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A Conversation with Rose Gottemoeller

  • MIT Room 24-213 24 Cambridge, MA 02142 (map)

The Hon. Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will join LNSP for a roundtable discussion of current and future challenges for nuclear security, nonproliferation, and verification, with a particular focus on research activities and opportunities in nuclear engineering. Following the LNSP roundtable, she will deliver a public address on Future Prospects for US-Russian Arms Control at 2:00 pm in room 54-100.

Remarks for Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller

Future Prospects for US-Russian Arms Control

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
October 23, 2014
As Delivered

Thank you for that kind introduction. Thank you for having me here today. It’s always great to visit MIT. I have just come from a fascinating roundtable discussion about the application of new technologies to arms control verification and monitoring.

While we are gathered here today in Cambridge, the world is facing serious challenges: the threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and Russia’s flagrant disregard for international law, the continuing conflicts in the Middle East, a dangerous Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has now travelled to our shores. It is not surprising that most people are not focused on nuclear weapons or nuclear deterrence. When the Cold War ended, the looming threat of nuclear war seemed to drift away and for the average American, but as you all know, there are still thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons in the world and we have a lot of work to do.

Strategic stability is the cornerstone of American national security, but as all of you know, it is not a static state of being. Threats to strategic stability can surface quickly and it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize those threats, anticipate them when we can, and make moves to counter them. We must be prepared for the unpredictable, and constantly on the look-out so that we see threats emerging while they are still over the horizon.

One threat to strategic stability has made news recently. This past summer, the Department of State delivered the Annual Arms Control Compliance Report to Congress with the determination that the Russian Federation is in violation of its INF Treaty obligations not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.

We have been attempting to address this very serious matter with Russia for some time, as the United States is wholly committed to the continued viability of the INF Treaty and we are in complete compliance with it. Nevertheless, we have told our Russian colleagues that we will listen to their concerns about our INF implementation and try to resolve them.

Indeed, we have been working to do so, but the Russians seem to be hearing, but not listening to us. We will continue to work this problem, but they need to listen to our concerns, just as we are listening to theirs. It is important to continue communicating on this serious issue.

This is a very serious issue. This landmark treaty serves the mutual security interests of the parties – not only the United States and Russia, but also the 11 other states bound by its obligations. Moreover, this Treaty contributes to the security of our allies and to regional security in Europe and in the Far East.

There is an expert debate in Russia about its nuclear modernization programs and about the contribution of the INF Treaty to Russia’s security. It is important for Russia to take into account that no military decisions happen in a vacuum. Actions beget actions. Our countries have been down the road of needless, costly and destabilizing arms races. We know where that road leads and we are fortunate that our past leaders had the wisdom and strength to turn us in a new direction. Let us hope that debate in and out of the government leads to a decision to return Russia to compliance with all of its international obligations.

Despite our serious concerns about Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty, we believe that the New START Treaty is in the national security interest of the United States. The New START Treaty enhances our national security and strategic stability with Russia and both the United States and Russia are implementing the Treaty in a businesslike manner.

Current tensions with Russia highlight the importance of the confidence provided by notifications, data exchanges and on-site inspections under the Treaty, and the security and predictability provided by verifiable mutual limits on strategic weapons. The mutual predictability this gives to the U.S.-Russia relationship increases stability, especially during difficult times such as now.

With respect to future agreements, the United States will only pursue agreements that are in our national security interest and that of our allies. We expect Russia will do the same, but in the course of each of us pursuing our national goals, historically we have always come up with agreements that are in our mutual interests to reduce nuclear threats and ensure mutual stability and predictability.

Cooperation in the arms control realm has been an important facet of strategic stability over the past forty years and it should remain so in the future. Moreover, we need nuclear cooperation with Russia and others to address new threats, first and foremost the risk that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon or the fissile materials needed to make one.

We will continue to pursue arms control and nonproliferation tools, because they are the best - and quite frankly - the only path that we can take to effectively prevent a terrorist nuclear threat and reduce nuclear dangers more broadly.

In addition to working on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the United States has taken steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. We have clearly stated that it is in the U.S. interest, and that of all other nations, that the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.

We are taking time now to prepare the ground for a future that is more conducive to action. That includes more research into how we incorporate new technologies and innovations into verification and monitoring. We can also shape, maintain, and improve strategic stability through a variety of bilateral and multilateral dialogues, including in the Track 1.5 and Track 2 realms. These engagements reduce the potential for misunderstanding and provide the basis for future agreement and cooperation.

Multilateral agreements like a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) can also enhance global stability. The United States will continue to push for the commencement of negotiations on such an agreement.

This year, Canada has been leading a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on FMCT. It is our hope that the GGE and its final report will finally break this impasse and allow us to proceed with the negotiation of this important treaty.

We have now begun working to expand our public outreach on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. I have actually just spent the last three days in Utah talking about the Treaty. As stated in the April 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review: “Ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.” Once we’ve brought the Treaty back to people’s attention, we can move on to discussion and debate – just like we did with the New START Treaty.

As we consider arms control and nonproliferation priorities, we will continue to consult closely with our allies and partners every step of the way. Our security and defense – and theirs – is non-negotiable.

Of course, you know all of this - all of what we have been talking about - is moot if we don’t attract the next generation to nuclear policy jobs. That’s why I am glad to see so many people here today. We need political scientists, lawyers, physicists, geologists, engineers, and more to start working with us on this problem, if we want to make sure that this essential part of national security will be supported ably for as long as it needs to be.

With that I will wrap up, as I want to leave some time for questions, but I want to leave you all with a thought.

History has shown us that when faced with obstacles, we always have several paths. When it comes to our current situation with the Russian Federation, I, for one, want to follow the path that President Reagan took, the path that President George H.W. Bush took. When confronted with a difficult and sometimes unpredictable partner in the Soviet Union, they did not take their ball and go home. They did not let strategic stability become a political punching bag. They set about the hard task of building up strategic stability through arms control treaties and agreements, and they succeeded in making this world a safer place. They worked hard, and achieved much.

We should all heed the words of one of our less-quoted Presidents, Calvin Coolidge. "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence,” he said. “The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Thank you.