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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Briefing on New START With the Russian Federation Via Teleconference

Special Briefing
Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Washington, DC
December 23, 2010


OPERATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participant lines are in a listen-only mode. After today’s presentation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions, and at that time you may press * then 1 on your phone’s keypad to ask a question in conference.

Now I would like to turn the call over to your host for today, Mr. Philip Crowley. Sir, please go ahead.

MR. CROWLEY: Hey, good morning, and thank you. Or good afternoon for those of you who might be calling in from Europe. Thanks for joining us, and happy holidays to everyone.

We begin this holiday season in the United States, we think, with a tremendous achievement in the ratification of the New START Treaty. This is, as you’ll hear from Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, our lead negotiator over the past 18 months, this has – it has taken a long time, but we feel it is definitely an achievement that is important for the United States, for Russia, in our collective interest, and certainly continues to be consistent with President Obama’s vision where we are beginning – continuing to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons and reduce our respective stockpiles. And it certainly follows other things that we’ve done in 2010 and fulfills, in part, the pledge that we made as part of the NPT Review Conference in New York earlier this year.

Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller for some opening comments, and then we’ll open it up to your questions.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you very much, P.J., and thank you all for joining us this day. It is indeed a very happy day for me as the chief negotiator for the New START Treaty. We had a very strong result yesterday with 71 senators voting in favor of the treaty, and that was resoundingly from both parties. We had 26 nays, and 3 senators not voting. So a very good result from our perspective and the culmination of a very thorough process working with the Senate since mid May.

We completed the treaty negotiations in the third week of April, and interestingly the treaty negotiations themselves took exactly one year from start to finish, from April 2009 to April 2010. And then within a month, we took the treaty up to the Senate. We have a process where we have to put together a thorough package of analysis of the treaty, and that process took about a month.

So in mid May it went up to the Senate and then we started our ratification process, and that was thorough going, I can assure you. We had 18 hearings and answered nearly a thousand questions for the record. My summer – what should have been summer holidays were very busy answering questions for the record. But it was very important to do because the Senate does take their process of due diligence very, very seriously, and it’s been some years since we’ve ratified a major arms control treaty, so I believe it was time very well spent.

In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the treaty out, recommending that it be considered by the full Senate. That was a good bipartisan vote too of 14 to 4 in favor of the treaty. And then, of course, we went into our election period and took a little hiatus while the elections were going on. But I just wanted to mention to you that I used that time to go around the country and talk to people about the New START Treaty, and frankly, I was very pleased at the high level of interest among the public.

One of the lessons of this whole experience, both in working with the Senate and in also talking to the public, is that people are interested in strategic arms reduction and nuclear arms control. It’s not a topic just of the Cold War, but people really do seem to be very interested in seeing what results we can achieve. So for me, that was a good message of this all.

So yesterday the Senate completed their process of advice and consent. One other interesting point, it is actually the President of the United States who ratifies the treaty. The Senate gives their advice and consent to ratification. So the vote that took place yesterday was about the Senate giving their advice and consent to ratification. The President, once he receives the official communication from the Senate, will sign what is called an instrument of ratification, and that is what we will exchange with the Russians.

The Russians have been clear from the outset that they wanted to coordinate their ratification process with us. That was very clear when President Medvedev and President Obama signed the treaty on April 8th in Prague. At that time, President Medvedev said we will coordinate our ratification process. So we are expecting now the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council to be looking intensively at the treaty, and we expect that process will unfold rather quickly in the Russian Federation.

So in that case, I can’t tell you exactly when we would expect to exchange instruments of ratification, but I do believe that we will be able to do so in January, or I would say early February perhaps. That’s an expectation. Much depends, of course, on the Duma’s and Federation Council process at this point, but we would hope that in that kind of early winter timeframe we could exchange instruments of ratification.

