This session was part of the CFR Workshop on Evaluating and Strengthening the Nonproliferation Regime, which was made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation.
FERGUSON: Let me introduce the third and final panel, which my metaphor here is "ghost" or "spirit" of the world yet to come, or may perhaps; the world as it should be, looking at the three panelists and knowing something about their views and their writings and their other speaking engagements, what they've been talking about for a long time.
And we're really privileged to have three speakers of such high caliber who have been thinking a lot about the question of: Is a nuclear-weapon world desirable and feasible, and what are the challenges, and what are the opportunities?
And this, as President Obama said, could be a very long-term endeavor. And the president is only a few years older than I am, and he said he may not see it in his lifetime. Maybe. Maybe I'm a little more hopeful. But we'll see.
And what's our ability to shape the future? -- is another question I think our panelists have grappled with.
So with that as a very brief introduction, I think we've agreed to have Jan Lodal to go first, then Jonathan Schell, and then Jonathan Granoff. You see, it's the Three Js.
And so Jan Lodal has been in the business of national security, advisor to the government. I think you were an advisor to Henry Kissinger. He worked in the Nixon administration, now in the private sector. But he made a huge splash in our community end of last year by co-writing an article in Foreign Affairs, our flagship publication, with Ivo Daalder. Ivo, I think as many or maybe all of you know, he's the new U.S. ambassador to NATO. He was just sworn in last Friday. And so I've asked Jan to talk about their article, "The Logic of Zero," and anything else related to that topic, within 10 minutes.
So I want to make sure we have close to an hour for Q&A. So each speaker pretty much stay in that 10-minute timeframe. If not, I will glare at you. Thank you.
LODAL: Thank you very much, Charles. I appreciate that. Let me say that-going back to the original subject of this panel today, What is Needed to Ensure the Long Term Survival of the Regime, and we've used a lot of phrases like "strengthen it," "improve it," "consolidate the regime" and there's been a huge amount of discussion here about various elements of the regime that need to be improved, strengthened, consolidated, and what might be done to accomplish all of those things.
And I think one of the key concepts behind both the article we wrote and my own thinking is that we have really played out the ability to achieve our goals through that kind of an approach, that we actually need a major change in the regime. We need the regime to look different from what it looks today and work in a different fashion from how it works today. And in some ways the efforts to improve the present regime get in the way of what we really need to do and where we need to go.
And some of this I already said, indicated yesterday, in the question I asked. And the number one problem is that it's almost impossible to conceive of succeeding with a lot of these very good ideas without a goal and without a direction of where we're headed. I think "zero" is the only strategic outcome that works.
As long as any one state has nuclear weapons, there will be at least one other state in the world that feels so threatened by them that they feel they need nuclear weapons to deter the state that does have them. And it may take them a little while to get to that point, but that will happen, and there will be one state, and then there will be two, and after two there will be three. And now we have pick your number for how many you think we have today, but 8, 9, 10 that have nuclear weapons, and a lot of others that have breakout capabilities.
So this process will continue. More importantly as the terrorist threat, which I won't elaborate because everybody here is familiar with it. And it derives from the fact of course technology is out of the bag; terrorists know how to make a weapon. If they had a fairly small amount of highly enriched uranium they could make a Hiroshima type bomb. We didn't test the Hiroshima bomb before we used it. We tested the other one. And we knew it would work the first time, and nobody had ever done it as far as we know anywhere in the universe anywhere in all 14 billion years. And we knew it would work the first time. So this is not exactly a tricky thing for them to do if they get their hands on the material.
So the whole question comes down to whether or not we can keep them from getting the material. And our regime today is not at all focused or oriented on keeping terrorists from getting nuclear material. It tries to do that to some extent, but it's really outside the regime that we put most of those efforts.
But the other problem is that even, many of these things we're trying to do within the regime to strengthen it require huge amount of diplomatic effort and are problematic. I personally believe it's impossible to get a new arms control agreement with the Russians that looks anything like START-1 because START-1 is focused on counting rules, and we are going to reduce our weapons loads by downloading, and we want to keep more missiles and more submarines for survivability purposes. And that's completely inconsistent with the current counting rules.
And every Russian has always said, "Well, we can compromise." Well, actually no compromise is possible. If you really want to push the numbers down to 1,500 or 1,700, you have no room for compromise on counting rules. You have to count actual weapons. And counting actual weapons is a completely different approach from that treaty.
So maybe they can say it as a follow-on to START-1 and throw it out and start over and write something new, but that's not where they are right now.
So I think it's very difficult even to do some of the things that are entrained today and get them accomplished. And if you get them accomplished, what have you done to keep terrorists from getting nuclear weapons? What have you done to keep irresponsible states from getting them? What have you done to stop proliferation? I think the answers are in most cases, close to nothing.
So we need a different approach. And the first element of what we call the "logic of zero," is that zero is the only stable outcome. Everything else eventually leads to more proliferation.
So then the question is: How do you get there if it's in our strategic interest? By the way, I think you need to get to zero, entirely because it's in our strategic interest. You may also feel strongly that it's the right thing to do morally and it's the right thing to do legally. I think those are harder cases to make. And fortunately I don't think they need to be made because I think the national interest argument works perfectly well as a justification for zero being the goal.
And we know that the president shares that goal. He's stated it many times. It's on his website. He said it again in Prague. So he understands that that's where we have to go.
So we really have to do a couple of very different things, maybe three very different things if we're ever going to get there. The first thing is, we have to get agreement on the limited purpose of nuclear weapons. And we have to do this before we really get very far on the path to zero. It doesn't make any sense to try to get down the path to zero unless we have agreement on the limited purpose.
And for example were we to reach a new agreement with the Russians which more or less ratifies the old purposes of nuclear weapons, we actually would have harmed ourselves even if we reduced numbers quite a bit because we would have locked in the wrong thinking, the wrong purpose, and legitimized nuclear weapons in a way that would make it impossible to really proceed to zero.
And if you put some long date on it like 2015 or whatever, there's nothing you can do in the meantime that's really going to help you get to zero because you said these things are good, legitimate and have all sorts of proper uses beyond the one proper use, which is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by others
It's also equally important to acknowledge that that's an okay use of nuclear weapons, it has been an okay use of nuclear weapons, nobody has done anything immoral, wrong, illegal or whatever to use them in that way. So I think we harm ourselves if we say that that particular use, preventing the use of nuclear weapons by others, is illegitimate, because it's not. I think it is legitimate, but I think it's the only legitimate use.
