U.S.-Russia Nuclear Cooperation
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
MR. KUPCHAN: What, in your view, are the lessons of New START for the future of U.S – Russia arms control negotiations? And I have really two angles in mind here. What insights could you offer from what you’ve experienced on Russian views on key issues? And secondly, what lessons does New START offer on how any – any– U.S. administration should handle the Congress on an arms-control treaty?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Excellent, excellent questions, Cliff. And by the way, may I just say how impressed I am that there are so many people interested in nuclear arms control at this hour of the morning? (Laughter.) I think it’s absolutely terrific.
But that was actually the first point. And I’d like to turn to your congressional point to begin with, actually, because the significant lesson of the New START Treaty both negotiation and ratification process, in my view, for the congressional relationship, is that it brought this issue front and center again in our relationship with the U.S. Congress, and particularly with the Senate.
I was very impressed as the negotiator -- I must say, sometimes pressed as the negotiator -- because the Senate was very, very interested through the course of the negotiations. We briefed them repeatedly. Five times we briefed the National Security Working Group, starting back in the spring of 2009 as the negotiations were barely getting started, and proceeding then through the summer and the rest of 2009-2010; not only briefing the National Security Working
Group, which was chaired by, at that time, Senator Kyl – Senator Kyl and Senator Byrd – but also, then chairing – the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and the ranking member, Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar. Of course, we were very involved with them throughout; but the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee as well. So we had this kind of regular dialogue going on.
And then the ratification process came, and you all know what the ratification process was like. It was a very, very lively debate, lively discussion. But the core conclusion that I take away from it is that nuclear arms control is back as an issue of interest on the Hill and one where a number of senators – not all by any means, but a number of senators are willing and ready to engage.
So as far as the future is concerned, I would just say continue what we’ve been doing, which is to try and stay in very, very close contact as we proceed in new directions, but also to be aware that the interest level is going to be very high. And indeed, you saw that. If you looked closely at the resolution of ratification, it calls for briefings, consultations, let’s get in there and talk to
them before, after, and in the middle of any interactions on nuclear arms control issues. I think that’s healthy, and I, frankly, welcome the fact that there is such a big interest on Capitol Hill. But it is lesson for the future that we also need to continue that and make sure that that due diligence is done.
Now, as to the lessons we learned working with the Russians, I would say frankly the -- there were two lessons for me. First – the first lesson is that the Cold War is indeed over. There were many Cold War issues that we continue to grapple with – I’ll get to that in a moment – but the way the negotiations were conducted, it was last – it was much different from when I was last at the negotiating table in Geneva in 1990 and 1991, working on the START Treaty.
At that point, we still had a very kind of, you know, set piece way of interacting with the Russians. In the intervening period, 15 years of implementation of the START Treaty made a huge difference in how we interact with the Russians on these issues, and particularly the fact that we had a great cadre of experienced inspectors and weapons systems operators who came and participated in our delegation on – in Geneva, and the Russians did the same.
That meant we had this very experienced team on both sides of the negotiating table who were used to interacting with each other at bases, at strategic operating bases, in the inspection process. It just made for a much more, I would say, rich dialogue and prepared dialogue. We really, I think, knew what we needed to do in the course of these negotiations to get through them and get a treaty that suited the present stage.
So that was the first lesson I’d like to underscore. The Cold War really is over, and we’ve had a lot of experience now, particularly on on-site inspection, that’s made a big difference in how we interact with the Russians on these issues.
But the second point is – I would say, a realistic point, but perhaps one that is a little more negative – and that is that there are some Cold War issues that continue to return to the front of the agenda. And missile defenses and how we interact on missile defenses is, I would say, at the top of that list. It was a very important part of the ratification debate on Capitol Hill, but it’s a long-standing issue, and it’s an issue that we are now going to try to work very hard with cooperation with the Russians, not only in our bilateral context, but also in the NATO-Russia context.
And that was such an enormous, enormous success of the Lisbon summit, back before the holidays, that in those two contexts, the bilateral and the NATO-Russia context, we agreed on a program of missile defense cooperation. Again, this is nothing new. Ronald Reagan, back in 1983, when he launched the "Star Wars" initiative, spoke about cooperation with the missile – with the Soviets on missile defenses. But now we really want to get off the dime on this, and I think it’s going to be very, very important to scoping the future. So --
MR. KUPCHAN: Thank you. Well, let’s now take sort of next steps in order. Steve, Steve Pifer, what are the prospects for talks on tactical nuclear weapons? And in your view, what might an agreement look like?
MR. PIFER: Okay. Well, first of all, with the New START Treaty taking each side down to 1,550 strategic warheads, I think we really are at the point where it’s hard to envisage further strategic reductions without doing something about these large number of tactical nuclear weapons that are not constrained. But if we get into another round of negotiation with the Russians on tactical weapons, there are going to be some difficult issues. And I’ll just mention three.
