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Diplomacy in Action

Transparency and Its Application to Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament

Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance
September 12, 2011


AVC Transparency Workshop Summary

The Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) hosted a workshop from July 21 to July 22 on the topic of “Transparency and Its Application to Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament.”

AVC’s Office of Verification and Transparency Technologies (VTT) proposed that a dynamic group of emerging professionals in the fields of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament work together to develop a transparency policy option. The workshop was an experiment in new thinking with the purpose of exposing those professionals to the concept of transparency, soliciting thoughts on the idea of transparency, and encouraging them to build a stronger and more diverse community with their peers.

Participants gained knowledge and perspective from a panel discussion with experts from the government, academia and the NGO community, and from a round table discussion with AVC Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller. The participants engaged in a breakout exercise involving the development and presentation of a transparency policy option. This workshop was an opportunity to discuss the concept of transparency and its related technology with the hope that it will enable the next generation to take advantage of today’s technology and help build transparency ideas into future capabilities.

Participants worked in small groups to develop a transparency policy option in one of five areas: ballistic missile defense, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), cyber issues, and future nuclear reductions. The policy ideas that were developed by the small groups are as follows.

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)

In trying to achieve national security goals, transparency, where the release of information reassures others of capabilities and intentions, should be purposeful. In thinking about BMD policy options with others, the United States should publicly tie the BMD deployments to threats and continue discussion on BMD. Theater Missile Defense (TMD) exercises should be proposed jointly and technology exchanges or a joint technology venture should be offered. Joint activities could also fall under a Joint BMD Capability Assessment where partner states would look at third party BMD capabilities to help facilitate dialogues.

Cyber Issues

Activities can focus on transparent cyber defense and build a type of neighborhood watch program for the internet. An international institution to foster information sharing on critical infrastructure threats should be developed. This could include engaging like-minded partners and developing the technological capacity to build an international virtual hotline that would gather and disseminate information, respond to threats, and expand partnerships over time. This work would then culminate into a dynamic institution for oversight and development.

Future Nuclear Reductions

Thoughts on next steps for future nuclear reduction policies require further analysis because of the options and issues involved. Facing this, the group focused on transparency as a means to facilitate discussion on next steps for nuclear reductions. This would include exporting successful bilateral engagement activities to the other partner states in order to help generate new norms. This could include sharing data that is only currently shared bilaterally with multilateral partners and explaining how this data is compiled.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Transparency measures can focus on promoting test site transparency, scientific collaboration, and endorsement of a moratorium on testing. Test site transparency would include information sharing on stockpile maintenance and security. In addition, test site transparency measures could include establishing a notification regime, consultations on test site activities, deployment of instruments at test sites, test site visits, emplacement of monitors for subcritical testing, or core ground sampling. Scientific cooperation could enhance the ability to verify activities, provide openness on data usage, assure others on the effectiveness of the treaty, and provide an outlet to use CTBT data for other activities. This could include lab to lab cooperation, engagement with regions of concern, and leveraging CTBT and open source data by allowing open access to IMS data. Finally, the nuclear weapons states could make a statement of support for the CTBT to reaffirm the moratorium on testing.

Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

A few options to increase transparency include interactive confidence building measures to improve data visualization and search capabilities, state hosted visits with an integrated strategic communications on the event, scientist to scientist programs for job opportunities and virtual scientific collaborations, and the sharing of biosecurity capacity including countermeasures, joint preparedness exercises, and encouragement of a culture of responsibility in the private sector and industry.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the next generation to become more aware of the concept and uses of transparency. The discussion and breakout exercise allowed the participants and AVC a chance to explore transparency ideas and options. The hope is that this forum will be a starting point to engage and build a community of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament professionals to help them understand current challenges and encourage them to find innovative solutions for these issues.

AVC would like to thank the following for participating in the workshop: Kirk Bansak, Tufts University; Andrew Chira, Tufts University; Elise Connor, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Courtney Corley, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Sarah Beth Cross, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Kathleen Danskin, George Mason University; Nathan Donohue, George Washington University; Dean Dominguez, Sandia National Laboratories; Michelle Dover, Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Sean Dunlop, National Nuclear Security Administration; Melissa Estep, Department of State; Maciej Gdula, Monterey Institute; Brett Goode, National Nuclear Security Administration; Mathew Hallex, George Washington University; Elizabeth Hammershaib, National Institutes of Health; Jordan Kanter, Booz Allen Hamilton; Ben Loehrke, Ploughshares Fund; Anya Loukianova, University of Maryland; Maria Malher-Haug, Office of Representative Sires; Tim McDonnell, Woodrow Wilson Center; Grace E. Park, Georgetown University; Grace J. Park, University of Florida; Alexander Pirc, Monterey Institute; Kingston Reif, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation; Laila Shereen Sakr, University of Southern California; Grant Schneider, George Washington University; Javier Serrat, Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Sarah Soisson, Sandia National Laboratories; Tim Sussman, Monterey Institute; Katrina Timlin, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Lovely Umayam, Monterey Institute; Jane Vaynman, Harvard University; John Warden, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Kevin Wickel, Department of State.

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