And you need to get that agreed. If you get that agreed, then it becomes possible to think about zero because everyone who has agreed to it can in principle give up their nuclear weapons if everybody else does. I will not elaborate and try to answer all the questions that come up. "Well, isn't it very hard to do that because look at the French doctrine, look at the livre blanc, and look the Russian doctrine, and look at the advantage that a small power will have with nuclear weapons." And all of those things I think have interesting things that can be said about them.
I'll only just bring to a couple of kind of not so often thought about facts to the fore. One is that China already agrees with this. They have actually a quite rigorous No First Use doctrine. And if you have a No First Use doctrine, it means that you don't need nuclear weapons if nobody else has them. India has a claimed No First Use doctrine, but their posture doesn't fit it, so maybe I won't count it quite so much as the Chinese.
And so it's not as far away as it seems when you think about it in those terms.
The second thing you have to have is a very different control regime. We talked about the weaknesses of the IAEA. One of its problems is, it doesn't have any money. It needs maybe $15, $20, $30 billion at least, maybe $100 billion a year. I don't know what it needs. And it needs the right to do all sorts of challenge inspections, and it needs the right to go everywhere, and it has to be universal or it won't be accepted everywhere. And that's a very different regime. So I don't think that's a transformation of what we have. I think that's something new that sits on top of what we have because it's so different.
And you have to start putting that into place because it will take a long time to make it work. You can use a whole lot of IAEA technology, experience, etcetera, but it's a new thing.
And you have to get countries to agree to do that, and it's kind of hard to get them to agree to do that unless they see the purpose of doing it. And therefore you more or less have to get them to agree that zero is the goal and we're doing this in order to make zero feasible. That's not absolutely essential in every case, but in most cases that's kind of what you have to get nations to agree.
And you have quite a few important powers like Russia and France that are nowhere near there today. And one of the important elements of what I believe is that you want to go ahead and start with the people who do agree and bring along the ones that don't agree as the coalition expands and not say, "Well, until we get the ones that don't agree, like Russia, to go along, we won't do anything with anybody else, and we'll just wait and still try to negotiate with the Russians."
So I think some of the thinking needs to be turned on its head as you develop this new control regime because most of the problems of zero are problems that cannot be solved unless there's agreement on the limited purpose, and unless there's a control regime in place. But if you think of Zero in that context, namely that the control regime is there, it's been there, and people have a lot of confidence in it, which doesn't mean there's no breakout capability (there will be a breakout capability but it will be symmetric)-and if there's a control regime, that at least gives you a little bit of warning.
The breakout capability I think itself becomes a bit problematic for a country because they will probably get caught before they can do anything with their breakout. I personally don't think one or two weapons give them a huge advantage, and they'll get caught as soon as they try to make use of them politically, or whatever. But if you think of zero in that context, it becomes much more logical, and so you shouldn't even talk about it outside that context.
The last thing we have to do is, we have to exercise more of our own leadership. Again, if you look at this business of bilaterally negotiating further reductions with the Russians, another problem with it is that our forces are way higher than they need to be if we really accept the proper purpose of nuclear weapons anyway. And you don't want to say, "Well, but we have to keep them for negotiating leverage." I've heard that from a lot of people who I otherwise respect.
But we don't want to give them up; we want to keep them until we can negotiate lower numbers with the Russians. And I ask, "Why, and why do we really care? Why don't we just actually reduce them to a level that makes sense with this new strategy, and therefore perhaps increase the credibility of the demand we're making on the rest of the world to accept this more limited purpose for nuclear weapons? Isn't that more valuable to us than having a few less strategic Russian weapons, particularly when they got thousands of nonstrategic ones anyhow which are just as dangerous?"
So we need to change our own approach to give better leadership. If we do that, then I think it becomes possible to envision a world in which all powers go to zero simultaneously. You cannot envision a world in which you go to zero sequentially, a world that says, "Okay, we'll go, and then you'll go, and then you'll go, and then you'll go." It has all sorts of instabilities that don't need elaboration. A world in which everybody goes essentially simultaneously and that that's verified that that's happening by the control regime which is in place and has been there for quite a while is a world that you can envision.
This is not easy, not something of course that happens quickly. But I think it's important to get the big picture right. And I don't think we quite have the big picture right if what we think we're trying to do is to strengthen, improve, and consolidate the present regime-because if we consolidate that regime, we will consolidate a regime that won't ever let us do this because it's not possible to do it within the present regime. And we'll be stuck more or less with the kind of bi-level world of nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers we have today, and acceptance of nuclear weapons. And I think in that world, eliminating proliferation is very problematic.
FERGUSON: Thank you very much, Jan. It was perfect stage-setting for the beginning of this panel. Next we turn to Jonathan Schell, and let me briefly introduce him.
You can talk about his accomplishments for a long time. In the interest of time let me just highlight a few things: Author of numerous books, many of them dealing with the question of nuclear abolition and disarmament. Back in the early 1980s he made a big splash with books: The Abolition and Fate of the Earth. He was a staff-writer of the New Yorker magazine for about 20 years. He's now the Harold Willens Peace Fellow of The Nation Institute, and he also lectures at Yale University. And his latest book on the nuclear weapons issue is The Seventh Decade. With that, I'll give you Jonathan Schell.
SCHELL: Well, thank you. My comments really are going to be part two of Jan Lodal's theme because I very much second his idea that the key to stopping proliferation can only be an embrace of the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Let me just comment a little bit, unrelated to that because it's just a theme we've been chasing around in this seminar since the beginning. And that is, what is the political correlate to the American arsenal now envisioned even in the upcoming negotiations, as it's around 1,000 or 1,500 weapons? And I think if we ask ourselves, is there anything about our relationship with Russia, which is the only peer in this respect that would warrant a relationship of being in a nuclear dual to the death, I think we'd have to say that there isn't any such political correlate, that it's really something that's left over from the Cold War, and that we're not making nuclear weapons to target Russia.
We're targeting Russia because we need targets for nuclear weapons and because they've got them and we're not willing yet to set a number of zero with them.
So this leads into our subject, because I think in the search for a political correlate we have to change the framework. And the change of framework that's needed is: embrace of the goal of abolition.
And I think in that context, Jonathan Granoff was saying that really then you're looking at our arsenals as a policy no longer of nuclear deterrence--because what are we deterring anyway? What is there about Russia now that we need to deter, other than their nuclear weapons? It really becomes a policy of nuclear restraint rather than deterrence.
Anyway, let me turn then to the main theme, and that is, I tend to be a bit more of a pessimist than I think Joe Cirincione was last night. It seems to me that the nonproliferation efforts, especially with respect to Iran and North Korea, are not doing very well, that the policy of military force, which hasn't been tried with those countries and I hope will not be tried, looks promising at all. And in fact I have to add that, although I hope the diplomatic efforts succeed and I think they are worth trying even in the present context, they don't look so very promising to me, especially when I consider the history of nuclear weapons and the fact that once people get their hands on these things, we only have one example on record, and that's South Africa, of anyone loosening their grip. And that was because their country was about to turn into a different one under majority rule, as we know.
