Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005

Next Steps in U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Reductions: The START Follow-On Negotiations and Beyond


Arms Control Association Press Briefing

WHEN: Monday, April 27, 2009, 10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.

WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
(Carnegie Endowment for Intl. Peace Building)

Click here for the transcript.

This month U.S. and Russian negotiators are expected to begin talks on a new legally-binding nuclear arms reduction treaty to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is scheduled to expire on December 5. The new agreement would reduce each side's deployed strategic nuclear arsenal and include verification mechanisms drawn from START. On April 1, Presidents Obama and Medvedev announced their intention to conclude the new treaty by the end of the year.

The Arms Control Association (ACA) will host a briefing featuring leading experts in the field. They will outline the current size and composition of the U.S. and Russian arsenals, key issues that will need to be resolved to conclude a follow-on to START, how the two sides can bridge differences, as well as the possibilities for even deeper nuclear reductions in the future.

The panelists are:

Hans M. Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Kristensen is the co-author of the Nuclear Notebook column, a leading independent assessment of global nuclear weapons stockpiles. He previously worked as a consultant to the Nuclear Program at the National Resources Defense Council, and served as a senior researcher at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.

Ambassador Linton Brooks served as Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program, from July 2002 to January 2007. He was previously the chief U.S. negotiator on START, Assistant Director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and Director of Defense Programs and Arms Control at the National Security Council.

Greg Thielmann is a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. Prior to joining ACA, Thielmann served as a senior professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). He was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 25 years before joining the SSCI, last serving as Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Daryl G. Kimball is the executive director of the Arms Control Association and publisher of the journal, Arms Control Today.


Panelists - Hans Kristensen, Ambassador Linton Brooks, Greg Thielmann, and Daryl G. Kimball

Country Resources:

The NSG and Sensitive Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technologies in the Aftermath of the U.S.-Indian Nuclear Cooperation Deal



Oct. 21, 2008

Remarks for M.I.T. Workshop on Internationalizing Uranium Enrichment Facilities by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director.  Click here to download.


Remarks for M.I.T. Workshop on Internationalizing Uranium Enrichment Facilities by Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director (Continue)

Country Resources:

Averting a Nuclear Nonproliferation Disaster: Where States Should Draw the Line in the U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal Endgame







Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

Edited by the Arms Control Association

DARYL KIMBALL: All right. If everybody could take their seats, turn off their cell phones and other electronic devices. Good afternoon. My name is Daryl Kimball. I’m the executive director of the Arms Control Association and I want to welcome you to our briefing this afternoon about the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) discussion and debate regarding the proposal to exempt India from long-standing NSG guidelines that restrict nuclear trade with states that don’t agree to full-scope IAEA safeguards. This has blocked nuclear cooperation with India since its 1974 nuclear test explosion. [Editor’s note: The NSG did not adopt the full-scope safeguards requirement until 1992, although it had been previously instituted in 1978 in U.S. law.]

We, the Arms Control Association and my two colleagues here, are part of a loose, but diverse coalition around the world here in the United States and in over 24 countries that have been working for months now to try to adjust the terms of the proposed arrangement to exempt India from these international nuclear trade guidelines and, as we see it, to minimize the adverse impacts of this arrangement on the global nuclear nonproliferation system.

Now, in a mere two-and-a-half days, the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group will reconvene to consider a revised draft proposal from the United States to the NSG. This is a revised proposal because, on August 21 and 22, the group met to consider the Bush administration’s earlier proposal, which I think can be characterized as a clean and unconditional exemption for India. That proposal was rejected by NSG member states.  Approximately 20 countries put forward some 50 [amendments] and suggestions regarding that proposal. Those suggestions and proposals numbered some 50 in number. So in the last few days, India and the United States have been negotiating a revision to that proposal that was transmitted to NSG member states some time this past weekend. As I understand it, countries are evaluating that new proposal.

But it is unlikely, in my view, that this new, revised version is going to be accepted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group at their meeting on the 4th and the 5th. I’ll be talking about that later in my presentation, which will come up last. Now, why is there an impasse?

Well, there are a number of states, not just the six, so-called likeminded states that have put forward proposed restrictions and conditions, but several other states that are concerned about giving India a clean and unconditional exemption from NSG guidelines. In our view, our basic message today is that it’s extraordinarily important for these states to stand their ground to protect the tattered nuclear nonproliferation system.

What we’re going to be doing today is to highlight what we see as the key problems with the overall arrangement. We’re going to be identifying steps, many of which have been put forward by these likeminded states and their allies, that could restrict and condition future nuclear trade with India to minimize the impact on the nonproliferation system. Then, we’re also going to be providing a summary analysis of responses that have come from the State Department to a set of questions that the House Committee on Foreign Affairs asked in October of 2007, which are just being released this afternoon by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. These questions relate to the U.S.-Indian 123 Agreement, the agreement for nuclear cooperation between the United States and India.

Sharon Squassoni, who is a senior analyst here at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Congressional Research Service analyst, is going to be describing her perspective on the State Department’s responses to the Congress’ questions. Henry Sokolski, who is the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, is going to review what is at stake and what might happen if the NSG grants India a so-called clean and unconditional waiver. I should also add that Henry is a member of the Congressional Commission on Preventing WMD Proliferation and Terrorism. So I’m going to conclude after they speak to review the status of the NSG debate and the rationale behind the proposed conditions and restrictions that a number of responsible NSG members are putting forward.

So, to begin, Henry, if you could come up here to the podium so the camera can catch your visage, Henry is going to talk about why this deal is not a good idea.

HENRY SOKOLSKI: Well, it might be a good idea, but there’s a lot at stake. I think what I would like to focus on is what’s at stake.

You know, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown was once told that there was a problem with a sale that he was thinking of making on nonproliferation grounds and that, in fact, there needed to be much more staff work done on the nonproliferation issues. He said, staff work? Well, actually, you only need two people to do all of the work related to nonproliferation: one to count the number of countries and another person to wring their hands.

Now, I think that comment is a little inaccurate now because we have countless hundreds if not thousands of people in our government and in other governments counting the numbers and wringing their hands. So the numbers are bigger. But it does highlight why it would be useful to recap why anyone should care about this deal. I think it’s somehow taken for granted that either you don’t care or you do care; you don’t have to explain yourself.

First, roughly, is it September 4th and 5th that this meeting [will occur]? Remember those dates. They have the potential to be the 9/11 of nonproliferation, if you will. Georgia now has a date where we rediscovered history; 9/11 is very important for the war on terrorism.  September 4th and 5th, potentially, could be a turning point dealing with nonproliferation, and I mean a negative one.

A friend of mine describes this problem with the India deal as roughly [the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] NPT RIP. There certainly are people in India that like to see this deal as just that. They talk about promoting the nonproliferation norms and the mainstream. They do not like the NPT though and they’d rather see that pushed aside. Now, it’s hard to see how going ahead with this deal, unless it’s conditioned more appropriately than it has been, how it can be anything but an engine of destruction of the nuclear rules that are based on the NPT. After all, what it is that the Nuclear Suppliers Group is being asked to do is to supply nuclear fuel and fuel-making to a state that did not have a nuclear weapon in 1967 and therefore is not recognized by the United States, formally, to be a weapons state.

Now, that sounds like a lot of technicalities, but what it means is this; that group was established after the first Indian test in 1974 to make sure that they didn’t get nuclear fuel-making technology. They’re now being asked to approve a deal that roughly would authorize just such transfers, if not from the U.S., and we’ll get into that in a moment, certainly for other countries like Russia and France. Certainly this is how India sees it. If you take a look at the deal, you take a look at the exemption that they’re seeking, it’s hard to see how that wouldn’t in fact be the case.

Essentially, the suppliers that are supposed to show restraint to prevent non-weapons states from getting the means to make weapons are being asked to send fuel, roughly uranium, lightly enriched or otherwise, which India critically needs because, while it has plenty of uranium in the ground, it’s lousy ore; it’s very poor-quality ore. It’s in the ground. They can only produce a certain number of hundreds of tons and it’s less than what they need and want to run all of the reactors they want to run for power and all of the reactors they want to run to make bombs.

This deal is the fix. It supplies everything they need for their power reactors. It therefore leaves all of the other fuel that’s indigenous available to make bombs. Now, roughly then, if you say the NSG should go ahead and supply this reprocessing and enrichment technology needed to make bomb-usable material, you have roughly the mother of all rule-breakers. You eliminate, essentially, the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Now, why should we care about any of this? You can say, well, so what? Pakistan has been pretty vocal. It claims that this deal will lead to an arms race. They’ve already increased their reprocessing and enrichment and their plans to deploy power reactors. They want China to supply a 20-fold increase in power capacity in their country by 2030. India, meanwhile, has people who are experts in weapons and enthusiasts for weapons saying, well, maybe they need 400 weapons. I’m not saying they’re going to get it, but there are people who are fairly serious who think that’s the number they need. They have less than 100 now.

And then, what is China to make of all of this? One of the free [book] giveaways at the desk [outside the conference room], has a chapter in it describing how Pakistan and India might compete after the deal. It is very detailed. I recommend it. It’s depressing. It’s not something we should be encouraging.

Now, why? Well, as these three countries amble up or, god forbid, race up, what are we trying to do? Climb down. You can go to many of Daryl’s events and they talk about climbing down. Well, if you climb down to let’s say 1,000 weapons in the U.S. stockpile, which is one of the favorite numbers I hear, you’re going to be very close to where people are racing up. That is not a comfortable world to live in. You want everyone to come down, not just us or the Russians or the French and the British. By the way, who knows what the Russians will do now?

So that crowded space also becomes a space in which having civil programs and particularly in places like India, China, and Pakistan start to take on military significance in a way that we have never thought about before. That also isn’t great because there are a lot of people in this city and in Paris and in Moscow that think promoting “Atoms for Peace” and civil and nuclear energy is a great idea. It’s an intensely more complex, competitive, and unstable world without at least some of these fig leaves being preserved.

Finally, I think U.S. credibility is at stake here with this deal. You’re going to hear more from Sharon about these questions for the record, but, roughly, what Daryl and others—I think I signed onto one of the letters—said is, the executive branch, the State Department and the White House, is telling Congress what it wants to hear, that we would never sell them, the Indians, the means to make nuclear fuel because that could help their weapons program. Of course we would suspend assistance if they tested nuclear weapons. By the way, that’s exactly what these questions for the record indicate that we told Congress.

But we tried to keep it quiet, keep it from the public, because we didn’t want the Indians to see this. More important, I think we didn’t want the members of the NSG to know about this because they’d say, well, if America doesn’t want to do these things, maybe we should even insist on it not happening. We’re kind of hoping the release of these questions for the record will prompt that result.

In fact, finally, you’ll see a letter; it’s very obscure: Harmon, Wilmot, and Brown. It’s out there on the table. The idea that we’ve been pushing that this deal is about reactor sales, at least from the U.S., is nonsense. This letter clarifies why it is: liability insurance. The Indians don’t have it. I’m not sure I blame them for not having it after the terrible experience of Bhopal. But because of that, the law firm that represents the U.S. nuclear industries says we can’t do business with India until that changes. It’s not about the change.

So the United States is saying lots of things to different audiences. It needs to get its story together. Daryl will conclude with what we need to do to condition the deal with regard to testing and what sanction or what restraint should be placed on supply after that and about nuclear fuel-making. There are many variants. I mean, I’m sure Daryl has once said, the key thing is to do something in these areas. I think, with that, I’ll hand it over to Sharon.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Henry. Sharon Squassoni.

SHARON SQUASSONI: Thank you, all. Daryl’s asked me to talk a little bit about the answers to the questions for the record that are being released even as we speak from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Chairman Lantos, last year, submitted 45 questions in October of 2007 [to the State Department]. However, the State Department reportedly requested that the answers be held in confidence and I’m not sure whether they gave a reason for why that was. But I think when you take a look at some of the answers to these questions for the record, you’ll see that the likely reason is that some of the answers are very clear-cut in terms of U.S. responses to certain Indian actions. The [State Department’s] response came in February 2008. So it took them several months for them to put this together.

I think that part of the negotiation all along has been this dance of different perspectives or different interpretations. We saw that in the negotiation of the Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement [the 123 agreement]. We’ve even seen that a little bit in the negotiation of India’s safeguards agreement.

One thing that I would say as a former diplomat that you need to do is make sure that everyone’s expectations are the same going in. I think that these answers to the questions for the record will help that. Many of the questions are very technical in nature. I’m going to highlight just a few of what I thought were some of the interesting answers. The good news is that the administration’s interpretation of what we call the 123 agreement, the Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, does reflect the requirement in U.S. law under the Atomic Energy Act to cut off supplies if India tests.

The agreement itself doesn’t say that very specifically. But in these answers to the questions for the record, the administration says unequivocally, yes, you know, we will cut off [supplies]. The bad news is that it’s doubtful that the Indian government agrees with that interpretation, and I’ll provide a few details there.

The implication of this is that it’s very important that the Nuclear Suppliers Group write this restriction—by restriction, I mean, if India tests again, nuclear supply should be cut off—into any decision that it takes in the coming weeks or months if the U.S. expects other nations to follow suit. The U.S. is bound by law to stop supply. There is a presidential wavier, but my guess is that’d be tough to implement. If the U.S. wants other nations to follow suit, it’s got to do this through the NSG.

Okay, so I’m just going to touch on a few issues. One is full cooperation. Indian officials have stated time and time again that full nuclear cooperation means cooperation in enrichment and reprocessing. This is uranium enrichment to make fuel for reactors. It can also be used to make bomb-grade material and reprocessing of spent fuel, which can also be used to recycle fuel and make more fuel or for plutonium bombs.

The U.S. answers in this area, and I quote, “As a matter of policy, the U.S. does not transfer dual-use items for use in sensitive nuclear facilities. The U.S. will not assist India in the design, construction, or operation of sensitive nuclear technology through the transfer of dual-use items, and the administration does not plan to negotiate an amendment to the proposed agreement.” An amendment would be required if we were actually to engage in this cooperation. So at least in three different areas, the U.S. said, we’re not going to do this. That may be news to the Indians.

On termination for nuclear testing, Indian officials have stressed that the U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement does not, and I quote Prime Minister Singh from last year, “does not in any way affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear tests, if that’s necessary.” The foreign minister also told the parliament last year, there’s nothing in the bilateral agreement that would tie the hands of the future government or legally constrain its options.

In these answers to the questions for the record, the U.S. government stated quite clearly, we have a clear right for the U.S. to terminate nuclear cooperation and a right to require the return of our stuff—it didn’t say that [exactly] but I’m shortening it for you—in all circumstances required under the Atomic Energy Act, including if India detonates a nuclear explosive device. It talks about ceasing cooperation immediately and it also mentions that, in addition to ceasing cooperation immediately, it would also affect the supply of fuel and the right of return.

A related issue is fuel-supply assurances. Both in the nuclear cooperation agreement and in India’s safeguards agreement, there are several places, I guess in the preamble, where it mentions that India wants assured fuel supply, including what they call a strategic reserve of fuel for the lifetime of their reactors. Indian officials have stated, in many ways, their interpretation is that if that fuel supply is cut off, they have the right to take corrective measures. These corrective measures have never been defined and it’s funny, in the answers to the questions for the record, because these were done last year, the U.S. says, well, once these corrective measures, once that’s clarified, you know, we’ll be able to comment on this. Well, a year later, it’s still not clarified.

But the U.S. responses clearly indicate that the fuel assurances that the U.S. is undertaking are not legally binding and they are not meant to insulate India against the consequences of a nuclear test. So, number one, the U.S. says, well, these are important presidential commitments that we intend to uphold. Number two, the agreement itself doesn’t compel any specific cooperation. In other words, we wouldn’t have to make these fuel assurances or assured fuel supply.

