Statement at the Annual Security Review Conference

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Vienna, Austria
July 1, 2011

It is my pleasure to be back in Vienna at the OSCE, and to have this opportunity to discuss European security issues with all of you today.  I also am pleased to participate on this panel with Mr. Ulyianov, with whom I look forward to engaging in a thoughtful discussion on the issues before us today as well as many others. 

This conference provides an opportunity for this organization, and our governments, to take stock of our current security concerns and discuss how best to address them together.  Our counterparts have already addressed a number of issues and important OSCE efforts in other sessions; in this one, we will focus on the OSCE’s pol-mil dimension, specifically, conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures.  I last presented before this organization just over a year ago, when I shared the podium with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to talk about the New START Treaty, which we had recently concluded.  I also chaired the Open Skies Review Conference here in Vienna last June.  A lot has happened since then, and I want to spend a few minutes sharing my perspective on some of our accomplishments and future challenges.

By far, the most important arms control success of the past year has been the entry-into-force of the New START Treaty with Russia in February.  The Treaty responsibly limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia may deploy.  When the Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads since the 1950s, the first full decade of the nuclear age. 

The 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 a notification process and exchanged anew every six months throughout the life of the Treaty.  As of April, the Parties began conducting on-site inspections of each other’s Treaty-related facilities.

We look forward to pursuing further limits on and reductions in nuclear arms in consultation with our NATO Allies.  When President Obama signed the 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.” 

As Secretary Clinton highlighted in Paris in early 2010, strengthening and maintaining European security is a top U.S. priority.  Speaking at L’Ecole Militaire in Paris, she said:  “A strong Europe is critical to our security and our prosperity.  Much of what we hope to accomplish globally depends on working together with Europe.”  Sadly, she was also compelled to note the reality that “arms control regimes that once served us well are now fraying.”

It is for this reason that our work here is so important.  Conventional arms control and associated confidence building measures are part of a larger network of security instruments, both bilateral and multilateral.  Our conventional agreements play a vital role in providing a foundation for stability that, in turn, has allowed our strategic relationships to become more stable.   Without such stability, it would be difficult to move forward with our strategic security objectives.

Within the OSCE context, there are three key regimes that form the foundation of our collective security efforts aimed at ensuring stability, and building confidence.  Recognized as part of the Framework for Arms Control, they are:  the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, the Vienna Document 1999 and the Open Skies Treaty. 

Each regime contributes to security and stability in a unique way, but when they are all implemented and work in harmony, the result is greater confidence for all OSCE participating States.  Each regime is important.  We are facing a number of challenges and it is important that we find ways to overcome these challenges and advance security in Europe.

First, I want to touch on the Open Skies Treaty which is clearly one of the most successful conventional arms control regimes in place, with the States Parties conducting over 780 flights since entry-into-force.  As we agreed at the Review Conference last year, the Treaty itself remains a solid regime and the observation flights serve to enhance military transparency and provide an opportunity for our governments – in most cases, military personnel – to regularly and effectively work together. 

There are a number of challenges related to Open Skies that warrant our attention, some of which we began discussing at the Review Conference.  The biggest single challenge we face is the future availability of resources.  The Treaty will only be as good as the States Parties make it, and we cannot make it as effective as it could be with old aircraft and sensors.  As I did a year ago, I urge all parties to redouble their efforts to modernize the treaty to allow for the use of digital sensors and ensure sufficient assets for future operations. 

Now, we are also facing a political stalemate on the work of the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC).  The OSCC has been at an impasse for six months now, and despite the efforts of the Spanish and Estonian Chairs, as well as several delegations, we have not resolved the procedural issues that have prevented the body from conducting business. 

The United States has studied the legal arguments regarding plenary procedure and we are convinced that the Treaty is clear in providing the right for any party to raise an issue for discussion before the OSCC, particularly compliance issues.  This right is essential for the effective operation of the OSCC.  Accession by additional parties is clearly provided for within the Treaty. We should be flexible in the way treaty rights are implemented in the OSCC, but we cannot accept procedures that deny treaty rights of principle, such as the right to raise issues for discussion in the OSCC.  On the other hand, in the exercise of those rights we should all be working together to find ways forward that enhance this regime, not distract from it.    I urge all parties to resume efforts to live up to this multilateral commitment before the current impasse begins to erode the successful implementation of the Open Skies Treaty to date and puts at risk a regime that holds promise for the future. 

It seems clear that multilateral arms control regimes cannot – and should not be expected to – solve all the bilateral issues that may be in play between the parties involved.  But conventional arms control regimes must take account of existing security relationships and concerns, and should provide a level of transparency about those relationships, allowing for confidence-building at the sub-regional level and within the larger group of participants.