First of all, there’s a large numerical disparity between the numbers in the U.S. tactical arsenal and the Russian arsenal. By unclassified accounts, the Russians have anywhere from three to eight times as many tactical nuclear weapons. And when you have that kind of numerical disparity, it makes negotiation more difficult.
A second issue is that over the last 10 to 15 years, the Russians have come in their military doctrine to place much more weight on tactical nuclear forces, because they see these weapons as necessary to offset what they regard as conventional force disadvantages vis-à-vis NATO and, perhaps more importantly, vis-à-vis China. And this is nothing new. In fact, they’ve really taken a page from NATO’s book for most of the Cold War, when NATO chose not to match the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact tank for tank but instead relied on tactical nuclear weapons.
And the third issue which is going to make this, I think, a complicated issue is verification, because when you’re talking about limits on and verification of limits on tactical weapons, you probably will not be talking about the delivery systems, because I don’t think the American Air Force or the Russian Air Force is going to want to limit F-16s and their MiG and Sukhoi counterparts, whose primary missions are conventional.
So you’re talking about limiting actual warheads and perhaps even designing schemes where inspectors might have to go into storage bunkers and count weapons. That’s not an insurmountable problem, but it’s going to pose a set of verification challenges that the United States and Russia have not had to grapple with in previous arms control arrangements.
So there are some difficult questions. I don’t think that they’re insurmountable. And one way to approach this is: The question is going to be is, given this large Russian advantage, how do you persuade them basically to negotiate away all or part of that? And I think here the way to do this will be the United States under the New START Treaty will end up with a numerical advantage in non-deployed strategic warheads. Under the new START treaty, the Russians are going to reach their reductions primarily by retiring and taking out its service missiles. But most of their remaining missiles are going to have full warhead sets.
The United States is going to take a very different approach in taking warheads off of missiles and would have the ability, in the event that the treaty broke down, to put a lot of those warheads back on the missiles. And the Russians won’t have any kind of matching capability.
So perhaps a way that designed an approach that allowed you to trade an American willingness to accept reductions and then limits on non-deployed strategic warheads for Russian readiness to address tactical weapons might give Rose or whoever is out there, some negotiating leverage.
And it may be actually now, I think, the time in terms of the next round really to move to an approach that talks about a limit on all nuclear weapons that would cover strategic, non-strategic, tactical, deployed and non-deployed. And if you put them all into a single limit, that might allow some of these trade-offs. And you could have that kind of approach, perhaps with a sub-ceiling that would apply to deployed strategic warheads that would be akin to the 1,550 limit in the New START Treaty.
MR. KUPCHAN: Well, before I move to BMD, would anyone else like to comment on the tactical issue? Okay.
Micah, turning to ballistic missile – turning to ballistic missile defense then – I mean, it’s several issues. In your view what are the main issues that separate Russia and the U.S./NATO on BMD, given that the U.S. is very unlikely to accept formal limits on ballistic missile defense – and if anything came screaming out of the Senate – (inaudible) screaming – no formal limits, what types of understandings might Moscow accept? And as an overall judgment in your view, how likely is missile defense to disrupt U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation?
MR. ZENKO: Well, let me take the last one first. I mean, there are a buffet of further steps in U.S.-Russian nuclear and conventional force reductions and agreements that could be reached in 2011, 2012 and after the presidential elections in both countries. But if there is not a formal agreement or understanding on the future way forward on missile defense, none of these will likely happen.
Medvedev said very recently either we come to an agreement on missile defense, or there is – there will be a resumption of the arms race. I know it’s a very threatening, maximalist position, but this a primary concern for a lot of Russian officials and strategic thinkers. It comes up over and over again.
The primary Russian concern is not the system which currently protects the United States from limited numbers of ballistic missile launches. The United States has roughly 24 interceptors in Alaska, six in California. These are intended to cover the entirety of the continental United States from a rogue launch from North Korea, say, or an unauthorized launch from Russia. But in the summer of – or in the fall of 2009, the Obama Administration introduced what’s called the European Phased Adaptive Approach policy, which is a policy to create a missile defense shield over all of Europe in four stages – 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2020.
There are some Russians who perceive that that system will put at risk its ICBM force, so it could not have a reliable second strike against the United States. The Administration, to be fair, has done a lot – a very good job through the presidential bilateral working group at the NATO-Russia Council to explain that these systems will not threaten Russia’s ICBM force. Technical experts in Russia get this, but whether the policymakers get it – get it received that’s another question.
There is still more that the United States can do internally to provide some transparency about what the out-phases, specifically the 2018 and 2020 stages of missile defense – of this missile defense for Europe will look like. We don’t know what this looks like yet. The missile that will be in place in 2018 and 2020 is still in the design stages. Even the earlier missiles, which would be based upon ships in the Mediterranean – that has not been tested yet. So we’re still at the early stages for this, and the perception that this could threaten its force in the future scares Russia.