Third, and probably the most important thing here, the question was asked to [the State Department], well, what is disruption of fuel supplies? The answer was, well, by that, we mean a trade war resulting in the cut off of supply, market disruptions, or potentially a failure of an American company to fulfill its contracts, not a nuclear test. In other words, the fuel supply is only good for those other kinds of disturbances in supply. If India tested, fuel supply would be cut off.

There are several other items, but I’m going to leave them for the Q’s and A’s once you have a chance to look at the actual questions. But I think the bottom line here is that there still exists a gap in the expectations or the interpretations of this deal, both from the Indian side and the U.S. side. One of the useful activities that the NSG can take up is to clarify what the Indians really do expect and nail down some of these things so that nuclear cooperation, if it does happen, can go forward in a stable and reasonable way.  Thank you.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Sharon. We’ll be able to go back through some of those issues in the Q’s and A’s. I know that’s pretty complicated, but I think Sharon did a good job of summarizing. For those reporters out there, we can make some copies of these responses to the questions available to you.

Let me describe a little bit of our understanding, our analysis, of what is likely to happen later this week at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting and outline what we hope and think several responsible Nuclear Supplier Group countries are going to do. As I mentioned in the opening, on the 4th and the 5th, the Nuclear Suppliers Group is going to reconvene in Vienna, Austria, at the Japanese mission where they traditionally meet. They are going to be asked to approve a revised proposal from the United States that was negotiated last week with India.

According to my sources and a few press reports that are out there, it remains essentially unchanged from the clean and unconditional version that was presented and discussed at the August 21 and 22 meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. It appears as though the Indian government and the United States government are hoping what will happen is that the Nuclear Suppliers Group countries will be satisfied with cosmetic changes and a statement from the chair that would substitute for a rational policy from the Nuclear Suppliers Group on future possible trade with India.

In addition, there seem to be two cosmetic adjustments that have been put into this revised proposal which, by the way, I have not seen, nor am I aware of anyone outside of the NSG government’s seeing this revised proposal. The first is a paragraph that states to the effect that all governments participating in the NSG shall inform one another on what kind of bilateral nuclear cooperation they are pursuing with India after the exemption is granted.

The United States, for instance, has made its nuclear cooperation agreement public. That came out in August 2007. Those are the issues that Sharon was just discussing. We’ve not seen any details about proposed Russian-Indian nuclear cooperation or French-Indian nuclear cooperation. So to some extent, this would be mildly useful, especially ahead of an NSG decision. But it does nothing to hold India accountable to any nonproliferation or disarmament commitments that it’s making.

The second cosmetic adjustment that I understand is in the revised proposal is a paragraph that states that governments participating at the NSG can call for an extraordinary consultation within the NSG on India “should circumstances require it.” Now, this is being characterized by the proponents of the revised proposal as a response to the call from several NSG states for a regular review mechanism of India’s nonproliferation record to assess to what extent it is meeting its safeguards requirements and other commitments that it has made.

However, this doesn’t do anything more than what’s already in the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. There’s something called Paragraph 16 in the NSG guidelines that already allows for a special meeting of NSG states in the event that extraordinary events warrant. So this is not a concession of any kind; this is simply a restatement of something that’s already in the NSG guidelines.

In my view, given that the government of India has shown so little flexibility and given that the revised proposal was distributed only a couple of days before this next NSG meeting, it is highly unlikely that the NSG will reach a decision at this week’s meeting.

Now, let me just explain a little bit my understanding of the perspective of the several NSG states that have raised objections and put forward counterproposals on this exemption. Many states acknowledge India’s legitimate interest in diversifying its energy options, but several likeminded states, which is what they call themselves, including Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, as well as countries including Japan and possibly others—or I know others; I’m just not sure who—correctly recognize that the Bush approach is deeply flawed and, as Henry said earlier, would effectively end the NSG as a meaningful entity.

What’s behind their rationale? I think many of them understand correctly that any India-specific exemption from NSG guidelines would erode the credibility of NSG efforts to ensure that access to peaceful nuclear trade and technology is available only to those states that meet global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament standards. So let’s look at India. Contrary to what I think can only be called the Orwellian claims of proponents, this deal would not bring India into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream. A couple points: unlike 179 other countries, including the United States, who have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, India refuses to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or enter into any other parallel, legally binding test moratorium.

India also continues to produce fissile material, unlike at least four of the five original nuclear weapons states, and probably also China. India continues to expand its nuclear arsenal. As Henry said, India continues to go up while most other nuclear-weapon states are going down or are maintaining their current status.

In order to maintain its option to resume nuclear testing, as Sharon was describing, India is seeking bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements to help provide it with strategic fuel reserves and lifetime fuel guarantees. Now, this is not only a problem as far as the NSG is concerned. But I should point out, it flatly contradicts a provision in the Henry Hyde Act, the U.S. legislation of 2006 that regulates U.S. trade with India, that was included in that bill by none other than Senator Barack Obama. That provision stipulates that U.S fuel supplies to India should be limited to “reasonable reactor operating requirements.” The idea there is not to provide India with a multi-year fuel supply that could be used to overcome a cutoff in nuclear trade that might result from renewed nuclear testing.

In our view, the current proposal is still unsound.  It’s still irresponsible and should be rejected. To summarize what some of the things are that could be done to minimize the adverse implications and that are being apparently advanced by several of these likeminded and other countries, the NSG states should, at a minimum, establish a policy that if India resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguards agreements, trade involving nuclear items with India shall be terminated and unused fuel supplies returned.

Another one should expressly prohibit any transfer of reprocessing, enrichment, or heavy-water-related items or technology, which can be used to make bomb material. Third, regularly review India’s compliance with its nonproliferation obligations and commitments. Call on India to join with four of the five original nuclear-weapon states in declaring that it has stopped fissile material production and to call on India to transform its test moratorium pledge into a legally binding commitment.

These are the very conditions and restrictions that are in one form or another embedded in the Henry Hyde Act. From our perspective, if U.S. nuclear trade is going to be limited by these kinds of conditions and restrictions, it only makes common sense for the Nuclear Suppliers Group to adopt the same or very similar conditions and restrictions so that U.S. nonproliferation policies are not undercut by the Russians or the French or Malta or Japan or whomever. In addition, if the U.S. nuclear trading rules are significantly different from that of AREVA or some nuclear vendor in Russia, U.S. companies are going to be at a distinct disadvantage in addition to the fact that, as Henry pointed out, India has not yet agreed to this international nuclear liability convention.

Now, some Indian officials have said that they may walk away from the deal if the NSG establishes even these most basic requirements. From my perspective, if that’s what they want to do, so be it. This would still be a very generous proposal, given India’s nuclear history and its current policies.

We are urging and calling upon those NSG countries that I mentioned and others to stand their ground and to make sure that the NSG does not capitulate at this very sensitive time in the struggle against the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ll take your questions on any of these subjects that we’ve just discussed. If you’d just wait for the microphone to come to you and announce your name before you ask your question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Paul Eckert of Reuters News Agency. Primarily to Sharon Squassoni, not having seen the State Department responses yet, but in and of themselves, do these State Department answers pass muster with you in the sense that they clear up concerns you have about how the agreement was going to be implemented? You seemed to say at the outset that they were very frank in the sense that they were held back to avoid offense to India during their delicate negotiations there. But how about from the point of view of disarmament experts? Are they complete and compliant with U.S. law?  Thanks.

SQUASSONI: Great question. In some areas, yes; in some areas, no. I think that this issue of corrective measures, which they could not resolve a year ago is still unresolved. And the IAEA safeguards agreement that India just negotiated doesn’t clarify matters at all.  In general, however, though, I mean, the U.S. administration, has to follow the U.S. law. So it’s very important. I think it’s very good that they put these answers down on paper to clarify. I think it’s likely that the Indians will not be very happy with such frank answers.

There are a few areas, one on a strategic reserve of supply, that I think they kind of were a little circuitous in their answer. Basically, they said, well, I guess the Hyde act language was “reasonable operating requirements.” Their response was, well, nobody discussed what “reasonable operating requirements” were and, you know, this might change. And, you know, a strategic reserve will depend on all kinds of commercial issues and, for example, how much storage capacity does India have to put this fuel. You need a lot of storage capacity. So it’s a mixed bag, I think. But at least on the testing issue, I find myself satisfied.

KIMBALL: Yeah, I think Henry has a response. Let me just also remind everybody that these questions were sent, as I understand it, to the State Department in October 2007. That was three months after the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement was concluded in [late July]. They were delivered in February so I think there are going to be many more questions that Congress is going to ask. These were questions that were written basically a year ago. I think it’s not unexpected that they don’t, as Sharon said, fully answer all the questions that are still out there. Henry?

SOKOLSKI: I have a slightly different take. I did have a chance to look at these things over the weekend as well. I think the operative phrase that rings loudest in what Sharon shared with us is, “as a matter of policy.” [I’ve] spent a fair amount of time with the history of the previous deals that we’ve cut, which were very instructive. And Robert Zarate has worked with me and is taking a lead in writing a history of some of the Wohlstetter’s work. One of them is called “Buddha Smiles.” I recommend it. It’s on our website. It is a history of the prevarications, vagueness, and confusion associated with the first set of nuclear deals. It’s not a pretty picture. Some of the arguments will rhyme with the kinds of debates we’re having now. So from an experience standpoint from history, I think we need to be worried about what any administration thinks, since it goes away and there are other administrations after it.

Second of all, as someone who has worked in the government, I have to tell you, I don’t think that any of the answers suggest they would like to be held to what they are saying in print. In other words, they don’t want a law that tells them that they have to see things a certain way. It’s the reason they’re fighting these rules in the NSG. That suggests that things could be subject to change.

I leave you only with this other additional thought: there is no way that this deal could be approved by Congress in its current form without violating the Hyde Act. Once you violate a law, you’re on your way to interpreting and reinterpreting all sorts of things willy-nilly. It’s the desire for Congress to uphold the law that it passed that animates a good deal of the effort on this panel and many other people. I’m pretty sure that Mr. Berman sent his note to Secretary Rice precisely because he took his pledge to uphold the laws of the land and the Constitution seriously. But you cannot go ahead with this deal unless it is conditioned more without it violating the Hyde Act. So I wouldn’t take the say-so of these Q’s and A’s even when they’re good until you have something in print that is binding.

KIMBALL: All right, any other questions? Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Thank you. Mike Miyazawa. What is the real objective of the administration? Is it nuclear business or to bring India into the U.S camp as a counterweight against China? What is the single biggest, most important objective of the administration?

KIMBALL: That’s a very good question. I’ve been asked that question for about three years. I still don’t really know the full answer. There are a lot of, I think, theories about why. I think there are different reasons, depending on which part of the administration you’re talking about. I mean, Sharon and Henry could talk about this as knowledgeably as I can. I think there are multiple things going on here. One is simply that the Bush administration is looking for a foreign policy “victory.” Another is that the Bush administration wants to establish stronger strategic ties with India. But the U.S. already has very good strategic ties with India, even without this deal. Maybe they would be even better without the deal.

There is also a strong interest in increasing U.S. defense sales to India. One of the unspoken reasons is that it might help counter Chinese influence in Asia. But personally, I think that that is an extremely flawed theory, given that India is a very independent country that is not going to compromise its foreign policy in order to help Washington on some particular issue vis-à-vis China.

Those are all some of the reasons that have been put forward. Some of the other reasons, such as hoping to reduce the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, I think, have been wildly inflated given that India’s nuclear industry has barely performed in the last four decades. I don’t think it’s going to meet its projections to build all the reactors it is projecting. India’s carbon emissions could be reduced much more significantly through other means other than building a large number of nuclear reactors.

But that’s just a quick review. Do you all have anything else? Henry?

SOKOLSKI: The answer is they asked for it. Clearly, the answer is the Indians asked for it. They like reactors and they like rockets. They like reactors and rockets. I used to work for an assistant secretary that had to travel to India occasionally. He said, whenever I get on these topics with Indians, I try to change the subject to computers or something else because it’s neuralgic. I mean, they just simply love talking about getting more of these things.

We actually bargained to try to get the Indians to send troops to Iraq and then reconstruction funds. They said reactors, rockets. They didn’t send anyone to Iraq and they didn’t give any money for reconstruction. But they kept asking for reactors and rockets. It was thought that if we gave them reactors and rockets, somehow things would improve and that indeed there would be a strategic partnership that would be built on—if not American sales of these things, at least Russian and French sales. And that would be good enough to promote better commercial, military ties with India and the U.S.

I think it was a mistake. The reason it’s a mistake is I remember when they did this, the administration really did not want to hear what the staff had to say. The people, you know, at the director level who actually knew something about nuclear and space cooperation. They would have said, hey, don’t go in here. The reason why is there is so much history of misunderstanding that relations have gotten worse when you focus on these topics. Roughly, I think that’s where we’re headed here.

Make no mistake, there are better ways to cooperate. I would suggest without getting into anything at length, the place I would start is perhaps an ironic place. If you go to the law that the United States passed in reaction literally to the first Indian test, it’s called the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978. There is a Title V in there. It says we should promote and work with other countries to develop non-fossil fuel, non-nuclear fueled energy sources. It has never been enforced, not by Democrats, not by Republicans; even though I think there are quite a number of programs that we have with other countries in these areas.

It might be time to start thinking about implementing that law, because I can assure you there are many, many more cost-beneficial ways of promoting energy development than nuclear power in India. That’s for sure.

SQUASSONI: I would just add one brief point that there are two questions in these answers that relate to what are the economic benefits that the U.S. expects to get from this deal. The answer is very little. Both because of the issue of liability and, when asked, India has made no commitment to buy reactors from the U.S. They are very interested in uranium to fuel their heavy water reactors. They’re interested in French and Russian reactors.

I know your question wasn’t, you know, was it U.S. nuclear business? I’m sure the global nuclear industry is looking at India and China and salivating for all the reactors they might be able to sell, but not for the U.S. As a matter of fact, in India, at one point, this agreement was called the 126 agreement not the 123 agreement. That was for the 126 fighter aircraft that India would at some point purchase from some lucky defense contractor.

KIMBALL: Any other questions? Yes, we’ve got a couple here. Why don’t we go to the person in the middle?

QUESTION: Thank you. Joanne Thornton with the Stanford Group Company. And I wondered what happens on Capitol Hill in the unlikely event that the Nuclear Suppliers Group can come to a consensus this week. I’ve seen so many different renditions of how many legislative days are required for the package to lay over before the Congress. Can you clarify that? Thanks.

KIMBALL: Yeah, before Sharon clarifies that, let me just also just put one other important piece of information on the table, which is that we mentioned Howard Berman, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote an Aug. 5 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about his interest in seeing the Hyde act restrictions and conditions written into the NSG guidelines. He also said that even if the NSG makes its waiver and the U.S.-Indian 123 agreement is sent to Congress, immediately after we reconvene on September 8th, it is not likely that Congress will have sufficient time to fully consider all the issues and details surrounding the agreement.

He goes on to say that any effort to consider the agreement outside the requirements of current law—as Henry said the current proposal at the NSG is not consistent with the requirements of U.S. law in that it does not contain the same restrictions and conditions—will be “impossible” if the administration’s NSG exemption fails to include the Hyde act conditions. So we have at least one key member of the Congress saying that. It will be impossible. You can interpret what that means if the NSG decision does not meet or is not parallel with the Hyde act.

In addition to that, the clock is ticking. And for that, Sharon?

SQUASSONI: The clock is ticking. The most optimistic counting of the days if this agreement were to be presented to Congress on Monday the 8th, that would only give 19 days until September 26th. It’s not out of the question that we’ll have a lame-duck session, probably unlikely; 19 days is not enough time because the agreement must, by law—no way around it unless they pass another law—must sit before the committees for 30 days, no less than 30 days. So what happens then is if there aren’t 30 days in the session, next year, we have a new Congress. The agreement has to be resubmitted.

