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– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Events

Fulfilling the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's Promise

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2005 Annual Meeting & Luncheon

February 3, 2005

ACA Panel Discussion:
"Fulfilling the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's Promise"

9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

An ACA-hosted panel discussion on past actions and future steps toward realizing the goals of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Congressman David Hobson to Address Arms Control Association on
"U.S. Nuclear Security in the 21st Century"

11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Congressman David Hobson (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, gave his perspective February 3 at the annual luncheon of the Arms Control Association on the proper funding and policy guidelines for maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. During the last budget cycle, Chairman Hobson led the Congress in denying Bush administration requests for researching robust nuclear earth penetrating nuclear warheads and low-yield nuclear weapons. He also trimmed administration requests for building a new facility to build new nuclear bomb cores and to diminish the preparation time for the United States to resume nuclear testing if such a decision were made. In a recent Op-Ed in The Washington Times explaining his actions, Hobson wrote, "Not only are these initiatives an unwise and unnecessary use of limited resources, they also send the wrong signal to the rest of the world. When we want countries such as Iran and North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons development, it is hypocritical for the United States to embark on new weapons and testing initiatives."

 

 

 

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Arms Control Association Panel Discussion

The Possible Effect of the U.S. Push for New Nuclear Weapons on Developing a Consensus for Restructuring the Current Nonprolife

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ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION and 10TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR MATERIALS POLICY FORUM

MODERATORS:
ED HELMINSKI, PRESIDENT, EXCHANGE MONITOR PUBLICATIONS

DARYL KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

PANELISTS:

JOHN HARVEY, DIRECTOR, POLICY, PLANNING, ASSESSMENT & ANALYSIS OFFICE, NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
(Prepared Remarks Available as PDF File, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

SCOTT BURNISON, PROFESSIONAL STAFF, HOUSE ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE

MIKE LIEBERMAN, DEFENSE AIDE, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN SPRATT'S OFFICE

 

HILTON ALEXANDRIA MARK CENTER
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2004
11:15 AM


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DARYL KIMBALL: Good morning, everyone. I admire your perseverance. I hope this panel will be exciting in a certain way. I'm Daryl Kimball with the Arms Control Association. This session will be a panel discussion on the nonproliferation implications of new U.S. nuclear weapons research programs, pro and con. This has been a much talked about Department of Energy program for the last three years.

Let me add that the Arms Control Association is a public education and policy advocacy organization. We publish "Arms Control Today" and we're happy that Exchange/Monitor Publications has allowed us to put this session together, because this is a very key time in this subject and I think we've got a panel with three excellent speakers, three of the principal players in the ongoing discussion on this. My organization I should note also has been an active opponent of these programs, but we believe it's very important for there to be a clear and straightforward and fact-based dialogue on this, and I'm glad that all three of our speakers have come here to make the time to have a discussion about this very important issue.

And before I introduce them briefly, let me just set the stage with some facts, in the event that you're not familiar with some of the details and recent developments on Capitol Hill with respect to this program. Four years ago, the United States Congress asked the president to reassess the military requirements for nuclear weapons in the post Cold War era, resulting in the Nuclear Posture Review. And among other things, the 2002 NPR recommended new nuclear weapons capabilities, particularly designed to address deeply buried and hardened targets.

And so in the Fiscal 2003 budget cycle, the Bush administration requested authorization and appropriations for research and modification on two existing nuclear gravity bombs to enhance their earth penetrating capability. This is known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, or the RNEP, as you'll hear us refer to this. And then, again, in the Fiscal 2004 cycle, the administration again asked for research moneys for this program and also asked Congress to overturn a decade-old law prohibiting research leading to development of lower yield new nuclear weapons, defined as 5 kilotons or below, this prohibition having been introduced by Congressman John Spratt of South Carolina.

Now, in the past year there was substantial debate again on this subject. Congress narrowly approved, I should say in the last couple of years, these funding requests. They overturned the Congressional prohibition on low-yield research on new weapons. But at the same time, House and Senate appropriators disagreed on the funding levels and somewhat restricted the spending. And Congress also stipulated that any work beyond the research phase, that is the development phase, would require explicit Congressional approval.

Now, just this last year the administration upped its budget request for this program, asking for $27 million for RNEP, $9 million for the associated Advanced Concepts Research Program. However, last month, Congressional appropriators blocked funding for both these programs and redirected the monies for the Advanced Concepts Program to the Reliable Warhead Replacement Program and urged accelerated warhead dismantlement activities. So for now the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program and Advanced Concepts Research Program is on hold.

And so I will stop there and leave our panelists to describe their perspectives on this subject, some of the pros and cons, some of the issues that they feel are at play. We're going to begin with John Harvey, who is Director of Policy, Planning, Assessment & Analysis for the National Nuclear Security Administration. And as his title suggests, John has a big portfolio. He's responsible for analysis of program policy, budget options and plans, and you've worked with the Nuclear Weapons Council and also interagency policy reviews on these issues. Before being at the NNSA, John was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Nuclear Forces and Missile Defense Policy.

Also with us is Scott Burnison of the Majority Staff for the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which is lead by David Hobson of Ohio, who was a key player in the end of the year budget discussions that led to the cuts of this program. Mr. Hobson has represented Ohio's 7th District for over a decade and is also a senior member of the Defense Appropriations and Veterans Appropriations Subcommittees.

And then finally I'm pleased that we have Mike Lieberman, who is the Defense Legislative Assistant for Congressman John Spratt, who has been in Congress since 1982, representing South Carolina's 5th District. Congressman Spratt is a leading member of the House Armed Services Committee and assistant to the Democratic leader.

So I'm glad that you're all here. Thank you very much. And we'll start with you, John. The floor is yours.

JOHN HARVEY: Thanks very much. I'm very pleased to be here to share this stage with this distinguished group who have achieved a lot, not all of which I agree with. The subject of today's session is the possible effect of the U.S. push, the so-called push for new nuclear weapons on developing a consensus for restructuring the current nonproliferation regime. I'm going to summarize my points very briefly first and then elaborate.

First, there is no push for new nuclear weapons. Indeed, there are no current U.S. military requirements for new nuclear warheads. Second, were the United States at some future point to seek newer modified nuclear warheads in response to new military requirements, the implications for nonproliferation would, of course, depend on the specific nature of such modernization. Modest U.S. nuclear modernization I would argue is unlikely to upset the current nonproliferation regime by causing states with nuclear weapons to improve them or vertically proliferate, or by causing non-nuclear weapon states to seek to acquire nukes.

Nor should it disrupt in any significant way efforts to strengthen the regime with ambitious new initiatives. The efforts themselves to reach broad international consensus on such initiatives will pose the greatest challenge to change. Let me elaborate. Yesterday at this conference, Deputy NNSA Administration Jerry Paul highlighted the growing recognition that the traditional nonproliferation regime, based on the NPT and on a certain set of activities undertaken by the IAEA, is inadequate for today's threats and need to be augmented and strengthened. That concern is very real.

The war in Iraq in 1991, which led to the discovery of an advanced Iraqi nuclear weapons program began to alter our perception about the adequacy of the nonproliferation regime. Subsequent and recent revelations about covert nuclear weapons programs in North Korea, Iraq, Iran and formerly Libya have crystallized this concern.

President Bush called attention to the proliferation risks by certain states' acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities for ostensibly peaceful purposes, but who exploit these possibilities in covert nuclear weapons programs. Possession of these capacities in the hands of states with questionable commitments to nonproliferation must be discouraged. In this connection, efforts to augment the current nonproliferation regime could consist of the following elements. First of all, widespread and full implementation of the additional protocol, both to promote increased transparency and openness, and to give the IAEA a strengthened hand in uncovering illicit activities, exploration of options to limit the spread of the most sensitive elements of the fuel cycle, and third, alternative security constructs for countries that have considered or might consider seeking nuclear weapons but who have renounced that option.

The challenges in gauging and gaining international consensus for implementing these ideas, particularly the last two, would no doubt be formidable. Our job today is to try to understand whether potential U.S. nuclear modernization could pose an additional roadblock to their realization.

I have to reiterate that the United States has no development programs underway for new or modified nuclear warheads. We have not developed and fielded a new warhead for nearly 20 years. The last time we modified an existing warhead, the B61-11 earth penetrator, was during the Clinton administration. Certain warhead concept and feasibility studies are underway, or have been underway, the most controversial being the one Daryl referred to, the cost and feasibility study for a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, which Congress recently eliminated funds for.

Thus, the two separate but related questions that I will discuss with you are, at this point, purely hypothetical. Would U.S. nuclear weapons modernization stimulate proliferation, and would it hamper efforts to secure one or more elements of a strengthened nonproliferation regime. If the answer to the first question is yes, the argument goes, it would undermine U.S. leadership in seeking a strengthened regime. Obviously any presumed proliferation implications of U.S. nuclear weapons modernization would depend on the specific nature of the warhead concepts under consideration. For example, research and development on nuclear designs that could increase confidence in stockpile safety and reliability under a test moratorium would be unlikely to generate a comparable reaction from nuclear weapons-possessing states.

As a case in point, the recent announcement from President Putin that Russia was developing a hypersonic cruise missile to penetrate U.S. ballistic missile defenses was greeted with silence at the Pentagon. Because our missile defenses are not directed against Russia, why should we become alarmed if Russia decides to invest substantial resources on this system? After all, although we are not yet allies, neither are we the adversaries that we were during the Cold War, when one side's modernization cycle generated a reaction in the other.

A major nonproliferation objective of the United States is to prevent rogue states and terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. U.S. nuclear modernization will not increase incentives for terrorists to acquire such weapons. Those incentives are already high and are unrelated to U.S. nuclear or even conventional defense capabilities. Nor is it likely to have any impact on rogue states, whose proliferation marches forward independently of the U.S. nuclear program. Over the past decade we have seen very significant reductions in the numbers of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, reductions in the alert level of nuclear forces, no U.S. nuclear testing, no U.S. production of nuclear materials for weapons, and very little U.S. nuclear modernization.

There is absolutely no evidence that these developments have caused North Korea or Iran to slow down covert programs to acquire capabilities to produce nuclear weapons. On the contrary, these programs have accelerated during this period. Nor, by the way, did such U.S. constraint convince India and Pakistan not to test in 1998, or to continue to build up their nuclear capabilities. Rather, North Korea and Iran appear to be seeking weapons of mass destruction to deter the United States from taking steps to defend its interests and allies in each of these regions.

In this regard, their incentives to acquire weapons of mass destruction may be shaped more by U.S. advanced conventional capabilities and the demonstrated will to employ them to great effect in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and during both wars in Iraq, than to anything the U.S. has done or is doing in the nuclear weapons arena. We should, of course, be concerned about how our actions could affect international support among friends, allies and partners for strengthened nonproliferation commitments and programs. In this connection, I'm bothered by charges that our policies have harmed nonproliferation, because our nonproliferation record is exceptionally good. Our nuclear posture and our nonproliferation policy are mutually supportive and entirely consistent with our obligations under Article VI of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

In 1995, when the Nonproliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended, the United States reiterated its commitment under Article VI to work toward the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and to general and complete disarmament. Remarkable progress has been made in fulfilling this commitment and reducing reliance on nuclear forces in our National Security Strategy. The nuclear arms race has, in fact, been halted. The United States has been reducing its nuclear forces and nuclear weapons stockpile in a consistent fashion through both unilateral and bilateral initiatives, and is working cooperatively with allies and partners to further reduce nuclear threats.

The record speaks for itself. Let me just highlight a few points that have been highlighted by Jerry yesterday. First of all, the two-thirds reduction in operationally deployed nuclear forces as a result of the Moscow Treaty between now and 2012. And just last May, the president made a decision to reduce the stockpile by half, which would be a net factor of four reduction since the end of the Cold War. These accomplishments are helping to realize the president's vision of achieving the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons, consistent with national security needs.

Moreover, this record of action, coupled with the great progress the U.S. has made in the past two decades in reducing nuclear threats in other areas demonstrates strong U.S. adherence to its nonproliferation commitments. This should go far to negate the complaints of a few states who would highlight, often in a misleading way, certain activities in U.S. nuclear weapons R&D in order to call into question our commitments under the nonproliferation regime. More to the point, the challenges in establishing such a regime, for example, gaining international consensus on who should be the fuel cycle states and who should not be the fuel cycle states, will no doubt overwhelm these other considerations.

Let me conclude there and I'll be happy to answer questions after the end of this session.

KIMBALL: Why don't we move on to Scott and we'll take you questions after all three panelists are finished.

SCOTT BURNISON: I'd like to thank Ed and Daryl for the invitation today. As just Chairman Hobson's staff guy, I was pleased to get the invitation and I hope no one expects any profundity from staff. We work on a one-hour turnaround, where legibility is our biggest goal. But fortunately, once in a while, we get to work with someone like Chairman Hobson and get to be involved in some very interesting legislative and policy debates, so I appreciate this opportunity. I'm just going to take a couple minutes to highlight a couple points and I'll be brief and I really mean that. I will be brief.

The first point I'd like to make is something that Chairman Hobson has been very much out front on in terms of his discussion with the administration and his position. And I guess I'd characterize it simply as a credibility issue. And I think the safest thing for me to do would be just to quote Chairman Hobson from a speech he gave in August that some of you may have heard, so I apologize if this is retelling some old ground.

The Chairman stated that: "I view the advanced concept research proposal for a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator and the effort to reduce nuclear test readiness posture to 18 months as very provocative and overly aggressive policies that undermine our moral authority to argue to other nations that they should forgo nuclear weapons. We cannot advocate nuclear nonproliferation around the globe and pursue more usable nuclear weapons here at home."

That inconsistency is not lost on anyone in the international community. I guess to put a finer point on that, in reference to the nuclear posture review, that his statement tracked to the fact that all these initiatives, along with the Modern Pit Facility were included in a package within the NPR and represented a very high profile policy initiative pushing a revitalized nuclear weapons complex not so much to revitalize the life extension programs of the existing stockpile but to look in new directions and directions that made the Chairman uncomfortable. I think by highlighting these initiatives, the NPR emphasized not only the importance of nuclear weapons, but the importance of new capabilities. And I don't believe that that point is lost on any wannabe nuclear states or the rest of the world. If the United States, as the unequivocal greatest military power on the planet, views these weapons with high value, how can we credibly deny that others should not? Particularly on the grounds of making the world safe. So I think that characterizes in a very straightforward way Chairman Hobson's fundamental point that he's made over the last couple of years.

Point number two is a subset of point number one and is an observation coming as an appropriator and it's a question of looking at priorities and looking at where we put our money. It's the old axiom of just follow the money. There's obviously a lot of political discussion, most of it for domestic consumption. I think the international community is probably more interested in what we actually do. And so, what matters and what people look at is where we spend our money. And there were significant budget commitments tied up with these new weapons initiatives, particularly in the out-years. So they - from a budge perspective, as an appropriator - they represented a shifting in policy priorities and it was a priority shift that Chairman Hobson, I think, our subcommittee, and ultimately the entire House didn't support. In the past couple of years, the Chairman has supported weapons dismantlement initiatives and higher funding for nonproliferation efforts. In this case, I think the Chairman's position was that resources matter more than rhetoric and he put his marginal dollars to the activities that he supported.

My third and final point will just be a comment that on a recent trip, a Congressional delegation that Chairman Hobson and I was able to take part in, principle reason was going over to Kosovo to have Thanksgiving Dinner with the Ohio National Guard, but on the way we stopped into Vienna and on November 24, the day before the Board of Governors meeting began at the IAEA, Chairman Hobson met with Director General ElBaradei and pushed hard I think in a way that only Chairman Hobson can get away with and in a way that I think ElBaradei was a little surprised at in terms of pushing the IAEA to push hard on Iran for rigorous and intrusive inspections. It wasn't your typical meet and greet, but I think his point was simple and that for international agreements to be credible, they have to be adhered to. In this case, the IAEA needed to press for stronger verification and inspection requirements and if needed, and when challenged by the Iranians in this situation, the international community needs to stand up and be accounted for.

So, just as a final statement, I think Chairman Hobson's position and his policy position has always been one of leading by example. And his perspectives on the new nuclear weapons initiatives as they relate to nonproliferation is that's not an example that he supports.

Thank you.

KIMBALL: Thank you, Scott. We'll go next to Mike Lieberman.

MIKE LIEBERMAN: Thanks Daryl. And thank you to Ed Helminski for hosting this important forum. It's a real pleasure for me to share this stage here with Scott Burnison of Congressman Hobson's office, who I heartily commend for his decision to remove funding for the development of new nukes this year. And I really do sincerely appreciate John Harvey coming over to take the time to share the Bush administration's views on these issues with us.

The presidential election waged over the last year brought renewed attention to the threat that nuclear weapons pose for our society. During the first debate, the candidates were asked by the moderator, "If you were elected president, what will you take to that office is the single most serious threat to the national security of the United States?" Without hesitation, Senator Kerry answered, "Nuclear proliferation." President Bush followed suit soon thereafter, saying, "I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing our country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network."

The truth of the matter is that the development of new nuclear weapons runs directly counter to our goal of preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands, and in doing so, it makes the world a more dangerous place for America and Americans. In 1993, my boss, Congressman John Spratt, and Representative Elizabeth Furse coauthored the Spratt-Furse Ban on the development of new nuclear weapons with a yield of under 5-kilotons, or so called "tactical nuclear weapons," We proposed it and Congress enacted it to ratchet in place the progress that the first President Bush made in moving the United States and the Soviet Union away from the use of tactical nuclear weapons. We argued then and we hold now that tactical nuclear weapons had little military utility and that the fallout from the use of such weapons, both physical and political, would be disastrous.

However, last year, at the behest of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Congress repealed the Spratt-Furse ban on research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons. In support of this measure, opponents of the Spratt-Furse Ban repeatedly stated that they were not calling for the development of new nuclear weapons, they just wanted to have the option if they needed it. But not even two weeks after enactment of the bill repealing the ban, the administrator of the NNSA, Linton Brooks, sent a memo to the directors of Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore National Labs, stating, "We are now free to explore a range of tactical options without any concern that some ideas could inadvertently violate a vague and arbitrary limitation."

As NNSA began to exercise that option in FY04, we saw a budget request for DOE for $15 million for the development of the RNEP and $6 million for the development of Advanced Concepts Designs for new nuclear weapons. In FY2005, this increased to $27.6 million for RNEP and $9 million for Advanced Concepts. [Defense] Secretary Rumsfeld went to great pains to describe the RNEP as "only a study, nothing more, nothing less." But the budget justification documents from NNSA tell a different story. This so-called RNEP study, originally budgeted at $45 million over three years, is now slated for $485 million over the next five years. DOE officials say that to transition from research to development would require Congressional approval, and they're right. But at this level of projected expenditure, it's hard to believe that we're just doing research. Give an inch, take a mile. It's the RNEP is the Spratt-Furse story all over again.

But while we're troubled about the way the administration has pursued new nuclear weapons, we are even more concerned about the impact of these weapons themselves. Before deciding to develop new nuclear weapons, I believe we must be able to answer three questions. Number one, will the weapons do what they intend them to do? Number two, are there any alternatives to going nuclear? And number three, does the development of new nuclear weapons help our strategic goals? The answers to each of these three questions is troubling.

Well, what do we intend these weapons to do? For the RNEP, advocates argue that we need a new nuclear weapon to threaten deeply buried targets, such as leadership bunkers or bunkers that could hold weapons of mass destruction hundreds of feet below the earth's surface. But RNEP could never get that deep. A high-speed impact required to drive RNEP deep into the ground would melt the bomb casing, even if it was hardened steel. Because of this problem, RNEP could go no deeper than about 60 feet into rocky ground. Command bunkers are likely to be much deeper than this. Mines in Africa, for example, are up to 10,000 feet deep. In order to destroy realistic buried targets, RNEP would have to have more than ten - be ten times the size of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and would spray a massive amount of radioactive dirt across an enormous area, potentially killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

Let me give you an example, during the Baneberry U.S. Nuclear Test in 1970 at the Nevada test site, the U.S. placed a 10-kilaton weapon in a vertical shaft 900 feet deep, far deeper than the RNEP could go. The fallout cloud rose 10,000 feet into the air and it was tracked all the way to the Canadian border. If we extrapolate the use of a similar weapon to Iraq for example, where we could assume the weapon would be buried much shallower than 900 feet, radioactive fallout could settle over the entire country. Not exactly the best way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

So is there an alternative to going nuclear? In fact, there is. If buried sufficiently, conventional weapons are reported to be nearly as effective as their nuclear alternative and can destroy buried bunkers without the risk of radioactive fallout and the ensuing political consequences. This year, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, another champion on this issue, and my boss, Congressman Spratt, introduced an amendment to take all the money out of new nuke development and put it into better intelligence on deeply buried targets and hardening cases so conventional weapons could better survive ground impact. The amendment failed by a close vote, but to many it seemed like a prudent alternative to the nuclear option.

