  Want to say two things about Iran’s current air-defense capabilities.  I mean, they’re very – they’re highly reliant on Hawk missiles which they acquired before the revolution.  And I believe they have SA-2 and SA-5 systems.

    Unfortunately for Iran, they don’t have a central architecture for their missile – their air-defense systems, so they’re quite limited in capability, and they’re very vulnerable to electronic countermeasures and anti-radiation missiles, et cetera.

    Now, Iran has been attempting, as we all know, to purchase the S-300 from the Russians.  That sale apparently has not gone through.  Their acquisition of a Russian-built S-300 would not significantly improve their overall air-defense capabilities because they just lack the architecture to really build an effective system which would be kind of centered around the S-300.

    Recall that the S-300 is more than just missiles.  It’s seekers, all sorts of radar systems, et cetera.  So if Iran is claiming to have made indigenously their version of the S-300, I would be dubious of such claims.  It’s more likely they have been able to produce a booster rocket that’s very similar to the S-300’s booster rocket.

    But I would question whether they have developed the sensors and controllers that are in the Russian version of the S-300, let alone the integration of that missile into an overall radar and air-defense architecture.  So I think the – their claims are very boastful and not grounded in reality.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I’ve been favoring this side of the room.  Let’s go to Andrew.

    Q:  Andrew Pierre, USIP.  At the NATO meeting just completed, the alliance sort of adopted in general the notion of creating a European-wide missile defense.  I gather that Iran was not specifically sort of mentioned at that point, in the justification that the last months – if not year or two – Iran has been cited for that.

    I gather from your presentation, Mr. Elleman, that you see some intermediate-range capabilities developing – but perhaps slowly and with problems – and I’m not going to ask you whether – I welcome your advice or your thoughts on the problems with developing missile defense, European-wide.  But more generally, I’d be interested in whether you think that the alliance is correct or wise to focus its notion of missile defense on the Iranian threat.  And if it’s not the Iranian threat, what is it?

    MR. ELLEMAN:  Well, I believe for political reasons they – the announcements coming out of Lisbon specifically – they did not explicitly mention the Iranian threat.  And I think this was done to appease some of the NATO members, especially Turkey, who fought very hard to have that language dropped.

    But I don’t see any missile programs anywhere else that would necessarily be capable of reaching Europe.  The Syrians have some nascent programs.  It appears that they may have an ability to produce the M-600, which is really a copy of the Fateh.  It has a maximum range of something like 250 kilometers.  So they’re a very long way away from being able to develop anything that could even approach targeting Europe.

    Pakistanis have some missiles, but they certainly lack the range for now.  The Indians have some systems which they have tested, but they don’t really deploy them.  But again, I don’t see them being an issue for NATO.

    So just by deduction, I think that the whole system is centered around the Iranian threat which – there is no indication that Iran is trying to develop a missile capable of striking Europe.  That means to date, everything they’ve done looks to be consistent with developing a force capable of threatening targets as far away as Israel.

    If they decide to build longer-range systems, it’s going to take time and they’re going to have to undergo a series of test programs that will be very visible to outside observers, which will provide some advance warning – at least three to five years of advanced warning of a new capability – which allows NATO to adjust their missile defense strategies accordingly.

    MR. THIELMANN:  Right here in the middle.  Wait for the microphone.

    Q:  With respect to the IAEA’s inspection regime, I was wondering if all of you could elaborate on how robust do you think that is and how reassuring the entire regime is with respect to non-diversion since the Iranians have made quite a lot of noise as to the cameras and the unannounced inspections and so forth.  So given the fact that the talks are coming up and this is a key issue with respect to transparency, could you shed some light on that, please?

    MR. HEINONEN:  Thank you.  If we go to the very basics of NPT and safeguards agreements, the job for IAEA is to make sure to detect the diversion of declared nuclear material and to make sure at the same time that all nuclear material in a state has been declared at least under the IAEA precaution.

    So in other words, you need to also to confirm the absence of clandestine material or clandestine processes.  And this is where the IAEA has now a difficulty.  While the inspection regime in Natanz is really robust – I think it’s almost impossible to divert material from there – certainly small quantities, you can always – you cannot make sure that someone takes away one gram or a hundred grams.  But in terms of tens kilos or something like that, it’s not very likely.  They probably will be caught.

    The problem in the case of Iran, and therefore no matter how much you inspect Natanz, it doesn’t provide any assurances what happens elsewhere in Iran.  And that’s where the problem of IAEA is because Iran doesn’t implement the additional protocol, so our agency doesn’t know much about the R&D, doesn’t know anything about the mining – what they are doing, where the yellow cake goes, et cetera.

    The Agency has also limited access rights to the sites because no additional protocol and no provisional early information is another [inaudible] which is reducing the probability to find clandestine activities or to provide credible assurances that those don’t exist.

    So what’s happening now when you look at – over the period of time – yes, Natanz is in a good control.  Yes, Esfahan is in a good control.  But the overall knowledge: when  Iran’s nuclear capabilities goes this way, the agency’s understanding of the nuclear program goes that way – until they agree to implement the additional protocol and provide the necessary access rights.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I think we’ll take one more question – maybe Dean – and then we’ll have the room for just a few more minutes, but you can catch the speakers afterwards maybe for – if you have a burning issue.  Thank you.  Dean Rust –

    Q:  We hear a lot of speculation in the press about a breakout capability all the time.  And we sort of – there’s speculation about how long that is, with the suggestion that if we don’t either solve it by that time, that we either have to attack them or live with an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    But what’s wrong with the scenario that Iran just continues to produce only LEU for as long as it prefers and just kind of keeps the international community at bay from the standpoint of solving it from the current perspective?

    As long as they only produce LEU, they never reach a breakout for development and if they go breakout, they’re only going to invite strong reaction anyway.  So I don’t quite understand why there’s so much of an impression that we have to do this quickly or else – and if we don’t solve it, then we either have to attack or we end up with nuclear weapons.

    MR. HEINONEN:  Thank you.  This is actually about risk assessment which Peter talked before.  (Laughter.)  But when you look at testing from this declared P-1 program, as I said, I don’t think it’s a realistic scenario at this point of time that they break away with 3.5 percent enriched uranium  (inaudible) – so low is this uranium because of the poor performance of the centrifuges, for that simple reason.

    Certainly, two years, three years from now, situation is perhaps different because you have – start to have a stockpile plus you may have this more advanced centrifuges available.  So the game will, so to say, change at that point of time.  I think that in a short, foreseeable future it’s not very likely scenario to go for breakout.

    MR. THIELMANN:  We thank you for your good questions and your attendance.  And let’s give a round of applause to our speakers.

    (Applause.)

    (END)

    Description: 

    Transcript available. The Arms Control Association on Monday, November 22 hosted the first in a series of briefings on Iran's nuclear program, with panelists Olli Heinonen, Michael Elleman and Paul Pillar, moderated by Greg Thielmann. Panelists discussed Iran's nuclear and missile capabilities, intelligence limitations and answered key questions regarding the status of Iran's nuclear program.

    Country Resources:

    Next Steps in Arms Control: Third Panel Transcript - Missile Defense and NATO

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    Body: 

    For a PDF version of this transcript, click here.

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    NEXT STEPS IN ARMS CONTROL:
    NUCLEAR WEAPONS, MISSILE DEFENSE AND NATO

    PANEL 3: MISSILE DEFENSE AND NATO

    MODERATOR:
    TOM Z. COLLINA,
    RESEARCH DIRECTOR,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    PANELISTS:
    ERIC DESAUTELS,
    SENIOR ADVISOR TO UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY,
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

    JIRI SEDIVY,
    MINISTRY OF DEFENSE,
    CZECH REPUBLIC

    GREG THIELMANN,
    SENIOR FELLOW,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2010
    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.


    TOM COLLINA:  Thank you, again, Rose Gottemoeller.

    If we could get all our panelists coming up for our final panel of the day on missile defense – if folks could wrap up their side conversations and have a seat, we will get right into it because we don't really have any break time planned for this next session.

    This last panel of the day is on missile defense, as you can all see from your programs.  And this really brings together issues that have been discussed in both previous panels today, both the context of U.S.-Russian strategic reductions and the role missile defense will play in that going forward, and also in the NATO strategic concept coming up at the Lisbon summit.

    Because as many of you may have noticed, as members of the U.S. administration as well as NATO officials talk less and less about prospects for breakthroughs on tactical nuclear weapons in Lisbon, more and more has been said about the prospects for breakthroughs on missile defense.  And in fact, that's one of now the main things that we're led to expect from the Lisbon summit, is an agreement on U.S.-NATO agreement to expand the NATO mission into territorial missile defense.  

    That would essentially, you know, bring together NATO missile defense that has been going on in a troop deployment sense, and merging it with the U.S. phased adaptive approach that will be the first phase of it, which will be initiated next year.

    But just to back up for a second, I'm sure you all remember, the phased adaptive approach by the Obama administration replaces a system first proposed by the Bush administration, which would have placed long-range interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.  And when the Obama administration came in, those plans were modified to what is called the phased adaptive approach which sees placing a phased system, the initial phases starting next year, with shorter-range interceptors placed at sea, as well as land-based interceptors in Poland and Romania and an X-band radar possibly in Turkey, which is one of the issues I'm sure we'll get to.

    And there's a fact sheet in your blue packets, as well as an article from the current issue of Arms Control Today that goes through some of these details and the timing of the four phases to the phased adaptive approach.

    Both systems were or are intended to protect the United States and NATO from Iranian missiles.  But as we'll hear, I'm sure, Turkey has been concerned about naming Iran as the target of common U.S.-NATO approaches to missile defense.

    NATO members so far seem fine with the plan of expanding the missile-defense mission in Lisbon as long as they don't have to pay too much for it.  And I'm sure we'll hear more about that.

    But as I said, then there's the question of Turkey and how they feel about naming names as to who exactly is the threat.

    Russia has responded rather cautiously to invitations to cooperate with the missile-defense system in NATO, which is another one of the things we're expecting to come out of the Lisbon summit, that not only will NATO agree to a broader missile-defense mission, but it will invite Russia to take part.  And in fact, President Medvedev has already said that he would come to the Lisbon summit to be part of the NATO-Russia Council.

    So this all raises a lot of interesting questions, including and certainly not limited to, how U.S. missile-defense interceptor deployments in Europe will affect U.S.-NATO relations.

    It was discussed earlier today in the NATO panel that there is a possibility that missile defense will become the new trans-Atlantic glue that binds the U.S. to European NATO members and holds the Alliance together.  Is that what this is all about?

    How far really can NATO-Russian cooperation on missile defense go?  If there's no common agreement on common threats, which there's a sense [that] there is not, how far can agreement go on common responses?

    And finally, how can we prevent the last phase of the phased adaptive approach, which, according to the U.S., will include capability against long-range ballistic missiles?  How will we prevent that possibility for causing problems or possibly derailing the next phase of U.S.-Russian arms reductions if, of course, we get that far with ratification of New START?

    So a lot of information to chew on in this panel.  And to help us do that, we have a great panel of experts to talk about this with.

    First up is going to Eric Desautels,‏ did I get that right?  And my apologies that his name is spelled wrong in the program.  But we'll try to fix that.  And he has graciously agreed to sit in for Frank Rose who could not be here, on short notice.  But Eric is senior adviser to the undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, with primary responsibility for missile defense, space, counterproliferation and sanctions.