But that assumes that all the ducks are in a row. Quite frankly, they’re not, because there are, I think, seven requirements that the Hyde act says the whole package has to meet. One of them is that India has made substantial progress toward negotiating an additional protocol with the IAEA. Now, this is a safeguard agreement strengthening—the U.S. has one, although I don’t think it’s in force yet—additional [IAEA] access and information; all the things that the IAEA inspectors now get in this new agreement. [Indian and IAEA negotiators] met maybe once. They’re not going to make that by next Monday. I don’t even think that particular one can be finessed. Some of the other requirements can be finessed a little bit.

Really, this is not going to be taken up by this Congress. It will have to wait until the next Congress.

SOKOLSKI: Looking forward, a lot of people in the United States like to think about, well, what happens if Mr. Obama becomes president or Mr. McCain becomes president?  We can talk about that. What Americans don’t like to think about is what happens in India? They’re going to get a new government.

Now, the people that are opposing the current government say they want to renegotiate the agreement. I have to tell you, my hunch is it isn’t to include all these conditions. I think this thing is very much in play. It suggests to me that when the Indians say, well, we can’t possibly do this and we can’t possibly do that, it kind of suggests either they’re not that interested in getting this deal or they’re still bargaining. If there are any Indians that are out there that are in favor of this deal, I would urge them to actually think long and hard about maybe agreeing to some conditions because these are not that onerous. They really aren’t. If they don’t, well, the new administration they have to worry about probably isn’t Obama or McCain, it’s a non-Congress-led government in India. My hunch is that that’s the reason why these dates, 4th and 5th of September, are going to be remembered at least by people who write histories of nonproliferation.

KIMBALL: I agree with Henry. One other point that I think is important to emphasize that I’ve been talking about for several days is that the conditions and restrictions that the like-minded responsible NSG countries are talking about, I don’t think they can be addressed through creative language, through wordsmithing. These have to be clear, meaningful guidelines in the NSG policies that apply to all of the NSG states. They can’t be interpreted differently by one state or another. They have to clearly apply to all these states. Otherwise, these like-minded states, I don’t believe, are going to be satisfied and are going to continue to block agreement on anything less than what they’re looking for.

Are there any other final questions before we adjourn this afternoon? Yes?

QUESTION: (Inaudible), Voice of America. You just said that there will be a new government in America and there will be one in India as well very soon. So what do you say to the fact that if at all, India just goes ahead and tries a deal with Russia or France and they have been really positive about that? So what do you say to that?

KIMBALL: Well, the rules are quite clear. The Russians and the French have said publicly that they’re not going to enter into bilateral agreements with India on nuclear cooperation until and unless the NSG approves a waiver that allows them to do so.

In addition, India still has to sign the safeguards agreement that was approved on August 1st. Russia has, in the past, violated NSG rules by supplying India with nuclear fuel even though the NSG guidelines have up to this point barred that. So theoretically, it’s possible that Russia may simply chuck the NSG rules and go ahead. But I don’t believe that will be the case. In fact, I think Russia may in fact be supportive of some of these restrictions and conditions that are proposed by Ireland, New Zealand, and others. So I don’t really think that’s a realistic possibility. I think the Indian government fully understands that.  Henry?

SOKOLSKI: I don’t know. I’m not as sure. I do know this. The French are not quite as keen to put their nuclear thumbs in America’s eye. The Russians? That’s a special case, always a special case. The Indians, however, and the Russians, need to be careful. You can do this a little. But you have relations not just with America but you have relations with Pakistan.  You have relations with China. And what these countries do matters a lot to a sensible peaceful prosperous Southwest Asia as well. They will game it. You can count on that. They will game it.

So, one of the reasons these rules are helpful—I know many Indians find them nothing but meddlesome—is it reduces the need to keep looking over your shoulder and people gaming all these things for possible military purposes.

Finally, I can only urge one other thing. America’s relations with India depend primarily on the movement of people, money, and trade. There is so much that can and needs to be done in this area. Yes, energy technology as well, but probably not nuclear; I can’t imagine making a dime investing in that.

But it seems to me that there is plenty of work and plenty in the original agreement that does not pertain to rockets and reactors that is pretty important to pursue. I would think it would be a big mistake if we forgot what else we agreed to.

KIMBALL: All right, yes, sir? Microphone, please, so we can record this for all time. This better be good, Eric. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Today, in the People’s Daily in China, the Chinese government is coming out against the India NSG exemption. What do you make of that? Several of you mentioned the role of China in all this. Is this really a doorstop for this?

SOKOLSKI: This gets to the point of gaming. I don’t think the Chinese want to be the primary spoilers for this deal. On the other hand, if they see others that are willing to at least condition it, I don’t think they want to hold back. I mean, they would prefer a world in which the rules make it easier for them to know what to do with regard to nuclear trade for India and Pakistan, which is a real nasty brew of trouble for them. Oddly enough, I’m not sure the Chinese are totally against these rules. They could see how they might help them.

But I would say that they are at least cheering for one side right now, which is interesting. Don’t expect that to stop if people come to the conclusion to push the rules aside and start doing deals with this country or that country. China will continue to try to maneuver.  That China agreed to sell nuclear items not just to Pakistan but India tells you just how playful they can be. They’re easy to underestimate. That’s a mistake to do.

KIMBALL: I’m not quite sure what it means. But I think it’s possibly a sign that the deal is in deeper trouble than the government in New Delhi thinks it is. Any other questions?

Well, I want to thank everyone for attending. I want to just underscore our basic message today, which is that, as Henry said, [this deal is] a potential nuclear nonproliferation 9/11.  It’s very important for world leaders who are serious about the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the rules and standards that govern nuclear trade and commerce to stand up and stick to some core principles to make sure that this is not a further dent in the already damaged nuclear nonproliferation system. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


Event transcript of a discussion between Henry Sokolski and Sharon Squassoni moderated by Daryl G. Kimball.

Country Resources:

The Enduring Value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Prospects for Its Entry Into Force



By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director(1)

Presentation Delivered at the Ettore Majorana Centre, Erice, Sicily
August 22, 2008

"The one major area ... where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces ... the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security. It would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit ...."

-- President John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963

The history of the nuclear age makes it clear that opportunities to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons are often very fleeting. When the right political conditions are in place, governmental leaders must seize the chance to make progress.

In 1958 and again in 1963, U.S. and Soviet leaders attempted to negotiate a comprehensive ban on all nuclear test explosions. They came close but failed to seal the deal. While the latter effort led to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, it took another three decades of on-and-off efforts to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive test ban treaty. During that time, hundreds more underground tests propelled further arms racing and proliferation.

Today, the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a vital disarmament and nonproliferation instrument. By prohibiting all nuclear test explosions it impedes the ability of states possessing nuclear weapons to field new and more deadly types of warheads, while also helping to prevent the emergence of new nuclear-armed states.

Moving forward quickly on the CTBT is also an essential step towards restoring confidence in the beleaguered Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. The nuclear-weapon states’ commitment to achieve the CTBT was a crucial part of the bargain that won the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and the 2000 NPT Review Conference document.

U.S. Senate’s Untimely Rejection of the CTBT in 1999

Over the years, the importance of the Treaty to global security has only increased and international support has grown. Today, 179 countries have signed the CTBT, and 144 countries have ratified. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate’s brief debate and untimely rejection of the CTBT in October 1999, coupled with the George W. Bush administration’s opposition to the Treaty, has slowed the momentum. Nine key states must still ratify to achieve entry into force.

Partially in response to U.S policy on the CTBT, some countries that have signed the CTBT, such as China and Israel, have delayed their ratification processes. Others, including India and Pakistan, have yet to sign the Treaty and are unlikely to do so unless the United States, China, and perhaps other hold-outs, finally ratify.

The situation is self-defeating and counterproductive. Given the U.S. signature of the CTBT and its test moratorium policy, the United States bears most CTBT-related responsibilities. Yet Washington’s failure to ratify has diminished its ability to prod other nations to join the Treaty and refrain from testing. At the same time, there is no need—nor is there any political support—for renewed U.S. testing for new nuclear warheads or for any other reason.

CTBT Helps Prevent Regional Conflicts and Avert Nuclear Arms Race

The CTBT is also needed to help head-off and deescalate regional tensions. With no shortage of conflict and hostility in the Middle East, ratification by Israel, Egypt, and Iran would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns and bring those states further into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream. Action by Israel to ratify could put pressure on other states in the regions to do so. Iranian ratification would help address concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads.

Likewise, North Korean accession to the CTBT would help demonstrate the seriousness of its commitment to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program through the Six-Party process. The ongoing India-Pakistan nuclear arms race could be substantially slowed to the benefit of both countries if they signed and ratified the CTBT or agreed to an equivalent legal instrument.

The CTBT would help limit the nuclear-weapons development capabilities of the established nuclear-weapon states. For instance, in the absence of a permanent CTBT:

  • China and Russia might test in order to make certain refinements in their nuclear arsenals. With further nuclear testing China might be able to reduce the size and weight of its nuclear warheads, which would make it easier for China to expand and add multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) to its strategic arsenal if it wanted to do so. This could dramatically increase the number of nuclear warheads China could deliver; and
  • India and Pakistan could use further testing to perfect boosted fission weapons and thermonuclear warhead designs, greatly increasing the destructive power of their arsenals.

The global norm against testing remains strong, for now. Yet the absence of CTBT entry into force also means that the full range of verification and monitoring tools, confidence building measures, and the option of on-site inspections, are not available to help strengthen the international community’s ability to detect, deter, and if necessary respond to possible nuclear testing.

Moving forward – Prospects for CTBT Entry Into Force

To begin to break the ratification logjam and pave the way for entry into force, leaders in key states must make the right choices in three key areas.

First, it is essential that the next occupant of the White House builds upon growing bipartisan calls for U.S. reconsideration of the CTBT and initiates a serious effort to engage the new Senate on the issue with the goal of winning two-thirds support for ratification by the end of 2010. This is a difficult – but attainable – task requiring favorable political conditions, strong presidential leadership, and a well-executed ratification campaign.

Today, of course, these conditions do not all exist but the prospects and pressure for U.S. action on the CTBT are increasing. A growing array of Republican and Democratic national security opinion-leaders recognize the value of the CTBT and are calling for its reconsideration. (2)

In addition, the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees for the presidency have, to varying degrees, expressed their support for reconsideration of the CTBT. On May 27, 2008, the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, delivered a speech on “nuclear security” in which he said:

“As president I will pledge to continue America’s current moratorium on testing, but also begin a dialogue with our allies, and with the U.S. Senate, to identify ways we can move forward to limit testing in a verifiable manner that does not undermine the security or viability of our nuclear deterrent. This would include taking another look at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty…”

Whether McCain is interested in some new initiative to “limit testing in a verifiable manner” or will eventually find a way to endorse the CTBT itself is not clear at this point.

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Senator Barack Obama (Ill.) is on record in support of U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Obama said in a major foreign policy speech on 16 July 2008 that:

“…we’ll work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and then seek its earliest possible entry into force.”

Whoever wins can at least be expected to take a fresh and early look at the CTBT – and perhaps do much more.

Implementing a Bipartisan Process to Achieve Ratification

Translating pro-CTBT statements into winning over skeptical Senators and amassing a two-thirds majority in favor of ratification will take strong leadership and the commitment of significant political capital.

One factor working in favor of a successful second CTBT ratification campaign is the fact that the current and future U.S. Senate is somewhat different from the one that rejected the CTBT in 1999. The number of new Senators is significant because it means that many who voted against the CTBT are no longer in office.

Nevertheless, Senators will need to be briefed on the issue and their questions and concerns addressed thoroughly, respectfully, and consistently.

If the new U.S. president is fully committed to the CTBT, he should consider appoint a special, senior CTBT coordinator, backed with substantial interagency support and resources, who is solely focused on winning necessary support in the Senate. The administration will have to map out a step-by-step process for laying out the case for why the treaty is in U.S. national security interests through public speeches, expert reports, and hearings on Capitol Hill.

An administration seeking Senate support for the CTBT will likely find it necessary at some point to offer or consider understandings and/or conditions that help address the concerns of some senators who might not otherwise support the CTBT. Conditions that contradict the definitions and requirements of the Treaty or that undermine support for the CTBT by other states should be avoided. Under no circumstances should such end-game bargaining be initiated early in the process of winning the Senate’s support.

A well-prepared ratification effort will have to focus on delivering more persuasive answers on key issues that were at the center of the 1999 debate, particularly:

  • verification of the zero-yield CTBT; and
  • the maintenance of the U.S. stockpile in the absence of testing.

On verification, the 2002 National Academy of Sciences report stated:

“The capabilities to detect and identify nuclear explosions without special efforts at evasion are considerably better than the “one kiloton worldwide” characterization that has often been stated for the IMS. If deemed necessary, these capabilities could be further improved by increasing the number of stations in networks whose data streams are continuously searched for signals. Underground explosions can be reliably detected and can be identified as explosions, using IMS data, down to a yield of 0.1 kt (100 tons) in hard rock if conducted anywhere in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. In some locations of interest such as Novaya Zemlya, this capability extends down to 0.01 kt (10 tons) or less.”

Since the 1999 Senate vote and the 2002 National Academy of Sciences report, the International Monitoring System has only grown in size and sophistication. For example, more than 10 of the IMS primary seismic stations detected the ground tremors produced by the relatively small yield, Oct. 9, 2006 North Korean underground nuclear test explosion near P’unggye, according to the January 2007 newsletter of the CTBTO, Spectrum. The North Korean test blast was estimated by various national, international, and scientific monitors to be less than 1 kiloton (TNT equivalent) in yield.

More significantly, one of 10 experimental “noble gas” monitoring stations that are to be part of the IMS detected trace amounts of unique radioactive material that confirmed the explosion was nuclear. The station, which is located near Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, detected two spikes in xenon gas readings, on Oct. 22 and 25, which, on the basis of atmospheric modeling, were consistent with the North Korean test.

When the combination of existing national means of intelligence, as well as world’s network of tens of thousands of civilian seismic monitoring stations, plus the option of on-site inspections are taken into account, no would-be cheater could conduct a nuclear weapon test explosion in underground, underwater, or in the atmosphere without a very high risk of detection.

The other key issue is whether the United States can continue to rely on its stockpile stewardship program to maintain its arsenal under a permanent CTBT? The short answer is: yes.

As the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reported in July 2002, the United States "has the technical capabilities to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of its existing nuclear-weapon stockpile under [a test ban], provided that adequate resources are made available to the Department of Energy's nuclear-weapons complex and are properly focused on this task."

Though the Energy Department has determined each year for the last decade that the U.S. nuclear arsenal remains safe and reliable without nuclear testing, some claim—as they did in 1999—that as time goes on there may be age-related problems in the nuclear stockpile. (3)

The good news is that all of the technical evidence available shows that such concerns are greatly overstated. New government studies on plutonium longevity completed in 2006 have found that the plutonium primaries of most U.S. nuclear weapons have a minimum lifetime of 85 years, which is twice as long as previous estimates.

According to the National Academy panel, which included three former lab directors, age-related defects mainly related to non-nuclear components can be expected, but nuclear test explosions “are not needed to discover these problems and is not likely to be needed to address them.”

Rather, the panel says, the key to the stewardship of the arsenal is a rigorous stockpile surveillance program, the ability to remanufacture nuclear components to original specifications, minimizing changes to existing warheads, and non-explosive testing and repair of non-nuclear components.

Thomas D’Agostino, acting National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) administrator said in March 2007 that “stockpile stewardship is working. This program has proven its ability to successfully sustain the safety, security and reliability of the stockpile without the need to conduct an underground test for well over a decade.”

Nevertheless, the Bush administration has initiated a new and poorly defined program to design and build new warheads to “replace” certain warhead types already in the arsenal. A chief selling point for the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program is unsubstantiated assertion that the current approach to stockpile stewardship is unsustainable and unreliable and that RRW will reduce the likelihood that the United States will need to resume testing. The Department of Energy said in 2005 that the goal of the RRW program is to produce a small quantity of new replacement warheads by 2012-2015 for the W-76 warhead.