So anyway, without going into that anymore, I tend to be a pessimist in that regard. And in general I believe if the game you're playing has no good options for you, it's a good idea to change the game. And of course the game changer now is on the table, and it's been put there by our president. And standing behind that really and I think in a somewhat causal relationship was the Four Horsemen article in the Wall Street Journal. And standing behind that in turn was the abolitionism of Ronald Reagan, which thanks to Paul Lettow, we know about and appreciate as we did not at the time.
And so a very, very interesting momentum that cuts clean across political lines gets sort of nuclear abolition out of the kind of ideological ghetto that it was in. And I know because I was in that ghetto and didn't like it. So it's very nice to be able to step forward into the broader world. Very, very gratifying feeling. So it's a new moment. It's a real moment.
But I'd like to point out that this vision comes in at least two versions, and I'd like to try to crystallize those and advocate one of them, which is so far a minority view. The first version I'll call the misty mountain top. And that's a reference of course to the speech given by Sam Nunn in which he said that "abolition is like a mountain top that's still covered in mist," and that "what we need to do is get to a base camp and start taking first steps and kind of exploring in the fog," so to speak, and see what comes next. So it's a sort of an act-think, act-think process.
And obviously that approach concentrates our attention almost exclusively on the first steps, on the steps, and not so much as Jan Lodal has done on the goal, and as I would like to do also.
But I think we could imagine a different alternative. And I'm going to call this one the clear valley rather than the misty mountain top. I am aware that these two could be the names of perfumes, but let's make them suffice. Give abolition some nice names, sort of Zen names. I didn't think of that.
I'd like to propose we precisely reverse this order of business because I want to put the goal first and the steps second. That might seem strange because it perhaps would seem self-evident that proliferation is the agenda that's most immediately and urgently on the table. Certainly that's true. And it might seem strange to say that we should put the goal ahead of that.
And I am aware by the way that I am violating the rules of this panel because I was supposed to talk about the long term, but now I've taken the long term and put it into the short term, because it's really a continuation of this morning's panel in that sense.
So it's a sense, an idea that paradoxically we need to put the finish line before the starting line, or, to put scripture to an unintended use, "The last shall be first." So let me explain what I'm talking about here.
Let me make a few comments of a basic nature about the proliferation problem. We often have our discussions on the basis of a distinction really between position and proliferation, almost as if these inhabit two separate universes. And indeed, in terms of negotiations that's been true. The two structures, the nonproliferation treaty and the nonproliferation efforts, really have gone on independently of arms control, which has been really chiefly, almost solely-someone might correct me here-a matter of Moscow, Washington negotiations. But of course if we look at this historically, I think really the distinction obviously breaks down because every possessor was once a proliferator.
These are not two animals. They are the same beast. And I think that addressing this reality and considering the whole dilemma in this light is really an essential key to understanding and addressing proliferation.
Just to give a couple of examples, even before the nuclear age began I think we can see this principle at work, that the United States was in a nuclear-weapon-free world in 1939, but the mere prospect that Hitler would get the bomb was enough to cause us to go and get it. So in a certain sense we were proliferating because Hitler already had a bomb in our minds. And I use this phrase "the bomb in the mind" as being something that's basic to the whole nuclear age. And the "bomb in the mind" in this case was Hitler's bomb in our mind, and it led us to, in a manner of speaking, to proliferate.
Just one other example is India because I think we've seen just right in front of our eyes this sort of magical transformation of one of the dread proliferators into one of the almost celebrated possessors because it illustrates a very bizarre phenomenon of our discussions so often, which is that getting nuclear weapons is bad, but having them is sort of okay. And India has gone through just that process.
And of course that leads the way for countries like North Korea and Iran, who readily cite the Indian example. In fact, I was talking to one of the top negotiators in the North Korean negotiation, and he said that he thought that really what North Korea wanted at the end of the day was an Indian solution. Maybe they'd freeze their arsenal, maybe they'd shut down their Yongbyon and all the rest of it, but hold on to a small arsenal of nuclear weapons and have that be accepted. Whether that turns out to be acceptable is another matter altogether, although we don't seem to be able to do much about it even if we don't accept it.
Or consider the connection between deterrence and proliferation, because if you stop to think about it I think you realize that the chief message of deterrence is exactly designed to encourage proliferation-because the lesson is that in order to be safe in a world with nuclear weapons, you have to have them yourself.
And even the president when he embraced abolition in the Prague speech did say that the United States would keep a powerful deterrent. And of course that sentiment receives universal approbation because nobody wants to go in for unilateral disarmament. But think how that must and does sound to the countries that we insist must not have nuclear weapons.
What is unthinkable for us is actually required by them. And not only that, we not only require it, but we may go to war to enforce it. And we did so in Iraq, although it turned out they didn't have the weapons.
So actually this one legitimate use that Jan Lodal has mentioned for us is itself a prime driver of proliferation. And that in turn I think points out or underscores his point that the current system is incompatible with the successful campaign against proliferation.
Now I know that people say that in Iran and Egypt and North Korea, and so on, people don't just look at the United States and get disgusted by our example and our hypocrisies, and say, "Okay, we need nuclear weapons." It's something much deeper than that. There's what I call the Atomic Archipelago, which really means that there's the kind of interrelated system of nuclear powers. And I think again Jan Lodal was saying yesterday that it's a kind of a chain reaction in which we have them, so the Russians have them, so the Chinese have them, so the Indians have them, so the Pakistanis have them.
And when you're talking about the influence, it's this sort of iron chain of deterrence, of action and reaction, that puts the pressure on outside the archipelago to grow new branches in countries that don't want to be without nuclear weapons in a world with nuclear weapons, a lesson that we taught them and continue to teach them.
Well, to wind up here, I think what it mainly misses is what I want to chiefly assert. And that is, the raw power of the abolition idea. The thought is not to just disarm and wait and see what happens, see if somebody follows our example. Of course the idea is to summon the entire world, beginning with its nuclear powers, to change the game entirely by a credible, to borrow that old word from strategy, embrace of the abolition idea, something that you can actually believe in.
And I'm talking about developing some real muscle here because if you stop to think about it, I think that the nuclear arsenals in the hands of the nuclear powers, but especially Washington and Moscow, are the greatest bargaining chip that would have ever been put on the negotiating table. If those two countries and the other nuclear powers at some point in the bargain were ready to trade those away, I think a lot could be obtained in the coinage of a control system.