And then the final issue is, as Rose hinted at – to quote Secretary Gates, or to paraphrase him, in June – the Russians hate missile defense. They hate it. They’ve hated it since the late ‘60s. And as the secretary said, there can be no meeting of the minds on missile defense. I don’t think that’s the case. In light of the NATO-Russia Council meetings in November, President Medvedev came out with an early proposal for what joint missile defense could look like, which I would call sincere but not serious.
They – it has these three principles. One is, Russia wants to be a full-fledged partner in missile defense. Second, they want to have shared early warning data, shared intercept – not shared – shared early warning data, shared radar, shared sensors with two buttons – a two-button principle. One would be covering Russia; one would be covering NATO. And then the third is what they call sector-based defense, assigning zones of responsibility for protection against ballistic missile defense. And if you talk to military planners in the United States, this is not going to fly. The (inaudible) did not come into NATO to be protected from ballistic missiles from the Persian Gulf by – on behalf of the Russians.
There’s also the slight issue that Russia does not have a missile defense system presently covering its territory. There is a new air defense system called the S-500, which has never been presented or tested, which they claim will be operational for missile defense by 2020.
But I think there can be an agreement, and this is being worked in these groups – the working groups and NATO-Russia Council – about joint threat assessments, what does the threat look like. And that’s being done right now. There can also be a shared early warning of all ballistic missile launches. There was this – for people in history remember the JDEC, which was this Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow that was going to be a place where Russian and U.S. officials sort of watched ballistic missile launches from various parts of the world, and then they could both agree that they came from these countries and not from each other.
So I think there can be cooperation on shared early warning, on threat assessments, and on potentially shared radars, which includes integrating some of the Russian radar capabilities in southern Russia into the U.S. phased adaptive approach missile defense system for Europe.
MR. KUPCHAN: Rose, please.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I’d just like to add, on this missile defense cooperation point, some of you may have seen that Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov gave a press conference in Moscow today, a very extensive press conference. And he commented that the pace at which we’re getting off the ground on our discussions in the working groups – the presidential commission working group that deals with cooperation on nuclear security, missile defense matters, chaired by my boss, Under Secretary Tauscher, and also some military-to-military discussions as well.
So there’s a very, very fast pace of activity, and I do think that both Moscow and Washington are really intent, as are our NATO allies, in getting off the ground quickly and completing these joint threat assessments and then in moving on to looking at joint concepts and really trying to figure out how to put all these pieces together.
MR. PIFER: I just – I think that’s actually really good news, because I think if you look at the next negotiation, if the Russians are insistent on something on missile defense, and we’ve seen the Senate reaction to any limitations on missile defense, there’s something of a trap there. And missile defense cooperation may be the way to get out of that box, which could otherwise be a major obstacle in the next round of strategic offensive arms reductions.
MR. KUPCHAN: Rose, let me turn to a different type of issue. We now have the 123 Agreement, the Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. What, in your view, is in it for both sides? And how can the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector best pursue avenues opened by this new and really rather major agreement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes. If you haven’t heard about it, a lot of people have been focused on the New START Treaty and the missile defense cooperation and those aspects, but there was really a major, major step forward in Moscow this week, when Ambassador Beyrle and Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov exchanged the paperwork to bring into force the so-called 123 Agreement, the agreement for nuclear cooperation. This happened on Tuesday, the 11th, day before yesterday. It’s really a great step forward.
You know, when I was an assistant secretary of energy back in the late 1990s, we were working on a 123 agreement and trying to move that forward. So it’s really been a long-standing initiative, one that both sides have been very intent on bringing into force, and it has finally happened.
And there are really, I think, three areas of enormous benefit for both countries. First of all, the area I am most familiar with is the nonproliferation cooperation. Having an – in place an agreement for nuclear cooperation of this kind really helps us to advance our nuclear nonproliferation cooperation. It helps for our technical cooperation when our scientists get together and work on very detailed technical projects – for example, on new sensor systems and that type of thing. There’s been a history of very, very successful U.S.-Russian cooperation.
But a 123 agreement will facilitate and ease that cooperation in the future; also will help with some very, very nitty-gritty counter-nuclear terrorism issues like nuclear forensics. When we have, some fissile material that is acquired and we’re concerned about it being part of a possible terrorist plot or something like that, the nuclear forensics process will be facilitated and eased by having in place a 123 agreement. So, nuclear nonproliferation cooperation – very, very significant.
Second area is civil-nuclear cooperation. Again, that’s on a government-to-government basis, where our two countries are working together and cooperating, and Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman is the chairman of the commission, bilateral commission, with Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom, on the other side. There’s a bilateral commission looking at ways to advance civil-nuclear cooperation. That means advanced reactors, advanced fuel cycles, a number of arenas of that kind. So that’s very, very important.
And then the third area is on the commercial front. It will facilitate cooperation between U.S. companies and Russian companies that are engaged in nuclear energy projects. Again, for the development of new reactors, new fuel cycles, new fuels, and overall does address the issue of consent rights – that is, when the United States has a deal with another country for nuclear fuel purchase, the United States has consent rights over the final disposition of that fuel. So having a 123 agreement in place addresses that issue and facilitates commercial cooperation as well.