And finally, the focus of this talk: does the development of new nuclear weapons match our strategic interests? The answer to this question is a resounding no. Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty made every party pledge to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to disarmament. The development of new nuclear weapons runs directly counter to that pledge. It's not only unnecessary, but counterproductive at a time when we're trying to get countries like Iran and North Korea to give up their nuclear ambitions. If we develop new nuclear weapons, it could be seen by these countries as an abandonment of the NPT and a green light to begin the open development of their own nuclear weapons. In shattered economies like these, one could easily imagine a scenario where the government sold these weapons to rogue terrorist groups or where those same governments were lax on security and those weapons were stolen.

But before we pursue the development of new nuclear weapons, we must ask ourselves a fundamental question: can we really continue to move the world away from nuclear weapons, while we ourselves are doing the exact opposite? In the words of Congressman Ed Markey, "We're like those who would preach temperance from a bar stool."

Nearly half a century ago, President Eisenhower rejected the counsel of his advisors, who wanted a new variety of nuclear weapons that they said would allow the United States to fight and "win" a nuclear war. When asked why, Eisenhower responded, "You can't have that kind of war. There just aren't enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets." Our generation is now faced with a similar challenge: to lead the world down a path toward true nuclear nonproliferation or to pursue a new nuclear ambition with limited military utility that could lead us to a new arms race and increase the chance of these weapons falling into terrorist hands. By zeroing out funds for new nukes, Congressman Hobson has fired an important opening salvo in this fight and joined with Mr. Spratt and others who believe nuclear weapons are not the best way to make America safer. We can only hope that the administration and the leadership in Congress will soon follow suit.

So thank you and I look forward to your questions.

KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Mike. I think we can see that there are various perspectives. I hope that you'll come up to the microphones and put forward your questions to try to draw out our panelists on some of these issues. I see David Ruppe of Global Security Newswire. David?

DAVID RUPPE: Hi. This is for Dr. Harvey. How you doing?

HARVEY: We meet again.

RUPPE: Yeah.

(Laughter.)

Your answer in response to sort of the core question of the panel, your core answer was our pursuit of new capabilities or even research of new capabilities is not going to increase proliferation because it's been going on in the past, is likely to go on in the future. But to me, that sounds like a red herring argument because the real question isn't whether it's going to increase proliferation, but undermine efforts that are ongoing to convince certain countries to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's the real question. And how are we going to convince North Korea and Iran, which you admit they see us as our principle object of deterrence, how are you going to convince them to give up their nuclear weapons if we're pursuing new capabilities that might be used against them? Thanks.

HARVEY: First of all, again, I want to point out that the issue - the question is hypothetical. We don't have any modernization going on other than trying to sustain the existing stockpile. If we were to do some modernization in the future, the issue then was would that have an impact on our ability to secure or strengthen nonproliferation regime? Or on the interests or the incentives for other countries to acquire? And I think I pointed out with a fairly compelling case that within a certain boundary of our modernization program, granted you could think of possibilities which would - you know, a renewed arms race, et cetera, et cetera - but within the bounds of where we're thinking of heading if we - in the future, if these requirement - if requirements come about, what we're going - what we might possibly do is unlikely to affect countries' decisions on whether to acquire or not, which is much more a function of their regional security situation than it is what the U.S. does. And I would argue that many countries have been dissuaded from acquiring nuclear weapons because of the U.S. extension of the U.S. nuclear umbrella to those states. Many states who could quite easily and quite rapidly acquire them.

KIMBALL: Anyone else on the panel have any thoughts on the question?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I would obviously, based on my talk, you can imagine that I would disagree completely with that answer. I think that it does have a significant impact on international bodies developing nuclear weapons. What kind of international check would we have through the NPT and through an enforcement mechanism like the United States or European Union going to these people and saying, "You shouldn't develop these weapons, but it's ok for us." How are we going to go to them and say that somehow we're allowed to and they aren't, and they're going to look at us and say, "Well, you could use these weapons against us." Well, why couldn't they then counter by saying we should have - they should have the same right to develop those weapons and have the right to defend themselves against our potential threat. I think that it has a definite impact on the credibility that we have on this issue in the world and on our ability to lead the world toward a real denuclearized stage.

KIMBALL: Yes, sir?

MICHAEL GLENZER: Hi, my name is Michael Glenzer, I'm with Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor. Thank you all first for the presentations. For Dr. Harvey though, more of a nuts and bolts question than that. Given that largely because of Mr. Burnison's boss's actions during the appropriations process that it won't be funding for RNEP or some of these other programs. What NNSA plan to do in FY05 with the scientists and the staff that are involved? Will the programs continue in some sort of capacity or will they stop entirely and the scientists be diverted to another area or what will happen specifically.

And then two, what's the plan for FY06? Does it cost more money to start them back up if there's a proposal to or what happens?

HARVEY: You know, I'm sorry. I can't really go into that because we don't quite know - we haven't quite assessed the full situation, what its impact is on the design teams and others or what we're going to do in response yet. And we won't - that will probably be articulated when the president puts his budget forward in February. And one of the things we don't do in the administration is try to forecast what the president is going to do before he decides to do it.

KIMBALL: But John, if you could elaborate on what some of the considerations are as you think about that, at least at NNSA, if you could. What kinds of considerations are you looking at as you make that decision.

GLENZER: Just the options as well. I mean, if we're talking about - you said you haven't assessed all of your options - what the options are, basically for FY05.

HARVEY: The options are to fund it or not to fund it. One of the considerations I have, which may or may not be related to this, is the concern that if we want to sustain nuclear weapons capabilities into the indefinite future, and we don't know at what point world situation will evolve to the point where nuclear forces or even conventional forces aren't necessary anymore. But until that point, we will need to sustain our capabilities. Without doing some modernization work, we will not be able to sustain the design capabilities at our laboratories that we bring to bear in trying to assure the safety and reliability of the future stockpile. So that's a consideration.

BURNISON: I think I can add just one comment. In terms of the options for 05, there aren't any. There is zero funding and any carryover was burned up during the continuing resolution period, so what the department's looking at - there's no more spending on this program. However, there is a bomb casing on a sled track at Sandia, I believe, looking, waiting to do an experiment on the RNEP program that isn't going to be done now. So once the president signed the bill, there is no money. So there are no options. There are options for the department to come forward and ask for reprogramming of funds to address the immediate cutoff of this program, which I imagine will take place, but that won't be the case of new spending on RNEP, it may be new spending on shutting down RNEP. But I think that's pretty much where we are for 05.

KIMBALL: Any other questions? Mr. Tom Clements?

TOM CLEMENTS: Hi. Tom Clements of Greenpeace International. And my question is really been pretty much asked with this last. But just to pursue it a little bit more, the question was to Dr. Harvey about what would happen to the programs, but I would like to ask the Congressional panelists, what do you think Congress is going to do just to pursue this a bit more to actually make sure that DOE is not keeping these teams doing the work that they were doing?

BURNISON: The department can and the NNSA can only fund the activities that are proposed and appropriated for within the budget justification. So there's not so much a concern that they're going to do anything secretly. I mean, we have a wonderful working relationship with NNSA. We have some fundamental disagreements, but there's no issue about somebody trying to do something and hide it from Congress. I think these debates are not settled and we'll probably have them again in the 06 context, whether it be in Energy and Water, whether it might be in Defense Appropriations, I'm sure we'll still have discussions on the Armed Services on the authorizing side, so we'll continue to follow up particularly on the restructured Advanced Concepts program that is now the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which is something that Chairman Hobson's hopeful that NNSA proposes - and the labs propose in such a way that really fundamentally supports a movement ahead of the life extension programs to strengthen the existing stockpile in terms of reliability. So although it certainly was press worthy and maybe surprising to some on the decision of zero funding for RNEP, I think we're still working with NNSA to move forward in areas that are important for stockpile reliability.

KIMBALL: Just on one thing you mentioned, Scott, if I could ask John to very briefly describe what the Reliable Replacement Warhead program is for those not familiar with the intricate details.

HARVEY: Well, it's the idea is to respond to the long-term challenge of being able to sustain the safety and reliability of the existing military capabilities reflected in the current stockpile. And the idea of how to do that, how to ensure that subsequent life extension programs that continue to change things, that introduce new technologies or existing technologies and replace other technologies in warhead components eventually may drive you to - because you're not testing - to decreased - with concerns about reliability - in the ideas, is there an approach we can take to think about an inherently reliable warhead that would be much easier to certify, much easier to manufacture and therefore leverage other elements of the DOE infrastructure.

LIEBERMAN: I want to add one thing to what Scott had said and certainly if Congress doesn't provide funding, there is very little leeway that DOE has to move forward with these programs, but he did mention reprogramming. I did want to mention that any reprogramming request above a certain level does have to go through Congress, and I would presume to Scott's subcommittee and certainly that would provide a second check on the system should there be any - though we don't suspect it and certainly we have a good relationship with NNSA as well - any backdoor attempt to try to fund these programs.

KIMBALL: Yes, sir?

DAVE KRAMER: Dave Kramer of Science and Government Report. Mr. Harvey, I wonder, you seem to be saying that the - you have to sustain the capabilities and the design. Are you saying that we have to keep these people busy? And is that why we're developing these new concepts? And secondly, I was wondering if you could respond to the comment by one of the other panel members that the RNEP was budgeted for $485 million over five years? I believe the RNEP is supposed to be a modification of existing warheads, so is that - could you answer what that money is all for?

HARVEY: This is not to keep folks busy. The idea here is that over the past almost 15-20 years, we've done very little modernization in the nuclear weapons stockpile. As a result, we have not challenged the design teams to be able to broadly apply their ideas to new concepts. This is a - they do exercise some of those skills in the life extension programs, but not the full range of skills that we need to have were we to have to develop systems in the future or to ensure that the changes we make to warheads that take us further away from the nuclear test design base are not going to affect the safety and reliability of these systems. So we need to keep a credible, current design effort at our laboratories to ensure that we can sustain things in the future.

With regard to the $485 million, I mean, Mike and Scott understand that there was no decision to proceed to full-scale engineering development on RNEP. The idea was to complete this study and then make a decision. And that decision if we were to move forward into full-scale engineering development would have another review by Congress to approve that decision. We could not move into full-scale engineering and development without Congressional approval. What we did last year was to show, were a decision to be made to move into full-scale development, what the out year impacts would be. And that was a - the purpose of that was increased transparency in the system and it backfired.

KIMBALL: Well, if I could just comment and step out of my moderator role, I think that transparency is helpful. And one question that cancellation of Fiscal 05 funds raises is what impact might that have on the schedule that was outlined for that five year plan, in terms of when and if a request might come from NNSA and the administration to move from the research phase to the development phase. I believe that the original plan had it outlined at was it Fiscal 2007? I think that was the year it would have been. Does this mean that either this would be exactly a one year delay? How would you calculate it?

HARVEY: I think if you were to reestablish the program, you would have a delay. And you would have to do some - you would have some additional delay as a result of ramping up - were Congress to approve funding in 06 and - I'm sorry, in 07 - we would have to ramp up from those - from a stop. And that would take some additional time. That would be my sense.

LIEBERMAN: I would want to add because I was the one who mentioned the $485 million dollars initially, the budget justification documents, which we very much appreciated for their transparency also raise a question for me. And that is, why project development if you're insisting that this is certainly and only a study? Secretary Rumsfeld says this is a study, nothing more, nothing less. That's DOD, not DOE, but certainly they coordinate. Why develop a study if you're not going to move into the development phase, and certainly, why put enough staff on a project to develop what that cost would be of the development phase if that's not the direction you're moving.

Now, Mr. Harvey is absolutely right. Does that have to come back through Congress for a check off before they move it into development? Absolutely it does. That was written into the law when they repealed the Spratt-Furse Ban. But it certainly suggests to me that that is the direction that they may be moving and I think that that adds additional gravitas to the decision that Congress made this year to discontinue the program because that's the direction that we collectively saw that they were moving as well.

HARVEY: Just clarify one point. There's been no attempt to hide the fact that this study was to inform a decision on whether to proceed with the full-scale engineering development. And the issue is we're not going to go into full-scale engineering development if the system's not feasible. That's what this study's designed to establish. Or if the system is too costly, which is what the study is designed to establish.

Secretary Rumsfeld was absolutely right, it's a study. But the purpose of the study is to form a subsequent decision.

KIMBALL: Alright, I think we have time for one more question.

STEPHEN YOUNG: Stephen Young with the Union of Concerned Scientists. First, I want to sincerely thank Dr. Harvey for coming out and being willing to speak in forums like this. It's great, I appreciate that you're willing to come out and do this; it's not everyone who does do that. I really appreciate it. The question I have is one you might not want to answer, but I want to know is it actually an option that could be considered on funding FY06 for the RNEP. Is it even possible that you could try and shift that pocket of money from Energy and Water Appropriations, where Congressman Hobson plays a key role, to Defense Appropriations, where others might be more supportive would be controlling that budget? Is that it could happen, is that impossible, is that realistic, is that a possibility you're looking at? Do you have any idea, can you answer that at all?

HARVEY: Look, anything is possible. But let me tell you something. You'll get me into the biggest trouble I can get if you start trying to get me to forecast what the president is going to do in the budget.

KIMBALL: That sounds like we're going to have to wait 'til - what is the date? February 7?

HARVEY: February 8, or something.

KIMBALL: February something. Ok. Until that point, we'll have to speculate on some of this, discuss it further. I want to ask you to, before we break for lunch, to join me in thanking our panelists.

(Applause.)

And I do want to add that I share Stephen Young's view that it's been very helpful to have all three gentlemen with their different perspectives coming here to share them with us in a public forum. It's very important for the quality of the public dialogue and in addition to reading Exchange Monitor publications and following this, I would encourage you to take a look at Arms Control Today. We did a very interesting interview with Administrator Linton Brooks last year, also coving the subject. We also had a very good article by Congressman John Spratt. So I encourage you to follow this issue and others through those publications.

Ed?

HELMINSKI: Since we're back on schedule, we are back on schedule. So, we'll be back here at 1:15 and reconvene.


[END OF PANEL.]

Description: 
Panel by Arms Control Association and 10th Annual International Nuclear Materials Policy Forum

Country Resources:

Controlling the Spread of Ballistic Missiles

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Arms Control Association and the Embassy of Argentina Press Briefing

[Click here for a transcript of this event.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
9:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.

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

Iran recently announced it has a ballistic missile capable of traveling up to 2,000 kilometers. India and Pakistan regularly carry out tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. North Korea is suspected of covertly advancing its longer-range ballistic missile capabilities and marketing its shorter-range ballistic missiles and know-how around the globe. These developments have spurred growing U.S. and international concern about the threat from ballistic missiles. While U.S. efforts to build missile defense systems have received considerable attention, the United States and the international community are also pursuing other approaches to protecting against ballistic missile dangers. The 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the 117-member Hague Code of Code Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation are two such measures. The distinguished panelists will discuss these and other missile nonproliferation strategies.

Speakers

  • Ambassador Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, Director of International Security, Nuclear, and Space Affairs for the Argentinean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ambassador recently completed a one-year presidency of the MTCR.
  • Vann H. Van Diepen, Director of the Department of State's Office of Chemical, Biological, and Missile Nonproliferation. He also heads U.S. delegations to MTCR and the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
  • Aaron Karp, Senior Faculty Associate with the Graduate Program in International Studies, Old Dominion University. He is currently a consultant to the UN Secretary-General on missiles and author of "Ballistic Missile Proliferation: The Politics and Technics" (Oxford University Press, 1996).
  • Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.

 

For more information about missile proliferation, visit the Arms Control Association's subjects resources on Missile Proliferation and Export Controls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arms Control Association and the Embassy of Argentina Press Briefing

Subject Resources:

Toward Consensus on a Strengthened Nuclear Nonproliferation System

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Presentation to American Center for International Policy Studies
Invitational Model United Nations, November 11, 2004

Daryl G. Kimball
Executive Director

More than three decades ago, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) established one of the most important international security bargains of all time: states without nuclear weapons pledged not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed states committed to eventually give them up.

Since then, the NPT has helped to limit the number of nuclear weapon states to the five with nuclear weapons at the time of its entry into force (U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China) and the three other known nuclear weapon states (India, Israel, and Pakistan), which have refused to join the treaty. Dozens of other states might have the bomb today if not for the NPT and associated measures, including nuclear export controls, nuclear weapons free zones, negative nuclear security assurances, and intrusive international weapons inspections.

The NPT has also fostered arms control efforts that have also reduced the threat posed by U.S.-Soviet/Russian nuclear weapons. Bilateral nuclear arms control agreements such as SALT, the ABM Treaty, and START helped corral the Cold War arms race, prevented a defensive missile arms race, reduced offensive arsenals, and increased transparency and opportunities for diplomacy, thereby reducing instability and the risk of nuclear war.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, new cooperative programs have successfully dismantled and secured vast quantities of Cold War weapons stockpiles at dozens of locations. In addition, the NPT process helped spur progress in the decades-long effort to ban nuclear testing, which culminated in the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the current de facto global test moratorium. The CTBT has been a central disarmament and nonproliferation goal because it makes it more difficult for states to improve their nuclear arsenals, especially fielding new types of advanced nuclear warheads.

Today's Proliferation Challenges

Despite these very significant accomplishments, the nuclear nonproliferation system, including the NPT, is under great stress. As the international community approaches the 2005 NPT Review Conference, it is evident that global security and proliferation challenges are as politically and technically complex as they were in the 1960s when the NPT was conceived and created.

During the past decade, the NPT has endured successive crises involving Iraqi and North Korean nuclear weapons programs. Iran has been found to have pursued secret nuclear activities that could provide it with bomb-making capability in the not too distant future. If the international community fails to turn North Korea and Iran away from the nuclear arms path and either of these two states acquire nuclear weapons, the global security and proliferation situation will very likely take a severe turn for the worse.

India, Israel, and Pakistan have advanced their nuclear weapons programs with relative impunity. India and Pakistan have, in recent years, teetered on the edge of open warfare which, if repeated, could lead to a nuclear conflict. The specter of terrorism and the existence of nuclear black market networks based out of Pakistan's government-run weapons laboratories have added a new layer of risk.

Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have failed to capitalize on key opportunities to substantially and verifiably dismantle significant portions of their still massive Cold War-era stockpiles of strategic and tactical weapons. The five recognized nuclear weapon states have failed to fully adopt other measures that would limit future nuclear arms competition and risks of use, devalue the role of nuclear weapons, and help strengthen the nonproliferation system by fulfilling their solemn commitments to pursue disarmament under the NPT.

Enter the Bush Administration

In recent years, officials now in the George W. Bush administration have argued that the NPT has failed to stop proliferation in South Asia, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Arms control and nonproliferation agreements, they say, are ineffective against problem states and irrelevant for friendly states, including Russia.

The Bush administration has focused on stopping unfriendly states from getting nuclear weapons but has refused to effectively engage with them to achieve a lasting solution. It has downplayed the role of preventive diplomacy and arms control in U.S. policy and emphasized preventive military action. The administration has proposed improving some nuclear export controls, and harmonizing efforts to interdict dangerous weapons shipments through Proliferation Security Initiative, and it has raced to deploy rudimentary and unproven strategic missile defenses.

Such an approach is misguided and inadequate. Though better controls on the global trade of dangerous weapons are important, they are insufficient. As the Iraq debacle shows, military action to topple regimes alleged to be seeking unconventional weapons is fraught with peril.

The Need for A New Nonproliferation Consensus

Instead, the threat of nuclear proliferation must be met with firm resolve and dealt with through a balanced and comprehensive array of strategies. More than anything, the treaty's success - and international security - requires that the United States and other nations work together to achieve universal compliance with strengthened rules against nuclear weapons possession, trade, development, and use.

Success also requires that nuclear-weapon states reduce the salience of nuclear weapons by fulfilling their solemn disarmament obligations and give credible assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states that they will not be subjected to nuclear attack. Finally, it also requires something that the NPT cannot by itself deliver: the reduction of the underlying tensions and conflicts that motivate states from acquiring nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons capabilities.

But over the last several years, U.S. officials have pushed for greater limitations on other states while arguing the United States needs to do little or nothing more on disarmament. As a result, states-parties are more divided than ever about how to enforce the treaty, deal with the three nonsignatories (India, Israel, and Pakistan), and tighten restrictions on the availability of nuclear weapons technology. In addition, the decades-long rivalries between states in the Middle East, South Asia, Northeast Asia, and even between the United States and Russia continue to fester. With the re-election of President Bush, the ability of the international community to break this dangerous impasse will be as difficult as ever.