Transparency in military activities and equipment holdings for confidence and security-building purposes is embodied within the Vienna Document 1999, and a series of accompanying measures adopted by the Forum for Security Cooperation. 

I know the FSC has been hard at work on a number of proposals aimed at modernizing the Vienna Document to provide additional transparency among OSCE participating States and I applaud that work.  To date, the FSC has agreed on six updated provisions for “Vienna Document 2011.”  We have made progress but work still needs to be done before December.  Although these updates are technical in nature, agreement on these updated provisions after more than a decade without updating the text of the Vienna Document – even slightly – is an important step.  The United States is actively engaged and has contributed to that effort by tabling a number of proposals for consideration that would further enhance transparency among the participating States.  Specifically, we are seeking to increase the number of opportunities for inspections and evaluation visits, increase team sizes for inspections and evaluation visits, and improve the content of information exchanged annually.  We want to work with our partners to ensure that these enhancements do not impose unreasonable expenses on participating States.  Also, the United States has joined a number of other delegations in co-sponsoring a proposal to lower troop and equipment thresholds for the prior notification of certain military activities – a politically significant enhancement that we hope can be included in the updated Vienna Document to be presented to our Ministers in December for endorsement. 

The Vienna Document has contributed immeasurably to Europe-wide military transparency and reassurance.  It is also a useful template for other regions, as they look to build confidence in the military intentions of their neighbors.  The United States values the Vienna Document for its contribution to European security and we are pursuing updates with two goals in mind: we want to strengthen existing provisions and also ensure the Document remains relevant to today’s security challenges. 

But it is important to remember that the Vienna Document is not a substitute for the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (or CFE) Treaty with its system of verifiable equipment limits, information exchange, and verification.  These regimes are complementary, not interchangeable.  Each has a specific purpose and distinct contribution to overall stability in Europe.  As we saw several years ago when we attempted to “harmonize” the regimes, there is no simple way to adjust the provisions of the Vienna Document to incorporate all the elements of the CFE Treaty.

Now, let me turn briefly to the CFE Treaty.  I want to say from the outset that the CFE regime remains important to the United States, and it is important for European security as a whole.  We want to continue working to find a solution to the impasse of the past several years.

As many of you know, Ambassador Victoria Nuland, who worked hard to advance the CFE process through numerous discussions in Vienna and other venues, became the Spokesperson for the Department of State in June.  I have resumed the lead on CFE discussions. 

Since April 2010, the United States led renewed and intensified efforts among the 30 CFE States Parties, plus the 6 non-CFE NATO Allies, to try to break the impasse that has prevented full implementation of the Treaty.  Together, we launched an effort to agree on a short Framework statement of key provisions and principles to guide new negotiations to strengthen and modernize the CFE regime.      

Considerable progress was made this past year in narrowing differences but more work remains to close gaps on the most difficult issues: the right of states to choose whether to allow foreign forces to be stationed on their territories, and transparency among all parties essential for preserving confidence during the negotiations.  The United States and our Allies stand ready to return to the negotiating table whenever we have a signal that real progress can be made on the remaining issues.

However, in the absence of this signal, we must ask, “What is next for CFE?”  I am sure this is a question in everyone’s mind here today.   I will be consulting with my CFE Treaty colleagues, and will be in close touch as we develop alternatives for consideration. 

I would like to emphasize that during this pause from the Framework discussions, it is important for all of us to spend some time considering the current security architecture, and to ask ourselves some questions about what our future needs will be and what types of measures will help achieve those security goals. 

Colleagues, I would like to note that this Annual Security Review Conference comes at a good time to contribute to this type of reflection, assessment, and analysis of next steps.  I would like to encourage all of you to engage in a fresh review of European security affairs, and challenge you to come up with creative ideas that could help move us forward, especially with regard to conventional arms control. 

Today there is less transparency regarding European military forces than there was ten years ago.  We need to change directions.  This is not the way to build confidence among partners as we go forward.  At the High-Level Military Doctrine Seminar in May, many of you heard the Commander of U.S. Army Forces in Europe, Lieutenant General Hertling, extend an offer to other militaries to visit U.S. activities taking place during training exercises at the U.S. Joint Multinational Training Command in Germany.  This is but one example of additional military to military transparency among parties which helps build greater confidence.  We encourage all parties to consider being more open about their military training and exercises.

Enhancing European security remains a key U.S. policy objective.  Conventional arms control in Europe has been a tremendous success story in the history of European security affairs since the early 1990s.  The United States wants to build on that success and work with partners to find ways to revitalize and modernize these regimes.  We have all made a serious investment in the building of the current security architecture.  We must ensure its continued viability by devoting resources to our verification agencies and institutions to keep the regimes going strong.  And we must redouble our efforts to adapt and improve in ways that meet today’s European security needs.  

I look forward to working with you in the coming year to build on our success and address the challenges before us.