    Next up will be Jiri Sedivy who, until recently, was the assistant secretary-general for defense policy and planning at NATO.  And he has served as the Czech Republic's minister of Defense as well as the deputy minister of European Affairs.  And he's now back with the Czech Ministry of Defense.  And he'll tell us exactly what capacity that is.

    And then last but not least, we have Greg Thielmann who is a senior fellow at ACA.  And he has also served as senior professional staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  And he was also a U.S. Foreign Service officer for 25 years, last serving as director of the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

    So an excellent panel for us to have this conversation on missile defense.

    And Eric, the floor is yours.

    ERIC DESAUTELS:  Thank you, Tom, for that introduction.  My name, as he said, is Eric Desautels.  When you have a last name like mine, you're used to having it misspelled and mispronounced all the time.  So it's not that big a concern.

    Let me start by thanking the Arms Control Association for holding this conference and providing an opportunity to discuss the Obama administration's plans for European missile defense.

    Tom has asked me to address three specific topics today.  First, the U.S. plans for missile defense in Europe.  Second, our plans and hopes for the NATO Lisbon summit.  And finally, our plans for the NATO-Russia Council summit, both of which will occur in a little over a week and a half.

    Let me start by discussing the Obama administration's plans for missile defense in Europe, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, or EPAA.

    As its title suggests, this new approach focuses on deploying defenses in phases and is designed to be adaptive as the threat evolves.  An important point about this new system is that when it is completed it will provide protection for all of our European allies, which is consistent with the concept of indivisibility of Alliance security.

    The previous system was not designed to provide protection for all of our allies, especially against certain short and medium-range ballistic missile threats.

    The EPAA instead will focus first on protecting our most vulnerable allies from that existing threat, and then expand as that threat evolves.

    Let me quickly walk through the four phases of this system.  Normally at this point, my Defense colleagues would hold up some very fancy slides that would help you follow along.  But since I'm from the State Department, you're just going to have to use your imagination.  (Laughter.)

    For the first phase in the 2011 time frame, we will deploy Aegis ships in the Mediterranean equipped with the SM-3 Block IA interceptor and an AN/TPY-2 radar to provide protection for our southern European allies against the existing missile threat.

    Then for phase two in the 2015 time frame, our first land-based SM-3 interceptor site will be deployed to Romania.  We will also deploy the more advanced Bock IB interceptors at this site and on our Aegis ships, thereby expanding the protection of our southern European NATO allies.

    Next, for phase three in 2018, we will deploy a land-based site in Poland.  At the same time, we will start deploying the more capable SM-3 Block IIA interceptors, both at sea and on land.  The addition of this site and the new interceptors will expand coverage to all of our NATO allies.

    Finally, the plan for phase four calls for the deployment in 2020 of the even more capable SM-3 Block IIB interceptor, which will improve our European defense capabilities as well as supplement our existing capability to defend the United States against long-range regional missile threats.

    That covers the phased nature of the approach, so let me briefly discuss the adaptive nature of the approach.

    The EPAA is designed to be responsive to the current threat, but through the course of its four phases could also incorporate other technologies quickly in order to adapt to that threat.  Further advances in technology or further changes in the threat could result in the United States modifying details or the timing of later phases of the EPAA.

    In addition, the emphasis on this approach is on deploying relocatable missile-defense assets instead of large silo-based systems.  This provides the flexibility to surge more capabilities to theaters around the world when and where they are needed.

    Let me also highlight one final important element of this new approach.  This approach focuses on deploying existing and proving missile-defense systems.  The Missile Defense Agency, working with the Department of Defense's independent testing organization, has developed a plan to test all of these capabilities to ensure they are operationally effective before we deploy them.

    For example, MDA will install land-based SM-3s for testing at the Pacific Missile Range facility.  While the SM-3 has a proven test record, this test facility will allow the United States to ensure that the entire system we deploy to Europe has met the fly-before-you-buy criteria.

    That's the system.  Now let me turn to what we are doing with NATO in the run-up to Lisbon.

    First, since we've announced this new approach, we have received tremendous support from our NATO allies.  This support is evident in the statements made by NATO Secretary General Rasmussen, by Madeleine Albright's group of experts and in the NATO ministerial communiqués that have been released since September of last year.

    Since the beginning, one of our main goals was to put this new approach to missile defense squarely in a NATO context.  As such, we want there to be political buy-in and burden sharing from our allies on this issue.  We will do this by seeking allied agreement at the Lisbon summit to pursue a NATO missile-defense capability for the protection of our European allies' territory, populations and forces.  The EPAA will then become the U.S. contribution to this NATO capability.  

    By getting a NATO political decision, we will enable NATO military and political authorities to develop the structure and procedures to be able to execute this as a NATO mission, including developing the rules of engagement and pre-planned responses.

    We also want NATO to expand its existing command and control system known as the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense, or ALT-BMD, system to support this territorial missile-defense mission.

    By expanding the capability of this command and control system to provide the full range of missile-defense coverage, we will be able to plug both U.S. assets and allied assets into the overall NATO missile-defense effort.

    Finally, let me turn to the NATO-Russia Council summit which will occur immediately following the NATO summit.  We believe that the NRC summit is just as important for our European missile-defense efforts as the NATO summit.  The Obama administration is committed to cooperating with Russia on missile defense, both bilaterally and in the NATO-Russia Council.

    As part of those efforts, we are committed to being transparent with Russia about our missile-defense plans and will continue to reassure Russia that our missile-defense deployments are not a threat to Russia's strategic forces.

    We strongly believe that cooperation with Russia, both bilaterally and in the NRC, is in our national security interests as well as Russia's interests.  Such cooperation is also good for international and regional security.

    Our goal for the upcoming NATO-Russia Council summit is to get a political commitment from the heads of state in government to move forward on missile-defense cooperation and other issues critical to our mutual security.  We have already begun some missile-defense cooperation in the NRC.

    One important area of cooperation would be to resume the missile-defense exercises that were conducted in the NRC between 2002 and 2008.  We are also conducting a joint analysis of 21st century threats, and have developed an NRC Missile Defense Working Group.

    Implementing this cooperation would provide a strong basis for exploring further opportunities for missile-defense cooperation.  And we hope that this step-by-step approach with Russia will lead to increased cooperation across-the-board within the NRC.

    Let me stop there.  And when it comes time, I'll be happy to answer any questions.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

    JIRI SEDIVY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

    And indeed, I would like first of all thank to the association for inviting me to speak at this meeting.

    Now, I've been working for NATO for three years.  I finished actually about three weeks ago on the 15th of October, which was the day after so-called “jumbo” ministers meeting where ministers of defense and ministers of foreign affairs were fine-tuning or tuning-up perhaps the Alliance for Lisbon.

    And missile defense was discussed quite extensively, perhaps more than we expected.  But before that for three years, I had been chairing, among other things, I had been chairing the working group which served as a sort of hub into which various military technical resources and other aspects of missile-defense projects were coming.

    And we were trying to transform it into a political military assessment.  And indeed, our reports were informing the decisions, or rather nondecisions, at summits in Bucharest and Strasbourg Kehl.  So [I] spent hours and perhaps days chairing those discussions, and sometimes it was really excruciating when, after many known debates, just changing a comma into a semicolon actually helped to diffuse a problem.

    Now, it's difficult to add anything more to what has been said already and also to the excellent article that I read, that Tom actually published in the recent issue of the Arms Control Today.  It's a very good picture of where more or less we are at NATO.

    But anyway, let me say first a few words about what we can expect from Lisbon summit and why I am relatively optimistic concerning the ambitions in terms of missile defense, ambitions of allies and of the U.S. government for Lisbon.  I will also mention a few issues that are still on the discussion.  I wouldn't use the notion of problems, but issues that are being and will be discussed.  And last but not least, a few words about Russia.

    Now, what we may expect is that missile defense will be open until the very last minutes of the summit.  And this might not be, and we will see, but this might not be actually the function of the very missile-defense debate.  It could be a function of a very intricate or sophisticated architecture of hostages, which is already being built.  And this is something very common in NATO when various nations are keeping hostage, various reports or parts of reports or agendas in order to achieve their goals.

    And I remember from Strasbourg Kehl when actually [the] missile-defense report was taken hostage by Turkey and France.  For France, actually it was related or linked to the language in the communiqué concerning the comprehensive approach, which is something completely different.  And for Turkey, this was related to the language in the final communiqué on European Union.

    Nevertheless, I believe that those two ambitions, first one declaring missile defense as a mission or capability for NATO, is a part of the collective defense.  And this will be most probably done by means of the new strategic concept.  This will be achieved.  And then most probably also, the decision on extending the ALT-BMD which is the active layer of ballistic missile defense, the protection or the emerging system to protect troops in the field.  That this decision to extend the command and control and consultation of this system further into the area of protecting part of the territory of the southern flank and population center.  That this will be achieved.

    And this will indeed or may indeed constitute a first step in that four-phased journey towards the full-fledged territorial missile defense.

    The reason why this might happen almost, probably will happen, is that the phased adaptive approach is much more feasible politically, technically, in the eyes of many nations, unlike the previous concept.  Although, if we go into details and analysis, there are not that many and that deep differences.  By the way, how this new concept was presented and phased actually was very important.

    Which also means that I didn't see any feasibility or any possibility to realize the previous or to achieve decision concerning the previous concept.  And if you would go through the various nitty-gritties of negotiations, especially before Bucharest, but also before Strasbourg Kehl, you would realize that.

    Now, the new concept, the phased adaptive concept is, above all, framed in NATO.  This is very important.  This was not the case of the previous one. This is important because, for example, Germany, who used to be completely against missile defense before, is now one of the most vocal proponent of the current one.

    Also, this new approach is much more transparent in the eyes of the allies, and very important as well.  It is, as it was described, it seems to be more rational, less dogmatic in terms of its flexibility, its adaptiveness and so on and so forth.

    So having said that, there are still a few, yeah, points for discussion, most of them were mentioned here.  And I will enumerate six or seven of them without any indication of priority or importance.

    Threat analysis; political issue.  And this is something that has emerged quite recently.  Turkey expressed a couple of weeks ago its concerns about naming some states, especially indeed referring to Iran and Syria.

    Here I should emphasize that in the agreed, collectively agreed, threat assessment that is supporting our deliberations concerning missile defense, we don't name.  I mean, NATO does not name any nation.  We have some sort of a generic regional directions from which we can expect the threat growing, but we do not name nations.

    And the problem was that actually Secretary General Rasmussen in many of his speeches where he touched upon or spoke about missile defense, he was very much explicit.  And he actually went beyond the agreed threat perception.

    But now I believe this issue was already solved three weeks ago at the ministerial meeting I mentioned.  The U.S. came out with some sort of a compromise proposal, which was quite generic, and which was acceptable for Turkey, at the table of the ministerial meeting.

    Now, second issue, which is more into the strategic concept debate, but very much related indeed to missile defense as such, is the place of the missile defense in what is called in NATO documents a broader response to countering the increasing threat of ballistic missile proliferation.

    And it was also discussed here already, the broader response includes deterrence.  But then indeed, it is a debate about the concept of deterrence.  And we are using now an ocean of holistic deterrence or deterrence for the 21st century, which indeed still keeps the nuclear core, but is much more wider than that.