And then we would be preparing for the first inspections. What happens when the instruments of ratification are exchanged, the treaty at that point formally enters into force, but that also starts a 60-day clock ticking. That 60-day period will be a preparatory period for the first inspections to take place. Already, both sides are, of course, thinking about and planning for inspection activities, but the formal preparation period will be that 60-day period. And within that period, 45 days after entry into force, we will also then be exchanging our first data for the database under the treaty. That’s data on the current status and deployment of our strategic nuclear forces – intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers. So that data exchange will be very important 45 days after entry into force.

So that’s just to give you a little background about the process going forward now. Again, as you can imagine, I’m very excited and pleased. This was the best Christmas present I could imagine, but I’m pleased for our entire interagency team. We had a great team working on this and, of course, the President’s leadership was fantastic, as well as my own boss, Secretary Clinton, who came up to the Hill yesterday to give us all a congratulations. And so we’re just all feeling really great.

Anyway, I’m very happy to answer your questions now.

MR. CROWLEY: And before we open it up, just to make sure that, for our reporters, please identify who you are and your affiliation so we have a sense of where you’re calling from. But we’re just delighted that we have now brought arms control back to the forefront of U.S. policy.

With that, Operator, we’ll open it up.

OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time, if you’d like to ask question, please press * then 1 at this time. Please record your name when prompted. If your question has been answered, you may remove your request by pressing * then 2. Once again, please press * 1 at this time if you have a question.

And our first question will come from Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy magazine. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this call. Now that the START ratification process is officially over, I’m wondering if you can go ahead and take a quick look back over the – both the negotiating and the ratification and Senate advice-and-consent process, and give us your thoughts on what went right, what went wrong, what are the lessons learned from this process; what, if you had to go and do it all again, would you repeat and what might you want to have done a little bit differently. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Thanks very much, Josh. That’s food for a long and large essay, I think, and probably a whole day’s conference, but I’ll give you a few thoughts anyway.

First of all, I think that the negotiations themselves were quite typical in that they were a roller coaster ride. No negotiation goes smoothly from start to finish. There are always tough times. There are always difficult situations. You get into disagreements between the parties. That’s the nature of a negotiation. So we did have quite a roller coaster ride. And I think that if you’ll recall, about this time last year we were considering how to move forward because we had been hoping to finish the treaty in time for the START treaty to go out of force in the first week of December 2009, but we just couldn’t get it across the finish line and ended up taking a few more months to do so. At that time, both President Obama’s involvement with his counterpart, President Medvedev, and also the involvement of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with his counterpart, General Makarov, was quite important.

And so, again, I think for everybody it’s important to know we have the delegations, we have the negotiators working in Geneva, but any negotiation from time to time needs a kick in the pants from the big guys. And in this case, we were lucky to have President Obama engage very vigorously last December, but also Admiral Mike Mullen in January in a very important meeting in Moscow.

So roller coaster ride, but it came out very well. And one reason it did so – well, there were a lot of reasons, but people sometimes ask me, that was a pretty quick negotiation from start to finish. It took a year from April to April of 2009 to 2010, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that. One of the reasons I think it was rather fast-moving was that we both had under our belts 15 years of experience in implementing the START treaty, and both parties came to the table with a pretty clear understanding of where we wanted to go forward. Now, we had to work out differences of opinion as to where we needed to go, but I think in the end it was very beneficial that this treaty is the first big post-Cold War arms control treaty and that we were able to work out cooperatively a lot of what we wanted to do better in this next treaty.

QUESTION: What about lessons learned, things that you would have done differently?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Let me just say – you asked about the ratification process as well in the Senate. Again, because we hadn’t done a big arms control treaty for a long time, the Senate needed time for its due diligence. I mentioned that a moment ago, and I do think that it was very valuable last summer to have had the opportunity to work through all those nearly thousand questions and do all the hearings, and in addition to the hearings, the 18 hearings, many, many briefings on Capitol Hill. That was very, very important.

Frankly, I thought that the vote out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a terrific vote, and I would have liked to have moved forward at that point immediately to the floor. But in the end, we got through the election period and got it done in this lame duck session, so it all worked out for the best. But that’s my opinion.

OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Daniel Dombey of Financial Times. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks very much indeed, and congratulations.