The W-76 was originally designed to minimize size and weight and maximize the explosive yield. According to a small minority of U.S. nuclear weapons scientists, this might make its nuclear components more sensitive to aging effects. In theory, the RRW is supposed to increase design margins (by using more fissile material) to maximize reliability.

But rather than build new replacement warheads at great cost, the United States could increase confidence in certain warheads by other methods, such as adding more boost gas to increase the explosive energy of the primary stage of the weapon well above the minimum needed to ignite the secondary or main stage.

NNSA officials also argue they can build replacement warheads without nuclear explosive proof testing. However, a recent report by an independent group of nuclear weapons scientists known as JASON found that it is by no means certain that the proposed RRW design can be validated as “reliable.” While many legislators have their doubts, some believe that if the new warheads are indeed more reliable, then test ban skeptics in the Senate should be more willing to support CTBT ratification.

It is doubtful that new warheads would be enough to convince the skeptics and may be more risky for the CTBT. Given that the new replacement warheads are years and billions of dollars away from reality, many CTBT skeptics might argue, as they did in 1999, that it is too early to tell whether the new warheads will work reliably and without proof testing. Furthermore, if Congress once again acts to cut or eliminate the Bush administration’s request for funding the RRW program (which is highly likely), RRW may be a non-factor in any future discussion about the CTBT.

It is also important to consider the fact that building a new generation of nuclear weapons to win support for a global test ban is contrary to the spirit of the CTBT, a chief aim of which is to end qualitative nuclear arms competition.

2. High-Level Diplomatic Pressure Must Continue on “Hold-Out” States

Not only must the next U.S. president and Senate act favorably on the CTBT, but the leaders of states committed to the CTBT must exercise much more consistent, top-level diplomacy in support of entry into force. The numerous statements by individual governments and regional groupings of states are essential but are not sufficient. Too often, they fail to press their counterparts in the nine CTBT hold-out states.

One important opportunity will arrive this September when foreign ministers from CTBT ratifying states will gather to issue their biennial joint statement calling for the Treaty’s entry into force. Another is the next Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, likely to take place in the fall of 2009, to help prod the U.S. president and other hold-outs to approve the Treaty.

China merits special attention. For years, Beijing has reported that the Treaty is before the National People’s Congress for consideration but has apparently taken no action to win legislative approval.

3. The Test Ban and Civil Nuclear Trade with India

There is another equally important test of leadership on the CTBT: this week’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) debate on the Bush administration proposal for an India-specific exemption from NSG guidelines that restrict trade with states that do not accept full-scope safeguards. The United States’ August 6 proposal to exempt India from NSG rules should be rejected, in part because it establishes no meaningful response or mechanism if India tests again.(4)

It would be highly irresponsible for CTBT signatories in the NSG not to establish CTBT signature as a condition of nuclear trade. If, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in July 2005, India is prepared to take on the responsibilities expected of other advanced nuclear nations, it is reasonable to expect that India should agree to a legally-binding test moratorium, as the five original nuclear-weapon states have all done.

Incredibly, Indian officials also want terms of trade that would allow supplier states to provide India with a strategic fuel reserve that could be used to outlast any fuel supply cut off or sanctions that may be imposed if it resumes nuclear testing.

The U.S. proposal flatly contradicts provisions in the 2006 U.S. implementing legislation that define the terms of U.S. nuclear trade with India. If NSG supplier states do agree to supply fuel to India, they must avoid actions that might enable or encourage Indian nuclear testing. At the very least, they should establish that, if India were to resume nuclear testing, all NSG nuclear cooperation with India would be terminated immediately and unused fuel supplies from NSG states would be returned.


CTBT entry into force is within reach. With the 2008 U.S. election and the 2010 NPT Review Conference approaching, it is vital to redouble efforts to secure ratification by key CTBT hold-out states, accelerate work to complete the International Monitoring System, and avoid developments that would damage the CTBT regime. The next one to two years may represent the best opportunity to secure the future of this long-awaited and much-needed Treaty.

1. The Arms Control Association (ACA) is a non-governmental organization established in 1971 to promote public understanding of arms control issues and to advocate effective nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional arms control solutions. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. Daryl G. Kimball has served as ACA’s executive director since 2001. He previously served as security programs director for Physicians for Social Responsibility (1989-1997) where he helped lobby for the U.S. nuclear test moratorium legislation of 1992 and negotiation of a zero-yield CTBT. Kimball was executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers (1997-2001) where he led a group of NGOs in their efforts to win support for U.S. CTBT ratification.

2. “Toward a nuclear weapons free world,” George Shultz,  Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 4, 2007.

3. “It’s because of the Stockpile Stewardship Program that I can stand before you today and tell you our current stockpile is reliable and safe today. So, what I fear most is not the reliability of the systems today.  I think they are reliable today.  I sense there’s a cliff out there some place and I don’t know how close I am to the edge of that cliff,” Gen. Henry Chilton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in a speech in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2008.

4. See “U.S. Proposal for India-Specific Exemption to Nuclear Supplier Group Guidelines Circulated August 2008,” an Arms Control Association Note for Reporters by Daryl G. Kimball < http://www.armscontrol.org/node/3274>.

Presentation by Daryl G. Kimball delivered at the Ettore Majorana Centre, Erice, Sicily.




Friday, January 19, 2007
11:45 A.M. – 1 P.M.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C.

Transcript by
Federal News Service,
Washington, D.C.

DARYL G. KIMBALL: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. If I could ask you to give me your attention. Thank you very much.

Welcome to the second part of today’s program. It’s an honor to have so many friends and colleagues with us here today for ACA’s annual membership luncheon. I hope those of you who were downstairs enjoyed the morning session which was certainly a full meal in of itself and I hope you’re enjoying our California-style lunch.

We have a California-style speaker today, who I’m pleased to introduce to you. Howard Berman, congressman from California’s 28th District, is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I think you’re the second ranking Democrat right now, correct? Since he joined the House in the 1980s, he’s been one of the leading, though I think unsung, heroes for nonproliferation in the Congress. As the Almanac of American Politics put it—always good to quote the Almanac of American Politics—“There are few House members who’ve made such an imprint on legislation in so many areas as Howard Berman.”

I know that from personal experience; working with his office last year on the much discussed and debated Indian nuclear legislation that he took the lead and offered some alternative legislation to the president’s proposal. He pursued this in a quiet and steady fashion. In the end, if you scrutinize the 50-page or so long piece of legislation, you’ll notice that there are important elements from Congressman Berman’s alternative bill that were eventually incorporated into the final bill that could be the saving grace of our effort to turn this nonproliferation lemon into some lemonade.

In 2005, Howard Berman also was the cosponsor of a bipartisan resolution, H. Con. Res. 133, which we’ve discussed at Arms Control Association events before. This was a vision for how the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) could be strengthened that was put forward just before the 2005 NPT Review Conference. That resolution was unfortunately not adopted by the full House and Senate. But some of the recommendations of that resolution appear in the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that we’ve discussed at this morning’s panel that was written by Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and others.  I think Congressman Berman is going to be making some reference to that op-ed today and what it means for what the United States and the Congress should do to strengthen the U.S. government’s nuclear nonproliferation approach.

We thank you, Congressman Berman, for coming to address us and we look forward to your thoughts about what this new Congress can do to lead us forward and to provide some new vision and ideas for dealing with the multiple proliferation threats that we have today. We look forward to your comments. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)

REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-Calif.): Well, thanks very much, Daryl. Your reference to being second in line reminds me of Tom Foley’s old story that when you’re in Congress and you hear that a member of your party, on your committee, more senior than you, has gotten sick, your first question is, is it serious? (Laughter.)

I’m happy to be here today, particularly because the Arms Control Association has a wonderful reputation. I have great respect for it, particularly because I used it so extensively in dealing with Daryl on the Indian nuclear cooperation legislation. You were part of the group that helped play an important role in educating me and other members and staff on a variety of very complex issues. While the legislation didn’t exactly end the way you wanted—my guess is you didn’t want it—your efforts helped make a bad bill better. Although, on balance, I think it’s still probably a bit of a lemon.

Unlike the administration’s initial proposal to implement the deal, the version enacted into law requires Congress to approve the final nuclear cooperation agreement with India by an affirmative majority vote. Before that vote takes place, the Nuclear Suppliers Group must approve an exemption for India, and India and the IAEA must complete a safeguards agreement.

The bill now includes language that prevents the president from waiving key portions of the Atomic Energy Act and includes a provision that terminates nuclear cooperation if India transfers nuclear or missile technology in violation of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines.

Finally, we got 184 votes—far more than I ever expected—for an amendment I offered to condition the exports of nuclear fuel on India’s willingness to halt production of fissile material. Given the strong opposition of the administration, given the tremendous investment by the Indian-American community in passing the legislation and keeping that kind of an amendment out, we really did much better than I think almost anyone thought. Based on my observation of the administration’s negotiating strategy with the Indian government, I think we might want to consider negotiations as an additional outsourcing opportunity, or that’s what we did in this case.

But as a result of this deal, India will be able to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, since it will no longer be forced to use its scarce domestic uranium reserves to generate electricity. In response, China may push to cut a similar deal with Pakistan, which could further destabilize South Asia. But those are only two of the many nonproliferation challenges we face today and some of them are much more urgent.

North Korea’s launched nuclear-capable missiles, withdrawn from the NPT, conducted a nuclear test, and, some believe, may test again soon. Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the international community and, if it continues on its current course, could have the capability to build a bomb in just a few short years.

Deeply concerned about the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power, other countries in the volatile Middle East, including Turkey, Egypt, and the Gulf States, have expressed interest in nuclear technology. Tom Friedman sort of crudely says, if there’s going to be a Shiite bomb, there’s going to be a Sunni bomb.

A. Q. Khan's nuclear black market opened up a whole new dimension of nuclear proliferation. Most troubling of all, the same terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 are dedicated to acquiring WMD and, unlike a state, can’t be deterred. Many of the people who have been dealing with these issues for a long time warn that the nonproliferation regime is teetering on the brink. Jessica Matthews, I think this is her base, recently remarked that the nonproliferation regime that has served us extremely well for years is today on the verge of collapse. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just announced that they’re moving their hands on their doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight.

But for me, the stunning development, which has been referenced already by Daryl, was the recent statement by Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, George Shultz, and Sam Nunn in The Wall Street Journal, arguing for a totally new paradigm. They urge us to transform our entire way of thinking about nuclear weapons. They call for a rekindling of the vision of Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik. I’m just going to quote it because before I knew we were going to talk about it, I had decided to quote it: “Nuclear weapons today present tremendous dangers, but also an historic opportunity. U.S. leadership will be required to take the world to the next stage, to a solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally as a vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world. Nuclear weapons were essential to maintaining international security during the Cold War because they were a means of deterrence. The end of the Cold War made the doctrine of mutual Soviet-American deterrence obsolete. Deterrence continues to be a relevant consideration for many states with regard to threats from other states. But reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”

They end by saying, “reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America's moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible. We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal.”

More astounding than what they said is who said it. Kissinger, I remember him as a college student and I always assumed that Dr. Strangelove was some composite of Henry Kissinger and Herman Kahn. (Laughter.) George Schultz, I still have an image of George Schultz that’s probably an apocryphal one, but he and Reagan’s other advisors grabbing Reagan by the shoulders as he left that room in Reykjavik exclaiming, you’ve agreed to what? (Laughter.) Go back in there and tell Gorbachev your fingers were crossed. As I recall it, Sam Nunn in the 1980s was closer to build up to build-down than to a nuclear freeze.

Everything we do on nonproliferation, it seems to me and what it seems to me they are saying is, would be more effective if we fundamentally change our perspective. If we continue on our current course, we may be able to delay the complete erosion of the nonproliferation regime, but unless we come to grips with this new paradigm, I think our efforts will ultimately fail. In that context, there are some critical things we should do to shore up the global nonproliferation system.

First, we must dedicate ourselves to the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons, as we are obliged to do under Article VI of the NPT. While achieving this goal is not feasible in the short run, there’s no reason why we can’t start moving in that direction right away. Under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, SORT, concluded with Russia in 2002, the number of our deployed strategic warheads will drop from about 10,000 in 1990 to less than 2,200 by 2012, a reduction of 80 percent.

But it’s clear we can live with even fewer weapons as we pursue our goal. An Arms Control Association report from 2005 recommends that 500 operationally deployed weapons and 500 more in ready reserve are enough. Within the next couple of years we need to start thinking seriously about extending the verification mechanism for SORT, which is currently set to expire in 2009 along with the START Treaty. That would be an excellent opportunity to focus on further reductions.

Second, the United States should take the leadership role on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). As you know, the Senate rejected the treaty in 1999, but since that time, we’ve become much more confident in the ability of our scientific establishment to maintain the safety and reliability of what will remain of our nuclear stockpile. With Democrats back controlling the Senate, though by a very small margin, we should diligently pursue the political feasibility of reconsidering the treaty.

With folks like Kissinger and Shultz on our side, perhaps the Bush administration will add this issue to the list of mistakes they are willing to remedy. The CTBT can’t enter into force until it is signed and ratified by 44 specific countries, including India and Pakistan. Strong U.S. support for the treaty and the ultimate goal may persuade those countries to get onboard. But if it doesn’t, we might want to consider the possibility of working with the P-5 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and other like-minded states to propose a new test ban treaty that doesn’t have such rigid requirements.

Third, the United States should lead a major push for negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). Since the United States, Russia, Britain, and France have stopped production of fissile materials for weapons purposes as a matter of policy, and China’s also believed to have ceased production, this one should be a no-brainer. As you know, the Bush administration has tabled a draft at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) last May. That draft was criticized by many for not including any verification mechanism, but on balance I think it’s a step in the right direction.

I was interested to read Steve Rademaker’s piece in the December edition of Arms Control Today. Citing the conclusions of the congressionally mandated Gingrich-Mitchell Task Force on the United Nations, he makes a pretty persuasive case that the CD has become largely dysfunctional.

The fissile material cutoff treaty has been held up almost a decade by certain members of that Geneva-based body that seek to force negotiations on other proposals, like the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, which has been opposed by successive American administrations. Rademaker argues that the real motivation underlying these efforts to block an FMCT is not a sincere desire to achieve a so-called balanced program of work, but a desire to essentially kill the FMCT. Whether or not you think an outer space treaty is a good idea, one has to agree that it takes some nerve on the part of certain countries to criticize the United States for not working to eliminate nuclear weapons and at the same time preventing consideration of the treaty that would end the production of fissile material for weapons.

To get around this stalemate in the CD, it might make sense to take the same approach as one might for an alternative to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: assemble a coalition willing outside the confines of the CD to negotiate an FMCT and then open it up for the world to sign. If all the members of the P-5 were involved in such an effort, then you could gain some sort of endorsement from the Security Council, giving it added international legitimacy. Would this approach work? I don’t know, but we ought to consider trying it.

Fourth, we should abandon once and for all the Bush administration’s efforts to design new nuclear weapons, including the so-called Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, the bunker buster. At a time when we’re trying to convince other nations to abandon their bomb-making activities, these efforts to make nuclear weapons more usable strike many as the height of hypocrisy. We should be doing exactly the opposite: trying to devalue the currency of nuclear weapons and making the argument that their use, under any circumstances, has become unthinkable.

Fifth, the United States should be more aggressive in pushing for the creation of an international fuel bank. There are a variety of proposals on the table for the creation of such a bank, all of which would provide a guaranteed source of civilian nuclear fuel for countries willing to forgo the acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing technology.

This concept has been criticized by some as yet another effort to create nuclear haves and have-nots, but I think it could quickly win broad acceptance if it were implemented in a neutral fashion, understanding that the United States is taking a new approach to the ultimate goal of obligations under the NPT. Perhaps it could be done under the auspices of the IAEA. This should be a very good way for the United States to demonstrate that we are not seeking to limit the ability of countries, even Iran, from enjoying the benefits of a peaceful nuclear technology.