    Another aspect of the broader response is the area of arms control and disarmament.  And the strategic concept is going to give permanence to that as well.

    And last but not least, there is a very specific French concern that actually missile defense can, in some way, weaken their independent deterrent, because in our documents we are saying that actually missile defense is one of the means that is enhancing NATO's deterrent.

    And there is a sort of continuum of two national positions between which actually the debate oscillates.  On the one hand, France, which is very difficult in nuclear issues, very, I would say, traditional.  And on the other hand, Germany, who wants to see as much of arms control disarmament language as possible.

    Some of you may have noticed that the declaration from the defense ministers on the 16th -or it was on the 14th - ‏on the 14th of October, actually, that that did not contain a paragraph on nuclear issues.  And this was the result of a complete disagreement between these two nations.

    The debate is also, and I haven't seen the third draft actually of the strategic concept, but the debate is also about the place of missile defense, nuclear paragraph and arms control and disarmament paragraph in the text.  And indeed, France especially, but also other nations, would like these separate, while Germany and other nations that are more pro arms control and disarmament would like to have this in some sort of a package.

    Now, another issue is the cost.  It's well-described in your article.  I mean, additional cost, the estimates for the cost of building the command and control for the technical or theater missile defense is about $1.1 billion.  The additional costs for extending is estimated around 200 (million euro), $280 million.  But then this is just for, I would say,  the first phase-plus.  But then there are a number of questioners about the national contributions.

    And nations are very careful.  Here we speak, in terms of these figures, we speak about the cost from the common funding.  And again, yes, it is not a big, big money for what we can get in terms of adding another 200 million euro or 250 (million dollars) or $280 million.  But it's, for many nations, it is a question of principle.  It is a question of principle.  And this is also related to the current debate about extending common funding.

    Level of coverage and degree of protection, another big issue.  And I'm not going into that, but definitely we cannot expect 100 percent coverage and we cannot expect 100 percent of protection.  But for some nations, this is especially sensitive.

    Consequences of interceptor or the debris coming from a potential intercept, is another technical issue.

    C3 arrangement, it was mentioned already.  Rules of engagement or standard operational procedures, it's the button question.  But I believe that these issues will be solved, and are being solved.

    Last one that I would mention is Russia, and then I will finish.  There are two tracks, it was already mentioned, one bilateral, Russia-U.S., and one, Russia-NATO, the NATO-Russia Council.

    Now, we've had quite, I would say, good cooperation in the area of theater missile defense with Russia in terms of information exchanged.  We even hold, I think, one or two tabletop exercises.  And now we have managed to agree on new terms of reference that are framing the continuation of cooperation in this area after the NATO-Russia reset.  We have also our own kind of reset.

    Concerning the territorial missile defense, we have a very strong language from the Bucharest communiqué, and I will quote.  “NATO is ready to explore potential for linking United States and NATO and Russian missile-defense systems at an appropriate time.”  Now, the appropriate time most probably will come in Lisbon.  If we have those two steps done, this means the adoption of the missile defense as a mission and, above all, the extension of the ALT-BMD.

    Then it will be the time.  But in NATO, everything depends on the consensus among the allies.

    I must say that it's not always clear whether Russia is really interested in this kind of cooperation with NATO, I must say, with NATO.  And now, I have been also chairing several variations of NATO-Russia Council, some groups partially on missile defense, on terrorism, on arms control.  And especially recently, we have ‏‒ and surprisingly, as Lisbon is coming ‏‒ we have noticed a certain disengagement even on the part of Russia, problems with receiving instructions from the capital and so on and so forth.  But this may change.

    And last but not least, and this is my final point, there is a still outstanding mentality and gap, a perception gap, not only in terms of threat perception, and this is one part of our recent activities that we are conducting, joint threat perception or analysis exercise, but there is a still outstanding lack of trust in NATO.

    I also believe that NATO is a good instrument for domestic politics in Russia, that it sometimes useful to have a good enemy to define yourself against. The, I would say, episodes, but not very conducive to deepening our cooperation, such as having a nuclear attack scenario.  And the Zapad exercise 2009 was mentioned already.

    So regardless [of the] optimism, pessimism, and your question about the fourth phase ICBM, this is 2020-plus.  And I believe in 2020-plus, Russia will be a very different geopolitical, geostrategic position than it is today.  And we will actually be, by definition, cooperating much more together in many areas, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and including missile defense.  So I don't think that this is going to have any negative impact.

    But before now and then, we will see a gradual step-by-step process, sometimes with Russia, as it has been always between NATO and Russia since 1997.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

    GREG THIELMANN:  I'd first like to thank you for your perseverance.  I think I'm the last speaker for the day.

    I wanted to begin with a comment about New START and missile defense.  It seems to me that the lack of meaningful constraints on missile defense in the New START agreement is a remarkable achievement.  The treaty contains explicit Russian acceptance of current U.S. nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses.  And I know a lot of attention has been on one piece of the preamble that refers to the interrelationship of strategic offenses and strategic defenses.  It seems to me this has all the drama and the news content of a declaration that the earth is round.

    This is not, to me, anything other than stating the obvious.  But what's very interesting is what follows that in the preamble.  “Current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the parties.”  This is a striking acknowledgment by Russia that the 30 strategic ballistic missile interceptors currently deployed by the United States and those x-band battle management radars do not threaten Russia's nuclear deterrent.

    Now, I think that Obama's handling of the Europe-based missile defense was a very important part of the success achieved in getting to this point in the New START agreement.  The Bush third-site approach had all of the wrong features in it.  It was very U.S.-centric; European defense was secondary.  The near-term missile threat to Europe was not addressed.  It led with bilateral rather than multilateral arrangements, essentially going around NATO.  And the illogic of this approach greatly increased Russia's doubts about the sincerity of the U.S. appeal for cooperation.

    Now, in contrast, and Eric has already made some of these points, but the European phased adaptive approach we now have is prioritized against the level and scope of the threat.  It provides protection for all of NATO allies, it puts the European security architecture squarely into NATO's context.  Again, Eric's formulation.  It increased the transparency of the U.S. program.  And Jiri mentioned this as well.  And finally, it genuinely seeks cooperation with the Russians.  And I don't think there's much reason to doubt the sincerity of the U.S. administration's approach.

    Now that I've established myself as a cheerleader for the Obama administration's missile-defense policies in Europe, let me morph into a Cassandra and raise some warning flags about the future.  Most of my activities for the Arms Control Association are hauling down warning flags in relations to exaggerated threats, at least in my opinion.

    In this case, though, I want to try to describe a little bit about a very serious problem down the road, and not so far down the road when we start negotiating a follow-on agreement to New START.

    The U.S. has obviously proposed that NATO should take on the mission of territorial ballistic missile defense.  This sounds very easy to absorb except for the fact that it raises many questions, which even today, listening carefully to the speakers talk about what's coming up at Lisbon and afterwards, I'm not sure what the answers are.

    I do not exactly understand territorial defense, defending the territory, the population and the forces, I think, is Jiri's word.  Is this robust protection against a limited attack?  Or is it limited protection against a robust attack?  Or is it limited protection against a limited attack?  I think it's probably the latter.  But it's really too early to say, as far as I know.

    Is it primarily oriented against an Iranian-existing MRBMs?  Is it anticipating Iranian IRBMs, threatening Britain and France?  Is it directed against Russian short-range ballistic missiles that exist today?

    Is it against Russian ICBMs?  I mean, if it's a territorial ballistic missile threat, is it against an accidental Russian ICBM launch against Paris?  Is it against Chinese ICBMs?   Is it against future North Korean ICBMs?

    I don't know.  I have to assume that a territorial ballistic missile defense of Europe is directed against all of these threats.  But again, I'm guessing.

    And I would contend that I'm afraid it will have exactly the opposite impact of what some foresee.  It will encourage rather than discourage missile proliferation.  And I say this because I'm empirical.  This always happens.  Missile defense deployments never decrease the offensive ballistic missile threats.  They increase it.

    Now, maybe the end result is with, depending on one's assumptions about the reliability of interception, maybe you have a net gain in terms of missiles that can't come through, but you always have a net increase of the number of missiles directed at you.

    So I think it's safe to assume that Iran will build more missiles and/or deploy penetration aids as a result of Europe's territorial ballistic missile defense, to the extent that Iran is even interested in targeting Europe, and I'm not sure that they are.

    It will also, I would argue, diminish the credibility of NATO's deterrent, and it will exaggerate the power of the ballistic missile threat.  I mean, why is Europe really worried about Iranian ballistic missiles?  I mean, do they not have faith in the U.S. nuclear deterrent?  Is this a comment that our own nuclear deterrent is inadequate against an anticipated Iranian threat?  Again, it at least raises the question in my mind.

    And then I think most people who have been following the issue in the United States for years know that the pursuit of territorial missile defenses is a financial black hole.  This is what convinced the United States not to try to defend itself against Russian and Chinese ballistic missiles.  We can't afford it.  We are a fairly wealthy nation, but we cannot afford to do that.

    Now, in the territorial ballistic missile defense, which I guess is going to soon be endorsed, it's only 200 million euros, but that is just a down payment.  And I would just remind you that the U.S. is spending about twice that amount to rebuild the six flawed ground-based interceptor silos in Alaska that were hastily deployed there without being adequately designed and tested because we were in such a hurry to protect ourselves against a threat which still hasn't materialized.

    I would also argue that there will never be enough, particularly in an era of increasing budget pressures, there will never be enough money to deploy as many missiles as you need to deploy to have a reliable ballistic missile threat against all comers.

    And finally, missile defense will siphon off defense resources that are desperately needed for other defense priorities.  And I certainly get the impression that Europe is having some problems coming up with transport aircraft, with the payment of troops and others for supporting NATO forces in Afghanistan.

    And probably most importantly, it threatens to derail future nuclear arms reductions between the U.S. and Russia, not for a while.  Now, going back to my first point, I think the New START agreement has bought us a significant amount of time, and it's impressive for having done that.  But the U.S. strategic missile-defense capability anticipated in the later phase of the European phased adaptive approach will probably be seen by Russia as being threatening.  And this may cause Russia to draw back from reductions in offensive nuclear capabilities.  

    Because we're not waiting 10 years, one hopes, to start negotiating with Russia, we'll start negotiating right away, but any kind of nuclear arms controls negotiations looks far down the road, anticipating future threats, trying to nail down, mitigate, limit those threats.  And that's where the problem comes here.

    Eugene Miasnikov mentioned that strategic stability was a very important component of our own NPR, very important that it was mentioned in that document.  And this has to raise questions, though, about, what is the effect on strategic stability in the year 2020, from a Russian perspective?

    I hope, as Jiri says, that in the year 2020, Russia will be in a much different geopolitical position.  But when we look around today, the full integration of Russian and NATO strategic missile defenses seems to me to be unlikely.

    Russia's unilateral statement, after all, in response to the New START agreement says, “‘new START’ may be effective and viable only in conditions where there is no qualitative or quantitative buildup in U.S. missile-defense capabilities.”  Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov said, “We also want to ensure that Russia participates as an equal partner.  Only then can a missile-defense system be created that satisfies all sides.”  

