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Priorities for Arms Control Negotiations Post-New START
February 25, 2013

Rose Gottemoeller speaking at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Arlington

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

Exchange Monitor’s Fifth Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit
Arlington, VA
February 21, 2013

As Delivered

It is great to be here today and to see so many friends and colleagues in the audience. We should give Ed Helminski an award for convener extraordinaire. The line-up for this event is always so impressive. Thank you, Ed, for bringing us all together. While you will hear different perspectives on policies and politics, one thing is for certain – everyone here is committed to making the United States and the world a safer place to live. That is and should be our first priority. We all know that one key part of that effort is to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist. We also need to ensure that our security strategies are tailored to meet both the challenges of the world in which we now live, as well as those on the horizon. All the rest of our policies, projects and programs – including the three areas of possible negotiation that I will touch on today – should rest on these priorities.

It was almost four years ago that President Obama set out his vision that the United States would seek the safety and security of a world without nuclear weapons. His now-famous speech in Prague was not a call to unilaterally disarm or an assumption that the world would change overnight. It was a road map into the future – a step by step, measured strategy that takes into account the security landscape of the 21st century.

Direction from the Nuclear Posture Review

As many have noted, the traditional concept of nuclear deterrence – the idea that a country would not initiate a nuclear war for fear of nuclear retaliation – does not apply to terrorists. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, rightly emphasized that today, our greatest nuclear threat is no longer a large-scale nuclear exchange, but the danger that terrorists could acquire nuclear materials or, worse, a nuclear weapon. The NPR further notes that, while our nuclear arsenal has little direct relevance in deterring this threat, concerted action by the United States and Russia – and indeed, by all nuclear weapon states – to reduce their arsenals can assist in garnering support from partners around the world for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and securing nuclear materials worldwide to make it harder for terrorists to acquire nuclear materials.

For this reason, in addition to working on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, we have taken steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy. We are not developing new nuclear weapons or pursuing new nuclear missions; we have committed not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations; and we have clearly stated that it is in the U.S. interest and that of all other nations that the nearly 65-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.

The Administration has also been conducting the implementation study mandated by the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review to further analyze our deterrence requirements. While I cannot discuss the details of the study, I will reiterate the President’s remarks from Seoul in March 2012 where he said:

“[W]e can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need. I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.”

Negotiating Nuclear Reductions

So what is the next step? The Administration continues to believe that the next step in nuclear arms reductions should be pursued on a bilateral basis, since the United States and Russia still possess the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world. With that in mind, we have a great example in the New START Treaty.

The implementation of the Treaty, now underway for two years, is going well. The Treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission has met five times and resolved important Treaty implementation issues. The United States and Russia have exchanged over 3,600 notifications on the numbers, locations, and movements of our strategic forces. Over 70 Treaty on-site inspections have been completed so far, and other verification measures, enable each side to maintain confidence in the validity of that data. The implementation process is demonstrating that the Treaty’s verification regime works, and is providing the predictability and mutual confidence that it promised. Such mutual trust and confidence is crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans.

Another benefit of New START is that it preserves each nation’s ability to determine its own force structure, giving both sides the flexibility to deploy and maintain their strategic nuclear forces in a way that best serves their national security interests. This arrangement suits our priority of preserving and maintaining a robust U.S. deterrent capability that is tailored to our current security environment.

Going forward, the United States has made it clear that we are committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons, including the pursuit of future agreements with Russia to address all categories of nuclear weapons – strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed.

To this end, we are engaged in a bilateral dialogue to promote strategic stability and increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with the Russian Federation. I am leading this dialogue with my Russian counterpart in the Arms Control and International Security Working Group of the Bilateral Presidential Commission. I am hopeful our dialogue will lead to greater reciprocal transparency and negotiation of further nuclear weapons reductions.

One of the specific priorities in this arena is nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Consistent with the Senate’s stipulation in its Resolution of Ratification of New START, the United States is seeking to initiate discussions with Russia to address the disparity between the nonstrategic nuclear weapons stockpiles of Russia and the United States.

As part of this process, the Administration is consulting with Allies to lay the groundwork for future negotiations. In approving the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review 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. Against this background and considering the broader security environment, NATO is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for nonstrategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance 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.

NATO 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.

In the DDPR, the United States and our NATO Allies also made clear that we look forward to discussing transparency and confidence-building ideas that can be developed and agreed 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.

In support of these efforts, I was very pleased to participate in a workshop hosted by Poland and Norway in Warsaw on February 6-7, which examined the prospects for information sharing and confidence building on nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe. This workshop was attended by representatives from 18 NATO governments, including eight Ministry of Foreign Affairs Security Directors, as well as experts from think tanks in France, Italy, Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the UK, and the United States. The discussions were a useful initial look at the opportunities and challenges we face in this complex, but important area.

Negotiating a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty

A related negotiating item on our list is a new international treaty to verifiably ban the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. A Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) – as it is called – would complement U.S.-Russian bilateral reductions and is the clear next multilateral step to take in the arms control treaty area.

Beginning multilateral negotiations on the FMCT is a priority objective for the United States and for the vast majority of states, and we have been working to initiate such negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. But one country, Pakistan, is withholding consensus to begin negotiations. We regret this deadlock. We are endeavoring to use available opportunities on the margins of the CD to advance FMCT negotiations, including serious and unique consultations among the states that would be directly affected by an FMCT.

Negotiating Priority: Multilateral Reductions

Outside of FMCT, a more long-term goal is a multilateral negotiation on disarmament. We are not there yet, but we have made progress in starting the conversation. In 2009, the five nuclear-weapon states, or “P5,” began to meet regularly to have discussions on issues of transparency, mutual confidence, and verification. Since the 2010 NPT Review Conference, these discussions have expanded to address P5 implementation of our commitments under the NPT and the 2010 Review Conference’s Action Plan. I hosted the most recent P5 conference in Washington in June 2012, where the P5 tackled issues related to all three pillars of the NPT – non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and disarmament, including confidence-building, transparency, and verification experiences. We are looking forward to a fourth conference this April, which Russia will host in Geneva prior to the next NPT Preparatory Committee meeting.

In addition to providing a senior level policy forum for discussion and coordination among the P5 on a number of issues, this process has spawned a series of discussions during the “intersessional period” among policy and expert levels on a variety of issues. China is leading a P5 working group on nuclear definitions and terminology. The P5 are discussing our national approaches to NPT reporting, and we are also beginning to engage at expert levels on some important verification and transparency issues. In the future, we would like the P5 conferences and intersessional meetings to expand and to develop practical transparency measures that build confidence and predictability.

The Road from Prague

None of this will be easy, but the plan the Administration is pursuing is suited for our security needs and tailored for the global security threats of the 21st century. By maintaining and supporting a safe, secure and effective stockpile – sufficient to deter any adversary and guarantee the defense of our allies- at the same time that we pursue responsible reductions through arms control, we will make this world a safer place. To paraphrase President Kennedy, whose speech 50 years ago at American University launched the NPT process, we will succeed by moving forward step by step, confident and unafraid.

Thank you and I look forward to your questions.