And also I think what you'd have at that point would be a unity among the great powers that is entirely missing today when you try to deal with North Korea or Iran. I won't go into that; it's very clear that there's a disunity. But countries that were depending on an eventual abolition agreement as much as they now depend on nuclear weapons for their security would get very, very serious about nonproliferation. And I think all kinds of options, from diplomacy to the military, would suddenly be on the table in a way that they are not now. But I don't think it would even come to that.
Also the embrace of the goal would serve as a road map, and I think again I'm repeating Jan Lodal for the fourth or fifth time, provide a road map that gives guidance to the steps.
I'll give just one example of that. In the debate on the fissile material cut-off treaty people agreed that production should be ceased, but they disagree on whether the nations would have to even make declarations of their stocks of fissionable material, as the United States has in fact done. But this second step of making the declaration would be one that would be of great importance, maybe as great importance as the cutoff itself from the point of view of building an abolition regime, because obviously a clear inventory of nuclear facilities is an absolutely essential step for that.
In the same way if we think of the follow-on to the START treaty, as important as the reductions would be the inspection system that accompanied them, that already does accompany that treaty. But the strengthening of it would be important from the point of view of building a global system that eventually could reach abolition. That's what the START treaty, even though it did embrace quite low numbers, was a disaster from an arms control or disarmament point of view.
Just to wind up, I am as aware as Sam Nunn is that we can't at this time and will not commit ourselves to abolition. And I do confess that there is a certain amount of haze after all at the top of that mountain. So I have a diplomatic idea for dealing with that problem, and it's not to embrace a time-bound framework for abolition no matter how long. It's to embrace a time-bound framework for deciding on a time-bound framework.
In other words, I think that what's needed is to add credibility, so it's not just sort of oration in a speech, to the abolition idea. I think the way you do that is to embark on a deliberate process, maybe even time-bound although that's perhaps fanciful, of studying this with interagency review, congressional hearings, international discussions, maybe an international commission or dozens of them, NGOs galore, media and public-with the idea of arriving at a certain point at a point of decision, whether countries can really seriously embrace this goal, what will be needed to get there, and what that time-bound framework might be. And then I think at that point we should also embrace the idea of a nuclear weapon convention to match the other two weapons of mass destruction, which both have conventions.
Just to finish here, I think there's a tendency to regard the abolition of nuclear weapons as a sort of long and weary journey, and that we're going to sort of arrive there spent and exhausted at the end of the day of some indeterminate time-frame. But I think we might see it in a different way. I think we should see it as something that would give us power, that would give us confidence. And in a certain sense it would be the first accomplishment in addressing a much larger global agenda which has loomed up around us and which will need many of the same talents that are required for abolition, and that is of course the global economy, fixing global warming, addressing economic inequities. And those are the really difficult problems.
FERGUSON: Thank you very much, Jonathan. You've put out a lot of provocative thoughts and ideas, and I look forward to Q&A.
But we next have Jonathan Granoff on the line-up. And those of you who don't know Jonathan, a very dynamic man. His travel schedule would put most of us to shame. He is very busy, and he has I would say a fire in the belly about these issues. And I think you'll enjoy listening to him. He's president of Global Security Institute. He serves on many boards and task forces. He's now the co-chair of the blue ribbon Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation and senior advisor of the National Security Committee of American Bar Association. And like I said, he is very active on these issues, and I look forward to hearing his thoughts.
GRANOFF: Thank you very much.
Coherence breeds stability. Incoherence breeds instability. So I was thinking that there's an incoherence between the Biological Weapons Convention and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Regime. And in order to bring coherence, I was thinking we might want to revise the biological weapons convention as follows: that we would still maintain the position that smallpox and polio are prohibited as weapons for everybody but nine countries, because of their moral clarity and stability, should be allowed to use the plague as a weapon. And that way we'd be bringing the biological weapons convention into conformity with the nuclear regime.
I have other modest proposals, which I'll refrain from sharing with you.
But this highlights the core dilemma that we face right now, as Judge Weeramantry, when he was the vice president judge of the International Court of Justice, said so clearly: "Equality of all those who are subject to a legal system is central to its integrity and legitimacy. So it is with the body of principles constituting the corpus of international law. Least of all can there be one law for the powerful and another law for the rest. No domestic system would accept such a principle; nor can any international system which is premised on a concept of equality."
Well, we can pursue our international security interests without reference to the rule of law and simply disregard such statements and pursue a continued reliance on the law of power. I as an American find that abhorrent mainly because of Article 6, not of the MPT but Article 6 of our Constitution, which as all of you know makes treaties in Clause II the supreme law of the land.
It is in fact the very raison d'etre of the United States to be the first country in human history to be founded on the principle of the rule of law. And if there is any export that we give the rest of the world that's a great benefit to the rest of the world, that the rest of the world recognizes as a benefit, it isn't sitcoms, it isn't our movies, it isn't Coca Cola. It is the rule of law. And that is something that I think that we undermine when we flaunt it in the area-especially in this one unique, overriding, overarching issue-of modern times nuclear weapons.
So the central legal institution presently dealing with the issue is of course the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And I want to just place the abolition issue in that context. And I first want to start out with is, how deep is my valley? How deep is our valley right now?
Our valley is this deep. In March of 2005 the National Defense Strategy of the United States in the section addressing "changing security environments," stated: "Our strength as a nation will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak, using international fora, judicial processes and terrorism."
Well, this did not escape the attention of the rest of the world, and it showed the attitude that the United States, for a very dark period, had toured international fora, the NPT, judicial processes, the International Court of Justice, by conflating it with terrorism.
I don't think that there could be a more dangerous statement made in terms of our international honor and our national security.
And it was backed up by our conduct at the 2005 NPT conference where we simply refused to have our own conduct reviewed. I'm pleased to say I was there for the last two weeks in New York, and the fact that we had Rose Gottemoeller leading the delegation with a very comprehensive and substantive agenda of arms control and nonproliferation and threat reduction, backed up by a letter by the president of the United States to a Prep Com-I mean this was literally unprecedented that the president sent a letter to the Prep Com highlighting the commitment of the United States to the rule of law, to the NPT, and to the disarmament commitment.
Atmospherics means something because that's the context for people's capacity to communicate with one another, and they were dramatically changed. However, you have to look at it in the larger context of our entire government because on May 11, General Chilton went public with his position, according to the Global Security newswire of May 12, that the United States would consider responding to a cyber attack, a virtual attack, with nuclear weapons.
And he points out that we've had serious computer attacks, but he says, "If it were a more serious attack that we would put the nuclear option on the table." But then he says, "I don't see any reason not to." He says, "Why would we constrain ourselves on how to respond?"