    But USA and Canada Institute Director Sergey Rogov says, “Russia and the United States hardly are ready to agree to create a joint missile defense.  The level of trust between Moscow and Washington is not such that we would trust the other side to defend us against a missile attack.”

    So going to solutions, how can NATO missile-defense policy avoid contributing to a breakdown in nuclear arms control?

    I guess my first piece of advice is, NATO has to be very careful with its rhetoric.  Don't exaggerate the threat, and don't overpromise the response to that threat.

    I actually like the recent U.K.-French joint statement, thinking it struck all the right chords.  It talked about “financially realistic, coherent with the level of the threat arising from the Middle East and allowing for a partnership with Russia, missile defense is a complement to deterrence, not a substitute.”

    I think those are basically good words, and the concept behind them is good as well.  Not necessarily easy to turn that into reality.  But I think we are on the right track in terms of seeking a joint threat assessment with Russia, with a sharing of sensor assets and to pursue the joint exercises or actually resume the joint exercises that had occurred during the 1990s.

    But I think we also need to express confidence in the reliability and effectiveness of U.S. nuclear deterrent against a nuclear attack on Europe.  I mean, this is the core promise of NATO.  This is what all NATO members proclaim, and I think we should have the courage of our convictions and our rhetoric.

    We should not tremble at the prospect of an Iran who's increasing its missile forces, particularly prior to the time when Iran actually develops nuclear weapons, which is not at all a forgone conclusion.

    Also, we should describe missile defense, I think, very explicitly as a means of protecting Europe at least right now from conventional ballistic missile attack in the region.  So we need to keep our descriptions of what we're buying with where the threat is.

    We don't want to get too far ahead of the actual nuclear missile threat.  We need to go slowly, seek NATO-Russia cooperation as well as U.S.-Russia cooperation on missile defense, and keeping an eye on the opportunity costs.

    And I must admit that what exactly we would put on the table in order to resolve this end-of-the-decade problem that it can be foreseen in strategic ballistic missile-defense systems being introduced in Europe by the end of the decade is something that I haven't worked out myself.  But it seems to me that any kind of sober contemplation of these issues at Lisbon better think through some of these issues, because we certainly don't have the answers yet today after many years of experience trying to provide territorial ballistic missile defense to the United States.  So I'm a little skeptical about this endeavor as applied to Europe.

    Thank you.  (Applause.)

    MR. COLLINA:  All right.  Thank you very much to our speakers.  We are now at the question-and-answer portion of this session.

    Questions?  Mark, right here.  Please, I would ask you to identify yourself, identify who you want your question addressed by, and also try to keep questions short and to the point.  Thank you.

    Q:  Mark Gubrud, University of Maryland.  And I'll address my question primarily to Mr. Desautels.  And I feel sorry for you having to defend this policy, which is, in my opinion, intellectually and morally bankrupt and frankly corrupt.

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark, could you get to your question, please?

    Q:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  I'm an experimental physicist, and I'm going to refer to technical facts, which I think many people in this room are aware of, but for some reason they don't seem to figure in much of this discussion.

    The program that you laid out relies or it leans,  basically, it was SM-3.  So current deployment SM-3 Block IA and then SM-3 IB followed on by Block II SM-3s , the SM-3, as you know, is an exoatmospheric interceptor, which means it attempts to achieve intercept in space ‏

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark, we need a question, please.

    Q:  it has never been tested against realistic countermeasures, it has never been tested ‏‒ when it was tested against cone-shaped decoys, shaped similar to warheads, it failed.  It has not been tested in the presence of tumbling missiles.  It has not been tested in the presence of debris.

    And these countermeasures are known.  The SM-3 has not been tested against them.  And we know that it will fail.  And furthermore, cannot be improved because the information ‏

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark ‏

    Q: to provide the discrimination ‏

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark, what is your question, ‒ I have to cut you off, because we don't have ‏‒ you're taking ‏‒
    Q:  The SM-3 does not work against simple countermeasures, cannot be made to work against simple countermeasures.  And you say it will be tested.  Well, you say it will be tested in a land-based mode.  That's like as relevant as, you know, saying it's still going to work if you put a decal on the side of it.

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark, thank you.  We're going to let Eric respond to you ‏‒

    Q:  Okay.  So, well, if you want a question, okay.  When is it going to be tested against realistic countermeasures?

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you.

    Q:  Second, the Block II SM-3, the Block I does not have the altitude reach to make it a potent ASAT threat, although it was demonstrated in the ASAT mode.  It was demonstrated as effective against a satellite.  But the Block II SM-3s, as we understand it, will have the reach to pretty much hit anything in low-earth orbit.

    So one would have to conclude, if, based on current United States plans, that the U.S. would have no objection to Russia or China deploying a similar system that would basically be capable of sweeping the entire constellation of U.S. military assets in low-earth orbit.

    MR. COLLINA:  Mark ‏‒ Mark, you are taking everybody else's time right now.

    (Cross talk.)

    Q:  These are the elephants in the room and Tom, none of your speakers ‏‒

    MR. COLLINA:  Could you stop, please?

    Q:  ‏‒ acknowledge these basic facts, these basic parameters.

    MR. COLLINA:  You're being unfair to everybody else in this room.

    Q:  Excuse me, Tom.  Tom, these are technical facts which are not acknowledged in this discussion, and they need to be.

    MR. COLLINA:  And we just did.  Thank you.

    Can we have a response?  Eric, you're up.

    MR. DESAUTELS:  Thanks.  You know, obviously, I'm not a physicist.  I rely on the judgments of Lieutenant General O'Reilly at the Missile Defense Agency.  And obviously, he has a different opinion about whether the SM-3 is effective.  And also, I'd say the independent testing agency, DOT&E, has a different opinion as well.

    The main point, though, I think, is that they've developed a very detailed plan to test these systems beforehand.  Now, I don't have all of the details to respond to your exact criticisms of the SM-3.  But I think that they have satisfied themselves within the MDA.  They've satisfied the Defense Department's independent testing agency.

    As you recall, the previous system did not have to work through DOD's testing agency.  This plan has now been briefed around town, to the Hill, to everybody, and it seems to me that this is the right way forward to proving that these systems, when deployed, will actually do what we're asking them to do.

    And then on the second point you have about, you know, ASATs, obviously, you know, the United States does not support the development of any type of ASAT system, particularly, especially those like Chinese one, which generated so much debris that it will be in orbit for generations.  And that's not the purpose of the SM-3.  And we will continue to work through the international community, especially on transparency and confidence-building measures, to make sure that these types of systems are not developed in the future.

    MR. COLLINA:  Anybody else want to address those issues?  Okay.

    Other questions?

    Yes, sir, way in the back.

    Q:  Thank you.  Dieter Dettke, Georgetown University.  I have a question for the former Czech defense minister.  And I want to invite you to help us to understand better what Russia is thinking and how it's reacting.  What is it expecting from the West, from Europe, from NATO, from the United States?

    I would have loved to ask this question of Rose Gottemoeller who lived in Russia.  But you're close to Russia, and you might be able to tell us a little more, how far they are going to go, where they can help, where they can do us harm.  And how do you read Russia's mind at the moment in terms of, you know, what they want to achieve, vis-à-vis Europe, vis-à-vis the West, within NATO?  Thank you.

    MR. SEDIVY:  Thank you very much.  And it's ‏‒ yeah, Winston Churchill said that Russia is mystery wrapped up in an enigma, and so on and so forth.  No, first of all, from my part of Europe, sometimes the perception of Russia is not entirely, I would say, rational.  It's still quite burdened by the past experience and sometimes a bit paranoid.

    First of all, what I don't think Russia is about to do, and it's not about to invade any part of NATO territories.  It's not about to attack us in any other way.  It's perhaps first and foremost what they seek is a recognition, because they are dealing with, I would say, difficult adaptive psychological process of losing an empire in a relatively short period.

    It expects from us trade.  Indeed, Russia is very much and will be more and more dependent on the West, in general terms, in terms of the trade.  But also in terms of technologies.

    So it's also cooperation.  I also believe that Russia expects from NATO that we would not fail in Afghanistan completely, because that would be a disaster for Russia first of all.  If you look at the map, if you look at the problems, you know, there will be proliferation of various social pathologies and terrorism and arms and more drugs, you know, through Central Asia, more extremists in northern caucuses, which is already now actually in a state of war.

    So I believe that we have much more rational or higher interests in common.  But at the same time, Russia is extremely difficult because of that effort to keep still the status that it used to have, to have recognition.  That's most I can say in a few sentences.

    But I am coming from the school of structural realism.  And I believe that actually the structure and the distribution of configuration of power is to, a certain extent, actually determining the behavior of nations, of the actors in the international relations, international system.  And Russia simply will be forced, because of the relative decline, especially vis-à-vis China, but also vis-à-vis other parts of her neighborhood, Russia simply will be forced more and more to cooperate with us and indeed with whom else if you look at her map, at her geopolitical, geostrategic code.

    MR. COLLINA:  Anybody else want to comment on that one?

    Okay.  Darrell (sp), right up.  Can we get a mike up to the front, please?

    Q:  Thanks to all of you.  Missile defense is always a controversial subject.  And I just wanted to acknowledge ‏ I mean, some of the points that you raise, Mark, these are facts, in my view.  And so one of the things that I think would be useful, not now, to have some answers to, but, you know, when will the testing schedule address some of the issues that Mark was raising?

    It's my understanding that that would be quite some time from now, and that there aren't yet answers through the testing program to some of the technical questions that he was raising.

    Which brings me to the question that Greg was raising, which I think actually gets to the heart of this.  Which is, what do we mean by “protection?”  And I don't like ‏‒ I tell my staff not to use the word “missile-defense shield” or “protection” because that suggests that this military hardware has a capability that it really doesn't completely have.

    So my question to the ambassador and to Mr. Desautels is, in the NATO concept right now, okay, how would you summarize the concept of protection that the Alliance is trying to attain?

    And then the second part, and this gets to the last point that Greg was raising, how in 2020, which is not that long from now in many ways, how does the Alliance or the Pentagon and the State Department foresee avoiding yet another conflict with Russia that we had just two, three years ago over the GBI proposal?

    So those are my two questions.  And I think these are elemental questions.  I'd just like a response on those two things, which get to some of the tentacle issues, but it's where the policy intersects with the technology.

    MR. COLLINA:  Eric, do you want to take that one on first?

    MR. DESAUTELS:  Actually, I counted three questions there.  (Laughs.)  The first was on, you know, when are we going to start doing some of this testing?  For example, I know next year MDA will conduct a test that will test whether the Aegis SM-3 Block IA is capable against the IRBM type of threat.

    Right now it's proven up to the 1,000 kilometer range threat.  So next year, they'll have a test where they test for that longer range system, also using the radar that we plan to deploy in Europe, so that when we do deploy all of this in Europe we have actually tested the system to ensure that what we say we're doing in phase one is what we can do in phase one.

    And then on protection, actually, I think this kind of gets to many of the questions you asked.  You know, what is the level of protection?  Will there be, you know, more problems with Russia?  I think all of this comes down to time.

    The system is not designed to protect you against every single Iranian ballistic missile that they could possibly build or that they have built.  The system is designed to provide you protection in the early phases of the conflict where you can start employing the other aspects of your national power.  If Iran starts lobbing missiles at NATO European countries, we're going to respond, and there's other means of responding that will hopefully, you know, take care of the rest of the missile threat that you're, you know, worried about.

