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Moving the Prague Agenda Forward Arms Control Association Annual Meeting
June 5, 2012

Remarks by Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 

Washington, DC
June 4, 2012

Thank you for the kind introduction, Daryl. I like to joke that I now have the longest title in Washington. I am glad to be here at the Arms Control Association for its Annual Meeting. The agenda that President Obama laid out in Prague will require patience, persistence and a lot of work, so we are so grateful for the efforts of this organization and the efforts of everyone here today. Together we will keep this agenda moving forward.

I know many of you have heard me speak at least a few times since I joined the Administration. I don’t want to sing the same old song today or list the standard metaphors about setting a stage, building a foundation or taking the first steps. In the simplest terms, what I would like to make clear is that the President set an agenda in Prague and we have made progress and achieved some great successes. We are approaching the lowest levels of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age. This coming fall will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We have come so far since then and we are now doing the work that will lead to the next set of accomplishments.


I understand the subject of New START came up in the first panel this morning, so you are familiar with the basics. The implementation of New START is going very well. In particular, our experience during the first year of treaty implementation demonstrates that the Treaty’s verification regime works, and is providing the predictability and mutual confidence that it promised. Mutual trust and confidence will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans.

We are now working on the next steps along the path we set out on in Prague.

As part of the implementation of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. Government is reviewing our nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear plans to ensure that they are aligned to address today’s threats. We are considering what forces the United States needs to maintain for strategic stability and deterrence, including extended deterrence and assurance to U.S. Allies and partners. Based on this analysis, we will develop proposals for potential further reductions in our nuclear stockpile, which currently stands at approximately 5,000 total warheads.

As the President said recently at the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, “we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.”

Once complete, this study of our deterrence requirements will help shape our negotiating approach to the next agreement with Russia.

Regardless of numbers, the President has stressed that the next nuclear reductions agreement between the United States and Russia should include strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons. Of course, no previous arms control agreement has limited or monitored these kinds of weapons and the lower the numbers go, the more important it will be that we have confidence in declared numbers. We are going to need new, more demanding approaches to verification and monitoring, but I am confident we can find ways to overcome these challenges.

Beyond responsibly reducing the number of nuclear weapons, this Administration has been committed to reducing their role in our national security strategy as well. We are not developing new nuclear weapons; we are not pursuing new nuclear missions; we are working toward creating the conditions to make deterring nuclear use the sole purpose of our nuclear weapons; and we have clearly stated that it is in our interest and the interest of all other states that the more than 65-year record of nuclear non-use be extended forever.

Deterrence and Defense Posture Review

Recently, we worked through nuclear policy issues with our NATO Allies. At the NATO Summit, Allies approved the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) which identified the appropriate mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces that NATO will need to deter and defend against future threats to the Alliance.

Focusing on the nuclear elements of the DDPR, the Allies reaffirmed their commitment to seek to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, while remaining a nuclear Alliance for as long as nuclear weapons exist. The review found that the Alliance’s nuclear force posture currently meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defense posture, and that the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons may be contemplated are extremely remote. The Alliance acknowledged the importance the independent and unilateral U.S., British, and French Negative Security Assurances in discouraging nuclear proliferation.

Looking to the future, Allies reiterated that NATO is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for non-strategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia. Leaders agreed that the NAC should issue two related taskings to appropriate NATO committees: 1) to develop concepts for ensuring the broadest possible burden-sharing, including in the event NATO decides to further reduce its reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons based in Europe; and 2) to further consider what NATO would expect to see in the way of reciprocal Russian actions to allow for significant reductions in forward-based non-strategic nuclear weapons assigned to NATO.

NATO expressed its support for continued mutual efforts by the United States and Russia to promote strategic stability, enhance transparency, and further reduce their nuclear weapons. The Allies also reiterated their interest in developing and exchanging transparency and confidence-building ideas with Russia with the goal of developing detailed proposals on, and increasing mutual understanding of, NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.

The DDPR clearly reaffirmed the important role that arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation play in the achievement of the Alliance’s security objectives. The Allies acknowledged that both the success and failure of such efforts can have a direct impact on the threat environment of NATO and therefore affect the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture.

Conventional Arms Control

We are also spending a lot of time focused on conventional arms control and its role in enhancing European security.

There are three conventional regimes that play key roles in European security: the Open Skies Treaty, the Vienna Document (2011) and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. Each regime is important and contributes to security and stability in a unique way. When they work in harmony, the result is greater confidence for all of Europe.

Today, the conventional arms control regime is facing challenges. Unfortunately, Russia ceased implementation of its CFE obligations in December 2007, refusing to accept inspections or provide information to other CFE parties on its military forces as required by the Treaty. After trying for several years to overcome the obstacles and encourage Russia to resume implementation, we concluded we can no longer implement the Treaty with Russia while it shirks its obligations. In late 2011, the United States, joined by the 21 NATO Allies that are party to the Treaty, as well as Georgia and Moldova, ceased carrying out certain obligations under the CFE Treaty with regard to Russia.