A few months ago, I would have mentioned the additional protocol as a sixth area for the United States to demonstrate leadership, but thanks to the efforts of Senator Lugar, the implementing legislation was passed as part of the India nuclear cooperation bill, albeit in an imperfect form. That process is moving forward.

Finally, in the context of these major nonproliferation initiatives, I’d like to commend Daryl and others at the association for their work on H. Con. Res. 133, the Nonproliferation Treaty Enhancement Act of 2005, introduced by one of the really smart and sensible people in our body, John Spratt. This resolution, which I co-sponsored along with 41 of my colleagues, reaffirmed the critical importance of NPT as the cornerstone of the global nonproliferation regime and urged support for both of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the fissile material cutoff treaty. I look forward to working with you on an updated version of this legislation in the new Congress.

Let me turn to some rather specific programs and then sort of bring this to a halt. Then I’d love to hear your comments because I am a little embarrassed talking about these issues to a group of people, some of whom I’ve known a long time, who know so much more and spend so much time focusing on these kinds of issues. But the House did pass, as part of our “six for ’06,” first 100 hours, however you count them, program, having met in January for the first time in 12 years. I mean, there are bad sides to winning as well as good sides.  (Laughter.)

We passed legislation to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. That bill, which passed the House, includes a number of meaningful nonproliferation provisions, one of which is intended to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). As you know, the PSI is the Bush administration’s signature effort to combat proliferation through the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction. The PSI is a useful innovation. But with no underlying treaties, secretariat, or formal obligations for participating governments, it’s now running up against the limits of its effectiveness. So in HR1 we urge the president to establish a defined annual budget for the PSI, clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Departments of State and Defense, and increase PSI cooperation with non-NATO countries. We also recommended that he seek a Security Council resolution to authorize the PSI under international law. We now have a majority who believe there is international law. (Laughter.) And we authorized expanding and formalizing PSI into a multilateral regime to increase coordination, cooperation, and compliance among its participating states in interdiction activities.

HR1 also creates a U.S. coordinator for the prevention of WMD and terrorism in the Executive Office of the President. It’s a great idea; it’s been kicking around for far too long. We’re not that happy with some of the provisions because it doesn’t give the coordinator any budget or personnel authority like that provided to the director of national intelligence. Hopefully, we can beef up this language in conference with the Senate.

Another provision of that 9/11 bill that passed last week removes some of the legal restrictions placed on the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program. If enacted, the president will no longer have to make a series of certifications before those funds are spent. Of course, we want Russia to comply with all the relevant arms control agreements, make a substantial investment of its own growing, considerable resources to dismantle weapons, and observe internationally recognized human rights. But our highest priority must be to keep nuclear materials and other WMD out of the hands of terrorists. The CTR program is critical to those efforts.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s latest issue of Securing the Bomb, 2005 was a relatively productive year in terms of securing nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. But 15 years after the inception of CTR, much more remains to be done. Only 54 percent of former Soviet buildings with nuclear materials and 40 percent of sites containing Russian nuclear warheads have received security upgrades, only 40 percent of key border posts in the post Soviet space are equipped to detect nuclear smuggling, and only 35 percent of former Soviet weapon scientists or workers have sustainable civilian employment. Hopefully, the CTR provision in HR1 will play some role in accelerating this vital work.

I won’t take the time out to get into details of another provision of that bill, the Nuclear Black Market Elimination Act, that seeks to deal with underground nuclear networks like the one created by A. Q. Khan.

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of many nonproliferation challenges we face today but as Nunn, Kissinger, Perry, and Shultz argue so persuasively, we’ve got to focus on changing our fundamental assumptions. None of the major proliferation initiatives that I suggested we pursue are in lieu of diligently working to stop the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs or preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. On the contrary, they just might make those efforts more effective. Even if they don’t, what do we lose by trying?

Tony Billings would probably remember and probably some of you were part of it, in the 1980s we tended to spend some time focusing sort of on these broader questions of arms control and proliferation. Really since the end of the Cold War, since the Republican takeover of the House—at least this member; I have a sense it’s a generally felt thing—believes we get very absorbed in very specific issues; we spend incredible amounts of time. I’m a member of the Iran working group and this caucus and all, and I have a lot of meetings and discussions about specific issues. But there is very little institutional framework for talking about the larger questions that are raised by that article and I think they are very important.

We used to have a breakfast that had outside groups and members who were interested coming together and talking about some strategies, but in a larger context. We don’t do that now. I’m wondering if in the wake of this article, which I think is very important because it has a crossover appeal, of finding a way to get some people to spend more time trying to get those of us who are in Congress, in the House and the Senate, thinking more about these issues. I have no doubt that there are people like Senator Lugar and others who do think a lot about it, but I think the larger issue has gotten lost for the very understandable obsession with trying to deal with these specific issues on a sort of case-by-case basis. With that I’ll stop. Thank you again for inviting me and I’d be interested in your comments about what we might be doing or any questions. (Applause.)

Let me do one thing, though, and that is introduce somebody who’s been a very valuable staff member for me. Many of you have interacted with him and that’s Doug Campbell, who works with me on these issues. (Applause.) He’s my legislative director.

KIMBALL: Comments or questions from the floor?

QUESTION: Congressman, my name is Norman Wulf. You have mentioned just at the end of your comments a lack of institutional structures in the Congress. I’m going to be so brave as to suggest there’s probably a lack of institutional structures in the executive branch as well.

When I first got into this business there was a vast network solely on nonproliferation. There was an assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency that worked solely on arms nonproliferation. In the first of this administration’s terms, there was an assistant secretary whose sole responsibility was nonproliferation. Now the most senior person in the State Department whose sole responsibility is nonproliferation is a deputy assistant secretary. I’m wondering is there anything that Congress can do to help the executive branch have its rhetorical priorities also reflected in the administrative structures. Thank you.

BERMAN: Well, Congress helped to create the situation you are now bemoaning. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I wasn’t going to say that. (Laughter.)

BERMAN: For very different reasons, those who were in control in Congress and the Clinton administration, and my friend Madeleine Albright, wanted to bring things more under the State Department. I think the Republican majority didn’t like the idea of an agency called Arms Control and Disarmament, and we eliminated that. I always thought, apart from any other reasons, just the notion of somebody who doesn’t have to go through somebody else to get something to the White House on charge with these issues had a beneficial effect. I was against that merger but it occurred. We’re not going to undo that now.

I noticed in the context of the India negotiations, those people who were most responsible and interested in nonproliferation issues, it seemed to me, by the end were totally frozen out of the final negotiations. There are different reasons to be for the agreement and then some strong nonproliferation reasons not to be, but you didn’t get that mix into the final negotiations. It was as if people with nonproliferation interests enters, they would just be impediments to reaching the deal we have got to reach in the time we have got to reach it. I guess I want to think more about how to recreate—we mentioned a couple of things in the 9/11 bill—that institutional framework because I think you’re right. Yes?

QUESTION: My name’s Jim Lenard. There was a fair amount of discussion this morning downstairs on the danger of an American military attack against Iranian nuclear facilities. I think a pretty general agreement was that the consequences would be very far-reaching and utterly disastrous. I wonder if there’s anything the Congress could do to deter that possibility in the remaining two years of this administration?

BERMAN: We were talking about this at lunch just a few minutes ago. I told this story, which I guess I can tell again, about Brzezinski writing an op-ed piece maybe six months ago. Yes, it was in July in the L.A. Times. I’m sorry. My friend from The Daily News in Los Angeles is here. (Laughter.) That rapidly shrinking paper, the L.A. Times, that essentially said, this looks like Iraq—talking about Iran—it looks like Iraq, smells like Iraq, it feels like Iraq all over again. They’re going to do it, and here’s what happens if they do it, and then he lists a series of somewhat frightening and very negative consequences that would happen.

I happened to be going to the White House on one of those rare occasions where I get invited to go to the White House the next morning and I took a copy of that article with me.  At the meeting, Steve Hadley was there. I mentioned earlier this Iran Working Group that I go to the meetings of and Hadley was going to come over that afternoon and talk to them. I said, read this piece if you would between now and this afternoon when you come over to the Hill to talk to the Iran Working Group. I would be interested in your reaction. He came that afternoon and he basically said, well, other than the snide comments about the administration in the piece, he said, I have to tell you, I think Brzezinski underestimates the negative consequences of that kind of an attack. From that I took a sense that, notwithstanding some of the alarms, this administration really had no short-term intention of doing anything like that.

But then, as we were having lunch now, I’m thinking, but wait a second, in November a memo leaked that Steve Hadley wrote talking about why Maliki wouldn’t be somebody you’d want to trust with any particularly important mission, whether it was a matter of will or a matter of ability. This very lengthy memo was leaked into the press. Two months later, we are going to be the spine behind Maliki’s effort to put down all the Shiite militias. I guess things can change. But is there anything Congress can do? No, if they’re intent on doing it.

My guess is if it’s kind of a specific, targeted attack as opposed to an invasion, which I just don’t see that in the cards as realistic and possible, they won’t even think of it as something for which they have to come to Congress for an authorization for the use of force resolution. Look, right off the bat, I can’t see what we could do realistically to stop that from happening if that were going to happen. I’m not so sure it’s going to happen.

QUESTION: Jan Lodal. Congressman, given the president’s veto power, the Democratic majority in the Senate, and the next two years and so forth, and the president’s general authority over foreign policy and defense matters, could you sort of sketch a roadmap for how you see getting part at least of this wonderful agenda that you’ve set forth implemented in the next couple of years? How are you and your colleagues thinking about it in terms of what is both important and doable in the next couple of years?

BERMAN: Well, it assumes that me and my colleagues sit around and think. (Laughter.) But it’s things like that article that gets you thinking. I didn’t read it when it came out. I keep forgetting to read the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal (laughter). I’m just throwing out the idea that is there something about people like George Shultz and Henry Kissinger coming out for this that constitutes something? If it’s built on and Congress can bring people in for hearings and circulate it and distribute it and organize and channel it somewhat, can we get people to think about it or at least lay the foundation for reassessing what we’re doing in this area? I don’t want to give you a better answer off the top of my head. I’m still getting over the shock of reading the article.

I’ve talked about some things. It’s certainly something to say as we push some of these initiatives. It’s really something to talk about it. But part of the point of the article is the initiatives we want to push are more likely to be effective if we have gone back to fundamental assumptions and reassess those. It seems to me that was the key part of this. I’m supportive of many things the administration is trying to do. We want to push them harder, we want them not to get caught up in it, but they do seem to be changing. North Korea; that article yesterday was interesting. I want them to be successful in this. I’m just wondering to what extent this article raises the possibility that at least over the long term these efforts will be more effective. Yes?

QUESTION: Randy Rydell. Many issues that come to the attention of senators and congressmen have a high technical and scientific component to them; not just in the national security area, but across the board. Congress decided many years ago to abolish the Office of Technology Assessment. Do you expect that there will be an effort to bring it back and are you satisfied with the current level of technical advice that you receive?

BERMAN: I have a hard time understanding the technical advice that I receive. (Laughter.) There’s an internal process here. I had forgotten; your mentioning it just reminds me that they did that, and why aren’t we thinking about doing this? One of my many different hats, if we ever constitute ourselves, will be chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. There we’re dealing with this whole issue of what you can patent? Talk about things that get technical. Bluffing is a very good trait.

You just gave me an idea because I know that Speaker Pelosi is very interested and seriously wants to pursue an “innovation agenda.” The Office of Technology Assessment; I don’t know if that reeks for some of an inappropriate government role. I guess it did. That’s why they eliminated it. But we’re not sensitive to that reek so I think this is something I’m going to take from this lunch and bring back.

QUESTION: I want to ask a little bit more on Jan’s roadmap question. You mentioned the 9/11 Commission nonproliferation bill. My name is Paul Walker from Global Green, U.S.A. The 9/11 Commission bill was excellent, particularly Title XII, which dealt with nonproliferation issues that you talked about, congressman. But there doesn’t appear to be any money, as we would say not much horse power, behind the bill. It’s good rhetoric, but we’ve yet to see what’s going to result from this. I wondered if you would tell us what you think the prospects of a large bill like this, 270-odd pages, might be in the Senate, and then actually getting signed or making it’s way through conference and getting signed by the president and putting some money behind some of the measures?

BERMAN: Well, we have been there only two weeks so there is a huge amount of work. You’re absolutely right. My guess is there’s next to zero chance that that bill that we passed will pass the Senate in that form. But there are dozens of ideas just in that title that you mentioned, as well as other things, that are going to become part of an agenda. In part because we were out of power for so long and because we lost, we understand that our majority is no longer an entitlement program. There is a much greater level of contact and communication between House and Senate committees.

I’m starting to see it already in staffers; how they squeeze in and fit in different kinds of things in different ways. The package may not look anything like that in the appropriations process, not for the rest to this fiscal year but for the ’08 fiscal year, in some of the legislation that does pass in homeland security areas. I think there are great opportunities to get different parts of that through, not looking exactly like H.R.1. But I wouldn’t discount or lose hope that we can actually do things. Many of the things we will do, I don’t think necessarily will be the things that get vetoes from the administration.

QUESTION: Matthew Bunn from Harvard University. Thanks for that very interesting talk. Following up on Paul’s thought, I think you shouldn’t write off this year’s appropriations in that there will be a large supplemental request coming up for the president’s budget and I would urge you to look at some supplemental appropriations for certain particular programs. Most of the programs to secure nuclear material and so on aren’t in fact largely money constrained. They’re constrained by limited cooperation with other countries and so on. But there are a few areas where a couple of hundred million more would make a big difference. I’d be happy to talk about that more specifically. You sort of glided over the part in HR1 about black-market networks and I’ll say candidly that I found a little of that provision a little disappointing, because it was essentially –

BERMAN: That’s why I glided over it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: …a sanctions-only approach. I think there’s only so much you can do about the black market networks through sanctions. As I was saying this morning, I think we need a much more focused approach to helping countries around the world put in place effective export controls, effective transshipment controls, more intelligence sharing on what’s going on with individual brokers and technology marketers, and so on. I think there are opportunities for legislation to put those kinds of things in place, especially since we now have UN Security Council Resolution 1540 that legally mandates that every country in the world has to have these effective controls in place. We’ve done essentially zip so far to actually make sure that that actually happens. I think there are a lot of opportunities there to do more to prevent a recurrence of the A. Q. Khan network.

BERMAN: Yes. I agree. I assume a sanction on some shady Malaysian businessman that he’s not going to be able to do business with U.S. companies or get export licenses is going to have a major impact. We’ve talked about how do we create export regimes in individual countries and some multilateral programs to incentivize those kinds of regimes that distinguish the important from the unimportant, facilitate export of the things that aren’t risky, and then really clamp down on the dangerous stuff. We have done nothing on that whole world of export controls for years because it was such a fundamental conflict really between people like Henry Hyde and Duncan Hunter on one hand and the business community on the other hand. No one made an effort to reconcile those different views, both of which had some legitimate basis, and to produce something. This would be something we should look at. We’re getting too much work from this luncheon. (Laughter.)

KIMBALL: That’s the idea.

QUESTION: Thank you, Congressman. I’m Carol Kalinoski, a consultant here in town working on export controls and nonproliferation. With respect to HR1, especially the section B that proposes various sanctions, I would like to propose that the Congress be mindful that success in export controls only occurs is if we have multilateral agreement. If we have unilateral sanctions, the way it’s currently drafted, there is a large contingent in the industry exporting community that is concerned that the reach to foreign persons and corporations is an extraterritoriality issue that may call out what we call these blocking statutes amongst our allies. Unless we can get multilateral agreement, hopefully at the UN, so that it strengthens the work of the 1540, it’s going to cause more problems for the United States and its trade position than attack the illicit nuclear trafficking network.