    And then I think on the issue of Russia, again, I think it comes down to time.  You know, like Greg said, there's 10 years until we theoretically start deploying the SM-3 Block IIBs.  Hopefully in that period of time we'll have enough time to work with the Russians cooperatively.  We think if we actually can work with them that they will see what we are doing and what our focus is.  We will see the evolution of the threat, so hopefully, you know, there are areas where we do agree now.  There are areas where we don't disagree, and hopefully we can converge that delta over time.

    And then, I think just the interaction and repeatedly trying to explain to them what our plans are and being transparent with them.  I know my boss, Undersecretary Tauscher, frequently calls her Russian counterpart to explain what we're doing so that he's aware and he doesn't get it, you know, from the press first, you know, trying to keep them in the loop of what's going on, on all of this.

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you, Eric.  Anyone else like to comment on that?

    Oh, yes.  Go ahead.

    MR. SEDIVY:  Actually, there was a question, both questions were also going to me.  And the protection is very much linked to the issue of coverage.  And I mentioned that this is one of the bit more controversial issues that has been and will be discussed.  And I completely share your view that we should not use the notion of shield or umbrella even, perhaps.

    But it's the most I can say, because those data are classified, is that it's very relative, and that protection is probably success within a given scenario.  That's the most I can say.

    Now, the second question was about how to avoid conflict with Russia in the coming years.  I mean, we are really very much open vis-à-vis Russia.  We, I would say, and this is my personal opinion, ‏are perhaps too much […] sometimes, ‏ NATO is positioning itself as a demander in that relationship.  And I still believe we need each other.  But I also believe that actually Russia needs us more than we need Russia.

    So it's upon, really, it's upon Russia to use what is on the table, what is offered, and especially now when we've been developing a comprehensive plan of issues and activities within that NATO-Russia reset.  It's a good opportunity to take this possibility and to really start substantive [discussions] ‏‒ this is the problem.  I mean, we have lost hours and days in debates which resulted in nothing substantive, in very shallow papers and very few real deeds.  

    And I must say also, at the same time, we've been exposed to very intensive intelligence activities of Russia compared to [the] 1980s.  And we've been also exposed to very intensive, let's say, cyber activities from the part of Russia.

    So given all this, you know, I believe that we are really very much forthcoming, and it's upon Russia to take up this opportunity.

    MR. COLLINA:  Greg.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I just want to make one comment about what I think I'm inferring is an offer of limited missile defenses against a limited threat.  Even if one assumes fairly effective, very effective missile defense ‏‒ as I say, 80 percent effective ‏‒ and one postulates five Iranian ballistic missiles, each with nuclear warheads, going into Europe, a successful system of defense then means there's only one nuclear explosion over a European city.

    Yet, this may be damage mitigation, but it seems to me that this means that ‏‒ knowing this both sides means the Iranians know that they have an effective nuclear threat against Europe, and the European NATO leadership knows that it has to deal with the reality that Iran can hit them with nuclear weapons.

    So then the question is, now, what have you gained with all this enormous expenditure to achieve that result where NATO acts in a certain way toward Iran and Iran acts in a certain way toward NATO that would be pretty much the same way if there were no missile defenses?  That's really my question.

    MR. COLLINA:  Yes, Allan Krass.

    Q:  Hi, I'm Allan Krass, again.  I want to know why the phrase “cruise missiles” has never been mentioned here.  Everything is about ballistic missiles.  It used to be that cruise missiles were seen a significant additional threat, nuclear threat over ballistic missiles and that building a ballistic missile defense gives you nothing in terms of defense against cruise missiles.  Are cruise missiles a part of the NATO-Russia-U.S. discussions?  And if so, what sort of plans are being thought about for cruise missile defense?

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you.  Who wants that one?

    MR. DESAUTELS: I think when we look at all of this, you know, I should say, when my joint staff colleagues look at all of this, they look at it as an integrated air and missile-defense picture.  And how do they deal with all of these threats aircraft, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles?

    In the NATO context, you have a very well-developed air defense capability.  But the part that they are lacking is the missile-defense mission and capability.

    So I think, from the way you asked that question, it's really being addressed more as an air defense type of mission than a missile-defense type of mission.

    MR. COLLINA:  Jiri, did you want to add to that, or no?

    MR. SEDIVY:  I'm almost 100 percent sure that cruise missiles are not subject to debates with Russia, between NATO and Russia?  But I'm not sure about ,‏ I remember that some nations, when we started actually debates about missile defense in 2007, some nations wanted to add actually something that was for them very pertinent in terms of very short-range missiles.

    But that was then somehow pushed aside.  At the same time, I can imagine that actually as we are now talking about extending the ALT-BMD and the theater missile defenses  and we have also actually experience now, first experience from the Israeli missile defense, that iron dome which is a, I would say, very local missile defense, and which we are looking at the possibility of using it in Afghanistan because it's perfectly suited for protecting a relatively small place.

    So that this might be added.  But I'm not sure about that, really.

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you.

    Yes, sir, right in the middle.

    Q:  I'm Terry Hopmann from Johns Hopkins SAIS.  I'd like to follow up a little bit on Mark's question also.  I've been impressed over the last 30 years about the differences of opinions and evaluations about the feasibility of missile-defense programs, when one compares the findings of independent or university-based scientists with those who have a bureaucratic or financial incentive, to say that these things work.

    But I, being a political scientist and therefore not a real scientist, I can't judge this, obviously.  But it does strike me nonetheless that just suppose it does work  and I want to go back to this question of anti-satellite weapons.  I mean, there could potentially be a whole series of unintended consequences.  And if we haven't thought about negotiation strategies, you suggest, Eric, that there's some way that we can head off these things from becoming anti-satellite weapons, capabilities.  After all, satellites are a lot easier to hit.  They're in fixed orbits, right?  They're not moving.  They're up there at a known time and everything else that make them an awful lot easier targets than ballistic missiles that are shot from an unknown location, at an unknown time, in an unknown or unpredictable trajectory or things like that.

    Isn't this really opening up, in other words, the need to really be thinking seriously about another negotiation that makes the current START and New START negotiations look almost trivial by comparison in terms of both the technological complexities and the political complexities of negotiating our way through what could really be an unintended consequence of something designed to fit in with the current New START negotiations, but actually opens up a whole, you know, when the genie gets out of the bottle, a whole set of new and very complex political and technical questions that we really haven't, it seems, thought about doing or dealing with?  Or have we thought about dealing with it?  And if so, how would we go about thinking about dealing with this new kind of negotiation?

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you.

    Eric, you want to take a shot at that one?

    MR. DESAUTELS:  Actually, one of the first things we're trying to do is work with the Europeans.  I don't know if you've seen their European Code of Conduct on space activities.  They have points in there about not developing ASAT capabilities.  Now, obviously, that's a, you know, Code of Conduct which, you know, it has no verification provisions.

    But the other thing, when you look at our national space policy, which was released earlier by President Obama, we are going to take a look at arms control for space items.  We haven't decided on what type of arms control to pursue.  We're still reviewing that within the interagency, but obviously looking at some type of ground-based ASAT regime would be something that we are considering.

    MR. COLLINA:  Greg.

    MR. THIELMANN:  I would just like to make one comment on another unintended consequence, and that is the proliferation of missile technology.  There's not a great deal of difference between an offensive ballistic missile and a defensive ballistic missile.  It involves a lot of principles of rocket science and the development of propulsion ballistic missile improvements and so forth.

    I would submit that we don't necessarily want to welcome a world in which we help all of our friends and allies develop better and better missile defenses and some countries that aren't exactly a close friend and ally of us because we have the technology and it earns a lot of money and so forth.

    And just think about the fact that India today has an active strategic missile-defense program.  Israel has a very close relationship with India in terms of arms sales.  The U.S., needless to say, is bankrolling half of Israel's ballistic missile development efforts.  This is not good for the Missile Technology Control Regime, believe me.  

    And this is, to me, another unintended consequence of us aggressively pursuing ballistic missile defenses.

    MR. COLLINA:  Yes, Catherine.

    Q:  (Off mike.)

    MR. COLLINA:  There's a mike coming, too.

    Q:  Sorry.  Catherine Kelleher.  This is a follow on to what you just said, Greg.  But wasn't the decision made very early not to strengthen ‏- to take that approach to strengthen the Missile Technology Control Regime?  In other words, we've let that regime sort of not quite go to sleep, but pretty much, and we're not thinking now of pursuing it aggressively.  And the question is, why did we take that choice when, whether one believes one set of testers or another, there certainly is question about the ability to in fact stop missiles in flight?

    MR. THIELMANN:  I think we're selectively pursuing the Missile Technology Control Regime, depending on whether we're friendly with the country or not.  But I'll let Eric give the definitive answer.

    MR. DESAUTELS:  Yeah, I would just have to completely disagree.  I mean, we have not cut back or put aside the Missile Technology Control Regime.  We actively – I disagree.  I think we pursue it at every opportunity.  The MTCR meets several times a year.  We are, you know, very active in working with all of our partners in the MTCR in preventing technology from being proliferated.

    Look at the U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea.  What are the lists of goods that are prohibited from going to Iran?  They are the MTCR list, because we believe that that is a good list of items to prevent a country from getting.

    Now, that's not to say that countries outside the MTCR are not the biggest threat to the MTCR.  North Korea, for example, they are not an MTCR member, so they're not going to follow the rules of that, and so we have to enforce those provisions on North Korea in different ways.  And I think we're pursuing that very vigorously, especially through these U.N. Security Council resolutions that make it illegal for North Korea to proliferate these items to countries like Iran or Syria.

    MR. COLLINA:  Thank you.  I'm going to wrap up not only this panel discussion, but all of the day's activities.  And before I thank our speakers, I really want to thank the Heinrich Böll Stiftung for helping us with this event and partnering with us.  It's been a true pleasure working with the staff there, in particular Sebastian Gräfe and Marcus Rucci (ph).  I hope I'm pronouncing that right.  Probably not.

    But thank you all very much.  It was really a terrific partnership, and I hope we can do it again.

    I also want to thank the ACA staff who spent a lot of time on this:  Eric Auner, Matt Sugrue and Rob Golan-Vilella.  You guys did a great job.  And thank you all very much.

    I also want to thank you, the audience, for sticking it out to the end.  And I really appreciate your attention and your questions.  And now, please join me in thanking our speakers here on the panel and all the speakers we've had here today, because they've done an absolutely fantastic job.  In addition to traveling, for a few of them, many, many miles to get here from Russia, Europe and other places.  So please join me in thanking them very much.

    And thank you all for being here.  (Applause.)‏

    (END)‏

    Description: 

    Transcript of the third panel at "Next Steps in Arms Control," a conference hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Arms Control Association.  Speakers include Greg Thielmann, Eric Desautels, Jiri Sedivy, and Tom Z. Collina.

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    Next Steps in Arms Control: Transcript of Keynote Address

    Sections:

    Body: 

    For a PDF version of this transcript, please click here.

    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    NEXT STEPS IN ARMS CONTROL:
    NUCLEAR WEAPONS, MISSILE DEFENSE AND NATO

    LUNCH KEYNOTE ADDRESS

    INTRODUCTION:
    DARYL KIMBALL,
    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
    ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

    SPEAKER:
    ROSE GOTTEMOELLER,
    ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ARMS CONTROL, VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE,
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2010
    WASHINGTON, D.C.