The NPT Review Process: the Past is Prologue

The issues that will be at the center of the debate about how to strengthen the nonproliferation system at the upcoming 2005 conference must be seen in the context of the ongoing nonproliferation and disarmament debate.

Recall that at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states pledged to a set of principles and objectives on nonproliferation and disarmament in order to achieve the indefinite extension of the treaty. The chief commitments in the 1995 Statement, by the United States and all other NPT parties, included: a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by 1996; universality of membership in the NPT including India and Pakistan but most importantly Israel; immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT); and systematic efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally. In addition, the indefinite extension of the NPT was based on compliance with the NPT by all states in the Middle East, which was a clear reference to Israel's unacknowledged and unsafeguarded nuclear weapons program.

The 1995 final conference document called on all states in the region to take practical steps toward the goal of an "effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction" and support for nuclear weapon free zones elsewhere. The 1995 conference called for progress toward legally binding negative security assurances. In response to clandestine North Korean and Iraqi nuclear programs, it also called for strengthened International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and expansion of peaceful uses of nuclear technology. This set of pledges was crucial to winning support for the indefinite extension of the treaty.

But between 1995 and 2000, limited progress was made in realizing key NPT objectives. The CTBT was completed and signed in 1996, but it was rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1999. The U.S. and Russia failed to conclude additional agreements to verifiably reduce their nuclear stockpiles. New nuclear weapon free zones were established in Africa and Southeast Asia, but the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty has not yet come into force, nor has the U.S. ratified any of its protocols. Alone among nuclear weapons states, the U.S. has not ratified any of the protocols of the pre-existing South Pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. No discussions regarding the establishment of Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction have occurred. The Additional Protocol strengthening NPT Safeguards was agreed to in 1997 but as of 2004, less than 30 percent of NPT parties had ratified it.

In response, key nonnuclear weapon states parties-led by the New Agenda Coalition (Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, and Mexico)-these disarmament goals were reaffirmed and refined at the 2000 NPT conference in the form of the "13 steps" section of the final document. At the 2000 conference, the five-acknowledged nuclear weapon states also expressed their "unequivocal commitment" to nuclear disarmament. In other words, the extension of the NPT does not imply the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons.

The 2000 Review Conference also endorsed the goal of wider accession and compliance with the 1997 Model Additional Protocol agreement on IAEA safeguards to improve the international community's ability to detect and deter noncompliance with the NPT.

The 2005 Review Conference: Toward Consensus or Conflict?

Tension regarding the mutual obligations of NPT members is nothing new. Yet, if the 2004 Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2005 NPT Review Conference is any indication, the review conference promises to be one of the most difficult and important in the history of the NPT.

Rather than build broad support for a plan to strengthen the treaty in all of its aspects, Bush administration officials chose to use the May 2004 Preparatory Committee Meeting on the NPT to level a blunt critique of illicit Iranian and North Korean nuclear activities. With Iran in mind, President Bush has called on other states to support proposals to limit the sale of nuclear technologies that can be used to make bomb material.

This initiative could produce useful but hard-to-win additional limitations on non-nuclear-weapon states' access to some forms of "peaceful" nuclear technology. Iran's previously undeclared uranium-enrichment activities do indeed create the possibility that it intends to become the next nuclear-weapon state. There is broad agreement that Iran must fulfill its pledges to allow more intrusive nuclear inspections and make its temporary uranium-enrichment halt permanent.

But achieving these outcomes involves heavy diplomatic lifting and a more balanced approach strengthening the NPT. Nonnegotiable U.S. ultimatums, however justifiable, will not do the trick. Nor will they make it any easier for an ongoing British-French-German initiative to convince leaders in Tehran that full compliance with the NPT and a suspension of its uranium enrichment program is in their best interest.

The United States and other leading international players can ill-afford to abdicate their disarmament responsibilities, which are in their self interest and are vital to tightening controls designed to halt the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states. But, as many NPT states parties have stated, the nuclear weapons states have failed to live up to their end of the bargain.

At the 2004 Preparatory Committee meeting, U.S. delegates to the NPT meeting did their best to block discussion of further disarmament measures, including the possibility of multilateral talks on weapons of mass destruction issues in the Middle East. In an April 27 speech at the conference, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton declared, "[W]e cannot divert attention from the violations we face by focusing on [disarmament] issues that do not exist."

Or do they? To be sure, the United States and Russia have made steady progress in dismantling and securing large portions of their Cold War nuclear stockpiles declared excess under the first START agreement of 1991. And with the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, the two states have pledged to reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces to fewer than 2,200 warheads by 2012.

But these actions are far behind pace and they would allow each side to redeploy launchers and warheads. Even after SORT, the United States and Russia will still likely possess some 4,000 to 5,000 strategic nuclear warheads in various states of readiness. The situation is even worse in other areas. Talks with Russia on verification measures and tactical nuclear weapons remain on the backburner. The U.S. maintains about 1.300 such weapons including 480 stationed in Europe, while Russia is estimated to possess at least 3,000.

The administration has initiated research on new types of more "usable" nuclear weapons, stiff-armed progress on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and opposed negotiations on a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty.

President George W. Bush has also approved nuclear-use policies that undercut previous commitments to nonuse of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states in the context of the NPT. Specifically, NSPD-17- the classified version of the United States' 2002 "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction" -calls for the possible use of nuclear weapons to counter chemical and biological threats.

Sensing that the Bush administration wants to erase any memory of earlier U.S. commitments to these and other disarmament commitments, leading non-nuclear-weapon states, including several U.S. allies, cried foul at the 2004 NPT Prep Com. Arab states continue to be frustrated by the failure to confront the reality of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal and will do so again at the 2005 meeting. Perhaps as a consequence, they have said little about Iran's IAEA safeguards transgressions. The impasse blocked agreement on next steps and even a basic agenda for next year's Review Conference.

An Action Agenda to Strengthen the Nonproliferation System

As the world looks ahead to the 2005 NPT Review Conference, it is clear that there is consensus on the need to strengthen and preserve the NPT. At the same time, it is also apparent that there is not yet agreement among the major governments and groups of states on how to do so.

On the tactical level, most states and especially the Chairman of the Conference, Brazil's Sergio Duarte, will focus on winning support for positions and proposals they consider vital to their national interests and on inclusion of language in a final conference document supporting their positions.

As Ambassador Sergio Duarte noted in a recent and soon to be published interview in the Arms Control Association's journal, Arms Control Today: "If the result [of the 2005 Review Conference] is balanced between the improvement of the mechanisms to prevent proliferation and progress toward nuclear disarmament, I think we could claim success."

In practical terms what does this mean? In my view there are several important measures and steps upon which all states can and must support and include in the final conference document. Some of the most important include:

1. Reduce and Eliminate the Role of Nuclear Weapons

All states parties, particularly the nuclear weapon states should " Reaffirm their commitment to fulfill Article VI nuclear disarmament objectives."

The United States and possibly France will be the chief obstacles to an agreement on this point and to a more specific articulation of what constitutes progress in the field of disarmament.

2. Support Progress on Specific Disarmament and Nonproliferation Measures

Given likely NWS hesitancy, states parties could call on all states to take steps that help halt and reverse the nuclear arms race and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in foreign and military policies. These include:

  • A unilateral suspension of fissile material production for weapons purposes until such time as a verifiable and global fissile material cut-off treaty can be negotiated and enter into force.
  • The renewal of negotiations to account for and verifiably dismantle excess strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.
  • A reiteration of the nuclear weapon states' 1995 statement on the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT.
  • A call for all states to refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions for any purpose pending entry into force of the CTBT, to fully support the work of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, and to consider signature and ratification of the CTBT.

3. Strengthen Verification and Compliance Tools

To address ongoing concerns and compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards and improve verification capabilities to detect and deter possible cheating, states parties could:

  • Urge all NPT states parties, as well as non-members, to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol without delay, and to fully cooperate with all IAEA investigations of illicit nuclear activities.
  • Support new, automatic penalties against states that withdraw from the NPT or do not otherwise abide by the standards and norms it establishes.
  • Urge all states to limit nuclear and military cooperation with states that are not subject to rigorous IAEA safeguards.
  • Call on nuclear supplier states to provide a full accounting of all transactions involving dual-use nuclear technologies in order to augment the IAEA's ability to detect and deter illegal trafficking.

4. Address Security Concerns of Nonnuclear NPT States Parties

To reduce the security concerns that can lead some states to consider, pursue, or acquire nuclear weapons, states parties should express support for:

  • The initiation of a direct dialogue on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and the conditions under which such an agreement might be possible.
  • The initiation of negotiations that would establish legally-binding negative security assurance that would apply to all nuclear weapon states.

5. Resolve Regional Proliferation Problems and Underlying Security Issues

To address immediate concerns about Iranian and North Korean nuclear activities, states parties should:

  • Express support for an agreement between the government of Iran and the European Union that would lead to a voluntary and indefinite suspension of nuclear fuel cycle activities and further discussion on the possible dismantlement of its fissile material production facilities and guarantee a supply of nuclear fuel for energy production purposes.
  • Call for the rapid conclusion of negotiations with North Korea on an agreement that would require North Korea to fully, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear capabilities and allow North Korea to fully meet its obligations as a member of the NPT.
  • Acknowledge that the success of such agreement involving North Korea will also require that the United States and other states in the region agree to a phased approach involving the normalization of relations, energy assistance, and pledges of nonaggression, and the renewed and intrusive IAEA inspections to verify North Korea's compliance.

6. Tighten Controls on Weapons-Applicable Technologies and Fissile Material

To guard against the future possibility that peaceful nuclear technologies will be diverted to weapons purposes, states parties should agree to:

  • Suspend the construction of new uranium enrichment or plutonium production facilities and, in exchange, guarantee nonnuclear states access to nuclear fuel supplies for civilian purposes under an international mechanism.

7. Support Reinforcing Measures to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

To reinforce the NPT, states parties should encourage further progress on:

  • Securing and disposing of nuclear materials and stockpiles in the former Soviet states.
  • The establishment and enforcement of national laws that prohibit activities by individuals that are prohibited by the NPT.

In sum, the international community-and especially the United States-must pursue a more balanced and credible approach that addresses the fundamental obligations of all states. Important advances in strengthening the nonproliferation system, the NPT's future, and national and international security depend on it.

Description: 
Presentation by ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball to Invitational Model United Nations

Subject Resources:

The Bush Administration and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty: Reversing Course on Verification

Prospects for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

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Arms Control and Nonproliferation: Past Triumphs, Future Prospects Workship in Honor of Ambassador George Bunn

Presentation by Daryl G. Kimball,
Executive Director, Arms Control Association

It is truly a pleasure and honor to be here today to celebrate George Bunn and update you on the prospects for one of the causes he has worked so long for: the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

As George knows better than anyone here, good things don't often come easily or quickly. Its has now been just over fifty years since the enormous March 1954 "Bravo" test series in the Marshall Islands led to widespread fallout and increasing international concern and Indian Prime Minister Nehru's April 1954 call for an end to further testing.

Secretary of State Albright put it well when, on the occasion of the 1996 U.S. signature of the agreement, she said that "the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has been the longest sought and hardest fought prize in the history of arms control."

Then as now, the test moratorium and the CTBT is a sensible, practical and effective response to the nuclear threat. It is vital to:

  • curbing the development of new and destabilizing types of nuclear warheads;
  • preventing less-advanced nuclear weapon states and would-be nuclear weapon states from developing lighter and more easy to deliver nuclear warheads; and
  • fulfilling the nuclear weapon states' disarmament obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and reinforcing the norm against nuclear weapons acquisition and use.

George Bunn has been in the middle of at nearly every step of the long path to the CTBT: from time of the Limited Test Ban Treaty when he was the first General Counsel of the Arms Control Disarmament Agency; to the present day efforts to maintain support for the effort to secure the ratifications necessary for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty's entry into force. Through it all, he has been someone who has sensible and insightful guidance and, perhaps more importantly, someone who has even under difficult conditions, always pressed forward so that the ideas like the CTBT might survive and thrive at some future point.

This was evident in 1999 when the Senate, after postponing any discussion of the treaty, moved rapidly and without thoughtful consideration to vote down the CTBT. Earlier that year I had recruited George to write a legal and policy analysis for the CTBT entry into force conference and to lobby key governments to implement the report's recommendations. As bad luck would have it, the conference took place only days before the Senate voted down the CTBT, but George was there anyway fulfilling his promise by delivering valuable recommendations that governments supportive of the CTBT are trying to implement today.

Prospects for the Test Ban

The 1996 CTBT has widespread international support. It has been signed by 171 states and ratified by 113, including three of the five nuclear weapon states and all but one member of NATO. However, the failure of the Senate to give its advice and consent for ratification in 1999, the current administration's opposition to the treaty, and the reluctance of 12 other key states to approve the treaty means that the formal entry into force of the treaty is still years away.

At the same time, the CTBT has helped sustain the 13 year-old U.S. test moratorium and bring about the de facto global nuclear test moratorium which exists today. In the absence of a requirement for a new nuclear warhead, a defect in an existing weapon that cannot be addressed without resuming testing, and the perception that clandestine nuclear testing has occurred, the seven states that have conducted nuclear test explosions are not likely going to do so again.

This is especially true given the significant domestic and international opposition to testing and the likelihood that additional states would resume testing in response. The results of a recent national public opinion poll which are described in an article in the June issue of Arms Control Today show that 87% of those surveyed support U.S. participation in the CTBT.
As a result of these opposing political pressures, the CTBT is in a state of limbo. While it might be possible to sustain the unilateral moratoria undertaken by the nuclear testing states for several years, without the full entry into force of the CTBT the uncertainties and the risk of a resumption of testing will only grow over time.

Until the United States ratifies the CTBT, it denies itself the benefits of the Treaty's extensive nuclear test monitoring and on site inspection provisions, and it denies itself moral and legal authority to encourage other nations to join the treaty and refrain from testing. Given that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is certified as safe and reliable, and given that there is no military requirement for new weapons now or in the foreseeable future, it is self-defeating for the United States to further delay ratification and entry into force.

Improving the prospects for U.S. ratification and overall CTBT entry into force depend upon:

  • Maintaining the U.S. test moratorium and improving the likelihood that the U.S. will reconsider the ratification of the CTBT;
  • blocking new nuclear weapons research and development that could lead to the renewal of nuclear testing;
  • effectively maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear test explosions;
  • maintaining political and financial support for the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission work to complete the treaty's International Monitoring System and on-site inspection capabilities;
  • increasing international pressure on key CTBT hold-out states to join the treaty regime;
  • improving national and international monitoring and transparency measures to better detect and deter possible clandestine nuclear testing.

Let's briefly review where things stand in each area.

1. Maintaining the U.S. test moratorium and reconsideration of the CTBT

Shortly after taking office the senior Bush officials announced they would not ask the Senate to reconsider the CTBT. The administration has tried to deflect domestic and international criticism of this policy by insisting that there are no immediate plans to resume testing. But since then, the Bush team has considered or pursued a series of moves that could erode the technical and legal barriers blocking the resumption of testing.

In early 2001, Undersecretary of State John Bolton sought a legal analysis on whether the President could unilaterally withdraw the CTBT from the Senate, thus killing any chance it might be reconsidered. The brief he got judged that only the Senate has the authority to discharge the treaty from the executive calendar and that a majority vote was required to do so. Given that a majority of the Senate would have opposed such an action at that time the matter was dropped.

Later in 2001, the United States was the only state to vote "no" on a UN resolution supporting entry into force of the CTBT, and the White House decided to boycott the second international conference to promote the treaty's entry into force, which was held in November.

The next year, on the basis of recommendations from the congressionally-mandated "Foster Panel" and the 2002 Pentagon Nuclear Posture Review, the administration has sought and won funding from Congress to improve the "readiness" of the test site to reduce the amount of time it takes to carry out a technically significant nuclear test explosion from the current 24-36 months requirement established in 1993 to 18 months over a three year period. Some pro-testing members of Congress have suggested requirements to reduce the test readiness period even further—to 12 months or less.

Meanwhile, as reported by The New York Times in May 2002, officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense circulated a memorandum in January 2002 that proposed that President Bush repudiate the United States 1996 signature on the CTBT, which, under a common understanding of international law, still bars it from conducting nuclear test explosions. Officials at the National Security Council, then preoccupied with the war in Afghanistan and other matters, chose not to schedule a meeting to consider the proposal.

2. New nuclear weapons research and development

The Bush administration has also initiated new nuclear weapons research on the basis of the erroneous notion that new nuclear weapons capabilities are useful and necessary to fulfill future U.S. military needs. If this research advances into the development phase, the next step could be a proposal to conduct a series of proof-tests to confirm the designs and induct them into the arsenal.

The Pentagon's January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for the development of new nuclear weapons capabilities to provide a wider range of options to defeat "hardened and deeply buried targets" and chemical and biological threats. That year, the President asked Congress for $15.5 million for fiscal 2003 for research on a robust nuclear earth penetrator, or RNEP.

The following year, the Bush administration proposed that Congress should repeal a ten-year old law prohibiting research leading to development of new, low-yield nuclear weapons. The administration requested another $15 million for research on the RNEP and an additional $6 million for research on new nuclear weapon designs. Congress narrowly approved the repeal and the research monies, but stipulated that work beyond the research phase for any new type or modified type of nuclear warhead would require explicit congressional authorization. The Bush administration narrowly won approval for these programs on the basis of the argument that they only wanted to conduct research these weapons.

This year, the administration has upped its budget request for funding for research on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) to $27 million and has outlined a five year spending plan for research and development on RNEP that would cost at least $485 million. The FY05 budget request also seeks an additional $9 million to fund "advanced concepts" for new types of nuclear weapons.

The good news is that support for these proposals is steadily eroding and I would predict that Congress will not support or fund the development of a modified or new nuclear weapon. Last month, the House narrowly defeating an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have cut and transferred monies for RNEP research to nonnuclear munitions research by a vote of 214-204.

In addition, the Republican House chairman of the energy and water appropriations subcommittee, David Hobson of Ohio, will likely succeed in cutting funding for new nuclear weapons research and for additional test site readiness from his committee's bill. Unfortunately, the Senate and its energy appropriations committee chairman Pete Domenici will likely fund the full request for new weapons research. The final outcome will likely be that the Congress will halve the president's original request for funding.

The Senate is also scheduled to act this week on the defense authorization bill and there will be an amendment offered by Senators Feinstein and Kennedy aimed at cutting funding for research on new or modified nuclear weapons. Though I expect the amendment to fail, the vote will likely be close, thus demonstrating that support for actual development of new nuclear weapons will be even more difficult to sustain.

3. Maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear test explosions

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, critics of the test ban like Dale Klein, the executive chairman of the Nuclear Weapons Council, claim that "as time goes on there will likely have to be some tests performed beyond the small scale" to address possible aging problems in the nuclear stockpile.

In October 2002, the director of the Nuclear Weapons Council suggested in a memorandum that the nuclear weapons laboratories "readdress the value of a low-yield [nuclear explosive] testing program." They have. Last summer in a secret meeting in Omaha, dozens of executive branch officials debated this question and others related to the future of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

The good news is that the group decided there is no reason to resume nuclear testing for such purposes. The reason is simple. As the July 2002 National Academy of Sciences panel, reported, the U.S. "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-weapon complex and are properly focused on this task."

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.

Doing so will require that Congress and the Energy Department focus its stockpile stewardship program on these more important activities and not waste resources on other, less relevant projects. While other large-scale experimental facilities like the National Ignition Facility or the Dual Axis Hydro Test facility may be useful, their completion and operational success is not essential to the maintenance of the existing arsenal.

4. Support for the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission and Entry Into Force

Most Bush administration officials, even those who do not support CTBT ratification, recognize that the United States benefits from monitoring capabilities that are currently only available through the IMS-including monitoring stations in Russia, China, and other sensitive locations that the United States would otherwise not be able to access. As a result, the U.S. has continued to pay the majority of its annual contribution to the CTBTO.

However, in 2001, the administration also decided to suspend U.S. technical and financial support for short-notice, on site inspections available only under the test ban treaty. The move has made it even more difficult for the Secretariat of the CTBTO Prep Com to collect annual dues owed to the organization by several key states, among them Italy, Colombia, and Brazil.

While support for the CTBT remains strong, continued financing for a verification system for a treaty that many fear may never formally enter into force will be a major challenge.

5. Securing Additional Signatures and Ratifications

As the United States has dithered on the CTBT, much of the rest of the world has been working to build the treaty's monitoring and verification system and accelerate the treaty's entry into force. The strong support for the treaty by U.S. allies and the ratification of the treaty by Russia and other states has moderated what might have been an even more damaging U.S. test ban policy and has increased pressure on other CTBT hold out states.