BERMAN: Well, I’m not familiar with this blocking provision you’re talking about. I certainly agree generally. First of all, in sanctions, I think we are as extraterritorial as we can be. We’re up to the limit on sanctions and with marginal effects. There’s probably been some disincentives for some investment in Iran, but some consequences that’s hard to quantify. It sure seems to me that ultimately if export controls are not multilateral, they’re not going to work.

QUESTION: But just a point on the blocking statutes. It arises especially with the application of the U.S.-Cuba embargo. There are states, for example Canada, which have passed legislation making it a crime for Canadian companies to comply with the U.S. statute.

BERMAN: But that’s extraterritorial. How can they do that?

QUESTION: Well, the point is that if you were a U.S. company with a subsidiary in Canada, you have to choose which criminal law you’re going to violate.

BERMAN: Right. Yes. Plus it affects Bacardi rum or something. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have one more idea for you. This is actually an old idea. One of the problems we face in the House is the jurisdiction on nonproliferation is split between Armed Services and Foreign Affairs. There’s a lot more creativity by the people in your committee, but at least the last several Congresses you’ve not passed an authorization.

BERMAN: An authorization on?

QUESTION: State Department.


QUESTION: The old idea was to have a specific title dealing with nonproliferation issues that came out of the Foreign Affairs committee and was attached on the floor to the annual defense authorization bill, which is going to get through the two Houses and will be signed by the president. I think there will be some interest on the part of the House Armed Services Committee of also doing that. The problem that we’ve got is the jurisdiction is between the two committees.

BERMAN: Explain to me when you say when—for instance the Export Control Act—we try to change the role of the Defense Department export controls, it gets sequentially referred to Armed Services. It’s basically a Foreign Affairs Committee jurisdiction.

QUESTION: Well, if you talk to them, they think differently. But all I’m suggesting is that a nonproliferation bill that was reported out of your committee that included many of the points that you’re talking about and that was offered on the floor with the support of Mr. Skelton, I think, would have a real opportunity of being adopted.

BERMAN: In the old days, Henry Hyde and Duncan Hunter saw things much the same way so it didn’t matter where the jurisdiction was because they agreed on where they didn’t want to go.

QUESTION: You got a good list of things. The question is how we get this signed into law, and I would be thinking about a specific title for the defense authorization bill that comes out of your committee and is offered on the floor.

BERMAN: A title to be added as an amendment to the defense authorization bill?


BERMAN: Which is a good bill to add it too because that bill usually gets signed.

QUESTION: That’s right. That’s exactly right. The defense authorization bill is going to get passed and signed by the president and it’s a good vehicle. Thanks.


QUESTION: Hi. Bill Courtney. The Reliable Replacement Warhead issue. Proponents say that if the United States were to go to a Reliable Replacement Warhead this would enable significant reductions in the stockpile that the United States would have to retain and could end a need for nuclear testing. Opponents say that plutonium primaries may last longer than previously thought, and so that doesn’t need to be done now. Do you have a view on that?

BERMAN: Yes. I’d go to the Arms Control Association, to the people I respect, and say, “What do you think of these arguments?” (Laughter.) Or to the Office of Technology Assessment. (Laughter.) But this is what the labs are pushing, right? So just one degree of skepticism, but I’ll be open. Yes?

QUESTION: Herbert Levin. Could you recall the extremely high vote in the House for the agreement with India, and give us some understanding of the motivations of the people who voted for that, putting aside administration stalwarts who would go for anything the president asked for?

BERMAN: Yes. Well, I could start with the people who did it for benign reasons. That’s me. (Laughs.) And then the others. No. (Laughter.) Look, we’re extraordinarily unpopular throughout the world right now. The notion of having a positive relationship with an important growing developing country has a certain appeal when you have hardly any other friends. (Laughs.) I’m serious in a way. People think that the U.S.-Indian relationship, and I think, it’s an important one.

There were other arguments made in favor of it involving energy, although I’m somewhat skeptical on just how much nuclear energy benefits India for environmental and energy purposes. But I think more importantly was the political relationship with India. To be honest with you, even people who were very stalwart nonproliferation people said, at this particular point, that that was very important.

There were two aspects for my decision. One was hearing some people I respect in the nonproliferation community saying, at this particular point, the downsides—once they’ve signed this agreement and pushed it up here—of killing the agreement mean you probably shouldn’t do that. You should try to make it better, you should try to improve it, but at this point, we would be far worse off having agreed to it, proposed it, and killed it than we would if we had never gotten into it in the first place. So that was part of it.

The second part of it just from my own point of view was this is a very different bill—whether it’s ultimately a critical difference, we’ll find out—than it was. It’s very hard to get them to make changes when you say, no matter what you do I’m going to oppose whatever. In other words, in many cases I didn’t get changes and people like me didn’t get changes because we ran over them on amendments. We persuaded them to accept a number of changes. We raised a lot of issues. But the implicit part of that deal, at least because of my role, was in the end that I was going to have to support the final product. Sometimes it’s good to have both. Ed Markey plays a wonderful role, I think, in raising these issues very strongly and passionately. But I also think there’s a role to try and get some substantive improvements in these things that you are pretty sure are going to pass anyway. You’re not going to make a critical difference, but you have to be part of that bargain. I think there’s a role for both and that was the role I decided to play here.

The other part of this is this became a matter of tremendous pride for the Indian-American community in this country. They were activated. They have extensive networks. They worked it very hard and promoted it. I’ve seen it in the context of other issues and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s politics in America. But it played a huge role for a lot of Democrats who had no interest in the issue, who didn’t know what we were talking about, and who were not on the committees. Oh, so and so wants it or this group of folks came? Sure I’ll vote for it. That also was a big part of this.

At the very end, just on the little provision regarding what happens if the Indian government re-exports? I got very upset because there’s this Iran Nonproliferation Act. We were supposed to get a report on it about proliferation incidents to Iran and the administration wasn’t doing it. We had a hearing. We asked them, and I said, are there Indian proliferation things? I don’t know what’s in it was the reply. The next day after we passed the bill, they certified their report which showed that there were Indian entities that have proliferated. The picture is, oh, India never proliferates. Well, there’s some serious stuff from back in the 1970s, but there also are these ongoing problems. People came to me from the administration and said please, in the conference committee, make your provision sense of the Congress; get rid of this because this will kill the whole deal.

They’re going to get nuclear cooperation. All we’re saying is if they re-export missile or nuclear technology to somebody else [cooperation is terminated.] Are they going to walk away from an agreement which allows them to get nuclear cooperation over that? Oh, that’s what they’re saying, that’s what they’re saying, the administration told us. That was what they were saying, but they didn’t mean it. It was absurd on its face. My problem with our negotiators is that I don’t think we played out this string long enough. When you force yourselves to do something by a certain deadline, the other side hangs tough. They’re going to win. So I refused to change it. They kept it in the bill and the next day the Indians praised the agreement, never mentioned that provision, and they did a 180-degree turnaround. Yes?

QUESTION: Ali, Voice of America. Congressman, in your view, just slightly expanding the focus of the discussion, how significant is the threat of nuclear, chemical, or biological terrorism and what is it that the current administration is doing and in your view needs to be done?

BERMAN: Look, I’m going to assume the threat is quite serious because it seems to me that’s a better assumption than the opposite assumption. Without being a total expert on all that’s being done, I’m going to say I’m sure we’re not doing enough. I’m not quite familiar with what’s in place and what could be easily in place in terms of protecting reactors and in terms of detection machinery at ports and entry points. I’m not really that competent to speak in great detail on this, but I’ll start out with the assumption that it’s a serious threat and we’re not doing enough and sort of go from there.

QUESTION: Is there anything that you think needs to be done?

BERMAN: I’m trying to get out of a specific answer. Yes, I want to see more. I can think of all kinds of things we want to see done. I want to see us deal with the Russians in a different way. I want to see more Nunn-Lugar programs. I want to see greater rigor in our domestic inspection programs and security protection programs. I want national healthcare. (Laughter.) I’ve got a lot of things I want.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

KIMBALL: Ladies and gentlemen, please consider yourselves participants in one very large meeting with a member of Congress providing ideas. We’ll pursue many of these things with Congressman Berman and I hope our discussions will continue. I ask that all of you who have suggestions about how ACA can advance this big agenda that Congressman Berman talked about talk to our staff and our office, our board members, and I look forward to seeing you in the coming year. I hope you enjoyed your afternoon. Thank you. (Applause.)

Country Resources:

What's Next for India's Nuclear Trade Future: Key Issues before the IAEA, NSG and U.S. Congress



Fresh off the heels of a vote of confidence from parliament, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has renewed a push for nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and India. Late next week, the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors will meet to consider an unprecedented safeguards agreement for India. Soon thereafter, the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group will consider an India-specific exemption to allow civil nuclear trade for the first time in 30 years. The NSG has restricted trade with India and other states that have not signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Only then would the U.S. Congress consider a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement between the U.S. and India. As these events unfold, a number of experts are raising alarms about the implications of this agreement on global stability.

Click here for a transcript of this event.


Press briefing to address key issues before the international community on the controversial proposal and outline key conditions and restrictions that would reduce the adverse impacts on nonproliferation.

Panelists include:

  • Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr., Director, Bipartisan Security Group, former U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
  • Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate, Nonproliferation Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
WHEN: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

National Press Club
Murrow Room, 13th Floor
529 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20045

RSVP Meri Lugo 202-463-8270 x100; [email protected]
Press briefing to address key issues before the international community on the controversial proposal and outline key conditions and restrictions that would reduce the adverse impacts on nonproliferation.

Country Resources:

Israel's Airstrike on Syria's Nuclear Reactor: Preventive War and the Nonproliferation Regime



A public event co-sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Arms Control Association

On July 14, 2008, USIP, along with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation and Studies and the Arms Control Association, co-sponsored an event to examine the nuclear nonproliferation implications of Israel’s September 2007 attack on a Syrian facility believed to have been a clandestine nuclear reactor under construction with North Korean assistance. The panel of speakers included David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security; Avner Cohen, USIP; Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., Cypress Fund; Dr. Fiona Simpson, New York University; Leonard S. Spector, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; and Robin Wright, noted journalist. Daryl Kimball, of the Arms Control Association, moderated.

The speakers addressed various aspects of the Israeli airstrike and Syria’s secret nuclear activities, including Israel’s rationale for taking military action against the facility, the implications of the airstrike, Syria’s actions with respect to the International Atomic Energy Agency and what the IAEA might uncover in relation to the facility.

Albright pointed out the significant evidence that the facility was a nuclear reactor under construction. However, he said, there is little indication of other aspects of a nuclear weapons program in the country. He also argued that Syria’s nuclear proliferation highlighted the need to pay greater attention to the global illicit nuclear trade.

Cohen contrasted the September 2007 airstrike to Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, noting the differences in the nature of and international reactions to each attack. Spector called the muted reaction of the international community to the event “quite striking.” He speculated that the silence was because observers worldwide were “recalibrating” their reactions to such attacks in light of the Bush doctrine of preemptive warfare.

Wright discussed the Middle Eastern political dynamics behind Israel’s strike and suggested that Syria and North Korea did not protest the attack because of their fear of publicity about their own illicit nuclear activities. She also surmised that knowledge of the facility was closely guarded, and that many elements of the Syrian leadership, as well as other states in the region, were unaware of its existence prior to its destruction.

Simpson highlighted the differences between preventive and pre-emptive military action and noted the limitations of the IAEA inspection regime with respect to cases in which evidence of noncompliance is unclear. Finally, Graham discussed the roles of two different types of IAEA states—nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states, with respect to the attack.

Cohen said, “It was a perhaps the first public discussion in town of an event which is still so publicly obscure. There are still many questions that need to be answered before we can fully evaluate the impact that the attack and Syria’s activities had on efforts to deal with nuclear proliferation.”

For more detailed information, transcripts and audio, go to the USIP Webpage.


A public event co-sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Arms Control Association.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

“The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at Forty: Addressing Current and Future Challenges”



Arms Control Association (ACA) Annual Meeting and Luncheon
Monday, June 16, 2008, 9:30AM - 2:30PM

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

The 2008 Arms Control Association annual meeting and luncheon focuses on the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and how the global nonproliferation regime can be strengthened to last another 40 years and beyond.

9:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: Addressing the Challenges Facing the NPT

Click here for the transcript of the morning panel.

  • Andrew K. Semmel, Private Consultant at AKS Consulting and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation.
  • Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate in the Nonproliferation Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

11:30 a.m. Luncheon Address: Making the 2010 NPT Review Conference a Success

Click here for a transcript of the luncheon.

1:00 p.m. Panel Discussion: How the Next President Can Strengthen the Nonproliferation System

Click here for the transcript of the afternoon panel.

Click here for CSPAN Coverage

  • Stephen E. Biegun, Representative for campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.); Corporate Officer and Vice President of International Governmental Affairs for Ford Motor Company and former National Security Advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
  • John D. Holum, Representative for campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.); former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Keynote by Ambassador Sergio Duarte, with a panel featuring representatives from the Obama and McCain campaigns.

Country Resources:

How NSG States Can Help Avert a Nonproliferation Disaster



Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Presentation to the HBF-ACA Seminar on

“The Proposal for Nuclear Trade with India,” Berlin, May 13, 2008

Forty years ago, the world’s states joined together to create the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT and subsequent review conferences have established a set of standards and norms that the vast majority of states have agreed to follow in order to reduce the spread and the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states agreed to pursue nuclear disarmament, while the non-nuclear weapon states agreed to foreswear nuclear weapons so long as they retain access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under strict and verifiable control.

These and other nonproliferation mechanisms have worked remarkably well when properly executed and when the international community has responded with unity to cases of noncompliance. For instance, in response to India’s 1974 nuclear test explosion, which used plutonium derived from Canadian and U.S. supplied equipment and material in violation of India’s peace nuclear use agreements, nuclear supplier states joined together to reinforce the NPT by forming the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Through national laws and the NSG, leading states severely constrained India’s access to the nuclear fuel and technology market and successfully helped constrain the growth of India’s nuclear arsenal.

In 1992, the NSG formally agreed to restrict nuclear trade with states, such as India, that are not members of the NPT and do not allow comprehensive, full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In 1995, the NPT Review Conference endorsed the principle of full-scope safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply.

But now, the global system for controlling and eliminating nuclear weapons is under increasing stress. The troubles facing the NPT and the NSG derive in large part from:

  • The failure of a few states to fulfill their nonproliferation, safeguards, and disarmament obligations;
  • The failure of a handful of states to join the treaty; and
  • The failure of leading states, including the United States and others to consistently enforce their own nonproliferation and disarmament standards and laws. In the case of India and Pakistan, nonproliferation has too often lost out to competing economic and security considerations with negative results.

The latest example is the July 2005 U.S.-Indian proposal to exempt India from U.S. national laws barring nuclear trade with states that have tested nuclear weapons and do not allow comprehensive safeguards and to carve-out a country-specific loophole in NSG rules to allow a handful of nuclear supplier states to engage in nuclear cooperation with NPT hold-out India.

For its part India pledged to put an additional 8 of its electricity producing nuclear reactors under facility-specific IAEA safeguards by 2014. Six reactors are already under such safeguards. However, it did not commit to any binding restrictions on its ability to increase its nuclear arsenal or test nuclear weapons.

In 2006, the U.S. Congress adopted legislation, known as the Henry Hyde Act, that provides the U.S. president limited and conditional authority to exempt India from the law that bars trade with states that don’t allow full-scope safeguards. In 2007, the United States and India concluded negotiations on a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, also referred to as a “123” agreement after the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act governing bilateral nuclear cooperation.