    Transcript by
    Federal News Service
    Washington, D.C.

     

    DARYL KIMBALL:  Everyone, if I could have your attention, please.  Once again, I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation after this morning’s session but our keynote speaker is here.  

    And, as we discussed this morning, following the midterm election, congressional leaders and the White House now are going to be trying to shift from campaign mode to governing mode, and that may be tough in many ways but it’s necessary, especially with respect to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is of course, as we’ve heard, the next essential step toward closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on nonproliferation, deeper verifiable reductions and strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.

    And a week from today the Senate will be back in session, perhaps to look at the New START Treaty and other issues during their so-called lame-duck session.  And, as I said this morning in reply to one of the comments, in my estimation, even though it’s been a tough campaign season and it’s difficult for Republicans and Democrats to get along on many, if any, domestic and foreign policy issues, New START does represent an opportunity for bipartisan action to support U.S. national security.  

    And if Senate leaders can spare two or three days, we, the Arms Control Association, expect that the Senate could and would provide us advice and consent for the treaty.  And to explain why New START is important for U.S. and international security, we have the great honor to have the chief U.S. negotiator of the treaty, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller.  

    Among her many accomplishments of course, as you all know from looking at the tables outside, is her authorship of the article in the September issue of Arms Control today, which outlines many of the reasons why New START is important.  

    But we’re glad to have her here to tell us more about it at this very important opportunity.  So, Rose, thank you for coming.  Welcome.  (Applause.)

    ROSE GOTTEMOELLER:  Thank you very much.  I was quite impressed by the decibel level coming into this room today and glad to see so many familiar faces around the room.  It seems like there’s lots to discuss in this area of arms control policy.  And I can but agree; I’m really happy to have the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.

    And I wanted to start out – before I turn to the New START treaty, I wanted to start out with just a few words about the bureau that I head, which, as Daryl has already mentioned, now has the name of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.  This is a very, very important readjustment, I would say, and one that my boss, Secretary Clinton, has been very keen to see unfold, as well as my immediate boss, Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher.

    We are leading the department’s efforts with respect to arms control policy-making, negotiations and treaty implementation, so all three of those things.  And, furthermore, we’ve taken on issues to do with missile-defense policy from the State Department perspective, national security and space policy, as well as multilateral arms control and disarmament policy, including issues that are considered at the Conference on Disarmament, we hope a fissile material cutoff treaty to be considered there, and the U.N. General Assembly.  We just completed the first committee work in New York over the last month, over the month of October.  

    Finally, AVC is leading the department’s efforts with respect to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and its entry into force, to include, of course, full implementation of its verification regime.  So, we’re trying to encompass in one organization issues of arms control and national security policy-making, and I think it’s a very, very important change and one that will serve us well going forward.

    The change in my bureau, however, is not just a matter of semantics.  It represents a significant streamlining also of our efforts in both nonproliferation and arms control, and it will put us in a better position, I believe, to carry forward President Obama’s priorities in this arena.  We now have a stronger and more comprehensive approach to the arms control policy agenda.

    As the president stated in Prague last year, rules must be binding, violations must be punished and words must mean something.  The new organization will continue to focus squarely on verification and compliance as important goals of our overarching arms control policy, and I want to ensure that you get this vision of, you know, basically the full universe of arms control policy-making, from the formative end of it, the conceptual side, through the negotiation, to the implementation and compliance issues.  So we’re trying to take the full-spectrum approach now and I think it’s a very, very important change.

    Because today’s global challenges are as complex as ever, by addressing nuclear, chemical and biological as well as conventional weapons arms control issues in a comprehensive way, we increase our ability to respond to threats and achieve the objectives of our overall policy, but we have got a lot of work to do.

    And therefore, I’m very glad we have such wide-ranging communities, so many of you representing, in this room today, various organizations both in and out of government, and both here in the United States and overseas.  And I very much welcome the vibrant nature of this community and look forward to continuing to work closely with you in the coming years.

    Now, let me get to the New START treaty.  As you’re all aware, one of the first steps in the president’s bold agenda, also laid out at Prague in 2009, was to move toward a world without nuclear weapons.  Step number one in President Obama’s administration was the one that I was charged with:  to negotiate a new arms treaty with Russia, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

    With the excellent U.S. delegation that we had, I spent most of 2009 and the first half of 2010 in Geneva working on just that.  The treaty is very important to the national security of the United States because the U.S. and Russia control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.  

    When New START is fully implemented, it will result in fewer deployed nuclear weapons since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age.  And I think that that too is a very important step forward.  The treaty contains verification mechanisms that will enable us to monitor and inspect Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.  Accurate knowledge of Russian nuclear forces will prevent the risks of misunderstandings, mistrust and worst-case decision-making.

    For those of you who have actually not read my article in Arms Control Today, first of all I wanted to say that was a team effort.  It was an interagency effort to put that article together.  And I actually had a little fight with Daryl here because I wanted to list, you know, more of the participants in the interagency process among the authors of the piece, but he said it’s against Arms Control Association policy.  (Laughter.)  But, first of all, I did want to underscore that it was an interagency effort, and indeed our full negotiating effort was an interagency effort with great participation from across this government.  

    And, frankly, if you know something about the history of arms control policy-making and negotiating in the United States, you will remember that at past times there were often some fisticuffs and sharp elbows.  I can’t say that we had agreement, you know, perfectly in every area.  There was plenty of head-butting among the various agencies, but in general it was a terrific team effort.

    So, for those of you who did not read the piece yet in Arms Control Today, I want to highlight the specific importance of its verification regime to the New START treaty.  The verification regime is based on an extensive set of measures that include a data exchange, the notifications to update that data exchange, measures that restrict where certain inspectable items may be located, onsite inspection, exhibitions and additional transparency measures.

    So the regime is a comprehensive one and, very importantly, getting New START ratified and entered into force will provide for the resumption of vital onsite inspections with the Russian Federation.  With the December 2009 expiration of START, the United States is unable, for the first time in more than 20 years, to conduct nuclear arms inspections in Russia.  And today, as a matter of fact, we are tossed back to that era of the 1970s when we were entirely dependent on national technical means of verification, and I don’t think that is where we want to be.

    There is no substitute for onsite inspection.  They provide for what Sen. Lugar likes to call the boots on the ground, the presence that confirms Russian data declarations that are provided to us, and through these inspections we gain further insights into Russian strategic forces.  And of course they do into our forces as well.  

    It is a bilateral effort of course to maintain strategic stability in a number of ways, but the predictability that is inherent in a sound, strong and effective verification regime, that predictability is at the core of our efforts to maintain a stable and predictable strategic relationship with the Russian Federation.

    As of today, it has been 338 days since we have had boots on the ground in the Russian Federation – our experts inside Russia inspecting Russian strategic nuclear forces.  Simply put, the United States is more secure and safer when our country is able to gain a better understanding of Russian strategic nuclear forces.  Now let me turn to a ratification update.  

    With regard to ratification, we are optimistic.  We are very pleased that the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 16th was a positive bipartisan step, the vote of 14 to 4 in favor of advice and consent with Sen. Kerry and Sen. Lugar of course leading that effort, and we are very much appreciative of their efforts to lead our work with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee throughout the summer.

    Now is the time to finish the job.  You heard last week President Obama explaining, quote, “This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue, but rather an issue of American national security” end quote.  He noted the passage of the treaty will send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals and a signal to the world that we’re serious about nonproliferation.  Sen. Kerry, furthermore, added that, “We are now ready to move forward,” and he said that passing New START is “an urgent imperative.”  

    Finally, I’ll just note that my boss – again, Secretary Hillary Clinton – was down in New Zealand last week, but she spoke the same day the president did, confirming that, “We are working hard to pass the treaty and we believe we have enough votes to pass it in the Senate.  It’s just a question of when it will be brought up for the vote.”

    This is the very same treaty that was there on November 1st, before the elections.  It is in the national security interest of the United States after the elections in the same way it was before the elections.  Swift approval is the right and necessary thing to do.  

    There is broad bipartisan support for this treaty, as has traditionally been the case for arms control treaties.  Leaders from across the political spectrum from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle have spoken out in favor of the treaty, including former secretaries of state and defense.  They recognize that is in our national security interest.  

    Again, it is almost a year since START’s verification measures expired.  The U.S. intelligence community and military leadership say that we need New START so we can get the boots back on the ground in Russia to monitor and inspect their strategic forces.  

    The administration has worked hard with the Senate over the course of the last six months, and I can personally attest to that.  We’ve carried out 18 hearings in which I testified four times, and four briefings.  I participated in two of those four briefings.  We have also responded to over 900 questions for the record.

    Just a little point of history, for those of you who are interested:  The START Treaty – which, I didn’t bring the treaties today.  New START is about that fat; START is about that fat if you’re looking at the green book. The START Treaty had around about 400 questions, so it just gives you an idea for the hard work that we have undertaken over the past summer to help the Senate do their important responsibility of due diligence before moving forward to give their advice and consent to a treaty.

    I just wanted to – in closing, I’d just like to underscore two points about what we have really tried to convey over the past summer in working on the treaty.  First and foremost, the nuclear stockpile will continue to be safe, secure and effective under the New START treaty.  Our current and most recent NNSA directors agree that the administration’s budget plans for the nuclear complex are excellent and represent a strong commitment to the safety and security of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

    Second, the treaty does not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defense as possible.  The head of the Missile Defense Agency, Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, testified that, “Relative to the START Treaty, the New START treaty actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile-defense program.”

    In conclusion, the New START treaty is a continuation of the international arms control and nonproliferation framework that the United States has worked hard to foster and strengthen for the last 50 years.  It will provide ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.  At the same time, it will preserve our flexibility to maintain the strong nuclear deterrent that remains an essential element of U.S. national security and the security of our partners and allies.

    This treaty is not just about Washington and Moscow.  It is about the entire world community.  We understand the world looks to us for leadership in securing nuclear materials globally and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, and the New START treaty and its successful implementation will be one factor in our continuing success in that regard.

    The bottom line is that the New START treaty was a good treaty before the election and it’s a good treaty after the elections.  It’s time to enjoy its national security benefits by getting it ratified and entered into force.  Thank you very much for you attention and I look forward to answering your questions.  (Applause.)  

    I will be calling on people from up here.  We have a question over there.  Please wait for the microphone, and please identify yourself.

    Q:  Thank you.  Hi.  Elaine Grossman with Global Security Newswire at the National Journal Group.  Secretary Gottemoeller, Vice President Biden told Capitol Hill a couple of months ago that the administration had identified some funding deficiencies in the nuclear weapons complex, and understanding that those deficiencies are apparently of great interest to some of the Republicans who are considering how to vote on New START.

    Have you, or will you, be going up to the Hill to brief the key committees on these deficiencies – what they total up to, what they involve – and if so, when?  And could you elaborate on what they are?  Thank you.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  I spoke about this being a true team effort, a true interagency effort, and it’s not directly my responsibility to be briefing on the budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Energy’s entity.  I will say that, again, it has been a terrific team effort, and Tom D’Agostino, the administrator, has been absolutely great in working with the White House and also with the Department of Defense on the NNSA budget.