One of the most visible signs of this support came in as statement issued by18 foreign ministers in September 2002 at the United Nations. Reaffirming the hope for a treaty that "would contribute to systematic and progressive reduction of nuclear weapons…as a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation," they called on all states who are holding out on signing and/or ratifying to do so to ensure the treaty's timely entry into force. To date, the document has been endorsed by 50 governments.

One of the catalysts behind the statement, Ambassador Jaap Ramaker of The Netherlands, was named to be the special representative on securing entry into force by the states attending the most recent international conference on accelerating the CTBT's entry into force. He begins work this next month.

6. Improving monitoring and transparency measures

Ongoing activities at the U.S., Russian, and Chinese test sites, primarily in the form of subcritical nuclear experiments, may breed allegations that Russia or China are conducting surreptitious nuclear test explosions. In fact, in the spring of 2002, U.S. intelligence officials briefed Congress that they believe that Russia may have conducted supercritical nuclear experiments at the Novaya Zemlya test site.

New test site transparency initiatives could address future uncertainties and clear up erroneous allegations. In fact, in 2001, Russia proposed "additional verification measures for nuclear test ranges going far beyond treaty provisions," but neither the United States nor Russia have seriously pursued this concept.

Conclusion

The CTBT has been and remains a vital part of a comprehensive approach to global security dangers. Realizing the CTBT requires a substantial shift in attitudes about the value of the test ban and new nuclear weapons in the White House and the Senate, as well as effecting changes in government policy in India, Pakistan, China, and Israel. We must be patient and persevere.
In the meantime, measures must be undertaken to uphold nuclear testing moratoria and secure the ratifications necessary for CTBT entry into force:

  • The international community should urge the 13 states preventing entry into force to sign or ratify the CTBT without conditions or reservations. States-parties to the CTBT should continue to work together systematically to send high-level groups of emissaries to key countries that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty in order to facilitate and encourage their support for the CTBT.
  • The leaders and the governments of the 12 remaining CTBT hold-out states should reconsider and recommit themselves to the ratification of the CTBT. In the meantime, they should maintain their nuclear testing moratoria, fully support the work of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, and announce that they will refrain from the pursuit of new types of nuclear weapons, which requires testing to validate the weapons' integrity.
  • Each signatory should provide adequate financial, political, and technical support for the continued development and operation of the CTBTO so that the International Data Center, the International Monitoring System, and the executive secretariat are available and ready to monitor and verify compliance when the CTBT enters into force. States should also support the timely establishment of an effective verification system, open access to data, and the development of procedures for effective and timely on-site inspections.
  • Until the CTBT enters into force, the nuclear-weapon states with active test sites should voluntarily agree to periodic inspections of their test sites by observers on behalf of the CTBTO and signatory states to increase confidence that clandestine nuclear testing has not occurred. They should also agree to avoid activities at their test sites that might be mistaken for nuclear weapon test preparations, such as subcritical experiments.

Finally, there must be renewed leadership on Capitol Hill for the reconsideration and ratification of the CTBT. This leadership is not there at the moment. There is the outside chance that positive action on the test ban by China or by India and Pakistan might serve as a catalyst for action, but it is vital that key Senators help put the treaty back on the map through hearings, work with their colleagues, and through exchanges with technical experts and allied governments.

The CTBT alone will not stop proliferation, but further nuclear proliferation cannot be checked without the CTBT's entry into force.
Thank you.

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Remarks delivered by ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball at Arms Control and Nonproliferation: Past Triumphs, Future Prospects Workshop

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Present and Future

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Remarks Prepared for a Breakfast Briefing to Governmental Delegates Organized by the Friends Committee on National Legislation
at the Millennium Hotel, New York

May 5, 2004


Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

I want to thank the Friends Committee on National Legislation for organizing this session and for the invitation to speak with you on currents trends in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The Friends Committee is one of the most effective public education and advocacy organizations working on nonproliferation in all of its aspects.

I also want to thank you for coming and for your efforts to improve and strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). My organization and its members are watching and monitoring your deliberations at the NPT PrepCom Meeting here in New York with great interest.

But as each of you know full well, the critical decisions are made back in the capitals and I know that many of you are watching closely what is happening in Washington, where my organization is based. Dr. von Hippel and I are here to try to provide for you some insights as to what is happening and what might likely happen with respect to the U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

As Under Secretary of State John Bolton said to the PrepCom on April 27th, there is a "crisis of noncompliance" with the NPT. I partly agree. Not only do Iran and North Korea represent a challenge to the norm of nonproliferation, so do the nuclear weapons programs of NPT nonsignatories India, Pakistan, and Israel.

But there is a related and in the long-run equally troubling crisis of "underperformance and missed opportunity" created by the United States' own lack of leadership and the in reducing the nuclear threat, and that crisis has, to a large extent, been precipitated by the Bush administration's policies to maintain its strategic nuclear flexibility and in some ways expand the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy.

Using the 2000 NPT Review Conference "13 Practical Steps"* as a reference point, I would like to review a few key developments concerning current U.S. nuclear weapons and disarmament policy and future trends.

The CTBT and the Nuclear Test Moratorium

Items one and two of the "13 Steps" call for early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and continuation of the nuclear test moratorium. On these counts, the Bush administration's opposition to the CTBT and its lukewarm commitment to continue observing the global nuclear test moratorium is well known.

As recently as this February, Secretary of State Powell reiterated that the administration has no plans to test. The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Linton Brooks told Arms Control Today last December that the resumption of nuclear testing was discussed at a secret meeting held last summer but it was agreed that there is no need to do so for either stockpile maintenance or new weapons development.

Nevertheless, the current U.S. government is keeping its nuclear weapons development, production, testing options open. If current trends are not arrested, the Bush administration may be in a position to resume a program of a limited number of nuclear test explosions to confirm the performance of new warhead designs or to address purported concerns about the reliability of existing nuclear warhead types if it is elected to a second term.

  • The Pentagon's January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for the development of the new nuclear weapons capabilities to provide a wider range of options to defeat "hardened and deeply buried targets."
  • In 2003, the Bush administration proposed the repeal of a 1994 legal prohibition on research and development on low yield (below 5kt TNT equivalent) nuclear weapons. Congress approved the repeal, but stipulated that work beyond the research phase for any new type or modified type of nuclear warhead would require Congressional authorization;
  • Despite claims from the administration that it would only wanted authority and money for research, the administrations intention to go further is now clear. Not only has the administration's budget request for research activities risen over last year's levels-from $6 million to $9 million for advanced nuclear concepts research on low-yield warheads and from $15 to $27 million for the nuclear earth penetrator-but in addition, the Energy Department's five year budget outlines a plan for further research and, if Congress allows, development of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator at a cost exceeding $485 million.

The activities are, in their own right, costly and counterproductive to the cause of global nuclear nonproliferation. In addition, such research and development could lead some planners in the U.S. military, political, and technical establishment to call for the resumption of nuclear testing. Over the last two to three years, the administration has advanced or considered ways to lower the technical and legal barriers to the possible resumption of U.S. nuclear testing.

  • The Energy Department is now working to reduce the time necessary to resume a technically significant nuclear test to 18 months over the next 2-3 years, and
  • In late-2001, senior Defense Department officials forwarded a proposal for consideration by the national security council principals that called for the repudiation of the 1996 U.S. signature on the CTBT and cutting off all funding for the CTBT PrepCom. The proposal was never considered, but could easily be revived.

These trends can and must be arrested. The U.S. Congress is showing an increasing level of discomfort with the administration's proposal - both Republicans and especially Democrats. If the executive branch asks for Congressional authorization and funding to develop a new nuclear bunker buster weapon in 2005 or 2006, the debate and opposition will be substantial and, I believe, sufficient to block such a precipitous and counterproductive step. A key factor in this debate will also be the degree to which U.S. allies and others in the international community express their concern and opposition to the development, production, and possible testing of new or modified U.S. nuclear weapons.

Irreversible and Verifiable Nuclear Reductions

Items five, six, and seven, of the "13 Steps" include the call for irreversible and verifiable reductions of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. Here again, the United States has fallen short.

The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty is being heralded here this week as a significant sign that the United States and Russia are fulfilling their NPT disarmament commitments. Think again.

First of all, let's consider the treaty itself.

The treaty will allow the U.S. to keep enough warheads in a "responsive force" to enable the United States to deploy an additional 2,400 strategic weapons within a three-year period after the conclusion of the agreement.

It does not require the two states to verifiably destroy their strategic nuclear delivery systems and currently the U.S. is planning to convert some of its strategic nuclear delivery platforms to conventional roles.

Past strategic reduction agreements between the two countries did not require the destruction of actual warheads, but the agreements did call for destruction of delivery vehicles. Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed in March 1997 to pursue "measures relating to… the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads," as part of a START III framework. Furthermore, in 1997, U.S. planners had already decided that they could reduce strategic arsenals essentially to what is being promised under SORT.

Without any further transparency or verification measures, the U.S. and Russia and the world will have less confidence in their ability to understand whether each party is on track to meeting their SORT obligations. I would note that Senator John Kerry, during the March 2003 debate on the resolution of ratification, was highly critical of the agreement's lack of additional verification provisions and he was the only Senator to introduce an amendment to the resolution. It would have required the President to report on an annual basis on the ability of the United States to monitor and verify Russian nuclear stockpiles under the SORT agreement. Unfortunately it failed to win approval.

The United States and Russia have also kept the issue of sub-strategic nuclear weapons reductions on the back burner.

In essence, through SORT, the Bush administration has rejected the principle of irreversibility and the wisdom of verification in favor of maintaining strategic nuclear flexibility.

Second, its is important to consider that the U.S. and Russia have not yet SORTED out how they will execute the promised reductions. As a recent news article in my organization's journal, Arms Control Today, notes, neither the U.S. nor Russia have settled on how they each will meet their SORT obligations. (See: "U.S. , Russia Still SORTing Out Nuclear Reductions," by Wade Boese <http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_05/SORT.asp> )

In the U.S., disagreements between the Departments of Defense and Energy over the size of the reserve stockpile of weapons have delayed the completion of a revised stockpile plan.

Both sides should be pressed to resume formal high level talks on accelerating the pace of reductions and providing greater transparency and accountability on their stockpiles.

Modern Pit Facility

The reluctance of the Bush administration to undertake more significant and irreversible reductions of strategic nuclear stockpiles is also creating pressures to maintain and even enlarge U.S. nuclear weapons production capacity.

As a part of its multibillion-dollar plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, the administration also wants a "Modern Pit Facility" to remanufacture (and possibly produce new) plutonium cores for warheads. It could cost up to $4 billion to build and $200-300 million a year to operate. Plans call for annual production levels of 125-450 plutonium pits by 2020. However, if the United States stays on track to reduce its nuclear stockpile to 3,000 warheads or less, such an enormous production capacity is unnecessary to maintain the existing U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. You can find more on this in another article in this month's Arms Control Today by Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel. (See: "Does the United States Need a New Plutonium Pit Facility?" <http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_05/FettervonHippel.asp >.)

"Do As I Say, Not As I Do" Nuclear Use Policy

The "13 practical steps" also call for a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination.

At times, some current officials in the Bush administration say the right things. In 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he told the leaders of nuclear armed India and Pakistan, which were teetering toward war, that:

"I can see very little military, political, or any other kind of justification for the use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons in this day and age may serve some deterrent effect, and so be it. But to think of using them as just another weapon in what might start out as a conventional conflict in this day and age seems… to be something that no side should be contemplating."

But the Bush administration has refused to apply the same logic to its own policies. The United States' 2002 national security strategy makes explicit something that should at the very least remain ambiguous, and formally ruled out altogether. That is: the possible first use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states, including NPT states parties.

According to a Jan 31, 2003 Washington Times article, President Bush approved a national security directive that specifically allows for the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks. According to the article, the classified National Security Presidential Directive 17 states that: The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including potentially nuclear weapons -- to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies."

This is the wrong course. It clearly undermines the political commitments made by the five nuclear weapons states on negative security assurances in the context of the 1995 NPT Review Conference.

The role of nuclear weapons, so long as they exist, should be to deter the use of nuclear weapons by others. This neither requires new types of nuclear weapons, nor massive Cold War-sized nuclear arsenals into the definite future.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by asking you to consider these facts and to hold the U.S. and other states not in compliance with the obligations and goals of the NPT into account. As U.S. Undersecretary of State John Wolf said last week before the NPT PrepCom in reference to Iran and North Korea:

"Judgments as to a state's behavior must be made by considering all the facts…It may be uncomfortable to hold a given country accountable for its violations, however, failure to do so undermines the standards we all support, emboldens others, and puts us all at risk."

The same is true for the current U.S. government's inaction with respect to its own disarmament obligations under the NPT.

*NOTE: In 1995 and 2000, when the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was under review, the nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states recognized that to preserve the objective of global nuclear nonproliferation, the nuclear-weapon states needed to reiterate and update their NPT Article VI disarmament commitments. On the basis of their May 1995 agreement to strengthen the treaty review process and pursue specific principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, the nuclear and non-nuclear NPT states-parties reached consensus to indefinitely extend the NPT. In May 2000, the nuclear-weapon states reaffirmed this approach by agreeing to a 13-point program of action on disarmament steps related to Article VI. In May of 2004, government representatives for NPT member states gathered at the United Nations in New York to prepare for the 2005 NPT Review Conference.

For an overview of the NPT, see: www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/nptfact.asp. For the full text of the 2000 NPT review conference final document, see www.armscontrol.org/act/2000_06/docjun.asp.

Description: 
Remarks delivered by ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball

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The Bush Administration's Nuclear Weapons Plans: A Critical Assessment

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THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S
NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANS:
A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT


TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2004

PANELISTS:

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN SPRATT (D-SC)

CHARLES V. PENA
DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE POLICY STUDIES,
CATO INSTITUTE

FRANK N. VON HIPPEL
PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
AND CO-DIRECTOR,
PROGRAM ON SCIENCE AND GLOBAL SECURITY,
WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

DARYL G. KIMBALL
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

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

NOTE: THIS IS AN EDITED TRANSCRIPT.

DARYL G. KIMBALL: Welcome to this morning's Arms Control Association Press Briefing on "The Bush Administration's Nuclear Weapons Plans," I am Daryl Kimball, executive Director of the Arms Control Association. ACA is a private, non-partisan organization devoted to supporting effective arms control and nonproliferation strategies to reduce and eliminate the dangers of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.

We have organized this briefing because we remain deeply concerned about the administration's costly and counterproductive campaign to research and develop new, more "usable" nuclear weapons, and its proposal for a new plutonium pit facility that would expand U.S. capabilities to build nuclear warheads in excess of reasonable and realistic requirements to maintain the existing stockpile.

We're pleased to have with us this morning three very knowledgeable and distinguished speakers who will provide us with their political, strategic, and scientific perspectives on these proposals: Congressman John Spratt; Charles Pena, Director of Defense Policy Studies at the CATO Institute, who will address new nuclear weapons; and Frank von Hippel, Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and former ACA Board Member, who will make a case against building a new Modern Pit Facility.

Before we hear from our panelists about their views on these issues, I want to underscore a couple reasons why we remain so concerned about current trends and are so disturbed by the rationale behind the proposals.

First, the current research phase on new nuclear weapons is just the beginning. Last year, in an effort to win support from wavering members of Congress, the administration claimed that it was only seeking money and authority to research new and modified nuclear weapons. Congress was barely persuaded and after much debate and maneuvering it lifted the 10-year old Spratt-Furse ban on new low-yield nuclear weapons research, but it decided that further weapons development work would require its explicit authorization.

Now, these assurances aside, the administration's intention to go further is becoming clearer and clearer. Not only are this year's budget requests higher than last year's-in the case of the Advanced Concepts initiative it's gone up from $6 million to $9 million; in the case of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, up from $15 million requested in '04 to $27 million in '05-but it has also laid out in its budget earlier this year a five-year schedule for the possible development of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator over five years that could cost up to $485 million and that's just the beginning of the costs.

The second reason why we're deeply concerned and troubled is that the administration's rationale for the new weapons is flawed and it contradicts our nation's top priority, stopping the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. As recently as last month in a report by the Departments of Energy, State, and Defense to Congress the administration claimed that new nuclear weapons and production capabilities are needed to enhance the United States' ability to deter aggression and, if necessary, defeat non-nuclear targets.

Though it claims that this research on new weapons is needed to maintain the credibility of the U.S. nuclear strike options, the report claims that such efforts will only slightly complicate U.S. efforts to slow proliferation worldwide. That's a real understatement if I've ever heard one. Not only would the proposed new weapons produce massive human, material, and political damage if used, but efforts to enhance the belief in the minds of adversaries that [the United States] might use nuclear weapons will only make it harder and harder to convince them to exercise nuclear restraint. Many members of Congress, including John Spratt who is here with us today, and many of our allies, and an increasing number of American citizens are deeply concerned about these trends and want to steer U.S. nuclear policy in a more sensible direction.

Before we begin, let me also just mention that in your packet there are a couple of very good statements from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California that was made on the floor of the Senate a few days ago and a press statement from Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher-another key leader on defense issues in the House-that was put together today for this event. And I'd also just remind you to take a look at the public remarks of Republican David Hobson of Ohio, a key appropriator who has raised some serious concerns about these proposals.

This year's debate in Congress is just beginning. This week the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee will begin their markups of their respective defense authorization bill and the Appropriations Committees will follow soon after. And our first and next speaker, John Spratt, will be in the middle of the action. He is here to share his perspectives on the political dynamics on these subjects and his views on why he's sought to reign in some of these new nuclear weapons proposals. He is really a champion on many defense issues and a real leader on nonproliferation. He was one of the original cosponsors of the 1992 nuclear test moratorium legislation. He was the author, coauthor of the 1994 ban on research leading to development of new low-yield nuclear weapons. And I want to thank you, Congressman Spratt, for being here, for your leadership, and sharing your time with us today.

REP. JOHN SPRATT: Thank you for the opportunity. Good morning. Daryl, I'm grateful to you and to the Arms Control Association for a chance to share just a few thoughts on nuclear weapons policy and nonproliferation.

As-I think we'd all agree with this-horrific as the events of 9/11 were, we only shudder to imagine how much worse the carnage would have been had the terrorists used nuclear weapons of any kind. The Bush administration is not unaware of this risk. They talk about it often. Just last February the president said, "There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated. Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action. Every civilized nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction." I couldn't agree more.

But I was just talking with Frank von Hippel before this program and saying there's sort of a diffused threat around the world, throughout the globe, that we know is there but it's almost like the events before 9/11 in that we are not able to organize ourselves to systematically and methodically approach each significant element of this threat and eradicate it because it is so diffused, so broad, and so widespread. The president's sentiment is there but it is not backed up by resources. Out of a defense budget of $420 billion-up more than $100 billion in three years and that doesn't include funding for Afghanistan and Iraq-the United States spends all of $1.8 billion on nonproliferation programs.

The best-known programs are known as CTR, Cooperative Threat Reduction, better known as Nunn-Lugar. It allows the Department of Defense to assist the former Soviet Union with "safe and secure transportation, storage, and dismantlement of nuclear, chemical and other weapons in order to prevent these weapons from falling into the hands of the wrong parties." A lesser-known but probably more significant program is in the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy's programs have been singularly effective in safeguarding nuclear weapons and nuclear materials, in particular, because they're the one ingredient that the wannabe nuclear powers and terrorists don't have that they would love to get their hands on: highly enriched uranium, in one form or another, and plutonium.

Back in January of 2001, before 9/11, [Howard] Baker and Lloyd Cutler were appointed to a commission on threats that we need to be dealing with in the post-Cold War world, and they came back with this conclusion: "The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable materials in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home." That was 2001. Despite Baker, Cutler, and others, the Energy and Defense Department programs have not seen notable increases since September the 11th. In fact, the president's budget request for Nunn-Lugar this year is $409.2 million; that's a $34.2 million decrease below the level prevailing in 2001 prior to September the 11th.

At the same time, the Department of Defense has enjoyed enormous increases in its budget for other priorities. Ballistic missile defense is a good example. It has more than doubled since President Clinton left office, since President Bush took office. Ballistic missile defense was $4.8 billion all told in 2001. This year the budget request is $10.2 billion; more than a 100 percent increase. This means we are spending six times more to deter a ballistic missile attack than to secure nuclear materials and nuclear know-how, the threat that a terrorist could use to great and malicious advantage to bring a variety of different nuclear weapons into this country. Whether they would be nuclear yields or just dirty bombs they would be all horrific devices.

