Remarks at the United States Naval Academy

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Annapolis, MD
April 20, 2011

[Also available in Russian]

As prepared

Date: 04/20/2011 Description: Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller delivers remarks at the United States Naval Academy. - USNA Image

Good evening. Thank you, Dean Michael Halbig, and Professor Gale Mattox for inviting me to join you. Thank you everyone for coming and for your commitment and service to our country.

Two years ago in Prague, President Obama spoke about his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and recognized the need to create the conditions to bring about such a world.

The United States has been working diligently on the Prague agenda ever since, which includes stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, reducing nuclear arsenals, and securing nuclear materials. Last April, we took three steps toward creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

The first step was the release of the Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, which reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and extends negative security assurances to all non-nuclear weapon states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) who are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. The NPR 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 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, from all nuclear weapon states – to further reduce their arsenals can assist in garnering worldwide support for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The second step was the signing of the New START Treaty with Russia, which took place on April 8 of last year, in Prague.

And the third step was the Nuclear Security Summit which President Obama hosted in Washington on April 12-13, during which world leaders from 47 countries reached a consensus that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and joined the U.S. in its call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years.

The step with which I was charged was to negotiate the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, with Russia. This Treaty is very important because the United States and Russia control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. The New START Treaty responsibly limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia deploy, while allowing the United States to maintain the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent.

When the New START Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and the Russian Federation since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age.

Following an intense and thorough ratification debate in the United States Senate last December, the New START Treaty was approved by the United States and soon thereafter, the Russian Federation approved the Treaty. On February 5, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification, which brought the Treaty into force.

Implementation of the Treaty is well underway. We have exchanged data on our strategic nuclear facilities and forces. This information forms the foundation of the Treaty’s database, which will be updated by the Parties continuously through the notification process and exchanged anew every six months throughout the life of the Treaty. The United States conducted exhibitions of its B-1B and B-2A heavy bombers and the Russian Federation conducted an exhibition of its RS-24 ICBM and associated mobile launcher. As of April 6, the Parties could begin to conduct on-site inspections, which enable each Party to have “boots on the ground” and inspect the other Party’s Treaty-related facilities. The United States began its first on-site inspection in Russia last week.

The New START Treaty sets the stage for further limits on and reductions in nuclear arms. When President Obama signed the New START Treaty, he said “the United States intends to pursue with Russia additional and broader reductions in our strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, including non-deployed nuclear weapons.” For its part, the U.S. Senate made clear its strong interest in addressing the numerical disparity in non-strategic, or tactical nuclear weapons, between the United States and Russia.

Consistent with the President’s agenda to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons, and the Senate’s call for pursuing negotiations with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons, we are working intensively throughout our government on these issues while also consulting with our NATO allies.

Under the President’s direction, the Department of Defense will conduct a strategic force analysis to develop options for potential future reductions in our nuclear arsenal. This work will be guided by the policies set forth in the NPR, including strengthening deterrence of potential regional adversaries, strategic stability vis-à-vis Russia and assurance of our allies and partners.

At the same time, NATO is conducting a Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) to determine how to translate NATO’s new Strategic Concept adopted at the Lisbon NATO Summit in 2010 into practical steps designed to strengthen NATO’s collective security and defense in this evolving security environment.

The NATO Lisbon Summit Declaration makes clear that the Alliance will seek to create the conditions needed to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons assigned to NATO. As part of this effort, we will be working with NATO to shape an approach to reduce the role and number of forward-based U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, as Russia takes reciprocal steps to reduce its non-strategic nuclear weapons and relocate them away from NATO’s borders.

At the end of last week, Secretary Clinton joined her NATO Foreign Ministerial counterparts in Berlin where she discussed how NATO’s ongoing Deterrence and Defense Posture Review can be used to advance these efforts, building on the five principles that she first outlined in Tallinn a year ago. These principles are as follows:

  • First, we should recognize that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance;
  • Second, as a nuclear Alliance, sharing nuclear risks and responsibilities widely is fundamental;
  • Third, our broad aim is to continue to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. Of course, we recognize that in the years since the Cold War ended, NATO has already dramatically reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons;
  • Fourth, Allies must broaden deterrence against the range of 21st Century threats, including by pursuing territorial missile defense, conducting Article 5 training and exercises, and drafting additional contingency plans to counter new threats to the Alliance;
  • And fifth, in any future reductions, our aim should be to seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members, and include non-strategic nuclear weapons in the next round of U.S.-Russian arms control discussions alongside strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons.

Through the DDPR, NATO will determine the appropriate mix of capabilities needed to deter and defend against existing and emerging threats to the Alliance. The mix of capabilities will include conventional, nuclear and missile defense.

In Berlin, Secretary Clinton reiterated the U.S. commitment to addressing the disparity in non-strategic weapons between the United States and Russia in the next arms control negotiation. As a first step, the United States would like to increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with Russia, including on the numbers, locations, and types of non-strategic weapons in Europe. We will consult with NATO Allies on such reciprocal actions that could be taken by each side and invite Russia to join with us to develop this initiative.

The United States is also interested in conducting a broad policy discussion with Russia on issues of stability, security, and confidence-building, which can help lay the groundwork for eventual further nuclear arms reductions.

Another major challenge with regard to next steps is verification. As the numbers go lower, as the items to be limited and verified get smaller (e.g., warheads instead of delivery vehicles), the verification challenge becomes more complex and the margins for error become smaller. When we think about monitoring weapons in storage, or eliminating nuclear weapons, we must tackle verification tasks that have not been addressed before. So while we look at the policy issues surrounding the next agreement, we must also be equally focused on the technical issues. Addressing the technical challenges must be integrally linked to the negotiation of future agreements.

We also are seeking cooperation with Russia on ballistic missile defense. Such cooperation can provide assurances to Russia that our missile defenses will not undercut strategic stability, while enhancing the ability of both nations to defend against emerging missile threats.

We believe that military transparency builds confidence and lays a foundation for effective cooperation in other areas as well. For this reason, the United States and our NATO Allies have been working hard with Russia and other partners to find a way forward on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty with the aim of launching new negotiations to strengthen and modernize conventional arms control in Europe for the 21st century.

Negotiated nuclear reductions to date have been dominated by bilateral U.S. and Russian negotiations. However, as we advance toward the vision of a safe, secure world without nuclear weapons we will increasingly need to strengthen cooperation on WMD issues of concern to both nuclear weapons and non-nuclear weapons states.

Much work lies ahead on these issues – and that is where you come in.

Over the course of my career I have either worked directly with or had the benefit of advice from naval officers – either active duty or retired. During the negotiation of the New START Treaty, one member of our delegation was a 2004 graduate of this academy. He played a vital role in negotiating and developing the Treaty’s database. We also benefitted from the knowledge and experience of some less recent graduates, including a member of my staff, a 1973 Naval Academy graduate, who also helped to negotiate the 1991 START Treaty.

Arms control issues cross the interagency and there is a role for all ranks to play, from senior policy advisors to inspectors of Russian strategic force facilities.

I know that this institution is preparing you well for playing an important role – no matter what path you take – in ensuring the national security of the United States. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Thank you again for inviting me here tonight. I look forward to your questions.