Well, part of the working agenda that the NPT came up with that we've accepted as a working agenda involves pledges that we've made to the Security Council, pledges we solemnly made in '95, called negative security assurances. Those alone would constrain us, not to mention customary humanitarian international law, which talks about proportionality. Here is the chief military officer saying, "I don't see any constraints against using nuclear weapons in response to a virtual attack."
You would end, you would put civilization at risk over this?
Well, there is a distance for us to breach here. And that's why I look to the international community's perspective on this when they look at this incoherence. And how does the international community contextualize addressing this?
The secretary general of the UN today in Geneva reiterated the way in which he contextualized it. The secretary general spoke, I guess it must have been just a few hours ago at the CD. And he said that, "We live in an age of interdependence. The past year of unfolding crisis, food, energy, and now economic have made this clear." To the rest of the world is concern with food because half the world is living on less than two dollars a day, and so this is the real existential threat that most people are facing, and that's what they're concerned with. And then he said, "By accelerating disarmament, we can liberate resources that we need to combat climate change, address food insecurity and achieve the millennium development goals."
In other words, he is reiterating, and he says, "Business as usual should not prevail." He has talked about this today, May 4; he went through an entire analysis of the fact that there are viruses that don't have passports, that the world has become interdependent, that the economic crisis has demonstrated our economic interdependence. So he's highlighted economic interdependence, health interdependence. And the idea that we can have a global normative regime to address these crises that the rest of the world sees as existential threats, and they are real threats, and ask countries to forsake short-term economic opportunity for long term environmental responsibility on one day, and then the next day talk about the legitimacy of a two-tiered security regime in which there are second class citizens in an apartheid regime is simply incoherent.
And the secretary general has put forward a very, very profoundly progressive and comprehensive five-point program that he did on UN Day, October 24th, that includes, first, "I urge all NPT parties, in particular the nuclear weapons states, to fulfill their obligation under the treaty to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament. They could pursue this goal by agreement on a framework of separate, mutually reinforcing instruments, or they could consider negotiating a nuclear weapons convention backed by a strong system of verification as has long been proposed at the United Nations. Upon the request of Costa Rica and Malaysia, I have circulated to all United Nations member states a draft of such a convention which offers a good point of departure."
Now the draft-he also calls for the Security Council to call for a disarmament summit. He calls for the General Assembly to call, to also have a major world conference, the sort of thing that Jonathan has just been proposing, focused on having an open, sane public debate on nuclear disarmament.
I would urge everyone to study carefully the secretary general's October 24th speech.
Now what, a nuclear weapons convention would address the incoherence of the regime, and it is consistent with the NPT in this regard. The NPT proposes auxiliary instruments. It incorporates even within its own language a CTBT. When you look at the nonproliferation efforts, the need for associated treaties is well established. A convention would be the associated instrument to move forward on the disarmament part of it.
Now I don't believe that we are in the political environment, the security environment, in which a nuclear weapons convention could be achieved right now. But I think by placing the marker in the ground, it can help change the framework of the debate. And the debate changes to: What are policies that advance creating that political environment and that security environment in which a nuclear weapons convention could be achieved? And what are policies that move us away from that?
So it helps clarify the debate, and it helps universalize the discussion. India is not going to ratify a CTBT until they see real progress on disarmament. And I got this book, this is hot off the press, it's a conference I was at. I got to speak right after the prime minister, the president and the foreign minister all spoke, and then a couple of people like us here got to speak. And they made very clear, India made very clear that they want to move toward a universal, nondiscriminatory, legally verifiable regime, which means a convention.
So I am saying that it's time to put that marker in the ground so that we have a clearer criteria to evaluate policies as we go forward.
FERGUSON: Thank you very much, Jonathan and all three of you. Quite provocative and vigorous in calling for this world without nuclear weapons. So I ask, a number, several people have already put up their name placards. So offer constructive criticism or praise or critiques, and this is something where I hope at the end of the next 50 minutes we have a greater collective wisdom on this issue. We're not going to solve the issue obviously, but at least if we can get a greater collective understanding on this.
So Scott and Sharon and Bruce are first on the list, so let's go to Scott first.
SAGAN: I have a comment and a question. The comment is, I very much liked Jonathan Granoff's Swiftian modest proposal about making the BWC more like the NPT. And I was going to suggest that you should accept Chilton's targeting philosophy and change U.S. nuclear negative security assurances to say that we promise not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states unless they attack the United States or our allies in conjunction with a nuclear power or have a teenager who uses computers to hack into Pentagon computers. And that would the Swiftian modest proposal that Chilton would lead you to.
My serious comment, however, is a question to Jan, but I think either Jonathan might want to jump in as well. Seems to me that there is a tension in the disarmament debate that has to do with targeting. I accept the notion that we should move towards no first use and have bought on to the idea of zero nuclear weapons as our goal. But I find it disturbing that very often when people discuss, well, why can that be stable at low numbers? People quickly return to a counter-value targeting philosophy saying, "Oh, well, a small number of nuclear weapons can destroy cities and they are destabilizing so we don't need very much."
And seems to me that the tension here is between what is at least in part motivating these concerns are concerns about terrorism and are counterterrorism philosophies based on the notion that it is wrong to deliberately kill noncombatants. And yet our deterrent philosophy is in part based on the notion that maybe it stabilizes people to have a targeting that targets cities.
The only way I've seen to try to square that circle is to take the targeting corollary that underlines the idea of you need to deter other states that use nuclear weapons only to say that the goal should be to punish the political and military leaders as part of your deterrent targeting policy who have made the decision and implemented the decision to use nuclear weapons first.
Now I understand that there are still questions about collateral damage, but at least that could get you legally and morally away from a tension between counter-terrorism and deterrence. So I'd be curious to know what your thoughts are about, what do you actually use nuclear weapons for if deterrence fails in your view, and from Jonathan, if they have thought more about this question of targeting at low numbers?
LODAL: Well, let me say that I did not either here or in the article propose no first use. I propose that the only purpose of nuclear weapons is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by others. I don't assert one way or the other whether an ability, which I think is existential, or a plan or even a doctrine to use them first is or is not part of preventing the use of nuclear weapons by others.
Because I don't think it's necessary to convince everybody that they should have either a non-verifiable no first use or a verifiable but only existential no first use. I find the debate about no first use just a bit empty since it's existential anyway. And I just think it's important to get on with the real stuff that we need to get on with, and that is to try to convince everyone that all these other uses they think, whether it's deterring conventional attack or retaliating for cyber attack or stopping big tank armies, which we can now do with PGMs or whatever else they might have as a crazy idea that they think they can do with nuclear weapons are actually crazy ideas, and they are not going to do those with nuclear weapons, certainly not in a world where other people have nuclear weapons.