The threat is there. When Lloyd Cutler and [Howard] Baker went out into the world three years ago to see what the emerging threats were they came back with this as the number one threat. There's no doubt that it's there. We've been told in multiple ways that it exists so why haven't we seen more commitment to doing something about the problem of proliferation? Well, I have to say I think while the Bush Administration formally acknowledges the threat and is basically committed to do what's been done in the past-to continue these programs-there's a lack of fervor for these programs in the upper echelons of the Bush Administration. In the famous words of [Charles-Maurice de] Talleyrand, it is "pas de zele," not much zeal.

Programs like the mixed oxide program are a good example. A facility is being built at the Savannah River plant. The purpose is to take plutonium and blend it down to be used in commercial reactors. We're to do it on a parallel track with the Russians and now we're sort of pulling back from MOX fuel. I'll think we'll probably go ahead with it. We're pulling back because the Russians haven't put up their share of the funding yet, but everybody knew the Russians would be laggard in bringing their money forward. In truth, the Europeans should be funding the project for their own security and we should be leaning upon them to do that. That's the least we can ask them to do.

Another good example: a joint data exchange center. It's a joint U.S.-Russian venture to share missile data and improve early warning of missile launches. It's a key sort of institution that we've been talking about for years in order to make strategic relations between both countries more stable. This initiative has fallen down simply because the administration hasn't made it a priority to work.

Keep in mind that our two countries control 95 percent of the world's weapons-grade fissile material [highly enriched uranium and plutonium].

There's no better way to protect Americans from weapons of mass destruction than to eliminate those weapons at their source, and look at the record already compiled by Nunn-Lugar and the nonproliferation programs at the Department of Energy: 6,000 warheads have been destroyed, 500 ICBMs, and 400 SLBMs. And that was some months ago. I don't have the current numbers. At least those numbers have been destroyed…So it's a proven system. We've got payoff to measure it but it still lacks zealous support.

What troubles me most is the attitude this administration seems to take. This administration seems to believe that the United States can move the world in one direction while we ourselves move in a different direction. We seem to believe that we can encourage, urge, impose upon other nations not to develop nuclear weapons, not to produce fissile materials, not to export missile and nuclear technology, and yet at the same time we can ourselves explore new concepts for nuclear weapons. We can develop tactical nuclear programs like the RNF, and we can shorten the lead time for the resumption of testing, all the while protesting that we're not going to start up testing any time soon.

Look at last year, for example. Granted, the dots are scattered all over the chart. There are no clear trend lines here but I think there are enough dots to begin to establish trend lines. There was no military requirement for it, but last year the administration was bent on repealing a restriction on the research and development of new nuclear weapons with yields below 5 kilotons. I was a coauthor of that ban, coauthor with [Congresswoman] Elizabeth Furse. We proposed it in the mid-1990s to ratchet in place the progress that the United States and Russia, the former U.S.S.R., had made in 1990 and 1991 in removing theater nuclear weapons, sea mines, land mines, artillery, small-yield nuclear weapons that would be used for tactical purposes, and therefore by definition, used-if they were used-early in a conflict.

We didn't want to see [the United States] backslide into all of those weapons again and so we simply but a backstop in the law: no research, no development on weapons of small yields below 5 kilotons. And that was symbolic. You could do the research on a 7-kiloton weapon. You could get around it. But this was one statement by Congress that we don't want to get back into that business. All sorts of artillery people told me-after the Army finally got rid of its last [nuclear artillery] round-I never wanted to pull the lanyard on one of those rounds anyway. But everybody had to have them. If anybody had them, everybody had to have them. And since they were tactical, they had to be distributed with forces in the field.

Well, notwithstanding that, the administration insisted that [the low-yield ban] was an impediment to research and development, that it actually threatened scientists in our labs so that they couldn't even think about weapons that had less than 5 kilotons without being potentially in violation of the law. We offered to straighten that out. We did straighten that out. We changed the language. That was not enough. And they said all along this is just an impediment. We want to clear the impediment. We don't have any intention of going back to the days when we had tactical nuclear weapons. Well, they won; we lost. The provision was repealed and barely was the law drawn on the books before the head of the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) sent out a memo to all of the labs saying this is your opportunity, get cracking. This is your opportunity to think about new and smaller nuclear weapons. So despite their protestations, they were bent all along upon entering a new realm and taking us back to somewhere where we were years ago and were thankful to have moved beyond.

Last year, Rumsfeld went to great pains also to describe the nuclear earth penetrator-the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP)-as "just a study; nothing more, nothing less." Well, look at this year's budget. This year the budget justification documents reveal that this so-called study, originally budgeted at $45 million over three years, is now slated for more than a half billion dollars over the next five years and also slated to transition from conceptual studies to detailed engineering to the actual construction of a prototype. Department of Energy officials tell us that this transition would require congressional approval, of course. We'd have to put the money up and we'd have to authorize it. They're right, but that's small comfort given the direction we appear to be moving.

This administration is also moving forward with its so-called Advanced Concepts program, which it started last year to explore new weapons design. Details are sketchy but they would encompass new low-yield and high-yield weapons. The funding for this is modest. It's very modest, $9 million for FY '05 but look at RNEP. It was modest a year ago too. Now it's gone from $45 million to $500 over five years. This could follow the same funding path.

Testing. When we were at the height of the Cold War our stockpile was above 10,000 nuclear weapons. We conducted about 1,100 tests-more than anyone else in the world to the best of our knowledge-over four decades. It took about 18 months to plan from start to finish a new nuclear test on a new nuclear weapon. We now have a stockpile stewardship program in place in which we spend billions of dollars to avoid testing. It's a good program. It's working thus far.

So what's U.S. policy? We will not seek ratification, obviously, of the CTBT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. More than that, we are funding a program that will compress the timeframe from start to finish for testing of a nuclear weapon to 18 months again. Number one, it's expensive; number two, it diverts scientific talent away from a critical program, the stockpile stewardship program; and number three, it sends the wrong message to the world, namely that we are at least contemplating a resumption of testing.

So let me wrap up by asking, what can we do if we really are intent upon doing something about nuclear nonproliferation? First of all, we need to vigorously fund our nonproliferation programs. We've got some good programs in place. We've worked the kinks out of them. They are functional. We can and ought to strive to do what Baker-Cutler proposed and that is get the funding level up to $30 billion over 10 years. It's a lot of money but there's a lot of money in the defense budget. Furthermore, the elimination of states like Libya and Iraq as states of concern give us an opportunity for progress that we didn't have in the past. We've got an improved relationship with the former Soviet states. We should cut through the red tape and somebody should be put in charge of this program who is committed to it; fervently committed to it.

Secondly, we should make clear that our nuclear arsenal is a strategic deterrent. In this world of stealthy platforms and standoff precision-guided munitions, we don't see a need anymore for tactical or theater nuclear weapons, and we should back away from the development of those weapons, including the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, which is destined to be a failure of a system probably anyway. I don't object, as a matter of prudence, to maintaining at least the ability to resume testing. Something could happen, I will admit, that might require us to do it. But I am skeptical that it's worth the cost of maintaining an 18-month lead-time, not just the dollar cost, but the talent cost and the opportunity cost as well. Twenty-four months is a lot less costly. More importantly, it puts a lot less strain on our engineers. That's something we can do right now and actually save money doing and reassure the world that our commitment is to stockpile stewardship and not to near term testing.

And finally, we should strive for prudent reductions in our strategic arsenal. The Moscow Treaty [also known as the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty] was a step in the right direction, but we can accelerate the stand down to 1,700 to 2,000 deployable warheads. There's plenty of room there for us to work with the Russians. Some sort of confidence building measures between the two of our countries since we have other things to disagree about right now would be a good idea in and of itself.

These are just a few ideas. The defense authorization bill is coming up this week for markup in subcommittee, next week in full committee. We will have some amendments in that process to at least try to raise the overall level of nonproliferation funding, maybe to $2 billion instead of $1.8 billion. I can't tell you that it's likely to pass in committee. I doubt that it will, but we'll go back to the floor and if they give us an opportunity on the floor we'll try again. I think our chances are there.

Frankly, the defense bill is not the way it used to be. The way it used to be when Les Aspin was chairman of the committee was that we would go to the floor and spend two to three weeks. We would have dozens, scores of amendments. Now, a senior member-I'm the second-ranking Democrat on this committee-is lucky to get two or three amendments approved and made in order to be considered on the House floor. So we have to choose our weapons and our battles carefully because the Rules Committee won't give us the opportunity to take everything to the floor. In fact, what they typically do is they allow the most extreme amendments of all to come up and dare Democrats to vote for them. It's not a way to make good law. It's not a way to make good policy, but it's the way the House of Representatives is run right now, unfortunately.

And I hope that we will have an opportunity in committee and on the floor to at least at the margins improve the adequacy of funding for these key nonproliferation programs that have proven themselves to work and certainly are needed in the world today.

Thank you very much.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Congressman. We'll hear next from Chuck Pena, who is going to address the new nuclear weapons topic.

CHARLES V. PENA: Thank you and good morning. I was really pleased when Daryl called me and invited me to speak on this subject and this panel. If, for no other reason, it gets me out from under having to deal with the day-to-day issues of Iraq and the war on terrorism which tend to dominate my time.

For those of you who are familiar with the Cato Institute, you might think it's a little bit strange that I'm sharing a podium with the Arms Control Association. Cato's not necessarily known for being terribly supportive of treaties or arms control more generally. Certainly, we're not staunch opponents of it. We like to see what the outcome is before making a decision. But on the subject of mini-nukes, [Cato and the Arms Control Association] find ourselves in general agreement.

I'm going to speak to you today from a November report which is available on [the Cato] website called "Mini-Nuke and Preemptive Policy: A Dangerous Combination." And in my brief remarks what I want to do is outline why there is an interest in developing mini-nukes, what's driving it, what some of the arguments are for them, what some of the arguments are against them, and why on balance I believe that this would be a dangerous path for us to pursue.

The reason why there's all this interest in mini-nukes is pretty simple: it's called deeply buried and hardened targets. People like the Iraqis, the North Koreans realize that one way to protect their leadership targets, their weapons of mass destruction programs-if they've actually got them-is to bury them deep or bury them inside mountains, and that makes them very difficult to destroy with conventional weapons. And then the other half of the equation is that some of the progress that we've made with precision-guided munitions and earth-penetrating weapons makes it tantalizingly possible to use very low-yield nuclear weapons to destroy deeply-buried targets that we haven't been able to target before.

Even in the Iraq War, with all the munitions that we used, there were some underground facilities that we just could not get to. And, of course, nobody wants to use a large-yield surface-detonated nuclear weapon, which would be one way to try and deal with those kinds of targets. So you have this possibility that with a weapon that essentially you can put right on top of a target, penetrate 20, 30, 40, 50 [feet]-whatever technology will allow you to do-and then detonate that nuke underground, contain most of the explosion and most of the fallout. It then becomes a so-called safe, useable weapon, and that's what's driving the push more than anything else for mini-nukes.

The proponents argue that all of our potential adversaries are burying their targets and that even with the accomplishments we've made with conventional bunker busters that there are some targets that we're just never going to be able to hit with them. So the only way to go after them is with a nuclear bunker buster. And the reason they want to do that, they argue, is that would have a deterrent effect. In other words, if we have credible nuclear weapons that our adversaries know can hold at risk their most valued targets, their leadership, and their WMD, that this will deter hostile nations from taking actions against our interests.

They go on to argue that it would dissuade countries even from wanting to pursue weapons of mass destruction programs. In other words, the argument goes if a dictator or a leader of another country knows that if he pursues a WMD program, no matter how deeply buried and hardened he makes that program, that we have the ability to destroy it then, in theory, that person is dissuaded from pursuing those kinds of programs. And that is largely the argument why we need to be pursuing so-called mini-nukes.

Arms control advocates would argue otherwise. We don't need to and that, in fact, going down that path threatens arms control regimes and nonproliferation efforts. Certainly, if we had to resume testing, they would argue, that that undermines the nonproliferation treaty and so that makes the problem worse because once we start testing and developing new weapons then other countries are more likely to want to test and also develop their weapons. And so all the work that's gone into at least containing proliferation, as we know it today, would unravel.

Bruce Blair at the Center for Defense Information raises some other interesting criticisms of mini-nukes. One, he points out, is that the diehard nuclear planners really want these weapons to go after targets inside Russia and China. Of course, the first question is that supposedly we're not in an adversarial relationship with the Russians anymore, we're trying to draw down our nuclear arsenals, and hopefully eventually get to the point where we remove the programming codes at least so that our missiles aren't targeted at each on a day to day basis so why do we want to build a new weapon to go after the Russians? And I think the real answer is that there are a lot of people out there who are concerned about the Chinese as the next possible strategic challenger to the United States and there are many people out there who believe that mini-nukes might serve as an effective deterrent to the Chinese expansion of their nuclear arsenal.

Bruce also, even more skeptically, thinks that a big push for the mini-nukes is to keep the labs in business. If we're not developing new nuclear weapons and we're drawing down our strategic arsenals, what are the labs going to do? They have to have something to do, and as Congressman Spratt pointed out, the minute one ban was lifted [the administration] sent the memo out [to the labs] that said this is your opportunity to go at least do research on new types of weapons.

I think the strongest argument that can be made against mini-nukes is on technical grounds. I'm not a physicist but I've read a lot of work from physicists who have dealt with this issue. It's not a question of can you build a mini-nuke. The reality is we have a weapon that could conceivably be made into a mini-nuke. It's the B61-11 nuclear bunker buster. In theory, you can dial down the explosive power of the device to sub-kiloton level. We know how to build precision-guided munitions. It's fairly easy to take a dumb iron bomb, stick a tail fin on it and a GPS receiver and know that you can get inside 10 meters of your intended target. And we know how to build these steel-tipped earth-penetrating warheads.

So, in theory anyway, you could take B61-and it probably isn't too difficult to do the engineering modifications-and turn it into something that looks like a mini-nuke. The problem is you're still probably dealing with collateral damage, no matter how deeply buried you put the thing. There's still going to be a fairly sizable crater. If your adversaries are smart enough to locate all their facilities in urban areas, as opposed to out in the middle of the desert, you're not going to minimize collateral damage, that's for sure. You're still going to get collateral damage in the immediate blast vicinity. There is a concern, of course, about fallout and testing. Some of our early nuclear tests with very small yield weapons had fallout over sizable distances. So I think that's another potential concern.

So the claim that these are useable in terms of being a clean nuclear weapon that has little or no damage-in other words it looks more like a conventional weapon than a nuclear weapon-is overstated, but I would leave it to the scientists to confirm that. But all my conversations with physicists, even those who are at least mildly supportive of the concept of mini-nukes, acknowledge that there's no such thing as a clean nuclear weapon and anybody who tells you otherwise is fooling you.

Let me say what I think the real problem here is with mini-nukes. It's not the mini-nukes per se-although I think you could make a lot of good arguments why they might be a bad idea on the arms control and technical aspects of it-but what's most troubling to me is that you have an administration pushing for mini-nukes that has also now endorsed explicitly a doctrine of preemption. So if you combine mini-nukes with preemption what you've got is the possibility anyway that we would initiate the use of nuclear weapons for preemptive regime change, and that obviously opens up a whole Pandora's box.

What message does that send out to the rest of the world? What message does that actually send out to the rogue states that you are supposedly trying to deter? I would argue that if I'm Kim Jong-Il sitting in Pyongyang watching the United States move forward to develop mini-nukes that can take out my deeply buried targets, I want to go from the eight nuclear weapons that the intelligence estimates are now saying the North Koreans have to as many as I can possibly build as fast as I possibly can. I think what happens is contrary to the advocates who argue that mini-nukes would have a dissuasive effect. It would have the reverse. It would create an incentive for countries to want to develop their own deterrent capability because what else are they going to do? There is no other way to deter the United States short of nuclear weapons and even that, who knows, may not be enough.

And so I think the real concern with mini-nukes is not that they're thought to be more useable weapons, it's that they have no other use except to be used for regime change. My Op-Ed outlines a hypothetical: would we have used mini-nukes in Iraq and what would have been the outcome? And I try to point out in it what I think some of the real operational and other limitations would be of trying to use mini-nukes preemptively against a country that a) has not attacked you and b) is also not a nuclear power.

In my opinion, the value of nuclear weapons is as a deterrent against being struck by another country that might have such weapons or another country that might want to engage in catastrophic action. The notion that either our strategic arsenal or even mini-nukes can somehow deter all levels of conflict, all the way down to say Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait in 1990, I think is a stretch of how deterrents actually operate. At best it operates on a one on one level with a country that directly threatens you, but I don't think that we can take nuclear weapons and then try and use that to deter all levels of conflict. At best, I think they deter nuclear conflict and maybe the use of other types of weapons of mass destruction.

In the end, the argument against mini-nukes is largely that they will actually propel countries to want to accelerate their nuclear weapons programs. Now, I'm not sure that arms control and nonproliferation can contain that either because as long as we've got a policy of preemption-and we've got more than a policy, we now have one case of preemption-I think there are a lot of countries out there that just don't trust the United States anymore to act in a manner that is in their interests. There a lot of leaders of so-called rogue states, states of concern wondering whether they're next. The fact that we've done it once may be proof enough that they need to get nuclear weapons.

And so I think we have to actually live with the very real possibility that despite all of our arms control and nonproliferation efforts that countries like North Korea are going to say the only way that we can prevent regime change is to have nuclear weapons and no amount of mini-nukes and no amount of arms control may stop them from doing that because they have no other insurance policy.

Let me conclude just by reading the concluding paragraph of my report. I rarely read out stuff but I think this is worth noting, "Ultimately mini-nukes could undermine deterrence and make the United States less secure especially when combined a policy of preemptive regime change. If rogue states believe that the United States has a nuclear capability that it is willing to use preemptively leaders of those countries may feel that they have nothing to lose by striking first with whatever means they have and that might include whatever weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, radiological, that they might possess."

I think even more dangerously, if those countries do possess some forms of WMD and their leaders feel that we have essentially put them in the position of dead man walking, which I think mini-nukes would ultimately do, then the taboos and the barriers to nation-states dealing with terrorist organizations begin to break down because terrorist organizations may be the only way that those nation-states can find a way to strike at the United States. That leaves open the possibility, and in fact becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Bush administration, that so-called rogue states would, in fact, just hand over WMD to terrorists.

I think there are strong disincentives for rogue states to do that presently. I think the more we make it clear that we're interested in preemptive regime change and the easier we make it with the development of weapons such as mini-nukes then the more likely it is that rogue states will give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. And that is the very one thing missile defense and other things cannot defend against and that would be another terrorist attack here in the United States.

Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much. We'll move on to our last speaker, Frank von Hippel. And as he's coming up let me just mention that in your packets there is a fact sheet from the Arms Control Association based on an article last year from three leading weapons physicists on the technical realities of high- and low-yield bunker busters.

FRANK VON HIPPEL: Actually, I'm inspired to put a tag on Charles' talk and just summarize those technical realities on the so-called Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator because my colleague Rob Nelson, an astrophysicist at Princeton, has done a lot of work on this. It's just that materials aren't strong enough so that any earth penetrator could penetrate beyond tens of feet deep and certainly couldn't contain fallout.

It's also that you would need to have good intelligence to target a bunker. The enemy would have to have cooperated, not making it too deep; just a little bit too deep for a conventional weapon but not too deep for a nuclear weapon. The enemy would also have to cooperate by putting all the chemical and biological weapons agents in one room instead of stringing it out along tunnels because the radius of destruction of the nuclear weapons wouldn't be very great. And you would have to know within 10 feet or so exactly where the target was. Here, you need better intelligence than we have demonstrated that we have. I remind you that before we invaded Iraq, U.S. intelligence had identified 590 locations in Iraq where chemical and biological weapons were supposed to be stored. But that wasn't what I'm here for.

I'll be very brief because you have an article by Steve Fetter [physicist and professor, University of Maryland] and I that is in the next issue of Arms Control Today. In your press packets is an article called "Does the United States Need a New Plutonium-Pit Facility?" Steve and I have been working on the technical aspects of nuclear policy for many years, both inside and outside the government. I'll just walk you through very quickly the main points in this article.

Currently, the U.S. has about 15,000 plutonium pits. Plutonium pits are the fissile material cores of the trigger of nuclear weapons-the fission trigger. According to the Moscow Treaty, the United States has agreed with Russia to reduce to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads in 2012.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) proposed a year ago that we should build a so-called modern pit facility to produce up to 450 pits a year on a single shift, operating 40 hours a week, to both replace the existing stockpile of pits as they age and also to make new designed pits for new types of warheads that might be dreamed up.

Now, this proposal has become controversial. It's actually been criticized from both sides of the aisle. The House Appropriations Committee last July described the size-the maximum size of 450 pits a year; enough for 450 new warheads a year-as being based on a default assumption that the U.S. would continue to have a stockpile and a weapons complex, such as we built up during the Cold War to fight the now defunct Soviet Union, that would still need more than 10,000 pits. The committee and the Congress therefore cut the budget for designing this facility and urged the NNSA to look at the possibility of making whatever pits we need in an existing facility at Los Alamos.

