21st Century Deterrence Challenges

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
U.S. Strategic Command 2011 Deterrence Symposium
Omaha, Nebraska
August 4, 2011

Date: 08/04/2011 Description: Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller spoke in Omaha, Nebraska at the 2011 U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium. Photo credit: Department of Defense - State Dept Image

Thank you so much for having me here today. It is always a pleasure to visit STRATCOM and I am honored to be speaking to such a distinguished group of policy and military leaders. Thank you General Kehler, for the invitation: It is a great opportunity for me. I know that many of my colleagues from the interagency have already spoken to you, so I will do my best not to repeat them, but rather supplement and expand on what they discussed.

I was a speaker at this Symposium last summer and I am pleased to report that a lot has changed since last August. Last fall, the State Department underwent some structural reorganization and the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation became the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance or AVC for short.

AVC leads the Department’s work on arms control, in areas of policy-making, negotiations, treaty implementation, and the Department’s efforts with respect to missile defense, national security space policy, as well as multilateral arms control and disarmament policy.

The new name for my Bureau is more than just a matter of semantics. These changes represent a stronger and more comprehensive approach to arms control and they put us in a better position to carry out the President’s priorities in these areas.

New thinking and innovation is already paying dividends in another area that has changed since the last time I was here.

New START Treaty Implementation

As you all know, the New START Treaty entered into force on February 5th of this year.

The New START Treaty implementation is so far going well. It’s been a bright spot in the U.S.-Russian relationship, and we see it continuing to be an area for positive cooperation.

So far, the process of Treaty implementation has been very pragmatic, business-like, and positive – a continuation of the working relationship we established during the negotiations in Geneva. We are constantly in communication with our Russian colleagues and the implementation process has been precise and efficient.

Negotiators worked hard to find innovative new mechanisms to aid in the verification of this Treaty and the results of that work are already evident. The regime is simpler and safer to implement and, at the same time, it lessens disruptions to the day-to-day operations of both sides’ strategic forces.

On-site inspections have begun and as of today, the United States and Russia together have conducted eight inspections. We are keeping par with each other.

For the first time, we are receiving data about actual re-entry vehicle (warhead) loadings on Russia’s missiles and they receive the same data from us; on-site inspection procedures under New START allow the United States to confirm the actual number of warheads on any randomly selected Russian ICBM and SLBM. This verification task and inspection right did not exist under the START Treaty.

Last March, 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. That was the first time we had a chance to see the RS-24, the new Russian mobile missile with multiple warheads.

Just two weeks ago, we passed the 1,000th notification between the United States and the Russian Federation under the New START Treaty. These notifications help to track movement and changes in the status of systems, , including, for example, the notification of every time a heavy bomber is moved out of its home country for more than 24 hours.

In addition, every six months we exchange a comprehensive database. This gives us a full accounting of exactly where weapons systems are located, whether they are out of their deployment or operational bases and gone to maintenance, or have been retired. This semi-annual exchange, along with the continuous updates and mandatory treaty notifications provide, create a “living document,” a comprehensive look into each other’s strategic nuclear forces.

The New START Treaty data exchanges are providing us with a more detailed picture of Russian strategic forces than we were able to obtain from earlier exchanges and the inspections will give us crucial opportunities to confirm the validity of that data. Of course, reciprocal rights apply to the Russian side. Finally, both of us back up the verification regime with our own National Technical Means of verification, our satellites and other monitoring platforms.

We’ve found that concerns regarding New START verification measures during the Senate ratification debate are being assuaged. Our experience so far is demonstrating that the New START Treaty’s verification regime works, and will help to push the door open to new, more intrusive inspections involving warheads or other smaller items of account. Such inspections will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans.

Now let’s look to the next steps.

Next Steps in U.S.-Russian Reductions

You’ve heard from my colleagues about the Defense Department’s assessment effort and the DDPR: We obviously are in the midst of some important homework exercises. I won’t repeat what others have said, but I will add a few thoughts.

While we still have much homework to do, we and the Russians can begin talking about some big concepts, important ideas and the definitions that go with them. We are not ready for the negotiating table, but we are ready for a productive conversation.

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 a future agreement with Russia for broad reductions in all categories of nuclear weapons – strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed. The President communicated this continued commitment in Prague when he signed the New START Treaty in April 2010.

Indeed, the preamble to the New START Treaty called upon both the U.S. and Russia to pursue further reductions. As part of this process, the President supports the Senate’s call in the New START Resolution of Ratification to seek to initiate follow-on negotiations with Russia that include non-strategic nuclear weapons within one year of the Treaty’s entry into force.

In addition to the conceptual conversation I mentioned above, we would also like to increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with Russia. We are in the process of thinking through how this and other such transparency measures might be implemented. This involves thinking through issues and questions including:

Exactly what kinds of information do we think would be useful and appropriate to share and to seek from each other?
How much detail are we prepared to share regarding numbers, types, and locations of weapons and related infrastructure?
What classes and types of nuclear weapons should be included?
What transparency measures should we consider for the total stockpile, in addition to non-strategic nuclear weapons?
For the United States, what is the best way to consult with Allies on their views to the extent any transparency measures would involve items located on their territories?
What are the legal mechanisms necessary to permit the sharing of sensitive information?

We will consult with our NATO allies and invite Russia to join with us to develop an initiative, including examination of potential reciprocal actions that could be taken in parallel by the United States and Russia.

Our conversation with Russia must include defining what exactly constitutes a non-strategic nuclear weapon and whether or not a single overall limit on all nuclear weapons would be possible. We have a lot of very complicated issues to consider, so the more creative and innovative ideas we have to work with, the better off we will be. For that reason, we are grateful to the community of experts, both government and nongovernment, American, Russian, and international, who are contributing to our work.

Beyond U.S. and Russian Reductions

While the United States and Russia have more steps to pursue bilaterally, it is also time to begin a multilateral dialogue within the P5, as well.

I travelled to Paris last month for a conference where the P5 discussed transparency, verification, and confidence-building measures. The conference was a constructive step in the process of nuclear-weapons states’ engagement on disarmament and related issues, and demonstrated the P5’s commitment to the implementation of the Action Plan that was adopted by consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

All the P5 states recognized the fundamental importance of transparency in building mutual understanding and confidence. We exchanged information on nuclear doctrine and capabilities and considered possible voluntary transparency and confidence-building measures. To this end, we approved the creation of a working group on Nuclear Definitions and Terminology. We will also hold technical consultations on verification issues later this year in London.

In order to ensure that these conferences evolve into a regular process of P5 dialogue, we agreed to hold a third conference in the context of the 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee to continue our discussions.

The United States is proud to be at the leading edge of transparency efforts – publically declaring our nuclear stockpile numbers; participating in voluntary and treaty-based inspections measures; and working with other nations on military to military, scientific and lab exchanges, and site visits.

We hope that all countries will join in the common effort to increase transparency and build mutual confidence. Confidence-building, at its very core, is a shared effort.


This entire process of next steps in arms control will require some big ideas and some out-of-the-box thinking and we are glad to be engaging the STRATCOM community in this process.

We have seen an evolution in nuclear policy thinking over the past sixty-five years, from policies of massive retaliation to strategies of nuclear war-fighting to our current conversations on strategic stability and predictability.

It is absolutely imperative that we continue to adapt and evolve our thinking to match the circumstances around us. Anticipating and preparing for changes in deterrence will be necessary for the continued security of our nation.

Thanks again for your time and attention. If time permits, I am happy to take a few questions from the audience.