To implement the deal, further steps must be undertaken. The 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board has to approve a new and unprecedented safeguards agreement that would cover a limited number of additional Indian “civilian” reactors. Then, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would have to agree by consensus to exempt India from longstanding NSG guidelines that require full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply. If those steps are taken, the U.S. Congress could then consider whether to approve, reject, or add conditions on the proposed U.S.-Indian “123” agreement. Given the numerous discrepancies between the Hyde Act and the “123” agreement, [1] many members of Congress will want to closely examine and possibly place conditions on the resolution of approval.  If the NSG exempts India from the full-scope safeguards requirement, other states including France and Russia could also go forward with their own bilateral nuclear trade deals.

But now, two and a half years after President Bush and Prime Minister Singh proposed the nuclear deal, the arrangement is being buffeted by crosswinds of criticism at home and abroad. Since the Indian government and the IAEA concluded their talks on the new safeguards agreement in March of this year, several leftist parties – which help provide the United Progressive Alliance government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh its governing majority – have threatened to withdraw from the government and force an early election if the ruling Congress party takes the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the NSG meeting that begins May 19 here in Berlin will do anything more than discuss the proposal to exempt India from the full-scope safeguards condition of nuclear supply. In fact, I believe it is unlikely that the NSG will take a formal decision before the end of 2008.

India’s Unreasonable Demands

If the initiative doesn’t crumble as a result of domestic Indian opposition in the next few months, I believe it will become indefinitely stalled or significantly modified because a growing number of NSG states are unwilling to compromise longstanding nonproliferation and disarmament policies.

Why? While many NSG member states support India’s legitimate nuclear energy goals, the terms proposed by India and the United States go far beyond what many of them are willing—or should be asked--to accept.

The Singh government is seeking unprecedented “India-specific” safeguards that it has asserted shall apply only so long as foreign supplies continue.  Although P.M. Singh reiterated India’s support for a nuclear test moratorium, the U.S.-Indian “123” agreement and draft NSG proposal both fail to explicitly state that renewed Indian testing would lead to a termination of nuclear trade. To improve its fuel production and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities, the Singh government has fought tooth and nail to secure access to enrichment and reprocessing technologies from the United States and other nuclear suppliers for its long-planned fast-breeder reactor program, but which could also be used to improve its military nuclear program.

For those in India who believe it is essential to protect the option to increase the size of India’s arsenal, perfect new warhead designs through renewed nuclear testing, and to obtain more advanced plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment technology, such terms may seem logical, if not vital.

It is for India to decide what is best for India, but other states are under no obligation to agree to India’s terms. In fact, the 188 states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty have taken on solemn legal and political responsibilities that bar any form of assistance to another state that might support a military nuclear program and to support nuclear disarmament initiatives—responsibilities that make it difficult for them to agree to India’s preferred terms of nuclear trade.

Under Articles II and III of the NPT, member states are legally bound to support effective and permanent safeguards against the diversion of technology that might also help in the making of nuclear bombs or bomb material. Under Article VI, they are all legally bound to support measures that would help end the arms race and lead to disarmament. These include the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which 177 states, including the original five nuclear weapon states, have signed. India refuses to sign. Under Article VI, NPT states are bound to pursue a halt to the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

While Prime Minister Singh restatement India's support for the negotiation of a global fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) is a positive statement, it is not a new or meaningful pledge. India has for several years stated its support for the negotiation of a global, verifiable FMCT. Yet negotiations toward such a treaty have been deadlocked at the Conference on Disarmament since the late 1990s due to differences over negotiating priorities.

NPT member states must also consider the very real possibility that the supply of nuclear fuel to India could free-up its existing (and limited) stockpile and capacity to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons. This could allow for the rapid expansion of India's nuclear arsenal from the current rate of some 6-10 bombs annually to several dozen annually. As a result, the United States and other nuclear fuel suppliers could be indirectly assisting India’s nuclear bomb program in violation of their obligation under Article I of the NPT not to assist in any way other states’ nuclear weapons programs.

Furthermore, India’s failure to agree to halt its production of fissile material for weapons (as four of the five original nuclear-weapon states claim to have done and as China is believed to have done) strikes many states as inconsistent with it policy of maintaining a “minimal credible deterrent.” There is no strategic rationale for India amass more than 100 bombs worth of nuclear weapon material when other potential strategic rivals do not possess significantly larger weapons arsenals.

These are real and legitimate concerns that should not be dismissed as unreasonable demands issued by states that would deny what many nuclear nationalists in India believe is a “right” join the few nuclear weapons “haves.” Rather, these are concerns based on the concept that all states should comply with a common set of nuclear weapons restraint measures and that no single state, or group of states, should have a “most favored” nuclear weapons status.

India Would Still Be Outside the Nonproliferation Mainstream

Advocates of the deal in the United States and the other states that might profit from nuclear reactor and fuel sales to India claim that the deal is, on balance, worthwhile because it would bring India into the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream.  Even IAEA Director-General Mohammed El Baradei, who oversees an agency that is mandated to help promote nuclear energy everywhere, has made vague but unsubstantiated claims in support of the deal.

But a sober and careful analysis make it abundantly clear that El Baradei and others who claim  the nuclear deal will strengthen the nonproliferation regime are dead wrong. The nuclear deal fails to bring India into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of responsible nuclear states.

As I and a group of other nonproliferation experts wrote the Director-General in July 2006, the nuclear deal would provide India nuclear trade benefits reserved for countries that have forsworn nuclear weapons or those legally bound to give them up; neither of which is true of India.  The U.S.-Indian deal is not an effective way to restructure the NPT system and would lead to the further unraveling of the basic security bargain established between the nuclear haves and have-nots.

Making any exemption to the nonproliferation rules might only be justified if the nonproliferation and disarmament commitments outlined in the Bush-Singh statement of July 2005 significantly strengthened the global nonproliferation and disarmament system. As of now, they do not.

What Should Be Done?

Nevertheless, unless key members of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group are prepared to exert the necessary leadership, decisions that may taken within weeks or months at the IAEA Board of Governors and the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the India nuclear deal could further undermine the NPT.

Thankfully, most NSG states appear reluctant to make far-reaching exceptions to existing international nuclear nonproliferation practices and many rightly believe that India should in the very least abide by the same nuclear restraint measures that are expected of other major nuclear states.

First of all, NSG members should not be in any rush to exempt India from NSG rules or commit to support such an exemption, especially given the uncertain degree of support for the arrangement inside India.

If the proposal is advanced later this year or next, at an absolute minimum, the NSG should reject India’s demand for a “clean” exemption from NSG guidelines and insist upon the minimal but still vital requirements established by the U.S. Congress in the Henry Hyde Act of 2006.

Among other things, the Hyde Act requires:   

  • The immediate termination of all nuclear trade with India if New Delhi resumes nuclear testing or violates its safeguard commitments. India, which has not signed the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, is seeking terms would allow continued nuclear trade even if it resumes testing.  
  • An IAEA-India safeguards agreement that applies in perpetuity to all nuclear materials, equipment, and technology and all civilian nuclear facilities in India. New Delhi is seeking an unprecedented “Indian-specific” safeguards agreement that would allow it to remove certain reactors from safeguards if fuel supplies are interrupted, even if that is because it resumes testing.  
  • A clear prohibition on the transfer of enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy water production technology for Indian national facilities. IAEA safeguards cannot prevent India from using knowledge gained from the importation of these sensitive technologies in its nuclear weapons program.

If the NSG fails to establish these restrictions and conditions, NSG guidelines would be less stringent than U.S. law and policy. As a result, other less constrained suppliers such as Russia and France would gain a commercial advantage and undermine longstanding U.S. nonproliferation objectives.

However, if NSG states take their nonproliferation obligations seriously, they should apply further conditions and restrictions than were adopted by the U.S. Congress and take responsible action in six key areas:

First, with respect to the new safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which are almost purely symbolic and hardly worth their ten million dollar or more annual costs, the IAEA Board could and should reject any Indian statement or interpretation that makes the safeguards contingent on the continuation of foreign fuel supplies, which runs counter to the principle of permanent safeguards.

IAEA member states must also consider the fact that partial safeguards in a state with a known nuclear weapons program are purely symbolic and hardly worth their cost, which will be ten million U.S, dollars or more a year. These costs will be paid by individual IAEA member states through the IAEA general fund.

Second, India pledged in July 2005 to conclude an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement. NSG states will likely insist that India and the IAEA conclude a meaningful Additional Protocol safeguards regime before any India-specific NSG exemption takes effect. So far, neither the Indian nor the U.S. governments have explained how the Additional Protocol will apply to Indian nuclear facilities or when.

Third, the current U.S. proposal to exempt India from NSG guidelines India would, in the case of a resumption of nuclear testing by India, make the suspension of nuclear trade optional for NSG members. This elastic approach to NSG guidelines should be rejected because it  would undercut the international norm against nuclear testing and make a mockery of NSG guidelines. Instead, NSG members should insist that an exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement would be automatically revoked in the event of a nuclear test explosion.

Fourth, India is seeking an exemption from NSG guidelines that would open the way for other nuclear suppliers to transfer sensitive plutonium reprocessing, uranium enrichment, or heavy water production technology to India.

This should be a red flag to NSG states because IAEA safeguards cannot prevent such technology from being replicated and used in India’s weapons program. At the moment, the vast majority of NSG members support a proposal for a new NSG guideline that would bar transfers of these sensitive nuclear technologies to non-NPT members, states that have not concluded an Additional Protocol agreement with the IAEA, or states that are not in full compliance with their safeguards agreements. This would exclude India from NSG supplies of enrichment and reprocessing items.

This so-called criteria based proposal to tighten enrichment and reprocessing transfers will be the top items at this month’s NSG meeting in Berlin. Whether it is adopted or not, it is highly unlikely that NSG members will consent to nuclear transfers to India involving reprocessing, enrichment, or even heavy water production items.

Fifth, NSG states should flatly reject India’s attempts to secure nuclear fuel supply guarantees for the lifetime of their reactors to overcome the possibility that foreign suppliers might cut off nuclear trade if India decides to resume nuclear testing or violates its safeguards agreement. Instead, as the Hyde Act suggest, NSG states should stipulate that if NSG states provide nuclear fuel supplies to India, they should only be “commensurate with reasonable reactor requirements,” and not constitute a multi-year strategic fuel reserve.

Finally, NSG states must also take their NPT and UN Security Council commitments seriously. In keeping with the Article VI requirement on all NPT states to support measures that would help end the arms race and lead to disarmament, they should reiterate the call in UNSC 1172 of 1998 that calls upon India to reconsider and sign the CTBT and, along with Pakistan, halt fissile material production for weapons.


Now is the time for Germany (the incoming chair of the NSG) to work with responsible members of the NSG to insist upon guidelines for trade with India that, at the very least, incorporate the minimal requirements mandated by U.S. law, and ideally, go further to minimize the damage to the already beleaguered global nonproliferation system.

For several months, the Arms Control Association and dozens of other nonproliferation experts and nongovernmental organizations have been working to draw attention to the flaws in the nuclear deal and propose fixes. For instance, we organized a letter to NSG member states and several IAEA Board of Governors states in January of this year that was endorsed by more than 130 NGOs and experts from 23 countries.[2]

Based on my conversations with NSG diplomats in recent weeks, I am fairly confident that many of many of our recommendations have broad support within the NSG, and as a result, the proposal will have to be substantially modified and conditioned if it is to gain approval.

If India’s leaders cannot even abide by these minimal standards and decide to reject the deal, that is their choice. However, before they do, they should consider whether continued fissile material production, the option to test again, access to reprocessing and enrichment technology, and special safeguards are worth the cost of losing access to international fuel supplies and power reactors. A careful and sober examination of these questions suggest that the purported security benefits of expanding and modernizing India’s nuclear weapons arsenal and the economic benefits of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel are illusory and their cost are high.

Given India’s laudable past efforts and calls for a nuclear weapons free world, it is also unfortunate that the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation proposal has not prompted deeper thinking and discussion within India about the role of its nuclear weapons and why it needs any greater capability.

To this day, Indian politicians cite former P.M. Rajiv Gandhi’s visionary 1988 proposal for nuclear disarmament as a blueprint for action. Realizing its goals will take more than just talk on the part of India’s leaders. It requires leadership by example. While the U.S. and Russia have undertaken several of the “phase I” steps in the Gandhi plan, India now resists two key elements of the plan: the CTBT and a “cessation of the production of nuclear weapons by all nuclear weapon states.” If India were to offer its support for these initiatives, its reentry into the international civil nuclear energy market would be wholeheartedly welcomed and not so vigorously resisted.

1. “U.S.-Indian Nuclear Agreement: A Bad Nuclear Deal Gets Worse,” Background Memo by Fred McGoldrick and Daryl Kimball, August 3, 2007. See <http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2007/20070803_IndiaUS >

2. “Fix the Proposal for Renewed Nuclear Cooperation with India,” Letter from Nongovernmental Organizations, January 7, 2008. See <http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2008/NSGappeal >

Presentation to the HBF-ACA Seminar, Berlin

START Anew: The Future of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty



Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Presentation for Roundtable Discussion, Carnegie Moscow Center

May 12, 2008

As a result of the landmark U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), our two nations are safer and the world is safer. START helped curb the Cold War nuclear competition by substantially and verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons holdings.

START slashed strategic nuclear forces of the two sides from 1990 levels of approximately 10,000 deployed warheads each to no more than 6,000 warheads apiece by December 5, 2001. (See Appendix I.) The accord also limits each side to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles (land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles, plus heavy bombers) and mandates the destruction of most excess delivery systems. In addition, START established a far-reaching system of notifications and inspections that provides an accurate assessment of the size and location of each side’s forces.

START also prohibits interference with national technical means of intelligence, operating in a manner consistent with the recognized principles of international law. START bans the use of concealment measures that impede verification by national technical means.

National technical means are buttressed by a system of cooperative measures which make it easier for satellites to monitor the numbers and locations of strategic forces. START further bans most forms of telemetry encryption during flight tests of ICBMs and SLBMs, which provides additional confidence that such tests are not being used for illegal purposes.

START provides agreed procedures for the conversion or elimination of systems, which provides assurance that such reductions are genuine and cannot be easily reversed. A special system of notifications in numerical and geographical constraints helps control the numbers and locations of mobile ICBMs.

While the U.S. and Russia reached the START-mandated weapons ceilings back in 2001, START still provides a channel through which U.S. and Russian military leaders, bureaucrats, and experts can communicate, allowing them to discuss particular issues and settle disagreements. It provides U.S. and Russian political leaders with predictability and transparency about how each will handle the world’s largest and most deadly nuclear arsenals.

Will START Stop?

Unfortunately, after nearly a year of off-and-on talks on the future of START, it appears that the United States and Russia will not conclude an agreement on the future course of action regarding START before President George W. Bush leaves office. According to our sources in the U.S. State Department, currently there is no follow-up meeting scheduled between the two sides on the matter following the April meeting of Presidents Bush and Vladimir Putin at Sochi.

If the two sides do not succeed in reaching an agreement on the future of START before the end of 2008—and it is not likely that they will—the next U.S. presidential administration will have relatively little time to work out an arrangement on START with President Dmitry Medvedev before START’s scheduled expiration date of December 5, 2009.

Leaders in Washington and Moscow must do better. Although the 1991 START system may require adjustments to reflect present-day realities, it continues to serve as an important foundation for deeper, faster, and irreversible reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals. Further verifiable reductions in warheads and delivery systems are essential if we are to head-off renewed U.S.-Russian strategic competition and reduce the dangers posed by these excessive, obsolete, and deadly arsenals.

My remarks today will outline:

  • The current impasse facing START;
  • The views of key U.S. Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the subject; and
  • Possible next steps for U.S. and Russian leaders to preserve key elements of START and achieve deeper and verifiable U.S. and Russian strategic reductions.

Missed Opportunities and Multitudes of Weapons

The recent inability to develop a common future strategy for START is nothing new. In the 17 years since START was negotiated and signed, efforts to ratify and implement the follow-on START II of 1993 [1] and plans to begin formal talks on a START III framework agreement [2] have been sidetracked by differences between Washington and Moscow on other issues, primarily missile defenses. Instead of START II or START III, the United States and Russia agreed in May 2002 to the useful but very inadequate Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which calls for deeper reductions in operationally deployed strategic warheads to 1,700-2,200 each by the year 2012.

