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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Building Partnerships for Disarmament

Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
2012 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference: Nuclear Energy, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation
Moscow, Russia
September 7, 2012


As Delivered

Thank you so much for having me here at the 2012 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference. Thank you for inviting me to speak. I have a fond regard for this conference, because I helped to organize some of its predecessors while I was at the Carnegie Moscow Center. Anton, under your capable leadership, the reputation of the Center for Energy and Security Studies increases every day. I have been travelling across Europe for the last two weeks and it is a great pleasure to be back here in Moscow. I always say that after spending three years at here, this city feels like a second home.

Cuban Missile Crisis

As you heard this morning, we are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. At that time, the tension and pressure of the Cold War had built up so much that our nations teetered on the edge of annihilation. Thanks to the resolute and sober judgment of our leaders, we were able to surmount that crisis and we learned to mitigate the tension in our relationship through constant – and sometimes painstaking – communication.

To say that things have changed dramatically since October 1962 is an understatement. The Cold War ended and the world as we know it has been forever changed. It is hard to imagine that my predecessor who served at the State Department in 1962 could have predicted that 50 years later, I would be standing in Moscow, talking to a group of Russian and international policymakers, as well as to academics, experts and students about how we can work together on disarmament.

Thinking About the Next Steps in Bilateral Reductions

In Prague in 2009, when President Obama laid out his vision for the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, he made clear that the road would be long and the goal may not be reached in his lifetime. But, in order to achieve this vision, we will need to follow a step by step process in which we maintain nuclear stability at the same time that we pursue responsible reductions in our nuclear arsenals through arms control.

The New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty or New START was a first step on this path. When New START is fully implemented, we will be at the lowest levels of deployed strategic nuclear warheads since the 1950s – pre-Cuban Missile Crisis. The implementation of the Treaty is going very well, and the Treaty’s robust verification system is providing the predictability and mutual confidence that will be essential to any future nuclear reduction plans.

We are now spending a lot of time thinking about next steps in arms control. I sometimes refer to it as a homework period, which is not a bad term for what we are doing. We are looking at fundamentals and lessons learned, as we work to develop new policies to advance our security.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

We would like to further the partnership between the United States and the Russian Federation on these issues. The entry into force of New START was an important step on the road, but not the end of the process.

One of the items on the agenda is the reduction of nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) and it is clear that there will be new challenges facing us. Although the 1990 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives reduced the readiness and numbers of NSNW, we have not tried to formally limit non-deployed or non-strategic nuclear weapons before, which President Obama called for the day he signed New START. We are thinking about how we would verify reductions in those categories; experts have different ideas about what terms like ‘non-strategic’ even mean. Even more complicated: the lower the numbers of nuclear weapons and the smaller the components, the harder it will be to effectively monitor compliance.

That is why, over the course of the past few years, the Administration has taken a number of steps towards charting a path to reach this goal. We have been conducting internal reviews, while also reviewing this matter with our allies, including our NATO Allies, through the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR). We have also been engaging with our Russian colleagues in a strategic stability dialogue.

In approving the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review at Chicago this past May, the Allies determined that NATO’s current posture meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defense posture. NATO has already dramatically reduced its holdings of and reliance on nuclear weapons, but has indicated that it is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for nonstrategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance. The context is important here: NATO would consider such steps in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia, taking into account the greater Russian stockpiles of nonstrategic nuclear weapons stationed in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The Allies have supported and encouraged the United States and Russia to continue their mutual efforts to promote strategic stability, enhance transparency, and further reduce their nuclear weapons in every category.

NATO Allies look forward to developing and exchanging transparency and confidence-building ideas with Russia, with the goal of enhancing European security and stability by increasing mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.

I have been quite interested in how many non-governmental organizations are producing research and policy suggestions on the subject of NSNW. They have come up with ideas, starting with minimal transparency measures- such as exchanging white papers, moving on to other types of information exchanges; then hosting site visits to current or abandoned facilities; and conducting mock inspections. On this broad spectrum, these are all ideas worth thinking about.

ISAB Report

Beyond specific actions items, we are also exploring how we view stability and security between our nations through a post-Cold War lens. The State Department’s International Security Advisory Board, or ISAB, is helping us with this kind of “big thinking.” This Federal Advisory Committee was established to provide the Department of State with a continuing source of independent insight, advice and innovation on scientific, military, diplomatic, political, and public diplomacy aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and nonproliferation. One of the ISAB’s tasks was to undertake a study of how the United States could pursue and manage a transition from a security foundation of mutual assured destruction to a security foundation of mutual assured stability, characterized by increasingly interdependent states having incentives to cooperate on political, military, and economic issues, thereby reducing the need for adversarial approaches to managing security challenges.