I mean a lot of the things that people say, Oh, you could do this with nuclear weapons or that with nuclear weapons, don't apply if you're deterred. And so I don't think you have to go there.
With regard to the targeting, it seems unlikely that we would have some kind of transition where we went from a whole lot of nuclear weapons, enough to do counter-value, but let me come back to that, to zero. So you're going to go through some period where you have a small number of nuclear weapons, like China does today and lots of other countries have. But I don't know, maybe it's because I spent my first two years working on this in the McNamara days running all the computer models trying to figure out how to do counter-value targeting. And even then it didn't work, and we couldn't do it, and the other side had a very large number of weapons left over after you tried it.
And besides that, everybody was killed anyway, when you only attacked the targets. Now accuracy is a little better today and all these kinds of things.
So I don't think there's really much of an issue there. Let's say we got down to 400 weapons on our way to zero; you'd have to provide some targeting guidance to the people who do the targeting. The other side won't know what your targeting guidance is. You can keep it secret; they don't know whether you're going to use those 400 to destroy 400 cities or whether you're going to use it on 400 military targets or what you're going to use it on. I think certainly in a world in which everybody has agreed we're going to zero and we have a control regime being built, and we're moving downward, I don't think it matters a whole lot.
So I don't think you have to worry too much about the targeting guidance in that kind of a situation. And that's really the only situation where it would be an issue.
So I think again you have to start from the fundamentals, and the fundamentals are that we're going to have proliferation, someday somebody will use one of these things, the probability is pretty high that the terrorists can get their hands on enough material over time to make one bomb. They can put it on a pleasure boat, they can put it in a harbor, they can blow it up, and all of these things are now technologically possible. They weren't a long time ago, and that's what's really different is that they're technologically possible now and they weren't then technologically possible for the terrorists to organize the networks and to make the bomb and know how to do it and all of that.
And that unless you have a world in which you're looking for a much higher signal to noise ratio, which is to say you're going to get the noise down by getting everybody to zero so that if somebody's doing something you've got some signal you can see there a lot better, you're not likely to stop that.
So once you believe that, then these kinds of issues about, well, don't we go through a transition where we have some targeting guidance problems and all of that? They are real, but I think they're workable, and they become somewhat secondary.
SCHELL: Well, I think this question highlights one of the advantages of adopting zero as the goal and really being en route there because if you're really just passing through a low number stage, if you would adopt low numbers in a kind of minimum deterrence posture as your goal, then your question becomes acute.
But if you're really on the way and you're going to be at that 400 for 18 months, or whatever the time period would be until you actually move to zero, then I don't think it would warrant a whole doctrine. But still you might say you need to give yourself some account of what the nuclear posture review is going to say for that year, let's say.
I'd observe that right now our declaratory policy is de-targeting. We don't decide that question. We don't threaten one thing or another.
VOICE: That's silly. We may, believe me we have specific information about things to do. I'm pretty sure.
SCHELL: No, I'm not saying that we don't. I'm saying that our declaratory position-I mean, the Bush administration's position --
VOICE: -- was launched by accident. That does not say that if we launched it deliberately it would go to sea. It says quite the opposite, that the military has given us a target and they have to destroy with high probability those targets.
SCHELL: No, but when you read the nuclear posture review of the Bush administration, they try to move it back from threats to capabilities. There's a very determined effort, whatever the actual targeting instructions are. There's a very definite move away from the idea that we are targeting a particular country.
I remember an interview with Colin Powell in which he was asked, "Do we target Russia?" And he indignantly replied, "We don't target anybody!"
Now I know there's a difference between declaratory policy and what actually goes on with the hardware. But I think that such a declaratory policy if it were continued would cover the situation very nicely.
GRANOFF: I think that in order to get to the kind of low numbers we're talking about, a process of cooperation would have to be put into place, much greater levels of transparency, in order to create the confidence that would get us there, relationships between countries would have to change. I was one of the people who worked on the model nuclear weapons convention that the secretary general distributed, and for me the issue of getting to zero relates largely to democratization in China. I demanded that we include provisions for whistle-blower statutes, which would mean a level of cooperation where you could protect people. You have to create a culture of accountability in much of the world.
I mean, it's almost as if you're saying that this -- that this vision and this goal starts to drive a transformative process that -- last week at the UN there were two major conferences going on. One was on sustainable development -- climate, food. And here you had the entire world working together, focusing on real threats that people are dying from, lack of resources. And so that's going on in one room, and then in the other room is this dialogue of mutual threats and dealing with nuclear weapons. And I mean, it's just really sort of incoherent that we do face these collective, real threats that we have commitments to deal with. And you can't -- I don't see how you can deal with them while you're -- while you're squaring off with one another.
And I look at it -- I kind of look at it as if -- I'm reminded that we are all downwind from the weakest link on the chain. And we keep talking about U.S. posture and Russian posture, but we're -- the -- General Kidwai in 2005 was the head of the strategic planning division of Pakistan's National Command Authority and one of the two figures who can spell out the country's red lines, the crossing of which by India would result in the use of nuclear weapons. This is their policy: one, the severe military defeat by India; two, serious territorial advances toward any of Pakistan's major cities; economic strangulation through a blockade; political destabilization.
Now, after the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, the then -- the then head of the -- one of the heads of the BJP -- actually called the RSS supremo, that's the religious organization, the "hindutva" behind the BJP, K.S. Sudarshan, in an interview said that war with Pakistan would turn into an immediate nuclear one, but that, and I quote, "It was necessary to defeat the demons and there was no other way. And let me say with confidence that after this destruction, a new world will emerge which will be very good, free from evil and terrorism." Now, this is not just some -- you know this is not some low-level bureaucrat in the BJP. This is a guy with enormous influence. And this isn't just, you know, some second-rate colonel in Pakistan's army. This is policymakers. And we're downwind from this.
So I look at the sustainability of the legitimacy of nuclear weapons in that context, and I just don't see how we can't move toward eliminating this threat. And they're not -- it's -- they're not going to eliminate it unless there is a global norm against elimination. They can't. India can't get rid of it unless China gets rid it. China can't get rid of it unless Russia and the United States do. And therefore we stand at risk, unless we set forth the global norm.
FERGUSON: Sharon Squassoni, please.
SQUASSONI: Great. Thank you. Thanks for some really interesting comments. I think both Jonathans put their finger on that cognitive dissonance, the good and the bad of nuclear weapons, but in different ways --Jonathan Schell, when you said, you know, getting nuclear weapons is bad but having them is okay. But Jonathan Granoff, when you said -- when you talk about a two-tier system and second-class citizens, I really think you have to flip that on its head, because what you're doing is continuing to support the notion that, you know, having the nuclear weapons is good -- the first-class citizens versus the second-class citizens.