QUESTION: My I just have two questions. My first is one that my editors keep on bothering me with. How much are the two countries’ deployed strategic missiles really going to come down by 2017? I’m referring to the real totals now, not the notional totals that were in the Moscow Treaty that both countries, I believe, are below anyway. So how much is that real reduction in 2017?

And the second question is: What’s the next step towards the – the next practical step towards a world without nuclear weapons?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Okay. I think when you look at the central limits of the treaty – and for those of you who haven’t had a chance to digest it yet, there are three central limits in the treaty. There is a limit of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, 700 delivery vehicles – those are missiles, ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles or sea-based submarine-launched ballistic missiles – and bombers, and 800 launchers, deployed and non-deployed launchers. And those are things like submarine tubes or silos. In the Russian case, they have some mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that are on what are called TELs. These are their mobile platforms that they move around on. So in any event, we’re talking about 1,550 warheads, 700 deployed delivery vehicles, and 800 deployed or non-deployed launchers.

I think the important number to focus on for your editors and for everyone else is the limit on deployed strategic warheads, because the Moscow Treaty, which was negotiated by the Bush Administration, had a limit of 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads. Now, that number is coming down for both parties, and both parties are going to have to move warheads out of operational deployment.

In terms of the delivery vehicle limit, the 700 delivery vehicles, it’s no secret that during the course of the negotiations – it was also discussed very much on Capitol Hill this last week – the Russians have already experienced some mass obsolescence of their older Cold War era systems like the SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs. So they're already down below the delivery vehicle limit of operationally deployed vehicles of 700.

The United States will be making some modest adjustments, but since we have this limit of deployed and non-deployed launchers, that gives both sides a great deal of flexibility, but also places an absolute limit on the number of systems that can be deployed. It's an absolute ceiling, and I think that is very, very valuable, because the Russians are beginning to modernize now and they are going to be doing some modest deployments of new missile systems. And so it's very, very important to have an agreed limit -- upward limit on what can be deployed on both sides.

So I like to emphasize that this is a modest step. It is a transitional treaty that -- and I'll come to your second question in a moment about moving on to further reductions, but it is a transitional step, enormous value in restoring the verification regime that existed under START, but which we haven't had for the last year. And the final point, I just want to reemphasize once again, is that the 1550 limit on operationally deployed warheads does force reductions on both sides. It's just that the delivery vehicles under that we basically have a freedom to mix both sides. We wanted that kind of flexibility, the Russians wanted that kind of flexibility, so essentially it is -- the 700 limit is an absolute limit, but there's a great deal of flexibility to move things around.

Now, as to the future, you might have noticed if you read the Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution back in September that we got a pretty clear sense of the Senate that they wanted us to move onto tactical nuclear weapons, so-called nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons. The Russians have a larger number than we do of these systems, and there has been some particular, I would say, strong urging from Capitol Hill to move out. Well, that is something that President Obama had already spoken about when he signed the treaty in Prague in April of 2010. He said that we will be moving on next to address reductions in tactical nuclear weapons and also in non-deployed nuclear weapons, that is weapons in storage facilities, not deployed on top of missiles or associated with bombers. So it is pretty clear marching orders both from the President, but as I said, we also heard a strong sense of the Senate in this regard, and that's the direction we'll be moving next.

QUESTION: So is it fair to say that there are aspects that this is actually a -- more of a kind of SALT treaty for those latter two categories than a START treaty, that what it does is to place upward limits rather than reductions when we're talking about the latter two categories?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, I don't think about it that way, because it actually provides -- I think of this treaty of being a hybrid of the Moscow Treaty and the START Treaty. The START Treaty placed an emphasis on maximum predictability in terms of having a very extensive and detailed verification regime. This treaty also has an extensive and detailed verification regime.

But the Moscow Treaty had a core concept in it which is that each side should have the right to determine for itself the structure of its strategic forces under the central limits of the treaty. That was a very important concept in the Moscow Treaty which President Bush concluded with then-President Putin in 2002. That was a core concept of that treaty, and we brought it forward into this New START Treaty. So I like to say that it is a hybrid of the Moscow Treaty and the START Treaty, combining the flexibility of the Moscow Treaty with the predictability of the START Treaty.