So three very, very important areas where this 123 Agreement will make a big difference and really, I think, will allow us to advance nuclear energy cooperation on the U.S.-Russian front overall. But I welcome it, as I said, because of the advantages I see forthcoming in our nonproliferation cooperation.
I just – I wanted to underscore for this audience, I didn’t really know it – I was looking back through Dan Poneman’s recent materials from his trip to Moscow. This year, the United States and Russia have worked to repatriate 760 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from other countries back to the Russian Federation to be disposed of there – 760 kilograms. That’s quite a few nuclear bombs worth of highly enriched uranium. And that, again, has not required the 123 Agreement. That’s pursuant to this international partnership that President Obama launched last April at the Nuclear Security Summit here in Washington to get highly enriched uranium, plutonium, fissile materials that could be used in nuclear weapons into programs to dispose of them or to better protect them.
And so Russia’s been a great partner in this regard. And I think it’s really, really worthwhile underscoring the way this partnership can now be enhanced and further developed because of the 123 Agreement being in place.
MR. KUPCHAN: Well, one final question from me for Micah. And it’s a political-economic one, sort of moving the space a bit. As we all know, Russia faces presidential elections in 2012, and a worrisomely tightening fiscal landscape, involving large deficits. I mean, how could these political-economic factors – let’s go to the big picture here – affect Russian policy on the nuclear front?
MR. ZENKO: Well, the – if you want to – a very interesting perspective on Russian policymaking, you look at the president’s speech to the nation, sort of the State of the Union address that the Russian president gives – this was November 30th of last year. And he goes through all the litany of problems Russia faces – familial, societal, government, the environment – and it’s just a long, long list of problems that Russia faces, and the solution to all them are greater political attention and money. You throw money at these problems; it’s similar to the United States.
The final issue President Medvedev discussed is foreign affairs, defense, and national security. And he lays out this agenda to – over the next 10 years – spend $700 billion on improving defense systems, including conventional weapons, missile defense, nuclear weapons. And it ain’t all going to happen. They just don’t have the money to do it. We – if oil stays around a hundred dollars a barrel, they get closer, but they still don’t have the capability to do the modernization that they want.
And so based upon the need to both restructure its conventional weapons forces, to bring some sort of rationalization, some – for example, the – Russia recently created what the United States version of DARPA is, which is how to do better research. They consolidated all their air defense and missile defense into one sort of strategic command. They’re trying to rationalize the process on the conventional side while also sort of making incremental improvements on nuclear weapons modernization.
So based upon the need to come down to the levels that Steve mentioned just by retiring old systems and not building new nuclear weapons, Russia wants both for great power purposes and the respect that nuclear weapons have garnered them over the last 60 – 50 to 60 years, they want an additional agreement that provides transparency and predictability on U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons at lower levels, for both those reasons.
MR. KUPCHAN: Okay. Well, thanks to all of you. We now invite audience members to join in the discussion, and again, a few procedural comments. Please wait for the microphone. Speak directly into it. Please stand. State your name and affiliation. And please – maybe most importantly – keep questions and comments really on point and concise to allow as many members as possible to speak. So the floor is now open. Yes, sir. Please.
QUESTION: I’m Hank Gaffney from CNA. And I worked 13 years on NATO nuclear weapons, and I carefully read all the Russian statements of doctrine as they’ve been coming out. I never see the word "tactical." This notion that they’re relying on tactical – they’re relying on strategic, which is what NATO relied on. I think a lot of you know that the PSYOP was involved in NATO responses very early on, after about two days of conventional battle. And – but that’s a concept of deterrence they’re advancing, not of war-fighting. And it includes strategic weapons, and we shouldn’t forget that. And I just wondered, does anybody up there know of their statements where they use the word "tactical"?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I think that’s a good point. I would just note two things. First of all, we’ve tried to be very careful and precise, and indeed, again, if you look at the resolution of ratification that came out of the Senate, it refers to nonstrategic nuclear weapons. And I think it’s a good point to be considering – because the use of the word
"tactical" does have a number of imprecise aspects to it. And so that’s a very important point. I do see the Russians refer to tactical nuclear weapons, but it’s in comments on what we have to say; it’s not in their own doctrinal writing. So I would agree with your comment in that regard.
MR. PIFER: Yeah, that might actually suggest that one thing that perhaps could be done between now and our next round of negotiations is maybe some – in one of these working groups actually beginning to talk to the Russians. What would be a common scheme for categorizing the way that we talk about nuclear weapons?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yeah.
MR. PIFER: Because I suspect that when we use – when we talk about strategic, nonstrategic, tactical, we may have a different way of classified weapons than the Russians do. And having a common language on that would, I think, facilitate another round of negotiations.