    And, yes, that is one step that is going forward in this period now as the Senate is beginning to come back.  It’s to get up to Capitol Hill and brief on the budget.  I do believe, based on everything I’ve seen, that the answers will be positive, will be the right answers in terms of filling in the gaps that the Hill, as well as others, have been concerned about.

    So, I don’t want to get into any further details about numbers and specific programs and so forth.  It’s simply not my responsibility, but Tom D’Agostino will be briefing and continuing to work closely with leaders on the Hill over the next couple of weeks in order to provide all that information.  Our core concern at the present time is to provide all the additional information that we feel will lead, you know, to our final work on the floor in getting the treaty ratified.

    Mary Beth Sheridan?

    Q:  Thank you very much.  Lindsey Graham, who is a key moderate on many of these national security issues in the Senate, said to reporters in Canada this weekend that he thought that there were some things in START that needed to be changed to make it a better treaty.  To what extent can changes be made without going back into a full-blown, you know, renegotiation?  And are you concerned at all that his comments suggest that this is – you know, there’s going to be at least – you know, this is going to be a while before this gets to a floor vote?  Thank you.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  I think, first of all, I’ve been hearing, you know, some comments from time to time, particularly about the verification regime, that it’s not the same as the START verification regime.  Perhaps some changes need to be made.

    I’ve been really urging people to dig down deeper and to look a the verification regime and the way it is, first of all, uniquely suited to the particular central obligations of this treaty, and furthermore, drives us down the road further in a more positive direction, accomplishing things we were never able to accomplish in START.

    Some of you know, for example, about the change in the accounting approach where we went from an attribution rule in START to counting the exact number of reentry vehicles on missiles under the New START treaty.  That has driven, in fact, more intrusive on-site inspection for reentry vehicles than we had during START.

    And so there are some core, I think, differences.  And in fact, as I said, I don’t say one treaty is better and the other treaty is worse.  They are simply different.  They were designed in different ways.  We had an attribution rule.  That was the way we counted under START.  We’re being more precise under this treaty in terms of how we’re counting because we’re trying to deal with some significant problems that arose in the counting of the START Treaty.

    As you may know, the attribution rule did not really account for downloading.  Over time, as we downloaded the D5 missile, fewer warheads than the eight for which it was attributed, the central limits of the START Treaty became skewed in terms of the United States.  We were over-counting the D5.  That was an issue we wanted to resolve in the new treaty.

    So we’ve driven down the road.  We’ve made some improvements in terms of how we’ve handled this overall approach to strategic nuclear arms reduction, and I think we just need to, you know, dig down deeper and examine some of the rationales here for what we were doing.

    I’ll tell you the other thing I’m really interested in, in terms of moving forward, and that is to rapidly get into the next negotiation.  The president spoke in April when we signed – when he signed the New START treaty with President Medvedev that it’s time to move forward to nonstrategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons and nondeployed nuclear weapons.  I know for a fact that tactical nukes are a huge concern to the Senate.  I heard about it repeatedly as I went up to Capitol Hill to testify.

    I think we need to drive – again, I’m talking – it’s almost like a car, you know – we need to drive forward to the next negotiation.  We need to get this treaty into force, begin to implement it, and drive forward to the next negotiation where we can begin to get the reductions in tactical nuclear weapons and in nondeployed nuclear weapons that are of such concern.

    So, I think, Mary Beth, that would be how I would look at it, that understanding the New START treaty is a first important step.  Sometimes that involves diving down a little bit deeper than people have up to this point.  And then, second, we need to be ready to move forward and get into the next negotiation where we can really wrestle with some of those problems that have been such a significant concern, particularly as I’ve heard it on Capitol Hill.

    Let’s go here to Bruce.  We have two questions right here, Bruce and Paul.  I’ll take those.  Do you guys mind giving your questions one after the other and then I’ll answer them both together?  It would be handy that way.

    Q:  For old friends, of course.  I’m Bruce MacDonald with the U.S. Institute for Peace.  I’ve heard it said that there were a number of Republicans in the Senate who said that they wanted this to be nonpartisan, that they would not agree to a vote or they would vote against it if it were held before the election but that ratification after the election – they might be more inclined to do so, which, you know, one can understand.

    You sound very positive, but have you heard of that or are you worried about the possibility of the Senate – being the Senate with its rules – the possibility of delay tactics or filibusters or holds or things like that?  Could you share with us some insights you may have?

    Q:  Thanks for coming, Rose.  It’s good to see you.  I’m delighted to see the phrase “arms control” back in the description of the bureau since the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was limiting it not too long ago.  I would like to see the word “disarmament” used too this year.  (Laughter.)

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Maybe next year.  

    Q:  Two quick questions.  One – you prefaced this just earlier – future negotiations following on, say, for a New START II treaty, when might those begin?  And if the New START is not ratified in the lame-duck session, or never ratified, could that in fact impact our follow-on negotiations?  And my second question is, what percentage –

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Hey, I took you two together so that would have been two questions, but go ahead, quickly.  (Laughter.)

    Q:  You better write all these down.  The second question is really, to what extent of the bureau is reorganized now?  I mean, is it complete?  Are the offices moved?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Yes, that’s an easy one to answer.  I mean, physically we still have a few people to move around, but in terms of the – you know, the lines of command, I guess, command and control, yes, those changes have taken place.

    Okay, let me take Bruce’s question first.  I mentioned already that we have some very intense discussions going on now and they will continue to go on.  I can’t predict what the outcome is.  Clearly I believe we have a good case to make.  And also, I think we have a very, very sound national security argument to make.  That is that we need to get this treaty into force because we are already approaching the one-year mark with no inspectors on the ground in the Russian Federation.

    And if we kick the ratification process forward into the next Congress, I cannot predict when the treaty will enter into force.  So I think – and I hear from my, you know, interagency partners across the government, that we have a good view now as to what’s going on in the Russian strategic forces, but of necessity, the longer we go without inspectors on the ground there, the more uncertain our knowledge becomes.  In other words, our certainty begins to dissipate.

    So, I think we have a strong impetus to move now to ensure that we have a treaty entered into force, that we have an inspection regime that is underway, that we try out some of these more intrusive verification measures and hone them in the course of inspection.  You get your guys on the ground and [see] what you’re finding out and what you perhaps need to hone a bit.

    And going forward, then, you can think about the next negotiation and what will be required because if we’re looking at tactical nuclear weapons, if we’re looking at weapons in storage facilities, those are going to be much more – much more straining verification tasks, will require much more intrusive inspections.

    So, I’m eager to get started now so that we have an opportunity to build up some experience and think about what we need for the future.  I will say – and I’ve testified to this effect; many of you will have heard me – I believe there is zero chance that we can get to the negotiating table anytime soon on tactical nuclear weapons unless we get this treaty ratified and entered into force.  It will be a profound blow to the U.S.-Russian relationship and will cause some difficulties in terms of advancing our national security agenda with the Russian Federation.

    I’m not saying that it will shut down that relationship.  By no means.  We have a solid basis for our relationship now that is very much tied to our overall reset policy that President Obama and Secretary Clinton launched at the beginning of this administration.  So, there’s lots in train and lots of opportunities there, but I am worried about the delays that would be inherent if we did not move forward with this treaty.

    Yes, please.

    Q:  Hi.  Emily Cadei with Congressional Quarterly.  It’s good to see you, and thank you for taking our questions.  I noticed in your remarks you reiterated the fact that the treaty is the same now as it was before the election.  I was wondering if that implies a certain amount of concern about changing calculations post-election, how you see the landscape after the mid-term elections, and sort of why you felt the need to reiterate that point.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, I think – you know, it’s interesting because I think it was Bruce who pointed to the fact that many of our colleagues on Capitol Hill in the run-up to the elections were saying, yes, we need time.  We need time to absorb the 900 questions; we need time to study and to think about it a bit more.  

    And all I’m saying is that that body of information, the hard work that we’ve done – and, believe you me, I’ve been very impressed with the due diligence on Capitol Hill.  There has been a very, very strong effort to understand this treaty.  It’s been many years since we’ve had a big strategic nuclear arms control treaty of this type before the Senate.  There has been a very serious effort to study, to understand, to analyze – many good questions coming, not only in terms of the questions for the record but during the hearing process and the briefing process.

    So, there’s been a strong due diligence.  What I’m saying is that body of information is there.  Nothing has changed over the ensuing period while folks have been out for the election process.  It’s time to take that body of material, make the decisions that are necessary and move forward to a vote on the floor.

    Yes, in the back there?

    Q:  John Liang with Inside Missile Defense.  One of the things that was mentioned earlier this morning at this same forum was the possibility that Sen. Kyl might try to add to – try to get some more additional concessions out of the administration in the form of additional funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile sort of in exchange for his vote to pass the treaty – to ratify the treaty.  Is there any – do you believe that there is completely enough funding for that stockpile or do you see any possible wiggle room that may allow you to give him something?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  That was the point I was making a bit earlier when we were talking about the budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.  As I mentioned, it has been a topic of much discussion and careful study over the last several months.  

    As my colleague and predecessor at the NNSA – I guess I was actually his predecessor at the NNSA – Ambassador Linton Brooks said when he was administrator of the NNSA, he would have killed for the kind of budget that’s being considered now for the Stockpile Stewardship program as well as for the nuclear weapons infrastructure requirements.

    So, I think that there has been work that was done during the summer.  There’s work done during the ensuing period.  And, as I said, Tom D’Agostino will be working closely with folks on Capitol Hill in the coming days and a couple of weeks to make that clear.  So that process is definitely going on.  It’s just, as I said, I didn’t want to comment on any specifics because it’s not in my bailiwick, really.

    Yes?

    Q:  Thanks.  My name is Andrei Sitov.  I’m with TASS, the Russian news agency.  And this is a sort of a follow up to the previous question, even though it’s not your bailiwick, but it’s a very hard fiscal environment.  

    So, I wanted to ask you if you have any idea – assuming that the treaty is ratified, how expensive will it be to carry out?  In other words, does it make economic sense?  If you could speak for both the U.S. and Russia please also.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  The treaty itself?

    Q:  Yes.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Oh, well, the treaty itself, certainly in our country it’s been budgeted for.  Our Defense Threat Reduction Agency has, you know, been thinking ahead to – assuming that the Senate does give its advice and consent to the treaty.  

    Just a technical aspect some of you may not know about, but what will happen once we exchange instruments of ratification with the Russian Federation, that starts a 60-day clock ticking, essentially.  So we cannot have inspectors zoom as soon as we exchange instruments of ratification on the ground in either country.  

    There’s a 60-day preparatory period.  During that period, we will exchange – do the first official data exchange and we will prepare for the first inspections.  But in the meantime, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been thinking ahead about what would be required, and also they’ve clearly been thinking ahead in terms of the budget requirements for implementing the treaty because our fiscal year, as you know, begins on October 1st, so they have to think ahead into FY fiscal year ’11 and fiscal year ’12.  

    Already that planning is going on.  They’re part of the Defense Department so they even have a longer planning horizon for their budget than some other agencies do.  So it’s been a thoroughgoing process so far and I don’t see any problem there, really.

    Q:  So is it an expensive treaty?  Will it save money?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, one of the basic – actually that’s a very good question because one of the basic approaches was – and this was inherent in the joint understanding that President Obama and President Medvedev signed in July of 2009.  It was some of our basic instructions for conducting the New START treaty negotiations.  This was at the Moscow summit in July of 2009.  

