The State Department's Role in NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) and Future Arms Control

Ellen Tauscher
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Hearing on "The Current Status and Future Direction for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy and Posture"
Washington, DC
November 2, 2011

As prepared

Chairman Turner, Ranking Member Sanchez, and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on the future direction of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and posture.

I am always happy to appear before this subcommittee, which provided me the honor of working side-by-side with many of you. I am equally proud to be sitting next to my esteemed interagency colleagues and testifying on the Obama Administration’s nuclear policies.

I will focus my initial remarks on two areas where State is playing a major role: the ongoing Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (or DDPR) in NATO, and the preparations, process, and expectations for future arms control efforts with Russia and other countries.

As outlined two years ago by President Obama in Prague, the Administration is committed to continuing a step-by-step process to increase U.S. security by reducing nuclear weapons worldwide.

That effort includes the pursuit of a future agreement with Russia for reductions in all categories of nuclear weapons: strategic, non-strategic, deployed, and non-deployed.

President Obama is committed to seeking to initiate negotiations to address the disparity between the non-strategic nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the United States, and to secure and reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner.

The key principles that Secretary Clinton outlined at the 2010 NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in Tallinn will guide our approach.

We aim to show strong Allied support for the President’s Prague vision and underscore our common view, as the Alliance agreed at the November 2010 Lisbon Summit, that NATO will remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist.

At Lisbon, the Alliance reaffirmed that the strategic nuclear forces of NATO’s nuclear-armed member states are the “supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies,” and agreed that NATO should maintain the broadest possible level of burden sharing on nuclear matters.

NATO Allies further agreed to seek to create the conditions for future nuclear reductions, and noted that the Alliance should seek Russia’s agreement to increase the transparency of its nuclear weapons in Europe and to relocate those weapons away from the territories of NATO members.

We are committed to consulting closely with Allies and making decisions by consensus on NATO’s nuclear deterrent.

The DDPR is examining NATO’s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats to the Alliance.

The review is to identify the “appropriate mix” of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense capabilities that NATO needs to respond effectively to 21st century security challenges. The review also aims to strengthen deterrence as part of our commitment to allied security.

The goal is to complete the review for the May 2012 NATO Summit that President Obama will host in Chicago.

The DDPR also provides us an important opportunity to consult with Allies about nuclear deterrence and future U.S.-Russia nuclear talks.

Those consultations will inform our consideration of next steps with Russia on nuclear reductions.

As a next step in our bilateral dialogue with Russia, we seek to conduct a broad policy discussion on the various considerations that affect strategic stability.

We also hope to deepen this engagement to discuss key concepts and terminology which will become relevant as we prepare to discuss further reductions in strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, including both deployed and non-deployed weapons.

We also would like to increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with Russia.

We are thinking through how such transparency measures might be implemented, and are consulting with our NATO allies through the DDPR.

I am happy to report that implementation of the New START Treaty is proceeding smoothly since its entry into force on February 5. The New START Treaty places equal arms limits on both sides, limits that are significantly lower than the levels provided for in the original START Treaty and the Moscow Treaty.

The New START Treaty provides us confidence that as Russia modernizes its strategic forces, Russian force levels will not exceed the Treaty limits seven years after entry-into-force and continuing for the remainder of the Treaty’s duration.

The New START Treaty contributes to our security not only through its limits, but also through its strong verification regime.

The Treaty provides us greater certainty about the composition of Russia’s forces.

Its verification regime provides information and access that we would otherwise lack. Without the New START Treaty, our inspectors would not be able to visit Russian strategic weapons bases.

To date, we have conducted 13 on-site inspections inside Russia.

New START’s verification regime enhances predictability and stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship, reducing the risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding, and mistrust.

Beyond the U.S.-Russian relationship, the P-5 nuclear-weapons states are engaging each other on nuclear weapons verification, transparency, and confidence-building measures, as called for at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

In late June, France hosted a P-5 conference related to those issues. P-5 countries also exchanged information on nuclear doctrine and capabilities.

Moving forward, the British government offered to host discussions on verification at an expert-level meeting in London. The P-5 also agreed to establish a working group to develop an agreed glossary of key nuclear terms, which will be very helpful to reaching mutual understanding in future multilateral discussions on nuclear weapons limitations.

The P-5 also agreed to hold a third P-5 conference next year in the context of the next NPT Preparatory Committee meeting.

These deepening P-5 engagements are important to our broader nonproliferation objectives, and help underscore P-5 countries’ commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Thank you and I look forward to answering your questions.