MR. ZENKO: And in the NATO-Russia Council years ago, before those sort of warmer feelings that sprung out of the Lisbon summit, they do have these joint definitions, which they’ve – the Russians presented their definitions of what tactical means, and the U.S. presented its definitions for what tactical means. You can find these on the NATO website, and those could be a starting point for how both sides conceive of what tactical nuclear weapons are.
MR. KUPCHAN: Yes, ma’am. Please. You, yes, the microphone here. Thanks.
QUESTION: Hi. Sally Horn, independent consultant. I have a question for all of the panelists. I was struck by what you said, Cliff, about what are lessons that could be learned from the debate on the Hill and the actual negotiations. I’d like to ask if you could take that a little bit further in terms of, what are the lessons that could be learned in terms of the perceptions. For example, some recent Russian public writings have suggested one of their key concerns is not the – not today, but what might happen in the future, which is suggestive of a policy concern about what direction might we go in, how might that impact their concept of their deterrence. When you look at some of the writings of the senators on the Hill, what you also take away from that is some concern about policy concerns – not the numbers; not even their tactical – or questions about the technical aspects of verification, but underpinning it all is a broader policy concern about direction.
I’m wondering if you might speak to the question of what lessons might be learned about what you perceive as this underpinning of perceptions and views, and how do we deal with that moving forward in the era of further cooperation with the Russians. And related to that, the question of at what time and when and how do we bring in the other nuclear powers, both the other – so-called P-5 and the other states who happen to have nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons capabilities? Thank you.
MR. KUPCHAN: Good question. Who wants to take the first bite?
MR. PIFER: I’ll start the first bite. It seems to me – I mean, I think if the Russians are looking at the discussion that took place during the course of the ratification debate in the U.S. Senate, what they’re going to see is a very strong policy attachment. And it’s reflective throughout the resolution of ratification to missile defense. And that may have something of the opposite but unintended impact of making the Russians press even harder in the next round of negotiation for some kind of limits on U.S. missile defense.
My guess in the end was that the Russians finally accepted during the new START negotiations that there would not be meaningful constraints on missile defense, not just because I think Rose is very effective at telling them no, but because they looked out at the new START period and said this is going to be a treaty going out 10 years, so to 2020 or 2021. And when you look at things like the phased adaptive approach that describe – they have a pretty good understanding of where American missile defense will be in 2020. And they said, "Okay, that is not going to pose a threat to Russian strategic offensive forces.
But if you’re talking about a follow-on agreement, which could go to 2025 or 2030 or 2035, the Russians are going to have a lot less clarity about where American missile defense is going to be. And there is a concern on the Russian side that missile defense could have an impact on Russian strategic forces. And one way they might choose to counter that would be to expand their offensive forces. So I think one of the issues we’re going to – that will come up in the next round will be the Russians pressing perhaps even harder for some kind of constraints on missile defense. And that’s why I hope very much that this possible path to NATO-Russia cooperation on missile defense can be developed, because that may be the way to get out of that.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Could I just add – I mean, part of Sally’s question gets to how robust are U.S.-Russian relations overall. And indeed, over the last several decades, there have been many, many peaks and valleys in the relationship. That’s no secret to anybody. We go through difficult times in any bilateral relationship, but it seems often that we’ve been on quite a rollercoaster ride with regard to our relationship with Russia.
One of the, I think, core reasons that the Obama Administration has been so intent on this reset policy has been to try to ensure that we have a kind of robust relationship across a number of areas of policy that can support us through the peaks – inevitable peaks and valleys in the relationship. And clearly, we’re here this morning to talk about the New START Treaty and where we go from here on strategic and other nuclear arms control.
But I’d just like to underscore that it’s little noticed, but in fact, our relationship with Russia has undergone some great strengthening in the last couple of years. The 123 Agreement – I’ve already mentioned that. But little noticed is something like the Afghanistan transport agreement. That was reached at the same time that we were doing our first joint understanding with the Russians in support of the New START negotiations in July of 2009, when President Obama went to Moscow.
Little known at the time, little recognized, but in fact, now we are transporting an enormous amount of materiel for our combat operations in Afghanistan through Russia, and that is a great change in how we did business in the past. It’s saving our armed forces a great amount of money because it’s really shortening up the transport lines. And so I think it’s those kinds of very robust cooperative projects that will, in the end, I think, help to get us through the tough times. So I do really want to bring that to your attention, and say that I believe that we have come a long way in strengthening and adding some robust elements to our bilateral relationship.
MR. ZENKO: I just want to point out the issue of when do you get to the other countries. I believe there is another agreement between the United States and Russia on strategic and tactical that can be reached before you address the other countries. I mean, the specific country that you need to talk about is China. We know China, I mean, based upon – they don’t have much transparency in what their nuclear systems are. Secretary Gates was invited and visited the Second Artillery Corps just two days ago, which was an unprecedented visit for someone who leads the Pentagon. But there is still so much little transparency on behalf of China on what
their nuclear systems look like and whether or not – and what their conceptions of their nuclear doctrine is and what they think about nuclear weapons control yet. And that’s – there are years and years of that to happen. I think while this discussion and this dialogue continues to build momentum, the United States and Russia can reach another agreement.