Unlike START, SORT does not establish any limits on strategic nuclear delivery systems nor does it mandate the destruction of those delivery systems. Excess warheads may be stored, and no new verification mechanism was established. Making matters worse, the two sides were unable to agree on a common system for monitoring compliance with the limits on deployed warheads and the treaty expires on the day its limitations take effect.

From the perspective of the Bush administration, SORT provides the flexibility to adjust U.S. nuclear forces up or down, depending on the international situation. But SORT’s emphasis on flexibility undermines predictability and confidence in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship.

Partly as a result of this history of missed opportunities and nuclear policy inertia, the U.S. and Russia are not true allies, and mutual suspicions linger. Today, the U.S. and Russia deploy some 3,000 to 4,000 strategic nuclear warheads and they store thousands of additional strategic and sub-strategic nuclear warheads, some of which could theoretically be redeployed within weeks or months. The United States is not sure about Russia’s current number of deployed strategic warheads because SORT did not establish a common set of counting rules.

The unsettled nature of the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship and the rules to manage it are reflected in the differences between the current warhead levels as measured by SORT and START. According to the latest unclassified U.S. government declaration on the number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads, the United States deployed at the beginning of 2008 some 2,871 strategic nuclear warheads. (See Appendix II.)

In contrast, according to the latest START memorandum of understanding and START counting rules, the United States has some 5,900 strategic warheads deployed on 1,225 strategic nuclear delivery systems (land- and sea-based ICBMs and bombers). The different figures are due largely to the fact that the United States has converted a large number of its bombers and missiles to conventional missions, eliminated 50 MX missiles and 40 Minuteman IIIs, and it has substantially reduced (or downloaded) the number of strategic nuclear warheads on key land- and sea-based missile systems. Yet, those warheads and delivery systems are still START accountable.

The shortcomings of SORT and the failure of Washington and Moscow to make progress on disarmament beyond the numerical goals outlined a decade ago in START III has reinforced the view among the majority of non-nuclear-weapon states that the five original nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) do not intend to pursue their NPT-related nuclear disarmament commitments. This has complicated efforts to win support from the non-nuclear-weapon majority who will continue to resist new measures to restrict the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, strengthen the safeguards system, and respond to cases of noncompliance.

Given that U.S. and Russian officials have so far been unable to agree on the future of START and neither government appears ready to extend START in its current form past its scheduled expiration on December 5, 2009, the situation could get even messier.

The U.S. intelligence community believes, as I am sure the Russian intelligence community believes, that its ability to monitor strategic nuclear weapons holdings would be significantly hindered in the absence of START. If no new verification mechanisms are established, a former U.S. verification official told Arms Control Today in 2005 that the two countries would be “flying blind” in their nuclear relationship.

The loss of START would compound the existing tensions between Washington and Moscow over U.S. plans to install missile interceptors in Poland, as well as Russian worries that the United States might redeploy its reserve nuclear forces and utilize leftover nuclear delivery systems for conventional strike missions. At the same time, Russia is pursuing new strategic missile systems and plans to increase the number of warheads carried by certain missile systems.

The Status of Talks on START

Following President Putin’s call for a new round of U.S.-Russian strategic arms reductions talks in mid-2006, U.S. and Russian experts began discussions in March 2007 on follow-on measures to START, but the two sides have not been able to bridge differences on several core issues. Russia favors negotiating a new treaty that would reduce strategic nuclear warheads to less than 1,500 each, with specific limits on delivery systems. The Bush administration rejects further weapons limits, but has agreed to negotiate legally-binding transparency and confidence-building measures.

While both sides want some verification measures after START, there are differences in their approaches. Russia claims that more intrusive measures, such as on-site inspections, would need to be included in a legally-binding agreement as required by Russia’s domestic laws. U.S. negotiators have argued for understandings that would allow for “visits” to each other’s weapons storage sites.

Given the differences between the White House and the Kremlin on the future of START, the prospects for a new legally binding agreement before the end of 2008 look dim. The next U.S. president, who will enter office in January 2009, will have limited time to work with President Dmitry Medvedev on a new arrangement before START lapses.

Views of Key Lawmakers and the Presidential Candidates

Although the START clock is ticking, the good news is that there is strong support from key Republican and Democratic lawmakers that the U.S. and Russia must make further progress on legally-binding strategic nuclear reductions. Much of the emphasis and concern is focused on the loss of the verification protocols of START.

As Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in October 2007, “[T]he administration must reject the arguments from some that suggest the U.S.-Russian relationship has moved beyond the need for legally binding treaties.”

In January, Lugar was more specific, when he said “Presidents Bush and Putin must extend the START Treaty’s verification and transparency elements … and they should work to add verification measures to the Moscow Treaty.”

Just last week, Lugar pressed the point again at the nomination hearing of William Burns, the incoming undersecretary of state.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) wrote March 2008 in The Wall Street Journal that “losing the transparency and stability these treaties provide would be a monumental failure for the U.S. and Russia.” Presidents Bush and Putin, he wrote, have “largely abdicated these responsibilities. Their successors will have to act immediately to revitalize both accords.”

In June 2007, 28 key members of the House of Representatives urged action to extend START and achieve deeper reductions. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Chair of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee and others suggested that President Bush “… carefully consider extending START in its current form in order to enable your and President Putin's successors to negotiate a new legally binding agreement that achieves greater, verifiable reductions in each nation's nuclear forces.”

With new leadership in the White House next year, there is indeed the potential for substantial progress. Each of the remaining U.S. presidential candidates has expressed support for renewed U.S. leadership on nuclear disarmament. In varying degrees of specificity, each has outlined what actions they would pursue.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has said he would seek “world in which there are no nuclear weapons,” and with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), introduced legislation in 2007 (S. Res. 1977) outlining a strategy to fortify U.S. nonproliferation and disarmament policy.

In that bill Obama and Hagel suggest “taking further steps to achieve deeper, verifiable reductions in global nuclear arsenals and their means of delivery; initiating talks with the Government of the Russian Federation to reduce the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons and further reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons in the respective nuclear stockpiles of the United States and the Russian Federation in a transparent and verifiable fashion …; taking measures to reduce the risk of an accidental, unauthorized, or mistaken launch of nuclear weapons, including by considering changes in the alert status in U.S. and Russian forces and rapidly completing the Joint Data Exchange Center.”

In a November 2007 article in Foreign Affairs, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) wrote “taking dramatic steps to reduce our nuclear arsenal would build support for the coalitions we need to address the threat of nuclear proliferation...To reassert our nonproliferation leadership, I will seek to negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. This dramatic initiative would send a strong message of nuclear restraint to the world, while we retain enough strength to deter others from trying to match our arsenal.”

In a March 26, 2008 speech in Los Angeles, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament. The time has come to renew that commitment. We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal. The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.”

Will these candidates, if elected, follow through on these commitments? If so, what specific strategies might each of them pursue? At this point, these are unanswerable questions given that the advisors in each campaign have just begun to think more deeply beyond these general statements and there are several more months before inauguration day.

Another key factor in U.S. thinking about the future of START and deeper reductions will be a forthcoming “nuclear posture review.” When Congress approved the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act late last year, it mandated that the Pentagon, consulting with the Energy and State Departments, conduct a separate “comprehensive review” of U.S. nuclear posture for the next five to 10 years. Lawmakers ordered the posture review to be delivered in 2009 with the Pentagon’s next Quadrennial Defense Review, which maps out the department’s thinking about how to structure forces and weapons for the future.

This report, which will not likely be completed until late-2009 or after, need not delay talks between Washington and Moscow on the future of START and the U.S. stockpile, but the nuclear posture review will shape and be shaped by U.S.-Russian discussions on the future of START.

What Should Be Done?

So if the next U.S. president, along with the Russian president want to pursue further, verifiable strategic nuclear reductions, what should they do to bridge the differences that have divided the two sides for the past several years and how do they do it before START expires?

First, the two presidents should meet early in 2009 and declare their intention to dramatically reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons by working closely together to negotiate a new “START plus” treaty that puts each nation on course to achieve far deeper, verifiable, and legally-binding reductions in each nation’s nuclear warheads and missile forces, with the goal of completing the new agreement by 2010. Simply stating this will help build trust and send a strong signal to their respective bureaucracies to focus on getting the job done.

Second, rather than allow START to expire or mask long-simmering differences with halfway measures, Bush’s and Putin’s successors should announce that they will unilaterally but reciprocally continue to observe START until they can conclude negotiations on the new START-plus agreement. While some START restrictions, such as limits on warhead downloading, may affect U.S. and Russian force structuring plans over time, a relatively short extension of START will not adversely affect immediate force structure requirements and SORT obligations.

This approach is in keeping with the spirit if not the letter of Article XVIII paragraph 2 of the START, which allows for the two parties to extend the treaty “for a period of five years unless it is superseded before the expiration of that period by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.”

A new “START-plus” agreement must tackle four key objectives:

  • Mutually acceptable ceilings on the number of delivery systems and the warheads that they carry according to common and verifiable counting rules. With the United States and Russia set to reduce operationally deployed nuclear warheads to no more than 1,700-2,200 warheads by 2012 under SORT, and given that there is no security threat other than the other’s nuclear arsenals that could possibly justify possession of a few hundred strategic deployed nuclear warheads, START-plus should aim to reduce each nation’s deployed strategic arsenal to no more than 1,000 warheads within a period of five years. Russia has already proposed its readiness to reduce its strategic forces to the level of 1,500 or fewer warheads.

Based on each country’s decisions about the number of warheads loaded on delivery systems, the agreement should also establish lower limits on designated nuclear-capable delivery systems.

To provide each side with a certain degree of flexibility regarding how they decide to structure their deployed force, existing START rules on “downloading” should be relaxed to allow each side to achieve deeper reductions by reducing the number of warheads deployed on certain strategic missiles.

  • Ensuring that non-deployed warheads are not available to quickly increase the size of either nation’s deployed strategic stockpile. This could be achieved by limiting the number of warheads that may be loaded on any given delivery system and reducing the ceilings for nuclear-capable strategic delivery systems; and/or, in the next phase of strategic nuclear weapons reductions, a new an intrusive system for verifiably dismantling excess warheads could be established, as was envisioned in the START III framework agreement of 1997.
  • Establishing a streamlined START-style verification protocol. To retain current levels of transparency, accountability, and confidence, current START data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections should continue to serve as the basis for START-plus. The two countries could decide what kind of data and types of inspections are still critically important and which are obsolete and could be canceled. The quotas for the number of inspections could also be revised in START-plus.
  • Accounting for  any strategic ballistic missiles that are converted from a nuclear to a conventional, “prompt global strike” mission. Given that the United States plans to deploy a relatively small number of such non-nuclear ballistic missiles, such systems should simply be counted under the START-plus ceilings.

The two presidents must also agree not to allow other difficult issues to stall the START negotiations. NATO expansion, U.S. missile interceptors and radars in Europe, the CFE Treaty, the Balkans and the Caucuses will continue to be difficult issues that will require further but separate dialogue between our two countries.

Later, as the two sides’ strategic arsenals shrink, the United States and Russia should apply further limits on the number of warheads held in reserve, and discuss joint measures for reducing the alert levels of deployed forces. The two sides should also account for and agree to scrap Russia’s residual arsenal of at least sub-strategic nuclear warheads, as well as the smaller U.S. stockpile, which includes 350 warheads stationed in Europe.

With a new push for real nuclear reductions based on the proven principles of START, the U.S. and Russian leaders could achieve what SORT did not: verifiable, phased reductions of strategic deployed warheads to a level of 1,000 or fewer with lower ceilings on the number of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic missiles.

Appendix I

Changes in U.S. Strategic Forces Since 1990

(As of Jan. 1, 2008)

"START Accountable"

Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles

Strategic Nuclear Warheads

September 1990

January 2008

September 1990

January 2008







Minuteman III





Minuteman II











Poseidon (C-3)





Trident I (C-4)





Trident II (D-5)











B-52 (ALCM)





B-52 (Non-ALCM)





















2, 246




1. The United States met the START I implementation deadline of December 5, 2001, seven years after the treaty's entry into force. The treaty limits the United States and Russia each to 6,000 "accountable" warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles (missiles and bombers). All data is taken from the initial START I Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008. All figures are based on START counting rules, as negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union and specified in the treaty text. Thus, numbers do not necessarily reflect those weapons systems that are operationally deployed. For example, under START I, heavy bombers that are not equipped to carry long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) will be counted as carrying only one warhead, regardless of the number of bombs or short-range attack missiles that they actually carry. Moreover, 150 U.S. heavy bombers that are capable of carrying ALCMs will be counted as carrying only 10 missiles each, even though they have the capacity to hold 20 missiles each. Finally, U.S. deployed ICBMs and warheads are less than reported. In September 2005, the United States completed the retirement of all 50 MX/Peacekeeper missiles, and it is currently in the process of reducing the Minuteman III fleet from 500 ICBMs down to 450 missiles. 
Sources: START Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008.

Changes in Former Soviet Strategic Forces Since 1990
(As of January 1, 2008)

"START Accountable"

Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles

Strategic Nuclear Warheads

September 1990

January 2008

September 1990

January 2008



























SS-24 (Silo)





SS-24 (Rail)










SS-27 (Silo)





SS-27 (Road Mobile)




















































Bear (ALCM)





Bear (Non-ALCM)




















1. START I limits the United States and Russia to 6,000 "accountable" warheads each with an implementation deadline of December 2001. Figures are based on START counting rules, as negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union and specified in the treaty text. Thus, numbers do not necessarily reflect those weapons systems that are operationally deployed. 
2. Strategic nuclear weapons were located in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Belarus and Kazakhstan rapidly transferred nuclear warheads back to Russia and transferred or destroyed their associated delivery systems. Ukraine completed the transfer of nuclear warheads back to Russia in 1996 and destroyed its last SS-24 ICBM silo on October 30, 2001.

Sources: START Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of September 1, 1990 and the most recent MOU of January 1, 2008.

Appendix II

Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the United States

(As of January 1, 2008)

Strategic Delivery Vehicles [1]


Actual N-Capable
Strategic Delivery Vehicles [2]

Strategic Nuclear Warheads [1]


SORT Deployed Warheads [3]

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)


Minuteman IIIs



Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)

on 18 Trident subs

on 14 Trident subs





21 B-2s; 76 B-52s







2,871 [3]

Sources: [1] According to START I  counting rules and January 1, 2008 MoU.
[2] ACA estimates.
[3] As of Dec. 31, 2007, according to U.S. SORT Declaration, May 2008.

Current Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Russian Federation

(As of January 1, 2008)


START-Accountable Strategic Delivery
Vehicles [1]

START-Accountable Strategic Nuclear Warheads [1]

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)



Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)









Source: [1] According to START I counting rules and January 1, 2008 MoU.


1. START II called for reducing deployed strategic arsenals to 3,000-3,500 warheads and banned the deployment of destabilizing multiple-warhead land-based missiles. START II would have counted warheads in roughly the same fashion as START I and would have required the destruction of delivery vehicles but not warheads. Both the Senate and the Duma approved START II, but the treaty did not take effect because the Senate did not ratify the 1997 protocol and several ABM Treaty amendments, whose passage the Duma established as a condition for START II’s entry into force. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, Russia declared itself no longer bound by START II.

2. In March 1997, U.S. and Russian leaders agreed to a framework for START III, but those talks never got off the ground. START III was supposed to lead to verifiable limits of deployed strategic warheads to 2,000-2,500. Significantly, in addition to requiring the destruction of delivery vehicles, START III negotiations were to explore “the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions including prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.” Negotiations were supposed to begin after START II entered into force, which never happened.

Presentation for Roundtable Discussion, Carnegie Moscow Center

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