Good morning. Thank you very much for inviting me to join you today. I arrived in Vilnius just last night, but already I have had the opportunity to engage with many of your senior officials on issues of mutual interest and concern. It has been a great honor for me to meet with them.
My visit will be all too short, I regret, but I greatly appreciate even this brief opportunity to be here and engage in a discussion of the way forward on arms control. My last trip to Lithuania was a few years ago when I was living in Moscow and I spent a wonderful autumn beach vacation at Neringa.
This past weekend, I took part in the ceremony in Munich where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification, which brought the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – New START – into force. I will have more to say about New START in a moment; entry into force of the Treaty and its ensuing implementation make this a particularly opportune time to discuss next steps in arms control with our NATO allies. As we consider arms control I want to note that the recently adopted NATO Strategic Concept emphasizes the Alliance commitment to collective defense. The United States is committed to this principle and will be steadfast in fulfilling its Article 5 commitment.
It was nearly two years ago in Prague, that President Obama spoke about his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and recognized the need to create the conditions to bring about such a world. The Report of the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, emphasized that today, our greatest nuclear threat is no longer a large-scale nuclear exchange, but the danger that terrorists could acquire nuclear materials or, worse, a nuclear weapon. The NPR further notes that, while our nuclear arsenal has little direct relevance in deterring this threat, concerted action by the United States and Russia – and indeed, from all nuclear weapon states – to further reduce their arsenals can assist in garnering worldwide support for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
The U.S. administration has been working diligently on an agenda, which includes stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, reducing nuclear arsenals, and securing nuclear materials. Last April, three big steps were taken in the direction of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.
The first step was the release of the Nuclear Posture Review, which I just mentioned, that reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and extends negative security assurances to all non-nuclear weapon states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) who are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.
The second step was the signing of the New START Treaty with Russia, which took place on April 8 in Prague.
The third step was the Nuclear Security Summit which President Obama hosted in Washington on April 24, during which 47 world leaders reached a consensus that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and joined the U.S. in its call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years.
These three steps were followed closely by the successful Review Conference of the NPT in May, which for the first time in ten years reached consensus agreement to advance disarmament and nonproliferation efforts based on the three pillars of the regime: nuclear nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and nuclear disarmament.
The step that I was charged with was to negotiate the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START with Russia. With my excellent U.S. team, I spent most of 2009 and the first part of 2010 with my Russian counterparts in Geneva, Switzerland doing just that.
This Treaty is very important because the United States and Russia control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. President Grybauskaite last week noted the importance of the Treaty as a symbol of a responsible partnership and a tool to enhance transparency and promote international mutual trust. And the new Treaty is important for Lithuanian national security, because it contributes to the enhancement of Lithuania’s security environment.
The New START Treaty responsibly limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia deploy, while fully maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent.
When the New START Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and the Russian Federation since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age. Further, the limits on deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, SLBMs, and heavy bombers that can carry nuclear weapons will be well below previous limits.
With entry into force of the New START Treaty, we will—after more than a year-long hiatus; the START Treaty expired in December 2009—begin implementing an extensive regime of mutual monitoring and information exchange.
In negotiating the New START Treaty, we embarked on a new and uncharted path, but one that was necessary for our two countries and the world community to travel. We knew that it was necessary to replace the expiring START Treaty with a new agreement reflecting progress in arms control and the changes in the world and in the U.S.–Russian relationship over the 20 years since START was negotiated. And we undertook the negotiation in close coordination with our allies.
What was notably different about our negotiations when compared to arms control negotiations of the past was the spirit in which they took place. The two delegations launched into the negotiations committed to conducting them in an atmosphere of mutual respect with a premium on keeping the tone businesslike and productive, even when we did not agree.
Most heartening to me in terms of the future of our country’s arms control efforts and negotiations, were the number of young people who worked on both delegations. There were members on both delegations who were born not too long before the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This meant they had no pre-conceived notions from prior arms control negotiations.
The New START Treaty sets the stage for further limits on and reductions in nuclear arms. As President Obama stated when he signed the New START Treaty, once the Treaty enters into force, the United States intends to pursue with Russia further reductions in strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, including non-deployed nuclear weapons.
Of course, addressing tactical nuclear weapons will require close coordination with our NATO allies as the alliance reviews its overall deterrence and defense posture, including NATO’s nuclear posture.
In addition, it is worth noting that the Nuclear Posture Review also stipulated that the United States will sustain safe, secure, and effective nuclear forces so long as nuclear weapons exist. U.S. nuclear force reductions will be implemented in ways that maintain the reliability and effectiveness of our extended deterrent for allies and partners.
While negotiated nuclear reductions have to date been dominated by U.S. and Russian negotiations, advancing toward the vision of a safe, secure world without nuclear weapons will increasingly require cooperation not only with Russia, but also with others.
For example, the P-5 are currently engaged in a dialogue on issues relating to transparency and verification and France will host a related conference later this year.
Next, I would like to turn to two additional areas where we hope to make progress.
The first is the U.S. commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the second is our urgent desire to begin multilateral negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty – FMCT.
Ratification of the CTBT represents an essential step on the path toward a world without nuclear weapons. We believe that the national security of the United States, and all states, will be enhanced when the test ban enters into force.
Achieving a verifiable FMCT is an essential condition for a world free of nuclear weapons. If the international community is serious about drawing down, we must constrain the ability to build up. We are working hard to keep the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva focused on this goal.
Each of these steps will move us closer to President Obama’s vision of reducing – and ultimately eliminating – nuclear weapons.
The agenda is ambitious and will require enormous efforts from governments, NGOs, think tanks, academics, scientists, advocates and the global community.
As President Obama said when he signed the New START Treaty saying: “this is a long-term goal, one that may not even be achieved in my lifetime. But I believe then, as I do now, that the pursuit of that goal will move us further beyond the Cold War, strengthen the global nonproliferation regime and make the United States and the world safer and more secure.”
Next, let me briefly address the contribution of conventional arms control to Euro-Atlantic security.
I want to congratulate Lithuania for taking over Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE. It is never easy taking the helm of a multilateral organization, and there are many challenges facing the OSCE.
Building on the Astana Summit, Lithuania will lead the 56 participating States as we work to build our common security on the basis of our OSCE principles and commitments.
Strengthening our common security involves efforts to resolve outstanding conflicts, enhance conventional arms control, and counter new and unconventional transnational threats and challenges, which include terrorism and violent extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks, organized crime, and illicit trafficking in weapons, drugs, and people.
Within the OSCE, conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building regimes remain major instruments for ensuring military stability, predictability and transparency.
We are working with our NATO Allies and the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe to modernize the CFE regime. In particular, we value Lithuania’s engagement in collective efforts to overcome the current impasse so that we will continue to enjoy a stable and predictable environment in Europe.
We share Lithuania’s determination to improve military transparency in Europe by updating the confidence- and security-building measures in the Vienna Document 1999, and welcome the emphasis that the OSCE Chairman-in-Office can give to this goal.
Lithuania is a strong partner and friend of the United States and an important NATO ally. We applaud your leadership in assuming the Chairmanship of the OSCE, which has an important role to play in supporting a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. We look forward to continued close consultations on these topics and many others as we work to create a safer future for both our countries.