MR. KUPCHAN: Go to the back. Please, ma’am.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Mary Beth Sheridan from The Washington Post. I have a question for Rose, which is: Is there any timetable or even tentative timetable of when follow-on – negotiations on a follow-on treaty might begin, or is it all just going to depend on other factors like progress on missile defense? Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: We have already got under way some – I would say – first of all, I wanted to give an advertisement for the papers that these two gentlemen have done. I’m not endorsing them, but both Micah and Steve have done –
MR. PIFER: Go ahead, go ahead. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: -- have done very interesting papers on the future of where we go from here. I’m not endorsing anything specifically, believe me, but there’s a lot of good discussion going on in the nongovernmental community both here and, by the way, in Moscow. I found it enormously interesting the kinds of writing that is being done in Moscow right now by people like Alexei Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin and others.
And also, there’s been a kind of official discussion of this when Mr. Zavarzin, who is the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, came to Warsaw back in November for an interparliamentary meeting. In his remarks to that conference, he said, well, there’s a lot of work going on in Moscow right now to study what the options may be for future non-strategic negotiations.
So I would say in and out of government in Moscow and in and out of government here in Washington, a lot of work is already going on. It’s – but it is the homework phase at the present time, and we’re not ready to go to the point of setting any schedule in place for outright negotiations. But we’re also talking to the Russians throughout this period. There will be lots of consultations, lots of back and forth about where we go from here.
MR. KUPCHAN: Toby, please.
QUESTION: Toby Gati, Akin Gump. Rose, congratulations on the treaty.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have two questions. The first is: The Duma now is talking about amendments. What significance will they have, in reality and on the U.S. political debate?
And the second question is: Looking towards the future, not about negotiations, but do you really believe that anytime soon another arms control agreement could make it through the Senate?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, first of all, you may have noticed, all of you, back in December we had a very lively debate in the U.S. Senate about the New START treaty and the resolution of ratification. And during that period, our Russian colleagues did us the courtesy of not commenting on that debate, and so now I’m doing them the same courtesy of not commenting on their debate. Obviously, the Duma and the Federation Council will have their own very lively process going on over the next couple of weeks, so I am simply not going to speak about it.
But the second thing I would say is that I take a different lesson away from our ratification debate, and I remarked on it at the outset. I really do think that nuclear arms control is back as a topic of interest and discussion in the Senate, and the New START debate in the Senate proved it to me. And it’s not only the debate around the ratification per se, but, as I said, this long series of discussions that we had throughout the negotiations process as well. I really do think that we’ve sparked a new interest there, and so I’m looking forward to continuing that debate and discussion. And frankly, I think it has laid the foundation for the next ratification debate, whatever it may be. And I can’t predict what’ll be next up at this point, but I think we have now a good both store of substantive knowledge that’s been laid down, but also a store of interest, which I welcome very, very much.
Sometimes I feel pretty kind of beat about the head and shoulders, but again, that’s natural. It’s part of the process. And I do think it’s part of a healthy debate as well. So I think we’ve got in place good conditions for future work on these topics with the U.S. Senate and the Congress
MR. PIFER: Since I’m not in the government, let me comment briefly on the Russian resolution of ratification. I think when it comes out, there are going to be a number of Russian uderstandings that will probably be a little bit irksome here, just as I think if you go through the U.S. Senate’s resolution of ratification and you read it from a Russian perspective, I mean, there’s sort of an implication there the Russians are cheaters on arms control agreements, et cetera, et cetera. So you’re going to see probably some of that language.
But the most important thing will be is do the Russians in the end – and I suspect that the Duma will not require any kind of amendment to the treaty – so the important thing will be, besides ought not to be hyperventilating over the language in the respective resolutions of ratification, the question is: At the end of the day, is the treaty ratified so it can be brought into force and we can move on?
MR. KUPCHAN: Yes, sir, please. Microphone.
QUESTION: Arnaud de Borchgrave, CSIS. To what degree does the complexity of dismantling, destroying and inspecting warheads slow down the whole process of reducing numbers a little faster?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: That’s a very good question. And for those of you who have tackled these issues over the years, you realize, of course, that up to this point, arms controls treaties have dealt with delivery vehicles and launchers, large items, missiles, bombers that we can see with our national technical means, our satellites, and also therefore count more easily.
Future negotiations – and the President, President Obama, has already clearly laid out this task when he signed the treaty, the New START Treaty, in Prague in April of 2010. He said next we will be tackling non-strategic nuclear warheads and also non-deployed nuclear warheads. This is part and parcel of the tasking that came out of the Nuclear Posture Review, so it’s all part of a consistent policy development that’s gone on in this Administration. So you’re quite right, Arnaud. The next phase is going to be a complicated one because we will be grappling with these smaller objects that are more difficult to address in terms of monitoring and verification elimination, the entire range of activities.