I would like to give credit to my predecessor, Ellen Tauscher, who coined the term “mutual assured stability.”

Among the topics that the ISAB was asked to examine and assess in this area were the possible components of mutual assured stability: what would the United States need to see happen to have the confidence to consider reductions to very low numbers and, eventually, agree to the elimination of nuclear weapons? Their report, titled “Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions” is posted on our website: It makes for an interesting read. While ISAB reports are not official State documents, their ideas are helpful as we make our own assessments.

The Indispensability of P5 Leadership

Of course, it is not just the United States and the Russian Federation that must show leadership on these issues. We must be joined by the United Kingdom, France and China. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty accords these P5 nations special status. They hold among them the overwhelming majority of nuclear weapons in the world, and progress on nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved without their active participation. But they must do more than participate; they must lead collectively. There are certainly more bilateral steps for the U.S. and Russia to take, but there is much the P5 can do to build the foundation for future multilateral steps. The recent P5 Conference in Washington, D.C. is a good example of this.

The Washington conference, in which Anton participated, was a part of a newly-established regular, multilateral dialogue among the P5, which includes discussion of nuclear verification and transparency. The P5 are committed to the implementation of the Action Plan that was adopted by consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The first constructive step in this direction took place at the Paris conference in June 2011, when the P5 met to discuss transparency, verification, and confidence-building measures – pursuant to the Action Plan – following on the groundbreaking meeting of this new P5 process in London in 2009.

All the P5 states recognize the fundamental importance of transparency in building mutual understanding and confidence. In Paris, we exchanged information on nuclear doctrine and capabilities and discussed possible voluntary transparency and confidence-building measures. We also conferred on the steps we have taken to implement our Article VI commitment, including reporting, a topic of great interest to the NPT community and one for which the P5 acknowledges a special responsibility.

The Washington P5 Conference began on June 27 with a U.S.-hosted public event titled “Three Pillars for Peace and Security: Implementing the NPT.” This forum addressed how each of the three pillars of the NPT – nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and disarmament – plays a part in the move towards a negotiated, effectively verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons. At the conference, the P5 reaffirmed their unconditional support for the NPT and the NPT Review Conference's Action Plan, reaffirmed the commitments to promote and ensure the swift entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its universalization, discouraged abuse of the NPT withdrawal provision (Article X), stressed the need to strengthen International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and promote universalization of the Additional Protocol, and worked to pursue their shared goal of nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the NPT.

The P5 continued their discussion of how to report on their relevant activities, and considered proposals for a standard reporting format. The P5 also discussed ways to kick start negotiations on a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices that has stalled in the Conference on Disarmament. The P5 agreed on the work plan for a P5 working group led by China, to develop a glossary of definitions for key nuclear terms. We expect this process will increase P5 mutual understanding and facilitate further P5 discussions on nuclear matters.

We regard this year's Washington P5 Conference as a success, much like its predecessors. It has ushered in an energetic intersessional period. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed to continue to meet at all appropriate levels on nuclear issues, to further promote dialogue, predictability, and mutual confidence. We plan to hold a fourth P5 conference in the context of the next NPT Preparatory Committee in 2013.

The P5 has also been working with other relevant parties to promote the early commencement of Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The FMCT is the next step in multilateral arms control, and it is time to move forward on it. Meeting several times over the past year, key stakeholder countries have discussed the way ahead, and this has already resulted in a more positive and cooperative atmosphere among these countries with regards to FMCT. Currently, I believe it is our very best chance at progress on the issue, and has the best potential to move the CD to action on the Treaty.


The United States looks forward to continued cooperation with both the Russian Federation and the rest of the P5, as we all work towards nuclear disarmament. We have much to do and many obstacles in our way, but together we can meet these challenges through communication, transparency, diplomacy and plain old persistence: step by step, we will make progress.

In closing, let me return to the Cuban Missile Crisis. We survived those terrifying days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, because our leaders chose reason and diplomacy over fear and brinksmanship. When negotiators from the United States and the Soviet Union first began having bilateral nuclear reduction talks, I am certain that in their minds they carried with them the darkest moments of that crisis. The reality of how close we came to our own destruction – the destruction of the world – must never be forgotten. We must remember why we are here talking today, why our nations meet each other at the negotiating table and why we must show leadership among our allies, partners and friends.

Thank you again for inviting me to join you today. I am now happy to take some questions.

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