And, in fact, in January, given this opposition in the Congress, Linton Brooks, the administrator of NNSA, announced that the agency was going to pause to respond to concerns that some committees have raised about the scope and timing of this proposal-the proposed size and the urgency for building such a facility.

To give a sense of the timescale we're talking about, how long before we have to replace the pits in our existing stockpile? Well, the oldest pit in the so-called enduring stockpile-the stockpile of about 7,000 warheads that we plan to continue to keep-at the moment is 26 years old. According to the NNSA's proposal-the case for this modern pit facility-we can expect these pits to last at least 45 years. So it would be 20 years at least before the oldest pit would have to be replaced if that 45-year longevity estimate is correct. However, the NNSA is doing experiments to see whether in fact the pits might last much longer with so-called accelerated aging tests, which by 2006 will tell us whether we can expect these pits to last at a minimum 60 years. In which case that would push this off to 35 years from now before we would have to replace the first pit.

With regard to the size of the stockpile-the 2,200 strategic warheads that we've agreed to reduce to by 2012-we would also want to have spares and non-strategic warheads. The question is how many warheads would we want to keep in an inactive reserve, just in case? How many reserve pits would we want to keep and store, just in case? It would be hard to argue that we really need to reproduce today's stockpile of 15,000 pits.

Congressman Spratt and Charles Pena just told us very eloquently why we don't need new warheads if the purpose of our nuclear arsenal is just deterrence instead of some kind of tactical use for less than national survival. The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator as currently conceived would not require a new pit. That's the only new warhead that has been proposed. It would not require a new pit. It's proposed to use an existing so-called physics package from an existing warhead.

What could we do at the exiting plutonium facility at Los Alamos, which the House Appropriations Committee urged the NNSA to look at? Well, that facility, the so-called TA-55 facility, is a very large plutonium facility. Operating 40 hours a week, this Los Alamos facility could be tooled up to produce 80 pits a year by 2015 or 150 by 2020 if an additional ring were installed. But the NNSA, at the time that it proposed the new facility a year ago, said that would not be enough.

If you have the article out, there's a plot showing you how large a stockpile we could produce with the Los Alamos facility at 80 pits per year, with the augmented facility at 150 pits per year, and with the [new facility proposed by NNSA] up to 450 pits a year. I want to reemphasize that's just operating 40 hours a week. The timescale on this plot shows a maximum pit lifetime of 45 years, which is all that can be guaranteed now, or if it went up to 60. We have learned that we can just about guarantee 60 years after we've done the accelerated aging tests.

With the Los Alamos facility at a 45-year pit lifetime, we could replace by 2034, 1,800 pits at 80 a year, or 2,500 pits at 150 a year. For a 60-year pit lifetime we could replace by 2049, 3,000 pits at 80 a year or almost 5,000 pits at 150 a year. With the Moscow Treaty, we would not need more than 3,000 warheads in 2012, and now we're talking about 20, 40 years later. I would hope that we would need far fewer by then.

I would argue that we would only need 200 to 1,000 warheads. A colleague drew my attention to a national poll, in which the median response from the American public about what they thought we need is 100 warheads. So I'm a hawk compared to the median American. By the way, they also thought that we only have 200. This just illustrates that the numbers that we have today-and even the numbers we're projecting to go down to in 2012-are just unimaginable in terms of destructive power to the ordinary American and I think they are closer to the truth than the nuclear policymakers in Washington are.

Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Frank. We'll now take your questions and our panelists will respond as best they can. If you can just identify yourself, we will bring you a microphone so we can hear you. Yes, sir.

Q: Tony Batt of the Las Vegas Review Journal. I'd like to get a comment about a statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration flatly denying that they have any plans whatsoever to test a bunker buster at the Nevada test site. They say the technology already exists, the weapon has already been tested, and that there would be no necessity for tests at the test site. Do you find that a credible statement?

MR. KIMBALL: Well, let me take a shot, and maybe Frank or Chuck want to comment on it. As Frank von Hippel said, the warhead that is being modified as part of the RNEP is going to be the B61 or the B83, which have been well tested. So I would agree, and I think Frank would agree, that you don't need to test this physics package once again to see if it performs. Modified nuclear weapons probably don't need to be tested. However, it is possible that modifications might be made to existing packages that could lead the weapons labs to want to test. That is a very real possibility.

I would also note that other kinds of testing are scheduled to go on. According to this five-year budget plan that Congressman Spratt referred to, the Department of Energy would be beginning in fiscal '05 and moving into fiscal '06 subsystem testing of the package for the robust weapon. These are aerial gravity drops of the weapon to test its earth penetrating capability. This is a different kind of test they do plan to be conducting, not a nuclear test.

Do you have anything that you want to add on that, Chuck?

MR. PENA: Let me just add, there's a thing called plausible deniability. I think, the labs can say all they want about what they're not planning to do and they are absolutely right. In whatever current plans they've got on paper now they're not planning to do this. That doesn't mean that some number of years from now, if these programs move forward at the rate that the administration would like them to move forward, that there wouldn't be a test sometime in the future. But they can say right now, "we're not planning to do a test" because all they're doing right now are concept studies and research so testing isn't part of what they're doing.

So I would take that with a grain of salt when you are accelerating and expanding programs for new nuclear weapons. When labs say they don't plan to test I think they're telling the absolute truth but that doesn't mean that there's no test sometime down the road that they're not currently planning for.

MR. VON HIPPEL: I've been told off the record by a Defense Department official that the expectation is that the U.S. would resume testing in 2007 or 2008, but not necessarily RNEP. I asked why, and basically [the answer] was that the labs need more interesting work to do.

MR. KIMBALL: And as Congressman Spratt mentioned, there are several dots that you need to connect. I think you put it very well. I mean, the line is not entirely clear.

REP. SPRATT: There are a lot of suspicious dots on the chart. (Laughter.)

MR. KIMBALL: A lot of suspicious dots on the chart, yes. One other canary in the coalmine that many of us are looking at is the legal status of the United States' relationship to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There was a report in the New York Times about two years ago that early in the Bush Administration they did consider ways in which they might be able to withdraw the U.S. signature on that treaty. If the U.S. resumed tests they would have to revoke the 1996 signature on that treaty also. So that's another thing to watch out for.

Other questions, please. Yes, sir.

Q: Dmitry Ponomarev, Embassy of Belarus. Thank you very much for this presentation, but you could allow me three short comments that might be regarded as questions?

MR. KIMBALL: Please, briefly, yes.

Q: First of all, as far as I know this Nunn-Lugar program concerning Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, [which have all] voluntarily refused from being nuclear is not carried out in a completely satisfactory way. It means only that I think it is in the interests of the United States and the world community to prove that going un-nuclear-to refuse from nuclear status-is rewarded much more, not only in the material but in the political way. This is one thing.

Another comment is about mini-nukes pushing rogue states to go nuclear. Let us remember that in Japan for some quite a period of time there is a going-on discussion, theoretically at least, about going nuclear. I understand that living in the shade of a probably nuclear North Korea is not a very happy thing, but in this interconnected world, if the United States is going mini-nuclear, wouldn't that be another push for Japan going down the nuclear road path? This, I think, would be very dangerous.

And, the third thing, I am not a specialist, I am not a physicist, I am completely humanitarian, but I think in the age of Internet it is impossible to keep even the closest-kept secrets. It means when and if the United States is beginning to develop mini-nuclear weapons, this technology might be easily transferred to the very rogue states and maybe to the very terrorist organizations these mini-nuke states are supposed to struggle against.

Thank you very much.

MR. KIMBALL: Thanks for your comments. I'll just leave those as observations and things to be concerned about. Are there others that have comments? Yes, here.

Q: I want to ask Congressman Spratt a question on the current sort of budget battles on the Hill because we're going through markup now both on the [Senate and House Armed Services Committees]. The big issue seems to me the deficit and projected expenses of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fact that the defense budget, if my numbers are right, is close to 50 percent now, maybe even greater, of discretionary spending in the overall federal budget.

In a lot of people's eyes we need good defenses, but expenses on nuclear weapons at the rate we're spending today, and particularly new R&D and BMD (ballistic missile defense) included, seems to be a complete mis-prioritization of military spending when troops don't have armored vests, Humvees, and armored back-fit (ph) kits, in Iraq. Is the pressure from the federal deficit and the budget battles now on the Hill going to put pressure on the defense budget this year to really reprioritize things. And would that result in cutbacks in nuclear weapons, BMD, and other such items?

REP. SPRATT: I think the changes will be mostly at the margins this year. A day of reckoning is coming. The defense budget has grown from $300 billion to $420 billion in a space of three or four years. The deficit will be $521 billion this year if OMB is correct, $478 if CBO is correct. The deficit for next year is likely to approach that if the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan is $60 billion to $70 billion, which seems to be the rate of expenditure that's occurring right now. So somewhere, sometime this has to be confronted. I don't think it'll be confronted this year for various reasons. It's a presidential election year. Democrats don't control the House, we don't control the Senate. We can offer amendments on the House floor and the Senate floor, more on the Senate floor. But I think [the changes] will be mostly at the margin, trying to maybe plus up nonproliferation CTR to $2 billion instead of $1.8 billion, trying to move around some money in the ballistic missile defense accounts from strategic missile interceptors to theater missile systems, such as PAC-3 and THAAD, where there is a clear identified threat.

We'll certainly go after the RNEP and I'd tell you we might have a fighting chance in that case. We've got some assistance from Republicans such as David Hobson who has shown a fresh and welcome independence as chairman of the Energy and Water Committee. But all of this is going to be at the margins rather than some major transformational change in the budget. That could be coming. If you remember in the 1980s, the Department of Defense was in its primacy. It trumped everything in the budget for about four years, and then Gramm-Rudman-Hollings came along and shifted the scales and all of a sudden the deficit became more important than defense.

Right now, defense has got more going for it than with the Soviet threat in the 1980s because of the 9/11 threat in this decade. I think that's probably the real engine that's driving all this expenditure. That, plus the ongoing war. But something can happen. I don't want to see it happen but something could happen fiscally and financially to the dollar, the world, the stock markets, and the equity markets, and we might decide that the deficit has to take precedence again. And it'll come, whether it's this year, next year, five years from now, I don't know. But we cannot sustain the path we're on, which is one accumulating, according to CBO, $5 trillion in additional debt over the next 10 years. We just simply can't get from here to there.

When that day comes there will be a lot of scrutiny given to just what you're talking about. The first place we should go is the strategic accounts and take a look at the spending there, which is close to Cold War levels, and ask ourselves if we need to be doing that in this world. We've got other systems, such as standoff, precision-guided stealthy platforms, that give us an alternative we didn't have 20 years ago.

MR. KIMBALL: Other questions. Yes, sir.

Q: I'm Mike Haylin with Chemical and Engineering News. I would appreciate the panel's comments on the recommendation by the Defense Science Board earlier this year that the primary focus of the stockpile stewardship program be shifted from its current focus of maintaining the present stockpile to developing what we're calling mini-nukes.

MR. KIMBALL: I think we might disagree with that recommendation. That's the simple answer. Do you have a more specific question about the DSB recommendations?

One of the things that I think is interesting about that, if I might just elaborate a little bit, is that while the Defense Science Board recommended in its report that the composition of the U.S. arsenal be reoriented toward smaller and more useable nuclear weapons, it also was critical of some of the current efforts in the stockpile stewardship program, which I think is good criticism. There's too much being invested in some of the stockpile life extension programs and so there could be some reorientation. But it's not that kind of reorientation that, I think, we would support. And that would be my quick response based on all the things that we've said this morning.

MR. VON HIPPEL: I think that sustaining the size of the stockpile that we have is a tremendous waste of money and that money could be used for other things, but not mini-nukes in my view.

MR. KIMBALL: Back to the previous question that was asked up here about the relationship between these issues and the defense budget; just to connect some of these dots here. We were just discussing the costs of research on new or modified nuclear weapons, which is now in the tens of millions of dollars. That's peanuts in this federal budget. Over the next five years, as Congressman Spratt said, the research could lead to development on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator into the half-billion dollar range. Then, the modern pit facility that Frank von Hippel was describing is a $2 billion to $4 billion facility that could cost somewhere around $300 million a year to operate. The additional costs of producing and inducting and testing new or modified nuclear weapons could cost additional billions of dollars. So, while not a decisive element in the larger defense budget, these things do add up and there are opportunity costs, especially with respect to the energy appropriations budget, where other national priorities are funded from.

Any final questions from the audience? If not, I want to thank you for your attendance and encourage you to continue taking a look at Arms Control Today. In June, you'll be seeing a new Arms Control Today. There's a flier outside that describes the redesign of our flagship journal, and if you're not a subscriber I would certainly encourage you to become one to stay on top of these issues here in Washington and elsewhere.

(END)

Description: 
ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

Iraq's Weapons: A Briefing with Joseph Cirincione, Daryl Kimball and Greg Thielmann

Sections:

Body: 

PARTICIPANTS:
GREG THIELMANN, FORMERLY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S OFFICE OF STRATEGIC PROLIFERATION AND MILITARY AFFAIRS, BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH (INR);
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE;
DARYL KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

LOCATION: WASHINGTON, D.C.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2004, 9:35 A.M. EST

(Note: The following is a prepared introduction. The Federal News Service transcription began approximately 4 minutes after the event began.)

MR. KIMBALL: Good morning and thank you for joining this morning's teleconference press briefing about the ongoing controversy surrounding the prewar intelligence assessments of Iraq's unconventional weapons capabilities and how senior administration officials portrayed those assessments in making their case for an invasion of Iraq.

I am Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. We have two very articulate and well-known experts on these issues. Greg Thielmann is the former director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Greg is a new member of the ACA Board of Directors. Also with us is Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Joe is a co-author of the new and very comprehensive Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report titled "WMD in Iraq: evidence and implications."

We scheduled this call to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003 presentation on U.S. intelligence assessments to the United Nations Security Council. Little did we know that the former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay would over the past few day acknowledge publicly that he does not believe that those assessments were correct or that Iraq had any proscribed nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons stockpiles or the means to deliver them on the eve of the invasion last March. Nevertheless, Kay's remarks make our presentations and discussion here today all the more timely.

Joe will begin by providing us with an overview of Powell's statement, the sources of the intelligence assessments that he presented and how his charges stand up to the evidence today.

Greg will then describe how many of Powell's and other senior official's pre-war assertions about Iraqi WMD were known at that time to be based on dubious or discredited intelligence information and describe what the UN weapons inspectors had assessed to be the situation before the war and how inspections had contained Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs.

(Note: This event was fed in progress at this point.)

MR. CIRINCIONE: (In progress)—but you know, within the intelligence community, there had been for some time suspicions about Saddam's chemical and biological weapons. And it all goes back, as does all of our intelligence estimates on Saddam—goes back to the unresolved questions from the UNSCOM inspections. At the end of that six-, seven-year period, UNSCOM had destroyed most of Saddam's arsenals, had destroyed most of the production capabilities. But there were several unresolved issues, really accounting issues, that had to do with tons of material that could be used for chemical weapons, but the inspectors did not know if it had been, and several thousand munitions that they knew had been built, but they couldn't account for their destruction. That was the basis, I think, of all intelligence that went on after that.

The intelligence community did take those unanswered questions, coupled them with past history and their assumptions about intent, and went on to start to make estimates, such as, "We believe it is likely that Saddam has restarted these programs. We believe it is probable that he retains stockpiles." And these estimates were picked up by experts, such as at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and repeated.

As recently as September 2002, the DIA was saying that there's no hard evidence of any stockpiles or production capabilities. And they went to pains to point that out.

[Secretary of State] Colin Powell in his testimony says exactly the opposite. Exactly the opposite when he says, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

I just want to look at one of these-and it was one of the most dramatic, and he opened up early on in his testimony with this-where he showed photos of a facility at Taji, where it had been known that Saddam had in the past stored chemical weapons. He pointed out with this dramatic series of circles and squares where he said that we know there are four chemical bunkers. And he pointed out the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. One of those signs, he said, was a decontamination vehicle. Very dramatic testimony, very convincing for many people listening to this.

I happened to be up at the United Nations last week and I spoke to U.N. inspectors. I asked them how they felt when they saw that testimony.

They told me, "We knew he was wrong when he said it." They told me that they went to the Americans after the speech and said, "That's not a decontamination vehicle. We've been to that facility. We've seen that truck. That's a fire truck."

The Americans didn't believe them. I raise this because it gets to this issue of intelligence. There's been sort of a focus on the intelligence produced by the intelligence agencies. But we were getting a great deal of intelligence from the U.N. inspections as soon as they began back on November 27, 2002. Much of that intelligence we simply ignored. The inspectors were making up for our lack of human intelligence. We had tremendous surveillance capabilities, but we didn't have people on the ground. Well, after November 27th, there were people on the ground. And these inspectors went to many of the facilities where there had been said there was suspicious activity, in the nuclear and chemical areas in particular, and they reported back that they found nothing.

On the eve of the war, [IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei] directly refuted some of the major claims that Powell also presented in his presentation on the nuclear systems. [The IAEA] had looked at the aluminum tubes and they found that they were not suitable for centrifuges. [The IAEA] had looked at the magnets that Iraq had imported and found that they were being used for other peaceful, civilian purposes. [The IAEA] examined the Niger claim, a claim that Powell did not include but the president did, and found that it was based on forged documents.

So we had new intelligence coming in, but it was ignored. One of the main purposes of Colin Powell's speech was not just to present the case for Saddam having large existing stockpiles and production capabilities, but it was to discredit the inspectors. If you go back and read his speech, he opens up his entire speech with a portrayal of an elaborate deception program that he says is designed to ensure that the inspectors will find absolutely nothing. So he had to discredit the findings that the inspectors were coming up with that there were no programs by portraying them as fools and portraying Saddam as engaged in an elaborate deception mechanism.

This view of the inspections largely prevailed in the United States. We now know that it was completely wrong. It's not just the intelligence on the stockpiles that was wrong, it was the administration's judgment of the value of the inspection process. We now know that the inspection process was working far better than the administration claimed, that they were finding what there was to find, and that if we had used them properly we could have put to rest many of the understandable suspicions we had about Saddam's programs.

Let me close there.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Joe.

Let's turn to Greg. Just as another brief introduction for Greg, as you all recall, a few days ago David Kay said almost all of us were wrong. I think Greg needs to be put in the category of the almost because Greg's work when he was in government was part of or helped lead to the dissent that does appear in the National Intelligence Estimate, which apparently some senior officials in the Bush administration did not take note of. Specifically, the dissent regarding the allegations about the reconstitution of the nuclear program based on the uranium claim and the aluminum tubes claim. Perhaps Greg would like to describe a little bit about that further.

But, Greg, why don't you tell us a little bit more about what might have been known if officials might have taken a closer look at some of the caveats and the dissents, among other issues that you want to cover?

MR. THIELMAN: Thank you, Daryl.

I wanted to start out by repeating a couple of lines from the press conference that the Arms Control Association sponsored last July, in 2003, in which Joe Cirincione also participated. I made at that time three assertions. The Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed to Iraq. I said that some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided.

And at the risk of spraining my shoulder by patting myself on the back, I really think that we now have-months after me saying what I think a lot of people knew at the time-an acknowledgement about the first part. The administration is finally admitting it did not provide an accurate picture and so the real question is who is to blame. Right now the hot issue is how much blame the intelligence community bears on this. Of course, there are a number of people and organizations that are trying very hard to make sure none of the blame rubs off on the White House.

So where we are right now is that most people accept that the intelligence community is at least partly responsible for this inaccurate reading, but it's very much up in the air with the public at large whether senior officials misused the information. So my fearless forecast is that if a year from now we return to this subject, all three of those statements that I made back in last July will be vindicated by the facts.

And let me go into some specifics here. The intelligence professionals made mistakes. There's no doubt about that. And that includes the intelligence professionals in my own office in the State Department's Intelligence Bureau. We made some assumptions based on the things that come as close to facts as exist in the intelligence world: the knowledge of what Iraq had done in the past in both the use of chemical weapons, the knowledge that [Saddam Hussein] was actively pursuing chemical and biological weapons research, that he had deceived U.N. inspectors in a number of important ways, and he had not resolved the accounting gaps problem in the 1990s when we were trying to close the books on the biological and chemical weapons issue.