So going back to -- and it all boils down to deterrence, right? The abolitionists saying that, you know, the moral dilemma, you can't have these nuclear weapons, and the guys who have the nuclear weapons basically not being able to get over that. And one of the good things about the four statesmen's editorial is that they circumvented that by not really talking about deterrence, by simply doing this cost-benefit analysis, saying that now the risks of having those nuclear weapons is too great.
So get back to your second tier, your two tiers, you really have to flip that and say it's the guys who have -- and, of course, you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics here -- but the guys who have the nuclear weapons are the ones who have the problems. Now, I don't know how you get to -- you know, maybe you use metaphors of, you know, clean planets and all the rest of it, but it's something that in order to capture the public's imagination, which you need for a true abolition movement, there's going to have to be some catchy phrase. It's not "misty mountain"; it's not "clear valley." (Laughs.) Sorry.
And it goes back to Olof Palme's injunction that, you know, you -- it needs -- it can't just come from the top down. It's all of us talking about deterrence and everything else. It's got to come from the bottom up.
And I don't think it's any coincidence that Obama gave that speech in Prague. But the odd thing about that speech in Prague was that the applause was very minor. And so I think the challenge for everybody is to find that common language, whatever it is, that's going to ignite this also from the bottom.
FERGUSON: Any quick comments on that before we go to Bruce?
SCHELL: Just very quickly, it is a tremendous paradox of this time, that what you have is almost like an official movement to deal with the nuclear question. We've got presidents; we've got NGOs; we've got former secretaries and so on and so forth. But the public remains pretty well tuned out.
The problem is that one of the -- is that a public movement is -- there's no sort of established procedure for generating it. All you can do is sort of run your flag up the pole and see who responds. So I guess hard to find a solution to that problem.
LODAL: A couple of things. One, because there are a lot of people trying to make a public movement -- there's the Global Zero program and then there's some other guys who started off on Global Zero but are now independent, trying to make a sort of "Inconvenient Truth" type movie to get people excited. I must say, I think that we actually have convinced the one person who's most important, which is Barack Obama. And the reason he keeps saying this and the reason he personally marked up the Prague speech and said it the way he said it is because he actually believes it and he understands the logic of it and he believes it for strategic reasons. He doesn't believe it for some kind of -- you know, he believes that our safety and security required that we move in this direction.
Now, he's got to organize his government and he's got to get his government to go that way and he's got to understand all these subtleties and he can't possibly do all that himself. So, you know, there's lots of things that can go off track. I might mention, however, I just got a text message that -- maybe this was widely known. I didn't widely know it. But the Four Statesmen are, as we speak, in the Oval Office with him. So, you know, he continues to pay attention to it.
And I think his phrase is probably about as good as we're going to get. I believe his phrase is that he looks forward to or welcomes the -- he used to say a world without nuclear weapons. In Prague, I think he said the "security of a world without nuclear weapons."
FERGUSON: Yes, he did.
GRANOFF: I know this is somewhat -- this is really heresy in Washington to say this, but I'm actually going to think about what you said. (Laughter.) I don't -- I don't have an answer. I find that to be an incredibly challenging and really worthwhile way of looking at it.
But I will share that I had the privilege of spending Thursday morning with one of the people behind the Four Horsemen, Max Kampelman, and the secretary-general of the UN. And so I think that your point is well taken that at the highest levels of -- you know, of political discourse, the issue of elimination is being -- is being heard. But we haven't figured out how to get it to the -- I do everything I can.
FERGUSON: So before I go to Bruce MacDonald, I just want to plug Sharon's recent article in Current History, where she really does put her finger so well on this issue of deterrence, nuclear disarmament, how we really need -- as she said, we need to wrestle with that issue. So I recommend you read her article.
MACDONALD: I wanted to start out my comment-slash-question by saying that I support pretty strongly the idea of zero as a goal and need to work for it and focus, concentrate our minds on it and that sort of thing. But in thinking about -- one thing I must say, on thinking about zero, in a way it's almost kind of a luxury good for us because we in the United States, in a way, are sitting pretty fat. We have a substantial nuclear arsenal right now. We're the unquestioned conventional power leader. Once again, you know, the wisdom of -- was it Churchill saying that divine providence protects, was it, infants, drunkards and the United States of America? We have two big oceans protecting us. Our biggest threats, north and south, are Canada and Latin America, which are hardly big threats at all.
But imagine for a moment that people are talking about abolition and you're Russia or China or Israel.
MACDONALD: And suddenly -- or Japan, that's right -- you are -- suddenly, it's a dicier proposition. And, I mean, we've seen a complete turnaround -- for example, the question of no first use, looking at it, to me, not so much as an issue of actual what might a country do during war but almost as like an indicator of what is their thinking on their nuclear and security situation -- and so -- and this is, in a way, a lead-in to cite the report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. It says the conditions that might make the elimination of nuclear weapons possible are not present today and establishing such conditions would require a fundamental transformation of the world political order. Then it goes on to say the commission recommends a number of steps that can reduce nuclear dangers.
If the biggest nuclear threat we faced, for example, or anybody faced was a situation like between us and the United Kingdom, I think people -- well, we could probably go to zero and that shouldn't be that difficult. But if you are, in almost an extreme case, Israel, where you're surrounded by a lot of countries that question even your right to exist, the idea of zero -- you might say, well, okay, zero, but, you know, the whole world would have to consist, in essence, of UKs and the United Stateses, that idea of fundamental political transformation.
So my question, I guess, is how do you deal with countries where if we were in their ministries of defense or advisers to their prime ministers, might say, "We need nukes to guarantee our security right now. This is -- we have real problems here." We're seeing this in Russia, where there's renewed interest in nuclear weapons, abandonment of their no-first-use pledge and so forth. Do you think -- which comes first, the chicken or the egg? And what is your view? Do you think the political transformation is necessary in order for us to go to zero or do you think it's feasible to go to zero if the political situation in the world remains essentially the way it is today?
LODAL: Can I start out?
Well, I think you put your finger on what I think is sort of the intellectually most complex part of this whole issue and the hardest to communicate with -- to other people about. But I do think there are answers to it.
There's no question but that a lot of powers feel the way that you indicate they feel -- Russia, certainly; others as well. I do not believe you need a transformation of the world political order. I think the world political order is probably -- you know, in a big aggregate sense -- about as good as we'll get. I mean, we don't have a cold war. We don't have a lot of, you know, large-power threats going on. I think the one area where it's not as good as it has to be is the terrorist threat, because here we have a non-deterrable, non-state threat. And we got to put the genie back inside the state boundaries so that everybody is inside that boundary, if you will. And so that needs to be at the top of the list.