I will say that in my view, the New START Treaty puts in place some important innovations with regard to reentry vehicle on-site inspection. We are pursuing more intrusive reentry vehicle on-site inspections in this – in implementing this treaty that will essentially push open the door, in my view, to more intrusive measures that involve warheads. So I do think we’re beginning to take some steps in that direction and certainly in terms of the research, the study work
that has to be done. Again, that’s all part of this activity inside and outside of government that I referred to a moment ago.
MR. KUPCHAN: Hans, please. In the first row.
QUESTION: Hans Binnendijk from the National Defense University. Rose, congratulations. I want to go back to the non-strategic tactical question for a minute and put it in the European context a bit more.
Two questions: First, there’s still an issue in Europe as to what we do with the remaining small number of U.S. nuclear bombs deployed in five European countries. And the question is: Is it important, in your view, to keep that small number still in Europe as a sort of bargaining chip for the future? The NATO strategic concept really didn’t settle the issue.
And then the second question is: Given the fact that Steve said you’re looking forward to a negotiation in which we might lump together non-strategic and non-deployed systems and have an overall number, that may take a long time. Is there an interim step with regard to Europe that you might take that might create a zone, Atlantic to the Urals, in which you would remove non-strategic systems as an interim step to that broader negotiation?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: My colleagues may want to comment on this question as well. I would just refer you, Hans, and I would refer everybody who hasn’t had a chance to look at it to the remarks that Secretary Clinton made in Tallinn last April when she spoke about these very issues with the NATO foreign ministers. And that set of remarks is at the core of our policy with regard to this very issue. And she does take note of the fact that further reductions involving non-strategic nuclear weapons must take into account overall negotiating necessity; in other words, that these are the kinds of things that we would involve in a negotiation rather than in unilateral action. And so I think that’s a very important set of remarks to look at and I really refer all of you to them if you’re not familiar with them. It lays out the policy very, very succinctly, in my view.
On the second, that’s a very interesting proposal. There are a number of proposals out there, again, in and out of government. I’m not at the stage in my own deliberations, nor with my interagency colleagues, that I’m ready to endorse any particular suggestion. But my colleagues may have some other things to say on that.
MR. PIFER: I’d say I think when you look at just the political trends in Europe now, there’s a lot of pressure building up in European countries basically to say we don’t need American nuclear weapons in Europe anymore, that the American extended deterrent can be provided by U.S.-based strategic forces, just as U.S. strategic bases – forces now extend a deterrent to Japan, South Korea, Australia.
And so if you look for it, I see basically three ways that American nuclear weapons could come out of Europe. One would be – is the result of individual country decisions. And right now, I think there is a trend in that direction. I mean, the German Air Force plans to retire its Tornado, which is their designated aircraft to deliver nuclear weapons, between 2015 and 2020. And the successor aircraft is not at this point programmed to have a nuclear capability. So if the German Air Force goes out of the nuclear business, I think that puts a lot of pressure on Holland and Belgium. That’s one way, uncoordinated decisions.
A second way to do it would be NATO to make a unilateral gesture and just say, as a NATO policy, NATO is withdrawing, removing all nuclear weapons. The third way, which I think would be the most preferable, is to put them into a negotiating mix, and hopefully – I’m not sure how large of a bargaining chip these would be, but hopefully, we could use them to get something in terms of Russian readiness to address their non-strategic nuclear weapons.
So there are those three ways. I think clearly, the third way is probably the most preferable. I fear that –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: they are signed up to it too--
MR. PIFER: That’s also a good point. But I fear that unless NATO really figures it out, the
first way may be the default mode.
The point that you made about an interim step on doing something about Atlantic to the Euros, certainly, there might be some value in terms of a negotiation in, for example, withdrawing nuclear weapons away from borders, consolidating them in centralized storage locations in the interior. I’d be a little bit nervous, I think, though, about going down the route that says we’re going to get all non-strategic nuclear weapons out of Europe, because I think you’re going to have a lot of concerns on the part of the Chinese, the Japanese, the South Koreans that what –we’re pushing all of this junk east of the Euros where it’s opposite them. So I think that generates a host of problems, and because of the fact these weapons are fairly transportable, I’m not sure regional limit buys you all that much.
MR. ZENKO: Just to echo Steve’s third point, which is the idea that these weapons can come out of Europe, I believe. But they should only be done in a consultative way with the U.S. allies. If you look at the decision in the Nuclear Posture Review last April, which retired the Tomahawk land attack missile, which provided at the time tactical weapon nuclear deterrent to U.S. allies in East Asia, that was only retired on the basis of many, many consultations with U.S. allies in
South Korea and Japan to make sure that they were still comfortable with U.S. deterrent support through conventional systems and through offshore strategic weapons system.