The cessation of implementation of CFE with regard to Russia by 24 of 30 States-Parties gives us an opportunity to consider the current security architecture, our future needs and the types of arms control measures that will help achieve our security goals. NATO Allies reaffirmed in the Chicago Summit Declaration our determination “to preserve, strengthen and modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe, based on key principles and commitments, and continue to explore ideas to this end.” We must modernize conventional arms control to take account of current security concerns. I have been meeting with my European counterparts, soliciting their views on key objectives and basic principles for the way ahead, with the goal of informing our own review of these issues in Washington. Moving forward together, we can arrive at solutions that best serve the security interests of the United States and our NATO Allies, and indeed of all the countries of Europe.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Let’s turn now to multilateral treaties. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a top priority for the Administration and a key element of the President’s Prague agenda. As we continue laying the groundwork for U.S. ratification, we remain optimistic about the prospects for the CTBT’s entry into force, albeit mindful that achieving that goal will require considerable effort from us and from all of us.

An effectively verified CTBT is central to leading towards a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons and reduced nuclear competition. As such, the United States remains committed to the completion of the Treaty’s monitoring regime. The International Monitoring System (IMS) is now more than 85 percent complete and, once completed, will provide global coverage to detect and identify nuclear explosive tests conducted in violation of the Treaty. Development of the On-Site Inspection component is a priority task of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and we will be assessing its progress during the 2014 Integrated Field Exercise.

Since 2011, in addition to our annual assessment, our extra-budgetary contributions to the CTBTO have totaled over $40 million. Given the tough budget climate in Washington, those contributions clearly demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the Treaty and the vital importance the United States attaches to completing the verification regime.


We are also continuing our fight to launch the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). Such a treaty is considered to be, by the majority of the international community, the next step in the process of multilateral nuclear disarmament. We have worked closely with a number of countries to achieve the start of FMCT negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Creative and insightful ideas on how to move forward have been deployed in Geneva, to no avail. We are very disappointed in the results so far. The current blockage over FMCT is a formidable one. Each attempt to overcome the impasse makes this clearer. Certain countries must engage substantively, constructively and frequently on FMCT. Without that, no process – be it in the CD, on its margins or outside of it – can make real progress. This is a leadership requirement, as well as a practical one. Countries most affected by an FMCT are the key stakeholders, the countries that need to be the most active, the most determined in an effort to achieve such a regime.

Although we will continue our efforts in the CD, we are also continuing to consult among the P5 and with other key stakeholders on ways forward for FMCT. Our most recent meeting was in London in April, and we’re making plans to meet this summer. We are not making headlines right now, but the states participating are invested in the process, which is a good sign, and gradually we are making progress.

P5 Process

In addition to working on the FMCT, the P5 have been meeting regularly to review our progress toward fulfilling our commitments under the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference’s Action Plan. This process is a venue to bolster the long-standing U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament interaction with an ongoing process of P5 engagement on issues related to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

During P5 conferences and ongoing P5 meetings, we have covered verification, transparency, confidence-building, and nonproliferation, which are important for establishing a firm foundation for further disarmament efforts. For example, at the 2011 Paris P5 Conference, the P5 reaffirmed their unconditional support for the NPT, reaffirmed the commitments set out in the 2010 NPT Action Plan, stressed the need to strengthen International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and worked in pursuit of their shared goal of nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the NPT.

Following up on the 2009 London and 2011 Paris P5 conferences, the United States will host a P5 conference in Washington June 27 to 29. The United States looks forward to having in-depth and candid discussions on a variety of issues with our P5 counterparts during the conference.

We also look forward to hosting a public event as part of the Washington Conference. It is titled “Three Pillars for Peace and Security: Implementing the NPT.” The event will focus on the mutually reinforcing nature of the three NPT pillars and examine how all three are essential to create the conditions for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Needs Document

As we move ahead on all these fronts, we will need your help. It is not just on the advocacy level; we also need your creativity and your ideas. As I mentioned before, reducing to lower levels of all kinds of weapons will require that we push past the current limits of our verification and monitoring capabilities.

Whether we’re trying to monitor missile launches, count nuclear warheads, or detect and characterize an unexplained biological “event”, we need ever-improving tools and technologies. State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC) works very hard to be on the cutting edge of new technology – not merely for the sake of being on the cutting edge, but because we know that is where we can best leverage the small budget we have for developing these capabilities. It is because of this need for new technology that I am particularly proud to announce that we have for the first time made available to the public our Verification Technology Research and Development Needs document.

This document is a catalog of sorts, telling the R&D community what we believe are our most pressing technology needs to answer the arms control questions of the future. Now, with the publicly available document, we can expand our community of developers beyond the “usual suspects” of the military and national laboratories. To a certain extent, the needs document is a think piece – we hope it will stimulate some thinking out there. It’s easy to find, too. Simply go to the AVC Bureau’s VTT page or go to the FedBizOps website and type “V Fund” as your search term: it should pop right up for you.


I also encourage all of you and your organizations to pursue opportunities for Track 1.5 and Track 2 engagement policies. We should not undervalue the results of this approach. Many of the ideas that went into New START came out of such efforts in the years preceding the actual negotiations. And I have appreciated the role of ACA and many of the organizations represented here as we prepare for negotiation in July of an Arms Trade Treaty, to regulate international trade in conventional arms.

Now I want to leave you with a final thought. It is not every day that you think about President Calvin Coolidge as a source of inspiration, but there is one quote that always sticks in my mind:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

We have no easy task ahead of us, but we must press on. We have far to go and there are problems that we cannot anticipate, but make no mistake, the arc of nuclear history is bending towards zero.

Thanks again and I look forward to your questions.