Thank you so much for having me here today. In particular, I would like to thank my colleagues from Poland and Norway for hosting, organizing, and funding this important workshop. It is always great to be back in Poland.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with a group of experts as distinguished as this to collaborate and exchange ideas on the prospects for information-sharing and transparency on nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe (NSNW). Tackling the NSNW question is an important challenge for all of us and one area where we have not yet realized success. I am hopeful that today’s discussions will inject new and fresh ideas into the debate to help interested parties jointly to develop a way ahead.
In April 2009, President Barack Obama’s “Prague speech” set a new direction for U.S. nuclear policy, and force posture — one that seeks to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal and diminishes the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.
Since then, we have achieved significant results with Russia by cooperating in areas of mutual interest, and have produced real benefits, including concluding and implementing the New START Treaty. We have built a solid foundation that can point the way for further progress.
Upon signing the New START Treaty, President Obama stated his intent to pursue additional and broader reductions in U.S. and Russian strategic and nonstrategic weapons, including non-deployed nuclear weapons. The United States will do this in a way that supports stability, assurance and deterrence. We have made clear our strong interest in addressing the large numerical disparity in nonstrategic nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.
NSNW have also been addressed in NATO. In approving the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (the DDPR) at Chicago this past May, NATO 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 in NATO strategy. Against this background and considering the broader security environment, the Alliance has indicated that it is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for nonstrategic nuclear weapons assigned to NATO 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 mutual efforts to promote strategic stability, enhance transparency, and further reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
In the DDPR, the United States and our NATO Allies made clear that we look forward to discussing transparency and confidence-building ideas that can be developed and agreed upon cooperatively with the Russian Federation in the NATO-Russia Council. Such dialogue would advance our shared goal of enhancing European security and stability through increased mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s nonstrategic nuclear force postures in Europe.
From the U.S. perspective, it’s possible that information exchanges and discussion of confidence building measures on NSNW could take place in the NATO-Russia Council or they could occur in other venues such as the bilateral track. In contrast, we would expect any further discussion of reductions to take place on a bilateral track. The United States will consult with our allies regarding the future basing of nuclear weapons in Europe, and we are committed to making consensus decisions during and through NATO processes.
As we consider further reductions in nonstrategic nuclear weapons, there are many issues to explore, particularly in a track 1.5 setting such as this one. Creative thinking and new ideas can make a contribution to our work. Experts such as yourselves can help think through definitions for terms such as ‘nonstrategic,’ and think about how to solve potential verification challenges such as how to monitor nuclear warheads in storage or how to monitor their elimination.
As a first step, the United States believes we should work together to develop reciprocal confidence-building ideas and initiatives to build trust regarding NSNW. There is a range of potential transparency measures related to NSNW in Europe, including ideas for reciprocal information-sharing, data exchanges, and site visits. Obviously we recognize that some information on NSNW is classified and sensitive, and any steps we develop would need to take that sensitivity into account.
During today’s meetings I am sure that you will touch on and develop ideas that can inform internal discussions and serve as a basis for future discussions. The United States is still considering how best to engage on this issue and there are still many questions to be answered about how to implement NSNW confidence building measures. In my view, the only way we’ll be successful on this issue is to work both inside and outside government — taking advantage of the full range of expertise on this subject — to begin answering some of those important and complicated questions. As I noted earlier, this workshop is an excellent opportunity for such discussions and I look forward to learning the results of your discussions over the course of the next two days.