QUESTION: Thanks very much.


OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Elise Labott of CNN. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thanks, and congratulations, Rose. Thanks for doing this.


QUESTION: I actually was going to ask about the tactical weapons. So how quickly do you think that that could happen? And then also just quickly on -- you said that the Russian Duma and Federation Council could take this up rather quickly. Do you think that they would approve it by the end of the year? Have you gotten any indication from them? Just a little bit more on the timing. Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, this is really a question to, I think, more appropriately address to Moscow. But as far as I understand, we are entering into our holiday period, and Moscow is entering into their holiday period as well. I do believe that they will be meeting tomorrow, but I understand that there are some further procedures that will need to be worked out. So perhaps there will be some step forward tomorrow, but in terms of completing the procedures, I believe it will not be until after holiday, based on what I've heard and read from Moscow in the last day. There's procedurally a number of steps they have to go through to complete their process, but they seem -- if you've seen some of the press out of Moscow, the reactions there seem to be very, very positive --

QUESTION: Yeah. Yeah.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: -- and I'm very encouraged by that. I thought it was great to see that they were reacting so positively. Now, as far as when we can get started, you will be amused, perhaps, to see again the marching orders that come out of the resolution of ratification. It's no secret; it was openly discussed on the floor that they would like to see us seek to begin new negotiations with the Russians within the next year. We have, of course, full intentions of working very, very intensively in our -- inside our own government, and of course consulting with the Russians on when such talks could begin. But clearly, the Senate is asking us to seek to begin such negotiations in the next year. So we'll see what happens.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks, Rose.


OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Michele Kelemen from NPR. The line is open.

QUESTION: Thanks. Hi, Rose, and congratulations.


QUESTION: When are you ready to negotiate with the Russians on tactical nukes, and are you sure they're ready to do that? But also, when we talk about nonproliferation policy, there is also word that the Obama Administration might try to get the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty through the Senate, and I wonder if you're gearing up for another fight on that.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, let me take the first question first. I'm, of course, ready at any time to dive back in again, but it does take some preparatory work. Any big negotiation takes preparatory work and some careful consideration. We worked on laying out the basis for these last negotiations on a very intense interagency basis. The Nuclear Posture Review process was a really important and serious underpinning for negotiation of the New START Treaty, and so we would be working with our Department of Defense and with the other agencies of government; the Department of Energy also very important to set out the parameters for the next negotiations. So we have some homework to do, and I don't want anybody to think this will be dive right when January rolls around, because we do have some homework to do in that regard, and I'm sure the Russians do as well.

Your comment is an interesting one. Anybody who's followed this over the years knows that the Russian Federation has had a kind of, well, clear conditionality for beginning negotiations on tac nukes, and that is that NATO should bring all of the nuclear weapons deployed in NATO on NATO territory in Europe back to the continental United States before Russia -- and this is a longstanding conditionality; it was from Soviet times -- before they would consider beginning talks in this arena. I've been interested to see some prominent Russians speaking publicly in recent weeks and months. Last month there was a very important NATO inter-parliamentary meeting in Warsaw and the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, Mr. Zavarzin, gave a speech there where he remarked that they are looking at options for tactical nuclear weapons arms control in Moscow, and considering very seriously what can happen next. So I took that as a very good sign. I know from my contacts in Moscow that people are thinking about it quite hard and looking at options. So I think that that is very good.

Excuse me. Remind me, what was your second point?

QUESTION: The Test Ban Treaty.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Oh, the Test Ban Treaty. Well, we’ve never stopped working on getting ready for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban. And Secretary Clinton, when she spoke at the NPT Review Conference last May, underscored that agenda item is still very much in play, and we’ve never stopped getting ready for that process to move forward. There, too, we still have some homework to do. You may be aware that the National Academy of Sciences, for example, is taking a very, very serious look at some of the questions that were raised in 1999 when the ratification process for the CTBT failed in the Senate. And they’ve been taking a very serious look at the two questions that senators raised at that time: Is the verification of the CTBT going to be adequate; and second, do we have sufficient funding for our stockpile – for our Stockpile Stewardship Program?

