Thank you for that kind introduction. I am always honored to be a speaker here at the Annual Deterrence Symposium and of course, I am glad to be here at the invitation of Admiral Cecil Haney. Turn about is fair play: The Admiral gave a great speech at my invitation last month in Washington to a group of young people on the threshold of their careers. More on that later. Thank you, Admiral, for all you do for this nation.
While we are gathered here today in Omaha, the world is facing serious challenges: The threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and Russia’s flagrant disregard for international law, the continuing conflicts in the Middle East, a dangerous Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It goes without saying that most people are not focused on nuclear weapons or nuclear deterrence. But we all know that we have important work to do and we do it. My admiration for this community, in and out of uniform, knows no bounds. We are ready to work. That is the theme I’m striking today: We who focus on the foundation of our nation’s nuclear deterrent are ready to work.
Strategic stability is the cornerstone of American national security, but as all of you know, it is not a static state of being. Threats to strategic stability can surface quickly and it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize those threats, anticipate them when we can, and make moves to counter them. We must be prepared for the unpredictable, and constantly on the look-out so that we see threats emerging while they are still over the horizon. My role as a diplomat is different from your roles on the military side, but our goals are no different. As President Obama said five years ago in Prague, as long as nuclear weapons exist, we will maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal. And that is as we seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
Violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
One threat to strategic stability has made news in the last month. As you all know, the Department of State recently delivered the Annual Arms Control Compliance Report to Congress with the determination that the Russian Federation is in violation of its INF Treaty obligations not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.
We have been attempting to address this very serious matter with Russia for some time, as the United States is wholly committed to the continued viability of the INF Treaty. We are asking Russia to return to compliance with the Treaty in a verifiable manner.
This groundbreaking treaty serves the mutual security interests of the parties – not only the United States and Russia, but also the 11 other states bound by its obligations. Moreover, this Treaty contributes to the security of our allies and to regional security in Europe and in the Far East.
When we notified Russia of our determination of a violation, we made it clear that we are prepared to discuss this in a senior-level bilateral dialogue immediately. We hope that this dialogue begins soon, with the goal that Russia return to compliance with its obligations under the Treaty.
There is an expert debate in Russia about its nuclear modernization programs and about the contribution of the INF Treaty to Russia’s security. It is important for Russia to take into account that no military decisions happen in a vacuum. Actions beget actions. Our countries have been down the road of needless, costly and destabilizing arms races. We know where that road leads and we are fortunate that our past leaders had the wisdom and strength to turn us in a new direction. Let us hope that debate in and out of the government leads to a decision to return Russia to compliance with all of its international obligations.
New START and Future Reductions
Despite our serious concerns about Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty, we believe that the New START Treaty is in the national security interest of the United States. The New START Treaty enhances our national security and strategic stability with Russia and both the United States and Russia are implementing the Treaty’s inspection regime.
Current tensions with Russia highlight the importance of both the verification and confidence provided by data exchanges and on-site inspections under the Treaty, and the security and predictability provided by verifiable mutual limits on strategic weapons. We take questions about compliance with arms control treaties very seriously and are closely monitoring Russian compliance with the New START Treaty. We assess that Russia is implementing and complying with the New START Treaty, and that the Treaty remains in our national security interest. The mutual predictability this gives to the U.S.-Russia relationship increases stability, especially during difficult times such as now.
With respect to future agreements, the United States will only pursue agreements that are in our national security interest and that of our allies. The offer that President Obama made in Berlin one year ago, of an up to one-third reduction in operationally deployed warheads beyond the New START limits, is a sound one, and worthy of serious consideration. We will continue to be open to discussion of agreements that would reduce nuclear and other military threats. Of course, we know that the situation is different than it was four years ago, four months ago, four weeks ago.
But cooperation in the arms control realm has been an important facet of strategic stability over the past forty years and it should remain so in the future. Moreover, we need nuclear cooperation with Russia and others to address new threats, first and foremost the risk that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon or the fissile materials needed to make one. We will continue to pursue arms control and nonproliferation tools, because they are the best - and quite frankly - the only path that we can take to effectively prevent a terrorist nuclear threat and reduce nuclear dangers more broadly.
The United States has taken steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. We have clearly stated that it is in the U.S. interest, and that of all other nations, that the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.
We are taking time now to prepare the ground for the future. That includes more research into how we incorporate new technologies and innovations into verification and monitoring. We can also shape, maintain, and improve strategic stability through a variety of bilateral and multilateral dialogues, including in the Track 1.5 and Track 2 realms. These engagements reduce the potential for misunderstanding and provide the basis for future agreement and cooperation.
Multilateral agreements like a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) can also enhance global stability. The United States will continue to push for the commencement of negotiations on such an agreement.