If you also look at the trends within Europe, though, of U.S. weapons that are there based upon – in classified estimates, at one time in 1990, there were 4,000 U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. Now there’s something like 200. At one time, they were in hundreds of sites. Now there’s – probably in five sites. At one time, there was something like eight types of bombs. Now there’s one bomb. It’s been a sort of steady stream down. And what you’re left with is a small number,
which could be potentially bargained away if the Russians make reciprocal cuts in their tactical nuclear weapons forces, which are primarily based in an operational status on bases near U.S. – near NATO allies.
And there is – I would also mention there is a split within Europe, as you know, between basically history and geography from Russia. The countries closest to Russia are least comfortable with the U.S. nuclear weapons leaving Europe. The countries furthest are in many ways most comfortable. And NATO should make a decision for the entirety of the alliance based upon its – upon Article 5 commitments the United States makes, and only in – collectively should that be done. I think if countries go out in front and sort of call for U.S. nuclear forces all themselves, it’s a bad starting point for the solidarity of NATO.
MR. KUPCHAN: We go back to the back somewhere. Anyone? Okay, sir, please. You, yes, please.
QUESTION: Hi. Bruce MacDonald, U.S. Institute of Peace. I wanted to thank you, Rose, for mentioning several possibilities of additional technical cooperation between the United States and Russia. And I hope you’ll be able to elaborate on that more next week when you’re speaking to this conference that the Institute of Peace and the National Academy of Sciences is holding on future technical cooperation in science diplomacy. Small plug there for all interested. (Laughter.)
Going beyond that, there has been several comments now about bringing – down the road, bringing in additional nuclear powers as you go to lower levels. And I wanted to ask, in addition – and certainly from a quantitative point of view, that makes sense. The numbers that the U.S. and Russia have are a lot higher than the others. But another dimension of arms control is qualitative limits, and there are qualitative limits even in the New START having to do
with verification and that sort.
And given how sticky a multilateral nuclear arms negotiation might be, might there be some merit in establishing a separate – completely separate because you wouldn’t want to muck up a fallen START agreement – but a separate negotiating forum where these non-quantitative issues could be discussed for two reasons – one, for whatever value that might have, and then secondly, to get our feet wet, if you will, in what will eventually be a multilateral negotiation?
And I throw that out to all three of you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, perhaps I will start because there’s already some activity underway in that regard, but it’s emerged in the aftermath of the NPT treaty review conference that took place in May of 2010 in New York. Out of that came an action plan agreed to by consensus – very, very important. And one of the items in that action plan was for the P-5 to get together and show some progress on disarmament, the three pillars of the NPT being disarmament, nonproliferation, and civil nuclear energy cooperation, civil nuclear energy issues.
So again, it’s not well-known, but in London in September of 2009, there was a very interesting P-5 conference, where all members of the P-5 got together and started to talk about verification and transparency technologies, just the very kinds of things you’re talking about, Bruce. And the P-5 has now agreed to continue that process pursuant to the NPT review conference action plan and this tasking on disarmament. And the French announced in September that they will host the second of these P-5 conferences to talk about verification and transparency cooperation.
And I think that that is a very, very welcome step. We are planning to hold this conference sometime in the first half of this year. And it will get together and continue basically the same – along the same trajectory that was launched by the London conference. So I welcome this very much. It’s basically setting in train a process that I think will be very, very beneficial both in the NPT conference context – and of course, we have the next review conference already on the horizon, so we’re thinking about showing results in that context – but also just in terms of beginning to shape a dialogue and discussion among all members of the P-5 on important issues of this kind.
So I just want to make sure – it’s not been advertised a lot, but it’s out there for all to see. And if you’re interested, it is, I think, a very worthy, worthy project that we’ll be continuing now.
QUESTION: When is the Paris meeting?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Sometime in – I think it’ll be later in the spring. It’s going to be in the first half of 2011.
MR. PIFER: And I think these kinds of consultations can be important. I do believe that there’s room for one more purely U.S.-Russia negotiation just because of the difference in numbers between the United States and Russia here and everybody else. But having consultations that would allow you to get a measure of transparency with regards to what Britain, France, and in particular, China, plan to do, one concern that you have mentioned – you hear mentioned from time to time is that if the United States and Russia come down, the Chinese will make a huge investment and sort of sprint to parity. They’ll use it, make a huge buildup.
I’m not sure I buy into that, but the reluctance of the Chinese to talk about their nuclear forces, where they plan to go, what their doctrine is, only makes people more suspicious. So if you could have these consultations, if you could have greater transparency, greater understanding about Chinese forces in particular, that might make the United States and Russia more comfortable in terms of the sorts of reductions they might negotiate in their bilateral channel.
MR. KUPCHAN: Well, I’m afraid, ladies and gentlemen, we’re just out of time now. I’d like to remind everybody that this meeting has been on the record. I’d like to very much thank our panelists for participating and I’d like to thank all of you for coming. (Applause.) Thank you.