And so the National Academy, I think, will be taking note of the fact that now a decade has gone by since 1999, and actually the work on verification of the Comprehensive Test Ban has been very extensive on the international front and also in our own unilateral work on verification technologies. So we’ll see what kinds of results they come out with, and that’s just one example of the kind of homework that we are doing to get ready for that process.

QUESTION: May I ask one other quick question, because I wondered if, when you were traveling around the U.S., whether Americans are worried about how much this is costing. There were some analysts who were even saying that by spending $85 billion over the next decade on modernization as a way to get more Republican votes for START that the U.S. is sort of pricing itself out of arms – future arms control negotiations.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, let me say a word about that, because I do think it’s an important point, and yes, people did ask me about it from time to time as I was barnstorming around the country on behalf of the New START Treaty. The questions that came up were very much as you’ve posed them: Isn’t this a lot of expense, and we’re paying a very high price for a modest arms control treaty.

But I have stressed throughout, and I will stress for you, that our nuclear infrastructure – and the funding is both for the Stockpile Stewardship Program that is for maintenance of the nuclear weapons themselves, but also for the nuclear weapons infrastructure; that is, the facilities where the weapons are cared for. And a lot of those facilities are World War II-era facilities that are both very large and ancient at this point. And I think it is very important to look very seriously at, first of all, how do we shrink the footprint of the nuclear infrastructure overall, how do we make it smaller, more efficient, smaller facilities, more efficient facilities, because the President was clear when he spoke in April of 2009 about moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons. He also said very clearly that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must have a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. So as the nuclear arsenal shrinks, we’re going to still need to take care of it, and we need to have a smaller infrastructure but a very efficient and effective one.

So building some new facilities on a smaller footprint, I think, makes a lot of sense. That goes for the UF6 facility, the facility in Tennessee that has been much under discussion, and also some improvements, for example, to the Pantex Plant where we do weapons maintenance in Texas. Those are two examples there.

So that’s my answer to that, Michele. It’s a very good question. I did hear about it around the country. But I do think it makes sense to get rid of our sprawling World War II-era, ancient facilities, and be smart about shrinking the infrastructure.

QUESTION: Thank you. (In Russian.)


OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Tejinder Singh of AHN Media Corporation. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you very much for taking this question. I have just a couple of short questions. In the past 18 months you mentioned that Senate has been debating it. Why the Russian Duma has not had this treaty on its agenda and not ratified it already?

And the second one is the Russian foreign minister on December 21st cautioned the Senate about not to take any (inaudible) unknown amendments, and has any U.S. official keeping tabs on what the Duma is doing? And also, the number of inspections will be going down in this treaty from the earlier treaty, and that has not been pointed out. Would you like to comment on that also? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Sure. Let me mention first about the Duma process. Again, this is something better to address some of these questions to Moscow. But I can stress, once again, that President Medvedev said in April when he and President Obama signed the treaty that the Duma would be coordinating its process with the U.S. Senate process. And we have seen activity in the Russian State Duma. They have worked in the summer as well. They passed their resolution of ratification out of their international affairs committee in July before they went on their summer recess. When they saw the result of our resolution of ratification in September, they actually took back that resolution to have another look at it. And that will be the process now where they will be examining our final resolution of ratification coming out of the full Senate yesterday. They will be examining it and then voting on it in the Russian State Duma and also in their upper house, which is the Federation Council.

So I just wanted to underscore that they have had an active process. It has been going forward in coordination with our process. And we will, as I said, I’m sure, see them moving to complete that process for whatever period of time is required for their process to go forward.

The other point you raised about Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments, he did comment about amendments to the treaty itself that would be incorporated in the resolution of ratification and mentioned that this was something that the Russians would react very negatively to.