And we are working to expand our public outreach and educational efforts on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. As stated in the April 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review: “Ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.”
As we consider arms control and nonproliferation priorities, we will continue to consult closely with our allies and partners every step of the way. Our security and defense – and theirs – is non-negotiable.
Conventional Deterrence Tools
While nuclear deterrence is and will remain an important part of protecting our nation and our allies, we must also make full use of our non-nuclear capabilities – that includes regional and homeland missile defenses, security cooperation, assurances and conventional arms control.
Of course, the Russian Federation’s challenge to the security of Europe and Ukraine’s territorial integrity has to be factored into our work to modernize conventional arms control.
First and foremost, we need to make the best use of the regimes currently in place. The Vienna Document 2011 and the Open Skies Treaty, which are part of the conventional arms control regime in Europe, are vital tools to maintain stability and have provided transparency about military activities in and around Ukraine.
Second, we must consider our options for the future. We will continue the process of modernizing the Open Skies Treaty, including the upgrade to digital sensors to replace obsolescent film cameras.
With regard to the Vienna Document mechanisms, it is clear to us that there is room to improve provisions for notification of military activity and risk reduction, among other issues. Moving forward, the United States will work with others to update the Vienna Document in a way that builds on our recent experiences. NATO will also continue its review of the future of conventional arms control in Europe. We recognize that now is not the time to engage Russia on this, but we need to be thinking now about how in the future a revitalization of conventional arms control in Europe could contribute to improving mutual security in the Euro-Atlantic region.
Of course, we are not without good examples to follow. We can and will benefit from the experience of the so-called Dayton Article IV states. Eighteen years ago, these states in the Western Balkans were emerging from years of bloody conflict. Through hard work, they established military stability and security, despite a range of differences.
The architects of Dayton created a comprehensive arms control agreement that led to significant reductions in heavy weapons and equipment in just six months. Without as much as a breather, the states involved then turned their efforts to the harder step of fulfilling the obligations laid out in the Agreement, to sustain disengagement of military forces and create a stable security environment for all. The Dayton Article IV experience is a testament to what can be achieved through conventional arms control measures at a time when they are being sorely tested elsewhere in Europe.
Space and Cyber Deterrence
In addition to fully realizing the potential of conventional deterrence, we must make sure that we are ahead of the curve on space and cyber issues. I know this was the subject of a panel yesterday and rightly so - it is critical that we identify ways to stabilize behavior in both realms.
My colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary Frank Rose spoke about strategic stability in space yesterday, highlighting the point that it is essential that all nations work together to adopt approaches for responsible activity in space in order to preserve this domain for future generations. China’s recent irresponsible and provocative ASAT test accentuates the importance of these efforts. Russia’s pursuit of anti-satellite weapons is also a matter of concern. Destabilizing actions like these threaten the long-term security and sustainability of the outer space environment.
In the cyber realm, the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, led by Chris Painter, is leading our efforts to promote an open, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure that supports international trade and innovation, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression.
As we move forward, we should continue to cooperate and coordinate both internally and with our friends and allies. Such efforts as the UN Group of Government Experts that convened last month will continue to enhance our common understanding of the ways in which international law is essential to maintaining peace and stability in cyberspace. Cyberspace can be the source of both great societal advances and significant threats. There is no doubt that domain will only remain stable through our collective efforts.
Deterrence in the Future
Of course, you know all of this - all of what we have been talking about - is moot if we don’t attract the next generation to nuclear policy jobs. As I said at the outset, this community is ready to work, but we can’t work forever. We have some recruiting to do. Frank Klotz struck this same note this morning: we need to bring the next generation into the nuclear deterrence enterprise.
That is why I was so pleased that Admiral Haney was able to join the Department of State’s 5th Annual Generation Prague Conference that was focused on engagement with the next generation of nuclear experts. It is one piece of ongoing efforts, but it is not enough. We need to be actively recruiting political scientists, lawyers, physicists, geologists, engineers, and more, if we want to make sure that this essential part of national security will be supported as long as it needs to be.
In closing, I want to leave you with a thought.
History has shown us that when faced with obstacles, we always have several paths. When it comes to our current situation with the Russian Federation, I, for one, want to follow the path that President Reagan took, the path that President George H.W. Bush took. When confronted with a difficult and sometimes unpredictable partner in the Soviet Union, they did not take their ball and go home. They did not let strategic stability become a political punching bag. They set about the hard task of building up strategic stability through arms control treaties and agreements, and they succeeded in making this world a safer place. They worked hard, and achieved much.
So let’s leave Omaha ready to work. In the world of nuclear stability and deterrence, there is much to do.