And this was one of those intelligence community mistakes that I basically say was a mistake for mostly the right reasons. Because what the intelligence community said was that, based on all of these things, "we estimate," which is the intelligence community way of saying we're making a guess about something that we can't be certain of. As Daryl said, there were certainly people, like DIA, saying there's no hard evidence of any chemical weapon stocks. Even the classified details of the October National Intelligence Estimate admit that we do not know what chemicals the Iraqis might have. We do not know the amount of the chemicals that Iraq might have had. This is what the intelligence professionals were saying honestly about the evidence. One should not denigrate too completely what the intelligence professionals were doing.

I have a serious problem with a box in the [National Intelligence] Estimate on confidence levels. That box says that there was only moderate confidence of the nuclear program status. It said that there was high confidence of the existence of biological and chemical weapon stocks. I cannot account for that statement of confidence on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons] as being consistent with the detailed classified presentation, which is now part of the public record.

This is a bad mistake of the intelligence community. I would like to know, and hopefully a future inquiry will reveal, was that box actually debated around the table during the coordination sessions of the estimate, or was it stuck in at the last minute by the National Intelligence Council? That is, to me, an important question. Because if in fact the intelligence professionals said that they had high confidence that Iraq had certain kinds of weapons, but they didn't know what weapons they were and they didn't know the amounts, that's an odd kind of conclusion.

Whatever the record, the intelligence community professionals-I wish that David Kay would have acknowledged that on the Iraqi missile program-in the detailed language of the estimates were very close to the mark about what Iraq was doing, and I think they can be proud of that. They also, in terms of what they said about the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, they were essentially correct, as far as we can tell. They were not the ones to create the impression of a close link here. That came from elsewhere.

So, moving up the chain here, it is the senior leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that has much to answer for in how they were characterizing the work of the intelligence professionals. They essentially slanted the intel to make the case against Iraq, to beef up the justification for a war against Iraq. There are a lot of examples I won't take the time to get into right now, of moving from the detailed estimate to the summary statements in the estimate that show that many of the qualifications are already dropping away, the certainty level is rising, even going from the interior of the estimate to the key judgment summary.

To use an example right up front, the first paragraph of the key judgments starts out that "We judge that Iraq has continued its WMD programs." Which means, you know, our best guess is that they have continued the programs. But then the next statement says, "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons." So what the intelligence experts would say is a judgment or an estimate has already, in the second sentence that has been summarized by the National Intelligence Council, become a certainty.

And that's just one little example of the ratcheting up of certainty and threat that has been done by the leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that in some respects betray the much more careful wording of the intelligence professionals.

I'm afraid to say as a former representative of the State Department that Secretary Powell ratcheted things up further in moving from what the senior leadership of the intelligence community had written and what he was doing to present the case to the public a year ago before the U.N. And as has already been mentioned by Joe and Daryl, the secretary of state continually reassured his listeners that this is not simply best guessing and estimation, "these are things we know," "We have multiple sources." And again and again we heard "there is no doubt that," "it is clear," "we know." Many of the times that this language was used it simply was not true. We did not know. There were doubts. So there is no other way to describe the language used by Secretary Powell other than to say that it was misleading the public and other countries in the world about the extent of knowledge of the intelligence professionals on these issues.

To move from what Secretary Powell said to what the White House was consistently saying is to take another giant leap into the realm of a combination of fantasy, hype, and exaggeration to get to the portrait of Saddam that President Bush presented to the nation. It was an odd combination of the already-exaggerated packaging of the senior intelligence professionals, like [CIA Director] George Tenet, with the wildly unrealistic products of the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon that was mostly cherry picking intelligence; choosing anything that would support the worst case against Saddam, no matter how much intelligence professionals disregarded it. And it was this combination of information produced by the cabal, by this rogue intelligence operation within the U.S. government, that the White House was obviously tolerating-in fact, Vice President Cheney, I believe, was the one leading it-that resulted in an America that is now fundamentally misinformed even to this day about, for example, the connection between Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of 9/11.

So I will end this little introduction by saying that what is really most damning of the White House and the senior intelligence leadership-and I might even add to this the majority in the Congress-is what happened between November 2002 and the beginning of war in March 2003. This was the period in which the problem in the intelligence assessment of having no one on the ground was mitigated, if not resolved, by returning the U.N. inspectors to their previous activities.

I would note that a few days or one week after the U.N. inspectors hit the ground, the White House, other Cabinet members, the U.S. administration, were calling their mission a failure. They were denigrating the [inspectors'] competence. They were describing their efforts as feckless and doomed one week into the inspections.

Within one month, we were actually getting information which would resolve a lot of the prudent concerns that the intelligence community had about what was happening with new construction activity at sites previously associated with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons production. Almost without exception, those worst-case suspicions were found to be unfounded by taking a look at the equipment, by talking to people on the ground, by comparing things that the inspectors had seen before but had been blind to for a period of four years.

So even at the time of the president's State of the Union address in January, there was already a lot of important information which we had acquired that would change the assessments that some of the intelligence professionals had been comfortable with in October. There was no request in January, as far as I know, for the intelligence community to say, to itself and to the president, "What have we learned as a result of the return of the U.N. inspectors?"

At the time of the president's speech, the IAEA had already delivered an interim judgment that the aluminum tubes account of the administration was incorrect. In February, a full month before the U.S. invasion, they arrived at a definitive judgment the aluminum tubes were not going into the nuclear weapons program.

We knew at that point, more than a month before the invasion, that the document on which the uranium in Africa was based was a forgery. The two most important legs, then, of the nuclear reconstitution theory had just collapsed.

There was no effort, as far as I know, on the part of the White House or anyone else in the administration, to go to the intelligence community and say, "Before we invade this country on the assumption that the threat is as it was characterized several months earlier, how would we now characterize the threat?" One would think we would need to know, if only for the safety of the U.S. troops, let alone for the integrity of the decision to go to war. But it was not done. That, to me, is a very damning comment on whether or not this administration was trying to figure out what was going on in Iraq, or were they trying to build a case for war based on reasons other than weapons of mass destruction.

That's the end of my little comment.

MR. KIMBALL: I think it's very important that a lot of those points are being made. So much has happened, it's easy to forget important details.

Let me just open up the floor, so to speak, to questions for Greg or Joe. And if, when you ask your question, you can identify yourself. That would be helpful.

Q A basic question for Greg. This is Gary Thomas at VOA. I talked to David Kay actually a couple of days ago, and one thing he said struck me. He said that the intelligence was consistent. That is what was coming from allied agencies, such as the British and even the French, semi-allies I suppose, and the Germans that the intelligence was consistent. And that led him to believe, therefore, that it was a failure of intelligence, not an attempt at the political level to hype things up. Is that correct? Was the intelligence consistent? Why did they come to this conclusion if the intelligence coming from other allied sources was indeed the same or similar?

MR. THIELMANN: It's hard to know exactly what David Kay was talking about. I had the general impression from Kay that he is very BW/CW-centric. He doesn't really know the nuclear account as well.

On the nuclear account, the one that I'm most familiar with, I would just say that that is an inaccurate statement. When the aluminum tubes issue was being debated and we were consulting with URENCO, with the British and others, there was widespread support internationally for the U.S. Department of Energy and [the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] interpretation that these aluminum tubes were not suitable for use in uranium centrifuge rotors.

MR. CIRINCIONE: May I just add three quick points?

If David Kay, in his most quoted statement says, "we were all wrong." If he means that those in the administration were completely wrong, that's true. If he means that all of us in assessing this threat were wrong, that is simply not true. It's useful to go back a year ago to the international press reaction to Powell's speech. Many, many capitals, either with posted editorials, interviewed officials who were not persuaded by Powell's speech, several U.N. ambassadors took to the floor immediately saying they weren't convinced of this. So it's not true that everyone thought this.

The second point, it's true that everyone had suspicions. Again, all our intelligence started from these unanswered questions left over from the UNSCOM inspections. So everyone had suspicions, but not everyone jumped to the conclusion that the U.K., U.S., and Israel did that these weapons posed a direct and immediate threat, and the only alternative was to go to war.

Third, I've spoken very recently to officials in the French government, for example, and the German government, and there were differences within their intelligence community, they said. They reminded me that all the Western intelligence services talk together and they all share a lot of information. Most of it comes from the superior intelligence capabilities of the U.S. But within those countries, people drew very different conclusions from the evidence that was presented.

So it's incorrect to say we were all mistaken, therefore we were all to blame for this misperception of the threat. It simply isn't correct.

MR. THIELMANN: I would just add to that, if you look now at what Robin Cook and Clare Short, the two British ministers that resigned in principle over Blair's conduct of this matter, they really gave the impression they were not convinced that the threat was the way that the U.S. was representing it, or even the way that their own prime minister was representing it. They were so upset at the discrepancy, in fact, that was one of the principal reasons that they resigned. And we have others, like Andrew Wilkie of Australia, who also resigned in principle, upset at the way the Australian prime minister was joining the U.S. political leadership's interpretation of the intelligence. So there is contrary evidence to what Kay has said.

MR. KIMBALL: One other quick, very quick point. Even within the U.S. intelligence community there was disagreement, as was mentioned, on the aluminum tubes, the uranium in Africa.

One issue that has come up again in the press in the past few days is the UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. Even on that point, the administration charged that the unmanned aircraft probably were intended to deliver biological warfare agent. Powell said in his speech [they] could be used to carry out attacks in the U.S. The Air Force intelligence office had disagreed, saying that the UAVs were for reconnaissance. And that has proven to be correct afterwards, also. So there were doubts about that issue, the capability of delivery.

I'm sorry, there was a question that was about to be asked.

Q Yes, it's Ted Alden from the Financial Times. I have a question along similar lines for Greg Thielman.

The White House is also making the claim that this intelligence was also shared during the Clinton administration, that it was the same information. I mean, if you look at the public documents that doesn't appear to be the case. There does appear to have been a change.

I want your sense of whether there was a change in the intelligence from the Clinton years to the early part of the Bush administration, and also, if there was, was there new evidence that came in 2001 or early in 2002? Did we learn things about Saddam's programs that were not known, say, in 1998 or 1999 or 2000?

MR. THIELMANN: I will turn this over to Joe because I think his work and the Carnegie Endowment have done a lot of very close reading of the change between Clinton administration intel and Bush administration intel.

What I would say is that you have this very curious statement by Secretary Rumsfeld saying there really was no significant new intelligence information in the two years leading up to the war, which is quite an admission. There were some significant allegations: the alleged huge uranium acquisitions from Africa, and the aluminum tubes allegation. Had they been correct [they] would have been important, significant new intelligence.

But with those exceptions, what we really have is another couple years of not having people on the ground, allowing people to spin out more scary alternative scenarios for some of the things that one was seeing and a much greater credence attached, not necessarily by the intelligence professionals, but by the Cheneys and Rumsfelds that were using this rogue intelligence group, the credence attached to defector reports, many of which came from the Iraqi National Congress.

So that's really what the change in the actual hard intelligence was. For the whole four years that I was in the [INR Bureau], our conclusion was that there was not a dramatic change over those four years from the evidence we had available.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I would just quickly agree with that. In our review of the pre-2002 intelligence community reports-these are the declassified assessments that are presented to Congress every six months-we found that there was a consensus around four points. [One,]that most of Saddam's chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range missile capability had been destroyed. Two, there was no direct evidence that any chemical or biological weapons remained in Iraq, but they judged, this was a judgment, that some stocks could still remain and that production could be renewed, so these were caveated judgments. Three, that as Iraq rebuilt its facilities, some of this rebuilding for civilian purposes could be used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons. And the fourth was actually key, without an inspection regime, it was very difficult to determine the status of these programs.

So concern, absolutely. Worries, yes. Did some officials draw from that the conclusion that [Saddam] had those programs? Yes. I know this. I have talked with past officials. But that's not because they were told that by the intelligence agencies. Senior policymakers, including the president-and he said this-came to the conclusion that Saddam had these weapons, but it wasn't because of solid evidence that he had it. The intelligence agencies, as far as we can see from a review of the declassified information, never said that he had these weapons.

MR. KIMBALL: If I could just add one point. Greg Thielmann mentioned the Rumsfeld statement about there not being new evidence. I think the other part of that statement went something like, "but in light of 9/11 we looked at the evidence differently." So I think that everyone can read what they want into that. I think that's somewhat telling.

We have mentioned the inspectors a couple of times. Let me bring you back to something that Hans Blix said before, and then he said after the war, that I think is also important, which is that he warns that you should not equate not accounted for with existing; that is, you should not equate the questions about unaccounted for stockpiles or program dismantlement with the existence of those weapons or those programs. So this is, in my view, exactly what the senior officials did and some in the intelligence community did when looking at the evidence that was available.

Q This is Bill Nichols with USA Today, for anyone. Other than on missiles, did Powell get anything right in what he said at the U.N.?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Not that I can see. Secretary Powell was wrong on all his core assertions at the U.N. There isn't any major claim that has held up after over a year of searching Iraq. And even on the missiles, we knew at the time that Saddam had created missiles that were slightly over the 150-kilometer range; that is, they were going to 180-kilometer range. But how far along these programs were? We still don't have a good feel for that. An intention to develop them, certainly. But not a growing fleet of missiles and UAVs, as the secretary alleged. So I've gone through this and I've been looking at this very carefully, and I would say all of his major assertions we now know to be incorrect.

MR. THIELMANN: Let me just add one thing to what Joe said. I would still be a little bit more laudatory about the intelligence community on the missiles. We not only detected the testing of the Al-Samoud and the solid-fuel missile in ranges slightly in excess of U.N. allowances, but we also saw engine test stands being built that were suitable for testing significantly longer-range missiles. We saw mixers and other equipment being procured that would be appropriate for significantly longer-range missiles. And that was the one exception to the assessment that there were no weapons across the board. There was more activity and more official sponsorship of an active missile effort than in these other categories of WMD.

The worst part about the missile was that even though the intelligence community was very careful to point out the difference between what we cannot confirm that had been destroyed and something that actually exists, on the Scuds both Secretary Powell and George Tenet went beyond what I think most of the missile intelligence people would have said. They relied heavily on some defector reports to say they believed there may be up to a few dozen Scud-range missiles when the accounting problem would suggest there were only a couple of missiles of the 819 that we couldn't account for. So the intelligence community prudently and correctly said we can not ensure that there might not be a few Scud missiles. Secretary Powell and George Tenet said Saddam has up to a few dozen Scud missiles.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Yeah. And this is the way he starts his missile discussion; remember that Saddam wanted to strike not only his neighbors, but nations far beyond his borders. He then makes the claim of numerous intelligence reports and indicates-or he's careful here-but numerous intelligence reports indicate that Saddam retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud-variant ballistic missiles.

After that, he then goes into the details that the UNMOVIC inspectors were then uncovering and verifying that [Saddam] had an 180-kilometer range [missile]. He just says that they were over 150. He never gives you the information that they're 30 kilometers over 150, and that clearly, these are not missiles that can fly beyond the border. The fact was that at the time, UNMOVIC inspectors were in the process of uncovering this and starting a program to destroy those illegal missiles.

Q This is Mark Matthews for the Baltimore Sun. I have a question for Mr. Thielmann about intent. The prevailing view seems to have been that because Saddam had kicked out the inspectors, preferred to withstand sanctions, and had a history of cheating and deceiving, he must have had a strong intent to continue to produce weapons of mass destruction. Was there dissent from that prevailing view within the intelligence community? How strong was it? What alternative intentions were suggested?

MR. THIELMANN: I'm still convinced that Saddam had the intention to pursue some of these programs if the coast was clear. The point was, though, of course, with international scrutiny, the arms embargo, and then the return of inspectors, the coast wasn't clear at all, and that Saddam knew when he didn't have choices and options.

I would say that this is one thing about the Powell speech that was at least mostly correct, that is Saddam did have the intention of exploiting any opportunities the future might hold to pursue some of these programs. The point was, though, what was he doing at that time? He basically wasn't doing very much at that time, with the sole exception of the missile program.

But the interesting question is why, then, did he not cooperate more in demonstrating that he had actually destroyed the pieces of equipment? I have to concede that it was never seriously entertained by the intelligence community that he might be playing a double game, which is my leading hypothesis now; that is that he deliberately wanted both Western intelligence agencies and his own people to think that he was more active in unconventional weapons program than he actually was. In the case of his own population, he wanted to show that he wasn't being pushed around by the West, that Iraq had a proud and powerful future. And in the case of the West, with all of the banging of the drums about how much the world should fear biological and chemical weapons, it was apparently irresistible for Saddam to insinuate that he had those weapons, in order to deter U.S. military action.

MR. KIMBALL: This is Daryl Kimball.

Let me just jump in and note that, I mean, intentions, of course, are hard to measure. But regardless of intentions, there was an alternative to what ultimately happened and it's hard to assess now what would have happened if the weapons inspectors stayed in. But I think that a very strong case could have been made before the war, and even stronger case today, that with the kinds of inspections that were in place under UNMOVIC and with the stronger inspections that some of us were proposing-the Carnegie Endowment proposed an even tougher inspections regime-it is extremely probable that Iraq would not have been able to reconstitute these programs as Greg is suggesting. But that option was not pursued.

As we discussed earlier, the administration was within days of the UNMOVIC inspectors hitting the ground, was undercutting their capabilities by criticizing them in open. I think there are several examples of where we can point to where the U.S. was not fully working with UNMOVIC to help UNMOVIC do its job. So I think that another important point coming out of this whole experience is that international weapons inspectors in Iraq worked much better than anyone believed before the war, and that this is an approach that the United States needs to take another look at and think about how we can bolster international weapons inspections in other problem areas around the world, whether they be Libya, Iran, North Korea.

Q This is Gary Thomas again. I wanted to know from Greg and perhaps others of you who have talked to people still active inside the community, what is the reaction inside the community to the Kay assertions and to the commission that's going to be set up to determine what went on? Is there resentment? Is there any feeling that they're going to be scapegoated? What's the general sentiment about what's going on about this whole imbroglio?

MR. THIELMAN: I'm afraid you really need to get someone who's in closer touch with the CIA and DIA. I think that that's where the real anger is about the scapegoating the intelligence community. My own agency I think is less worried about that because it obviously had a better track record than the other agencies in terms of the official positions that were subscribed to. But I'm afraid I can't give a lot of firsthand witness on how individuals who are still serving are reacting.

Q This is Bill Nichols of USA Today again, for anyone who wants to answer. How much does this hurt Powell personally, his reputation as sort of the one reasonable, responsible member of the U.S. senior leadership during the run up to the war?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Well, Bill, I was just thinking about that today as I was reading the interview in The Washington Post. The longer Powell defends the administration's prewar position on Iraq, the more he tries to sort of excuse his mistakes, the more damage he's doing to his own reputation. And I was particularly struck by his end. I mean, he's still saying at the end of this Washington Post interview that his information was multi-sourced, it reflected the best judgments of all of the intelligence agencies that spent that four days out there with me-a little caveat there-there wasn't a word that was in that presentation that was put in that was not totally cleared by the intelligence community.

That statement is, at best, misleading. That's an example of what I mean; that the secretary of State, the individual with probably the most national, international respect of any figure in this administration, is doing a great deal of damage to his own credibility and reputation by not admitting the mistakes that were made, and by continuing to present his testimony, his past statements, as being completely backed by the intelligence agencies when we know that they were not.

MR. KIMBALL: We're focusing in this discussion on what happened a year ago. But let me just make it clear that I think I speak for Greg and Joe when I say that we think it's important to look at this because of what is going to be coming in the future, and it's important to look at the process and the intelligence-gathering process in order to do a much better job in the future.

One question that came to me when I read one of the press accounts about Powell's work at Langley in preparing his speech was who was in the room with him? Who was there? Were there people from all of the key agencies? Were there people from just one or two intelligence agencies? Colin Powell was going through tons of material. He alone, without help, could easily have made mistakes. But the key thing is who might have been there to help him look at this much more carefully.

Again, there were some other mistakes that the State Department made weeks earlier with respect to some of these facts. And I just want to remind you all of one little point that has been lost in all this, which is quite interesting. The first time the uranium in Africa charge was made publicly by the administration was not in the president's State of the Union address, but it was in a State Department fact sheet released on December 16th, 2002.

We at ACA have done some minor investigating on this. We have checked with Richard Boucher's office. The explanation that we got was that that was in there as a result of a draft speech that Ambassador Negroponte was preparing to deliver at the U.N. in response to the Iraqi declaration on their weapons program. The draft speech was changed in such a way as to delete that uranium in Africa reference. You'll recall George Tenet had already urged the president to take this out of his October 7th speech in Cincinnati. But it remained in the State Department fact sheet.

Here, we have an example of either sloppiness or someone somewhere in the chain trying to get this into a public document because it is a damaging allegation.

There are other examples of how the process was broken or misused that led to these dubious or discredited charges appearing in the senior-most officials' and agencies' statements and documents.