I wanted to stress for all of you that this was an absolute red line for us during our ratification process with the Senate, and we worked very, very seriously to ensure that there were no amendments to the treaty that came out pursuant to the resolution of ratification. And you may have noticed if you were following the debate closely this week and last week that there were, I believe, three or four resolutions that – I’m sorry, amendments – there were three or four amendments that would have changed the treaty or attempted to change the treaty that were voted down and were voted down resoundingly by the majority in the Senate. So we did have to wrestle with that issue during this process, but in the end, it came out very well. Our red lines were not passed.

I’m sorry, your third question? Oh, the number of inspections under this treaty. Under the START Treaty there were 28 on-site inspections allowed annually for each party under the treaty. The United States and Russia under this treaty, under the New START Treaty, will have 18 inspections each. Now, people say why 10 fewer inspections under this treaty? Well, the fact is that the Russians have closed down quite a few facilities. There were 70 facilities that were subject to inspection under the START Treaty in Russia, and under the New START Treaty there will only be 35 facilities subject to inspection. We know that because they’ve already given us their list of sites that are subject to inspection under the treaty. And this list is not one that we just accept on faith; we actually do know and have confirmed independently that they have closed down those other facilities, so they do not need to be inspected under the new treaty.

So we actually feel that statistically we’re in pretty good shape with this new treaty because the number of inspectable facilities is half of what it was under the START Treaty.

QUESTION: Just a quick one. You said that it’s going to be January or February, but the Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov yesterday said that it could be – it is possible that by the end of this year, if he – if they do not see any very definitely real changes in the text of the agreement.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, again, those – I’m unable to comment on that, because they certainly know their own processes and procedures a whole lot better than I do. I’m just observing. And from what I’ve heard from Moscow in the last day about the procedures that they will need to pursue, I had understood it could take a bit longer. But Mr. Gryzlov certainly is the top authority on this, so he’s a better authority than I am.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Richard Solash of Radio Free Europe. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi there. Nice to get a chance to ask you a question.


QUESTION: My question is regarding kind of what Administration officials have been identifying as the broader context or one of the broader contexts of this treaty, which is to say as a linchpin to the reset of relations with Russia, perhaps facilitating further cooperation even in other spheres in the future. So my question for you is: How much did that broader context of kind of facilitating more of the reset come up during the actual negotiation process? How present was that context during the actual negotiation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I think it provided an overall beneficial environment for the negotiations, because President Obama and Secretary Clinton, my boss, from the very outset have stressed that we needed to reset the relationship and try to pursue – and I want to emphasize this strategic arms treaty negotiation was not the only thing that’s been going on in the last year. There were a lot of activities under the so-called reset policy, some of which don’t get as much attention as they should.

We signed an Afghan transit deal with the Russians, for example, and they are permitting our military materiel to be transmitted through Russia to Afghanistan, and that’s been extremely beneficial to our military efforts in Afghanistan. So there’s been a lot going on under the reset relationship, and so it wasn’t only this nuclear negotiation that both benefited from it but also was taking place in its context.

So I do think that it was helpful to our efforts overall, but I’ll tell you, on a day-in, day-out basis at the negotiating table in Geneva, you’re just butting heads so much and involved in working through very, very detailed technical matters. The kind of big picture recedes to the background.

QUESTION: If I could just ask a quick follow-up, so there was no sense that perhaps the reset was on the line if negotiations didn’t come through?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, again, I like to say that the broad spectrum of our relationship has really benefited from the reset button over the last year or so. I do think that there would have been a setback to the relationship, but I don't think it would have been a serious blow. I do think that along these other trajectories we would continue to be able to develop our cooperation.

But there are some specific areas I was quite worried, and I know others were quite worried in our leadership, could be affected, such as our very good cooperation with the Russians on Iran nonproliferation. That area of cooperation really blossomed after the New START Treaty was signed in April. Immediately afterwards, we were able to reach agreement on tougher sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council with Russia supporting that effort. And also, the Russians themselves took some very serious decisions, like President Medvedev canceled the S-300 anti-aircraft missile deal with Iran. So they did some very serious heavy lifting, and I was – and others – quite worried that that specific area of nuclear nonproliferation cooperation could have been affected.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. (In Russian.)


OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Desmond Butler of the Associated Press. Your line is open.



QUESTION: Are you concerned that the debate over this treaty crystallized a kind of anti arms control sentiment in the Senate, or at least in part of the constituency in the Senate, or in the broader country?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, that’s a question that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit. And honestly, I thought the debate in the Senate was very valuable, because it brought the issues of nuclear arms reduction and control to the forefront again for senators who had, perhaps, never had to grapple with the issue or perhaps had not grappled with it for many, many years. So I actually found the debate to be very refreshing and actually creating quite a bit of interest and – I beg your pardon – that was one of the reactions I was getting.

I’ve had many, many conversations with both senators and staff over the last couple of weeks, and again, the level of interest and the sophistication of questions has been very, very high. So I actually think that we are coming out of this whole process with a renewed interest in these matters that I think will – and I hope will – serve us well as we move forward to further arms reduction and as we also continue to work on some of these tough nonproliferation goals as well.

Now, clearly, there are members of the Senate who are not keen on further arms control measures. That’s always been the case. There’s always been a bloc of opponents historically to nuclear arms reduction and control in the Senate. That’s part of a healthy debate; it’s part of a healthy process. I don't see that as a major, major issue. But I do welcome the fact that this debate has shined a light on these issues again and really called for some interest from the Senate.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Dmytro Shkurko of the National News Agency of the Ukraine. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi there. I’m calling from Brussels, and today here are both NATO Secretary General and EU High Representative mentioned that START will pave a way for further arms reductions and arms control, including conventional weapons. Do you expect some progress in negotiations with Russia on Conventional Forces in Europe? It is known that Russia has unilaterally withdraw from this agreement.

And the next question: What kind of impact could the START Treaty have for (inaudible) countries such as Ukraine, which got rid of its nuclear weapons back in the 1994? Are the security obligations of the START parties – I mean, in the sense the United States and Russia still (inaudible) from sending Ukraine and its participation in NPT? Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Sure. Let me mention, first of all, you referred to the important decision that Ukraine made in 1994, as well as Kazakhstan and Belarus, to eliminate the nuclear weapons on its territory. For those of you who don’t know, at the end of the Cold War, there were thousands of nuclear warheads left in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. And the START Treaty was used as the mechanism for eliminating – reducing those weapons and eliminating them from the territory of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, all three countries joining the Nonproliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states.

Those decisions and that decision of Ukraine, in my view, were among the most important security decisions of the 20th century, so I congratulate Ukraine again on that important action, and further point to the very positive words in the preamble to the New START Treaty, again underscoring the importance of that decision that was made in 1994 and how beneficial it has been for the security of Europe and for the security of the world overall. So just to express my appreciation once again to Ukraine for that.

You ask, what further? Well, I think there has been a very, I would say, responsible overall attitude in Kiev toward strengthening the nonproliferation regime and that role that Ukraine has been playing in the nonproliferation regime and in continuing to strengthen the NPT, the Nonproliferation Treaty. Out of the Review Conference for the Nonproliferation Treaty came a very important action plan for improving the NPT in the future. And I understand Ukraine is keen to play a very strong role in that process in implementing the action plan, and I welcome that very, very much. Ukraine certainly has the legitimacy and authority to play a strong role in that regard.

The second point you raised about the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, we are indeed very keen to move forward. We have been moving forward, working with our European allies, the signatories of the CFE Treaty, to move forward in a positive direction. That was one of the goals that came out of the Lisbon summit, the Lisbon summit of the NATO allies, but also the NATO-Russia portion of the Lisbon summit. A goal was laid out to move forward to – in a positive direction to repair the CFE regime, and certainly, we do hope that that will be a priority goal coming up.

QUESTION: Thank you so much indeed.


OPERATOR: Once again, if you have a question, please press * then 1. Our next question will come from Kirit Radia of ABC News. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Yeah, hi. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the verification element here. When exactly are the inspectors going to arrive? Is it on day 60, day 61, or will it take a little bit longer for them to get there?