    They signed a joint understanding, and one of the points in the joint understanding was that there should be provisions for verification of the treaty that would be effective and yet perhaps streamlined by comparison with the START Treaty.  And, as I said, that was one of the points that we considered very carefully.  

    And, based on the fact that we had terrific inspectors and weapons system operators on both sides of the table, the inspectors had brought their 15 years of experience implementing the START Treaty to the table and were able to think about ways – you know, some procedures maybe were not needed; others could be streamlined.

    One of the things that we have done is lengthen out the length of the inspections, for example, so that certain inspection tasks will be covered in a single inspection event.  This is very, very helpful to the strategic forces operators because when you have an inspection at a strategic forces base, it shuts down the normal operations of the base.

    So the START Treaty was starting to be an unnecessary drag on the operations of our strategic forces, and both Russia and the United States felt that, so that was one of the basic, again, rationales we were looking at.  Are there ways to streamline the inspection process, still ensuring that we’ve got a strong and effective verification regime?

    So, by putting a number of inspection events in a single – in a single inspection, we ensured that we got the same effect that we needed but we weren’t shutting down our strategic forces operating bases in that way.  

    So, that’s just an example but, yes, it was very much part of the negotiations and was a core part of the joint understanding that was signed in Moscow in July 2009.

    Yes?

    Q:  Jan Lodal.

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Hi, Jan.

    Q:  Hi, Rose.  I remain a bit confused about the bomber counting rules.  Maybe you could elaborate a little bit.  I understand that they reflect more or less current reality on the ground, but we have these very tight inspection rules for missiles, and then on the bomber side we’ve got this counting rule which, in principle, you could, if you filled everything up to its capacity you could deploy probably more total weapons than were permitted under the SORT Treaties.  

    Nobody intends to do that or maintains the capability of doing that, but how does the verification and understanding aspects of things deal with that between the U.S. and Russia to make sure that something doesn’t go wrong there and that turn out to be an issue?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  It’s a very good question, Jan, and I think it’s another case in which people maybe haven’t dug down deep enough into the verification regime in the treaty.  You mentioned the intrusiveness of the verification for reentry vehicle onsite inspection – reentry vehicles on missiles, and I did speak about that at length.

    But what people have lost sight of is that the intrusiveness of the bomber inspections is also – is also considerable, and it is actually more intrusive in some ways than START because we, for example, have allowed for the use of radiation detection equipment during inspections of bombers so that – you know, on a day-to-day basis – you pointed it out – neither side loads nuclear weapons on bombers.  We have not had our bombers on strip alert for many years.

    In fact, our heavy bombers are largely devoted to long-range conventional missions.  That’s another reason that we felt confident that the bomber counting rule was an adequate representation of the continuing nuclear mission that has tasked the bombers, but on a day-to-day basis they don’t really carry nuclear weapons at all, so we count the bombers as carrying one nuclear weapon.

    So it conveys that they have a nuclear mission but it does not over-burden them.  Again, in the counting process you don’t want the central limits of the New START treaty to be over-counting bomber weapons.  That would not serve our interests as well, but the verification regime for bombers is very intrusive and allows for objects inside the bomb bay to be checked with radiation detection equipment so we can basically confirm on bomber inspections that they are not – the Russian bombers are not carrying nuclear objects.

    And it’s the same, of course, for the Russian Federation.  They will be – at our bomber bases they can use that same radiation detection equipment and check our bombers as well.  But it’s gotten lost in the noise a bit that the bomber inspections are very intrusive as well as the reentry vehicle onsite inspections.

    Yes?

    Q:  Hi, Rose.  Miles Pomper from the Monterey Institute.  You touched a little bit on the tactical nuclear weapons issue but Dr. Miasnikov, when he was here earlier, said, for instance, what the U.S. trade that seems to be out there or talked about a lot is the idea of us trading our stored warheads for the Russian nonstrategic weapons.  And he seemed to dismiss that as that Russia wasn’t particularly interested in that idea.  I wanted to first say if that sort of the U.S. concept of how the trade-off might occur and if you do sense an interest in the Russians on that part.  

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, the concept is currently under discussion and development, so I would not want to point to any particular concept of how we are planning to proceed in that regard, but I do think that, you know, there was no question that the Russians did not – you know, there has been a longstanding Russian concern, which I hear from former colleagues of mine from my days of directing the Carnegie Moscow Center, that we have a lot of weapons in storage facilities.  So that is clearly articulated as a concern on the Russian side.  

    So, we’ll just have to figure out what the trade space is going to be.  I’m not ready to talk about it today, again because it’s under discussion and development in the government at the present time.  I’ll also just stress, though, a point that I touched on earlier, and that is that we have an intrusive verification regime in the New START treaty but the inspection and verification regime for the next treaty is going to have to be even more intrusive, and we have got a lot of work to do.  

    Many of you are aware that in the late 1990s we proposed a warhead protocol to the Russian Federation at that time.  That was for a possible START III negotiation.  And, you know, there were some efforts at that time to really understand what it would take to verify warheads in more precise ways – warheads in storage facilities, nonstrategic nuclear warheads.

    And I can say that there’s a lot of good work that’s been done but there’s more good work that has to be done, and I see some homework having to go forward, including homework in cooperation with the Russian Federation.

    Yes?  Oops.

    Q:  Thank you.  Jay Marx with the Proposition One Committee.  So, clearly any more expansive disarmament prospects are on hold pending ratification of New START, a bilateral treaty, but hopefully assuming that ratification, what would next steps be toward any more multilateral disarmament negotiations?

    And, on a related point, it was suggested in the earlier presentation that a fissile materials cutoff treaty, being by nature multilateral, might be a step towards multi-party negotiations.  Can you tell us anything about initiatives or developments towards an FMCT?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  I basically would like to begin by posing a question about your going-in assumption; that is, that multilateral measures have to be on hold pending ratification entry into force of the New START treaty.  

    I think that you need only look to the NPT review conference in May, and first of all the fact that we came out with a consensus conclusion, which was extraordinarily important, given the fact that the previous review conference did not reach a consensus.  And the second point; the consensus was built around a significant action plan, and that significant action plan touched on any number of multilateral activities, some of them in the realm of the P-5; that is, the nuclear weapons states under the Nonproliferation Treaty.

    And I wanted to draw your attention to a very interesting initiative that’s going on.  That is, in September France announced that we would be holding a P-5 conference on verification and transparency in the first half of 2011, in the spring of 2011.  And this is a continuation of an effort that was begun with a conference in London in September of 2009.

    So, it’s bringing the P-5 to the table and beginning to talk about some of the very important requirements there would be for verification and transparency as we move forward in the disarmament realm.  So I do think that – again, I’d just raise the question about your going-in assumption.

    I think that there are several directions where there will be initiatives going on.  We continue to stress – and we stressed very hard at the first committee meeting in New York over the month of October, that we must start the FMCT negotiations on the basis of the consensus decision that was reached at the CD in April of 2009.  Basically we have a sound foundation upon which to launch those negotiations.  We need to get on with it.  And U.S. patience in this regard I have to say is drawing a bit thin.

    So, we are talking to our partners and colleagues and discussing ways to develop at least some bilateral consultations and discussions on the FMCT and on its particular technical requirements.  We’re keen to get moving on it.  So, again, just to give you a sense that I don’t think we’re going to be standing still by any means with regard to multilateral efforts.

    But frankly, one thing I’ve noticed very, very clearly since we signed the treaty – we completed the negotiations, signed the treaty and moved forward starting with our so-called nuclear April last spring when we had the NPR come out, the Nuclear Posture Review, signature of the treaty. We had the Nuclear Security Summit at the end of the month.

    That gave us a tremendous boost going into the NPT Review Conference, the authority and the force of, you know, the U.S. presence at the NPT Review Conference, working very closely in partnership with Russia and the other P-5 countries.  It really gave a tremendous boost to our Nonproliferation Treaty efforts.  

    So, for those who say, oh, there’s no link, I can give you empirical evidence that in fact one of the reasons we were so successful in New York in May I think was because of the very strong actions that we were able to successfully bring to a close in April.

    There was one more question over here?  Yes, please.  Last question.

    Q:  Hi.  I’m Allan Krass, retired recently from the State Department Non-Proliferation Bureau.  A long time ago I studied verification and I ran across something called a Weisner curve, which you’ve probably heard of, that basically says that in inverse proportion, as the number of nuclear weapons on both sides – on all sides, if we talk about multilateral – goes down, the degree and intrusiveness of verification must go up –

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Yes.

    Q:  – essentially in inverse proportion.  And that’s always troubled me.  What I hear in what you’ve been saying is that, in a sense, we are still locked into that – for example, we’ve gone now historically from speaking in orders of magnitude from 10,000 to 1,000.  The degree and intensity of verification has gone up quite dramatically from SALT to START.

    You’re saying that if we go now to stockpiled warheads, to tactical nuclear weapons, it’s going to have to become even more intrusive.  It sounds like we’re continuing to follow that curve.  But if you follow the logic of the Weisner curve all the way down to another order of magnitude – say, down to a hundred, and then beyond that down to 10 because, you know, most of the people in this room are thinking of arms control as a progression toward zero – the degree and extent of verification and monitoring becomes almost astronomically high to become convincing and credible to people who worry about cheating by one or two or 10 or 15 nuclear weapons.

    Do you see, and does the U.S. side see, as they negotiate each new step in this process, as way around that paradox, a way around that dilemma, or are we just going to have to deal with it when it comes or if it comes?

    MS. GOTTEMOELLER:  Well, you know, the President, in stating his commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons, said that it is going to be a long process.  He has said clearly, maybe not in my lifetime.  In fact he’s said, not in my lifetime, and President Obama is a fairly young man.  So we all recognize that this is a step-by-step approach, that it will take time to work through these various steps.  

    And, furthermore, we all recognize that there are very important regional security issues that will have to be addressed before we can move down that curve to the very bottom, down to zero.  There are many issues that have to be addressed.  It’s not only a question of verification; it’s a question of the, you know, level of cooperation and the solution of significant problems that will go on, on a regional basis so that we can get there eventually.

    And so, I’d really just like to emphasize that we have to consider this a step-by-step process and we have to start somewhere.  I am both satisfied and very pleased and excited that the intrusive verification regime in the New START treaty takes us a further step from where we were in START, and I think it really does help us to begin to understand the challenges of going after nondeployed warheads and nonstrategic or tactical nuclear warheads, and what will be required in that regard.

    So, I think let’s just take it step by step, but I do grant the premise of your comments and I think we all understand that as numbers go lower, we have to have more confidence – more confidence in the verification of the measures for constraining those stockpiles.  So, it’s a very important question and one that we take very seriously.

    So, thank you all very, very much.  It’s great to see you all.  And good luck with the rest of your meeting today.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

    MR. KIMBALL:  Thank you very much, Rose, for that.  We are going to move straight into our next panel on issues relating to missile defense, so if you do need to take a personal break, please do so quietly.  Cut back in as quickly as you can.  And to take over at this point, Tom Collina, our research director.

    (END)

    Description: 

    Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller's keynote address at "Next Steps in Arms Control," a conference hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Arms Control Association.

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