MR. THIELMANN: I just want to make sure that everyone understands that that December statement was not cleared or shown to the State Department's Intelligence Bureau, which was procedurally sort of incomprehensible-that the Public Affairs Office, addressing intelligence issues, would not check with the Intelligence Bureau in the department just to make sure that they were not releasing classified information. It certainly cries out for further investigation about why that was not done and who actually wrote those words.

I also wanted to underscore the importance of Daryl's question about how Secretary Powell was served in preparing the speech, because as an office director in INR, we were told that Powell said he wanted a J-2 or an intelligence officer at the hand of every senior State Department decision-maker at critical times. And here is the secretary of state, giving a speech all about intelligence, and as far as I know, he never had anyone from INR with him for any of these long discussions about what language to put in and what not to put in. Was he then saying that the CIA, in its Directorate of Central Intelligence role, was speaking for the entire intelligence community? That seems to be what he was saying, but it's very odd. One would like to see Powell questioned much more about why he wanted to cut himself off from his own intelligence apparatus.

Q This is Laura Iiyama. I work for Feature Story News. If we look at the difference between what happened in Powell preparing his speech, how much of the information was because he stripped out the caveats, and how much of it was because he was relying on Iraqi exile sources?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me give one example, which is really quite striking as we go back and look at this. It's this key issue, very dramatically presented, of the mobile production programs. This seems to be based almost exclusively on Iraqi defectors. He cites very carefully his sources for this, and this is what he says, "Although Iraq's mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, U.N. inspectors at the time had only vague hints. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000."

Again, he's showing U.N. inspectors completely missed this. We know it's happened. How do we know this? An Iraqi chemical engineer supervised one of these facilities. He was actually present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died from exposure to biological agent. Very dramatic testimony, and as far as we know, completely untrue. There was no evidence whatsoever that there was an accident in 1998, that there were biological agent production runs, that 12 technicians died from exposure to biological agent.

But you have to understand what he's saying. He's saying in 1998 they had biological agents. They were producing them. How do we know? This guy told us. And he has a second source, another Iraqi civilian engineer, confirm the existence of these facilities. Then a third reported in summer 2002 that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road-trailer units on rail cars. Completely untrue. This is the basis for his information. As far as I know, there is no independent confirmation, other [than] the defector sources. This is a classic intelligence mistake.

I don't want to trample on Greg's territory here, but if you get defector information, you want to verify it by some means that you have confidence in. Instead, they verified it by other defectors. Now, I would want to be investigating, who were these guys? Where did they come from? What are we doing about this? How could we let something like this happen? Did this all come from the Iraqi National Congress? Who else provided us with these sources?

Instead, we have people going around town who were funneling these defectors with their false information to the White House and who are trying to avoid any responsibility for the massive disinformation that led this country to go to war. That's my quick answer to your question.

MR. THIELMANN: I very much agree with what Joe said. When I listened to Powell's speech for the first time I had been retired for several months. I really didn't know what he was talking about a lot of the times when he was talking about the defectors. At least for the State Department's intelligence unit, we would look very skeptical about human intelligence coming from groups that were hostile to Saddam for obvious reasons of motivation.

These are people often getting paid to say bad things about Saddam, which is exactly what their own political and personal interests would have them do. To the extent that we could, we were always pressing the CIA to say, "Who is this guy? What has he said previously? Did that person have access?" And so forth. As manager of the office, I didn't often do this sort of individual assessment of contributors. But some of my guys were very knowledgeable about where this stuff was coming from and so I trusted them when they dismissed things as not being reliable or credible. Much of the reporting that Powell used was in that category of very shaky stuff.

MR. KIMBALL: In the Carnegie report-I'm glad you guys found this reference, Joe, I've been looking for this-you note that an assessment by the DIA, I think it was a 2001 assessment, that says "most of the information given about Iraqi defectors was of little value, much invented and exaggerated." That was reported by the L.A. Times and New York Times in August and September of 2003. INR wasn't the only intelligence agency that took this skeptical view of defector information.

Are there any other questions out there for Greg or Joe? If so, we can continue with maybe one or so more, but I want to close out if we've exhausted your questions.

Q One final question. I'd like to ask you what level of confidence you have that the inquiry is going to be indeed nonpartisan and fair in being able to judge what went on here?

MR. CIRINCIONE: So far I would say we can have very low confidence that this is actually going to be an independent investigation of what went wrong with the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. There are several reasons for that. Apparently, the president has realized or acknowledged that he is one of the targets of this inquiry.

MR. KIMBALL: Or he should be, Joe. It's another issue; what is the scope of it?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Well, you have an inherent problem when the vice president, whose office was involved heavily in shaping, collecting, and disseminating intelligence, is the person who over the weekend was organizing the scope and the mandate for this inquiry.

Any official who has been involved in the collection, dissemination, and use of this intelligence should immediately remove themselves from anything to do with the formation of this commission. That's sort of common sense. It's as if Enron was able to pick the inquiry or to pick the people who would look into its business practices. You really do have to have an independent commission to do that, and so far, we don't have that.

Second, it's a mistake to make the scope of this commission so broad that it takes resources and attention away from the main problem. It sounds like the president is talking about a commission that would sort of investigate the role of intelligence in the 21st century, which is a good thing to do. But what we need is an inquiry into the failure of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. That's a very different inquiry, very different mandate.

Third, the timing of this. You would think if you were the president you would be hopping mad about the intelligence you were given. You would think if you were the secretary of state you'd be firing a lot of those people who were in that room with you in New York. But we have no sense of outrage, no sense of urgency. I think we've got to find ways to make this as apolitical as possible, but we shouldn't, as part of that, delay the lessons or the information that we can get from such inquiry. Our enemies aren't waiting out there for the election to be over. We need to know what went wrong with this, how to fix it, and how to start getting better intelligence as soon as possible.

So those are my concerns about the way this inquiry is being handled so far.

Q Joe, are you saying the vice president has a conflict of interest?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Both the vice president and the president have a conflict of interest here. They should not be involved in shaping this panel. The president's got to find a truly independent, hands-off source that can pull together this panel to make it crystal clear that it's going to be a thorough, no-holds-barred investigation. If the president handles this right, this commission could greatly help him with the credibility problem he's now suffering internationally and nationally. If he handles it wrong, it could blow up in his face and make the problem much, much worse.

MR. THIELMAN: I would just echo many of the things that Joe has said. If the fault belongs entirely to the intelligence community, President Bush should be the angriest man in town and someone who, not today but back in the fall when David Kay delivered his interim report, would have demanded immediate explanation of how this could have happened. But instead the president of the United States has said in interviews a big whatever. It doesn't matter whether it's actually weapons of mass destruction-related program activities or weapons that are on the verge of attacking American cities. The same thing is what Bush has essentially said. If someone has that attitude then there's obviously going to be no urgency in the work of a commission or any real desire to get at the roots of what happened.

I would also echo what Joe said about the critical national security urgency here. We are in a crisis situation with regard to North Korea. We're at a very delicate point with Iran. [In the former Soviet Union] a huge unconventional weapons stockpile issue still looms. There is not a minute to waste, really, in trying to restore the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community and to improve a system of intelligence that is absolutely essential to the nation defending itself. It has to be done urgently.

I agree that it should be more narrowly focused in order to get something to the public in time for the election. Some of the allegations made about the way that intelligence information was used are impeachable offenses. Why should this be delayed until after the democratic mechanism we have for making assessments of whether or not the political leadership's guilty of criminal malfeasance?

Q I have two questions. Dimitri Sidorov, Kommersant. The first question is some intelligence experts I talked to two days ago said that this independent commission is that professionals should be on board much more than political figures. Should the problem with U.S. intelligence be resolved within the intelligence community and not coming out of the political circle? This is the first thing. The question is how do you feel about that?

And the second question is if Mr. Tenet is capable of reforming the CIA? If not, why?

MR. KIMBALL: Let me take an indirect shot at that because I think it comes back to a point I just wanted to make to add to what Joe and Greg said. I agree with all the points that Joe and Greg made about the type of commission, the scope, et cetera. There's one other point that needs to be underscored, which is implied by what Joe said, which is that the scope of this investigation, while it needs to be narrowed and not so broad that it looks at every intelligence issue, it does need to be a little broader than what the president has outlined, in that it should not, in my view, simply be limited to how the intelligence community gathered this information and assessed, but also how his administration, the political figures, communicated that information to the public and to the world. That's clearly a part of this.

That's what I think Joe is saying when he says that the vice president was involved here, the president was involved. They were communicating this information. For that reason, it needs to be broader than what the president has suggested.

Another important point that I hope you all will raise in the days ahead about this commission is based on my experience with secrecy issues at the Department of Energy and U.S. national security questions. It is very important for these kinds of investigations to take place in the open, in the sense that the public needs to understand what the process is, what the questions are that are being asked. If you take this behind closed doors, come out a year later with findings, the credibility level of the process I think is going to be much lower. The intelligence community can be protected in an open type of investigation. But I think this needs to be an open type of investigation in order to restore the credibility that so clearly has been lost through this process.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I certainly agree, Daryl, that it should extend beyond the intelligence community.

MR. THIELMANN: This has to do with whether or not this should be done by the intelligence community inside. The intelligence community had its chance. They would have known within weeks of going into Iraq that very serious mistakes were made.

What they did instead-or maybe it was the president; I don't remember who ordered it-they established the Kerr commission. This is a group of, as far as I know, exclusively ex-CIA officers, many of whom are still on the agency payroll as consultants, assessing whether or not the CIA, which made more mistakes than any other of the intelligence agencies, did everything okay or not. If they really wanted the intelligence community to do an assessment of itself, then at the very least they should have had a commission that would include members of other intelligence agencies or people from the outside that had some intelligence experience. But that's not the approach they took.

Q Okay. And how about Mr. Tenet, if he has a chance to reform the CIA, or should he step down?

MR. THIELMANN: That's a political judgment anyone can make.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I think clearly there are many in this town who are trying to blame George Tenet for this, exclusively. Some have cast Tenet in the John Dean role.

We don't need a fall guy here. We need answers. Tenet clearly has failed to maintain the integrity of his agency in what appears to many to be a tremendous amount of pressure to produce an intelligence assessment that conformed with administration policies.

But he was not alone in this. There's no evidence at all that he was solely or primarily responsible for the intelligence failure. I would think that the issue of resignations is premature until we get a complete picture of what happened here and who was responsible for it.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Thank you, everyone.

To close out, let me just recommend, mention Joe's organization's website, www.ceip.org, for their reports; also, www.armscontrol.org, where we have our July press conference and other information on this subject.

END.

 

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.

Description: 
ACA Press Briefing

Country Resources:

The Implications of a New Era in Arms Control on Regional Nonproliferation and Nuclear Materials Management

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November 13, 2003

Prepared Remarks*

I want to thank the members of the Institute for putting this session together and for inviting me to provide some perspectives and observations on the subject of arms control in a new era of international relations and security. This panel is focused on the future of U.S./Russian arms control, which I believe remains of vital importance. I would also like to note that the Arms Control Association's concept of and program focus on arms control goes beyond U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons to cover the full range of conventional, chemical, biological, and nuclear arms challenges, as well as the strategies to deal with them.

Adjusting and Redoubling Arms Control and Nonproliferation Efforts

Let me start by sketching out a diagnosis of and prescription for dealing with today's nuclear security challenges.

While there remain substantial, festering Cold War nuclear dangers, it is abundantly clear that today's Russia is certainly not yesterday's Soviet Union and the major threats to U.S. security are, as President George W. Bush has said repeatedly, international terrorism and the acquisition of nuclear weapons, nuclear material, and other WMD by additional states or non-state actors. We certainly are in a post-post Cold War era of international relations that requires a recalibration of our approaches to dealing with WMD threats and responses.

In my view-and of many in the broader arms control community-the situation demands renewed dedication to arms control and nonproliferation strategies that were pioneered and championed by the United States over the course of the last several decades. The historical record shows that these strategies have been highly successful, though they are clearly not foolproof. We and other states have not met every challenge with appropriate determination. Nor have we and other states been consistent in our pursuit of nonproliferation objectives. Nevertheless, they have been and continue to be an indispensable tool in our national security toolbox. While the new, immediate concern is the possession of dangerous weapons in the hands of dangerous states and terrorists, the problem we face is not simply the intersection of WMD and terrorism, but ultimately it is the very existence of these weapons and the capability to build them, whether by so-called "friendly" or "unfriendly" actors.

As a consequence, I would summarize the overall nuclear security agenda over the next few years along the following lines:

· One set of key tasks involves making much more rapid progress on finishing the task of eliminating Cold War nuclear dangers, including the verifiable elimination of excessive and costly U.S. and Russian strategic and tactical arsenals and delivery systems, as well as expediting and improving our cooperative efforts to safeguard and dispose of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons assets in the former Soviet Union, and, where and when we can in other places, such as the recent U.S.-Russian announcement regarding efforts to retrieve spent HEU fuel from Eastern European states;

· Another priority must be to reinforce key elements of the still evolving nuclear nonproliferation regime, such as improved IAEA safeguards, better physical protection of nuclear facilities and accounting for nuclear materials worldwide, achieving agreement on a global halt to fissile material production for weapons, establishing more stringent controls over the nuclear fuel cycle to limit the proliferation of the most weapons-relevant technologies, and improved monitoring and verification capabilities and institutions in a range of areas.

All of these efforts and more are needed to prevent the emergence of new nuclear-armed states and are essential to impeding terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons and materials.

Our nonproliferation strategies must also take into account that proliferation and arms racing is invariably motivated and driven by the existence of underlying political and security problems and the perception that nuclear weapons are credible and legitimate tools of foreign and military policy. Consequently, the United States must reconsider and truly diminish the role of nuclear weapons in our own foreign and military policies and strategies and refrain from developing a new class of nuclear weapons and reinforce, not erode, the global nuclear test moratorium. A "do as I say, not as I do" nuclear doctrine and nonproliferation policy is not a prudent long-term strategy.

To me this represents a monumental arms control agenda that requires vigorous U.S. commitment to achieving arms control and nonproliferation results. I do not claim that arms control and nonproliferation measures can address every security threat, nor is it likely that all of these initiatives can be achieved in the near term. But to meet today's proliferation challenges, the nonproliferation regime must be strengthened, not abandoned.

Arms Control Is Dead Because the Cold War Is Over? Wrong.

Nevertheless, it is fashionable these days in some circles to declare arms control, and strategic nuclear arms control in particular, a dead strategy because strategic nuclear arms control was a response to the U.S.-Soviet Cold War nuclear rivalry and the Cold War is over.

With Russia now listed for now in the "friendly state" category, and with new threats from new enemies on the horizon, the argument goes, the United States needs a more flexible approach to nuclear arms control that allows us to re-size, reconfigure, and possibly add new nuclear weapons capabilities.

That approach was outlined rather cogently by Linton Brooks and has been codified, so to speak, with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, and recent congressional authorization and appropriation decisions to allow research on new and modified nuclear warheads that could, at some future stage, lead to design engineering, development, testing, and production of new nuclear weapons.

Let me turn briefly to SORT, which is also known as the Moscow Treaty, and the pursuit of new U.S. nuclear capabilities, which have become the defining elements of the U.S./Russian strategic arms relationship.

The Moscow Treaty

In my view, it is simplistic and shortsighted to consider arms control a strategy of the past and to believe that the Moscow Treaty allows us to check off the strategic arms control box from the foreign policy to do list.

The Moscow Treaty is useful for what it is: a short statement that binds the United States and Russia to reduce operationally deployed nuclear weapons within a decade. It requires each side to reduce their deployed strategic warheads from about 5,000-6,000 today to no more than 2,200 by 2012.

The administration is to be commended for committing to force reductions that have been delayed for years. But beyond that, the Moscow Treaty is significant not so much for what it is, but what it isn't. In contrast to past agreements, such as START I, it does not restrict or mandate the destruction of strategic missiles and bombers.

The new treaty does not require the destruction of a single nuclear warhead. The new agreement does not even outline a timetable for withdrawing deployed strategic warheads from service. As a result, the treaty allows each side to store warheads withdrawn from service, making them more readily available for redeployment on strategic delivery systems.

At a July 9, 2002 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that the United States could increase its deployed strategic forces from 2,200 warheads to 4,600 warheads within three years of the treaty's 2012 deadline, which expires the same day that it enters into force.

As Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has noted, if Russia follows the U.S. storage policy, this will increase the long-term burden of safeguarding Russia's already vast and insecure nuclear weapons complex and require additional U.S. and European financial and technical assistance.

Quite simply, the United States should pursue its past goal of verifiably dismantling excess nuclear warheads and provide greater U.S. funding for assistance to Russia to do so.

In stark contrast to past agreements, the Moscow Treaty contains no additional verification provisions. The White House asserts that this "trust without verification" formulation suits the more amicable U.S.-Russian relationship. To ensure compliance, the Bush team suggests that our national technical means of intelligence gathering and existing START verification provisions will suffice. However, the START agreement is due to expire in 2009, three years before each side is due to comply with the terms of the new treaty. As a result, U.S. intelligence experts cannot assure that the United States can, with high confidence, verify Russia's warhead totals after 2009.

Though proposals to expand data sharing and improve confidence in compliance with the agreed force reductions were considered by U.S. and Russian negotiators, the two sides failed to close a deal on such measures.

President Bush has made the bold and erroneous claim that the treaty "will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War." But in reality, the proposed size of the deployed U.S. arsenal ten years from now would be roughly the same as the 2,000-2,500 levels of the proposed START III framework approved by the U.S. Strategic Command in 1997.

Though the United States and Russia are no longer enemies, the force size allowed by the new treaty and dictated by the Pentagon's recent nuclear posture review is still very much based on Cold War requirements to counter Russia's nuclear and conventional military forces.

Absent such requirements, I challenge anyone in the administration to describe the future threat scenarios that require the deployment of more than a few hundred survivable nuclear warheads, let alone 2,200 warheads with thousands more available for rapid redeployment.

In sum, the agreement's emphasis on flexibility detracts from its predictability, lessening its value in building a more stable and secure U.S.-Russian relationship.

There is much left to be done. There are few signs at the moment that there is much interest doing them.

The False Promise of New Nukes

The Bush administration's vision for the role of nuclear weapons also includes the expansion of U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities designed to counter emerging nuclear and non-nuclear threats.

The pursuit of new nuclear weapons capabilities, now in the research phase, also represents an unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive response to the post-9/11 security threats to our nation. Expanding or adapting the U.S. nuclear arsenal to try to dissuade and deter new adversaries from pursuing, acquiring, and using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons provides little or no additional military value while it risks undermining vital efforts to prevent proliferation and mobilize international support against proliferators.

As President John F. Kennedy noted in 1963, "A nation's security does not always increase as its arms increase…and unlimited competition in the testing and development of new types of destructive nuclear weapons will not make the world safer." The pursuit of new nuclear weapons erodes the nonproliferation norms established over the last four decades and will likely encourage other states to match or counter the U.S. bid.

Proponents argue that, by reducing the weapons' explosive yields, collateral damage can be minimized to the point that they become "usable." But a "small" nuclear blast, with just 1/13 the power of the Hiroshima bomb, detonated at a depth of 20-50 feet, would eject more than a million cubic feet of radioactive debris. If used to target chemical or biological weapons, nuclear strikes would probably spread, rather than destroy, the deadly material.

It is possible to improve the depth of penetration of weapons to destroy deeper targets, but these weapons are hardly "usable." The "robust" bunker-busting nuclear warheads types now under study-the B61 and B83-are not small, but rather high-yield, city-busting behemoths with yields capable of exceeding 100 kilotons.

A nuclear weapon, however big or small, is still a weapon of mass destruction. So long as nuclear weapons exist, their role should be limited to deterring their use by others. The key to holding a potential adversary's buried chemical or biological weapons at risk is better intelligence and more effective conventional munitions, not the threat of nuclear attack.

During his 2000 election run, President Bush aptly called nuclear weapons "obsolete weapons of dead conflicts." He's right. How is the W88 warhead going to help us hunt down Osama? How will the B61 Mod. 11 help us deal with Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran? How will a new round of nuclear testing help us restrain Indo-Pakistani nuclear and missile competition that could increase the risk of a nuclear war in that region?

While the Cold War conflict may be gone, the weapons that grew out of that age are still with us and our decades-long addition to them has not yet ended. The role of nuclear weapons can and should be limited to deterring nuclear attacks by others, and with the likelihood of nuclear attack by Russia as low as it is today, our nuclear arsenal, and that of Russia can and should be irreversibly and verifiably reduced.

In sum, writing off nuclear arms control as a key element in U.S. national security in the interest of keeping open our nuclear weapons options is a losing strategy that shortchanges our security.

Thank you for your attention.

* Delivered remarks may have differed slightly from this text.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.

Description: 
ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball's Prepared Remarks for the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Workshop

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