And then can you say to what extent you’re concerned about this – the one-year gap that you did have between when the inspectors had to leave and what effect that might have had? Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes, well, Admiral Mike Mullen said it best – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He sent a very important letter this week to the Senate urging them once again to ratify the New START Treaty, and he mentioned the concern of the military. That is, we came out of the START Treaty – again, 15 years of implementing the START treaty – with a very clear idea of what was going on inside the Russian strategic forces, thanks to the inspection regime. The Russians had a very clear idea of what was going on inside our strategic forces, thanks to their inspectors being in the United States.

That kind of mutual transparency creates a great deal of mutual confidence and stability. And Admiral Mullen pointed quite rightly – said maybe we have a pretty good idea right now what’s going on, but as a year goes by and then another year and more time goes by, we begin to lose that clear transparency and clear view into the strategic forces of Russia, and vice versa. And this leads in a bad direction for both countries. It leads to worse-case planning. It leads to budgetary expenditures based on worse-case planning. And those are the kinds of concerns that were very, very important for our military. So I’m, frankly, glad that we will be restoring the inspection regime and be moving back to directly monitoring each other’s strategic forces as – just as you pointed out, within 60 days of entry into force of the New START Treaty.

As to your specific question, I have to say I don’t know. The State Department is not responsible directly for setting the date. Clearly, we are consulting with the other agencies of government who are working on planning for the first inspection. It’s the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, part of the DOD, that is responsible, actually, for saying okay, this set of inspectors will go on this date to Russia. And frankly, I think this is still in the planning stage and not decided quite yet. But around the 60-day mark, I would expect that there would be an inspection.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay, Operator, P.J. Crowley here. We’ve had Rose going for about 45 minutes. Perhaps we’ll take one or two more questions and then wrap it up.

OPERATOR: Okay. We do have one more question in queue from Paul Kruger of Sueddeutsche Zeitung Germany. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much. You mentioned that the Russian special missile arsenal is aging. I mean, the U.S. missiles are aging, too. I was just wondering, this might be more a question for the DOD, actually, but if you could lay out how the modernization of the U.S. missiles, especially the ICBMs, will proceed.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes, and here again I would refer you to Admiral Mullen’s letter that he sent in this week. It’s, I think, very important from the perspective of laying out expectations with regard to modernization of each of the legs of the U.S. strategic triad. The three legs of the triad are the ICBM force – the intercontinental ballistic missiles; submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs; and the bomber forces. Under this treaty, we expect all three legs of the triad to continue as they are, including 14 submarines that are currently in existence. We won’t be building new ones, but the ones that are in existence will continue.

Again, to point to the earlier discussion with Mr. Dombey from the Financial Times, you do have to look at the warhead numbers and how the warhead numbers are coming down under this treaty. The United States will continue to download warheads from individual missiles. Each missile carries multiple warheads, as many as eight in the case of the submarine-launched systems, bringing those numbers down to five or six, smaller numbers per each missile. But we believe that it is actually beneficial for strategic stability to have more launchers out there, because that makes it harder for the other side to target, and particularly launchers like submarines that are out in – obviously on patrol in the deep ocean where they can’t be targeted. It’s that difficulty of targeting either side that leaves neither side with the sense that they can succeed in launching a first strike.

And so that’s why we call it first strike stability. If neither side thinks they can succeed in launching a first strike, if there is an inevitable retaliation, then that is a very stable situation. And while that’s the legacy of the Cold War, we do hope to move away from that, but that is where we are today. But there are real reductions that will take place in the number of deployed warheads.

MR. CROWLEY: And with that, thank you very much for participating. And thank you again to Rose Gottemoeller for not only her forbearance in answering a lot of media questions over the last several days in the heat of this, but also for great work in helping to bring this treaty to the point of ratification.

I want to wish everybody happy holidays, and we’ll wrap up here and look forward to seeing you next year. Thanks very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you, P.J. All the best to everybody.

PRN: 2010/1859

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