Now, I think that -- chicken and egg-- you can't possibly get there if you think of it in terms of how these states look at their security today. You have to say, all right, first of all, is it feasible for them to look at their security in a different way if, in fact, we were all going to zero together? And I won't reiterate what I've already said and elaborate it elsewhere.
I think it is feasible that it's a very different world, then, if we're going to zero together and certainly when we're at zero together, and that most of the reasons that they keep their nuclear weapons go away -- not all of them, but most of the reasons go away -- and that some of the other reasons they think they have can be subject to negotiation and persuasion, because they're not as helpful to them as they might think they are. And if we're in a world where everybody else is going to zero, we can also make it unhelpful for them to be the last hold-out.
So there are a lot of things that can be done there to convince them that those other marginal benefits they think they have -- it's actually very hard to come up with scenarios in which you could help yourself against some kind of superior conventional attack with a nuclear response. You might be able to deter it; you might not. It depends on whether the other guy's got nuclear weapons. But this scenario game is harder than people think.
So I'll give one example. You look at Israel. Everybody says, you know, they're very worried. It's impossible. I think they keep their nuclear weapons today because of Iran almost entirely. In the beginning, yeah, they were worried. They had conventional inferiority; they had a huge Egyptian army; they had a big Jordanian army. They got peace treaties now with each of -- in Jordan. They don't really have a conventional threat against -- that's existential to them today. And even then, it wasn't quite clear how they would use nuclear weapons to deal with those threats.
So I think -- I think these things can be dealt with if you think about it in that context.
And then the last thing I'll say is -- so once you've done that, the next thing to think about is, well, what could we get people to agree on? And I believe you can get them to agree on these two things: number one, that we need a comprehensive control regime or else the terrorists are going to get the weapons, and, number two, that over time you can get them -- you can get a lot of them in the beginning and then more later on to agree to de-legitimize the purpose of nuclear weapons, and that once you've done those two things, you actually have the possibility of getting to zero, but you have to start there. And you actually don't start with a comprehensive test ban treaty. You don't start with a START agreement with Russia. You don't -- you don't -- you don't begin with a fissile material cut-off if what you're trying to do is keep the terrorists from getting stuff and get the world to zero.
All those things might kind of help something. I'm not denigrating them. But I am saying if you put all your diplomatic effort there and if the political system says, well, we're going to have big press conferences and these are going to be our arms control successes, that's unfortunate, because then those things have gotten in the way of doing the things that you really need to do to solve the real problems that we -- that we're going to face in the coming decades.
SCHELL: Just put an asterisk on that, and that is that there's a -- one gigantic security advantage that I think we somehow tend to leave out of the equation. If you take any pair of countries that are in a nuclear face-off, they are in danger of being blown to dust in a nuclear war. And if they denuclearize, that danger is removed. And that is a security interest of colossal scope, and I would say outweighs almost any deficit that would appear in the -- of the other kind that you describe, although those are real.
GRANOFF: I have one line.
FERGUSON: Okay. Yeah.
GRANOFF: Yeah. Moving towards zero itself creates political transformation. And that's part of the purpose of the zero focus, is that it helps drive that transformative process.
FERGUSON: Tom Cochran.
COCHRAN: What I'm about to say is a conversation I've had previously with Henry and this morning with Bruce. In my -- there's no such -- there's no well-defined term, "zero nuclear weapons." And the nuclear weapons that can harm you the most are the ones that are launch-ready. And you can set up a scheme to characterize the threat in terms of a function, not a scalar. It's not the number of nuclear weapons, but it's a function of -- it defines the time -- the number of launch-ready weapons as a function of time. It's a vector, two-dimensional. You can make it, as Bruce pointed out, three and four dimensional.
But I'm wondering whether it's not time -- beneficial to start being a little more sophisticated about the way we talk about the reduction process and instead of talking about going to zero, which places one camp of states that have weapons and another camp of states that don't, if we reframe the discussion into moving every state's time function -- for every state, you can define the number of launch-ready weapons as a function of time. It's a curve. And for some of -- for non-weapon states, that curve intersects the abscissa and for weapon states it intercepts the ordinate. And so if you defined it in that frame and all states had a -- the objective would be move all states' curves to the right so that you had longer time to gain launch-ready weapons. Then you don't discriminate any more between weapon states and non-weapon states. And also, you start paying attention to -- for weapons states -- whether weapons are really threatening or not, because I'm less concerned about thousands of weapons in storage in Las Vegas than I am about weapons on Minuteman missiles, I mean, in terms of the threat they pose.
And so that's just an idea, whether we wouldn't benefit from sort of reframing somewhat the -- and getting more sophisticated about how one goes to zero and where one places one's emphasis.
By the way, Senator Nunn has bought this argument.
GRANOFF: So did Stansfield Turner. Stansfield Turner wrote a book about that, fleshed that out. That was his thinking.
SCHELL: Yeah, well, that's an idea that's -- in one sense, is dear to my heart. And I've talked about degrees below zero, in other words, which is a recognition that since we all know that it's impossible to exit from the nuclear age, because no matter how far you cut back, the knowledge of how to rebuild these things is always present. So there's no such thing as returning to 1944. All you can do, ultimately, is drive back that fuse, that time frame, from intention to use by a certain amount. It might be six months; it might be a week; it might be two years.
So in concrete terms, the definition of zero has to include a technical specification. Are there any plutonium pits? Is there plutonium somewhere? Is it safeguarded? Is there no plutonium? Is it in glass logs? What? So that's why I speak about degrees below zero.
But I think I would like to hold on to the idea of designating one of those points as zero because of the immense emotional and moral and legal value of that. And then -- but recognize that at the same time that you would still be -- disarmament wouldn't end with the achievement of that zero. Let's say you took all the plutonium out of the weapons and stored it somewhere under inspection and called, say, okay, this is zero. But then you might still want to go beyond that and disable that plutonium and so on.
And I think that you'd reach sort of an absolute zero at a point where you said that no country was, in any way, legally or otherwise, envisioning making use of its residual capacity to get back into the nuclear game, even if some other country were to do so. That would be the sort of absolute zero. And that might be the one that's the mist on the mountaintop, in my book.
COCHRAN: You know, weighing a situation today where the United States is spending billions of dollars on taking pits and taking and converting them into MOX, which doesn't change the risk to anybody one iota, as far as I can tell --
SOKOLSKI: Might increase it.
COCHRAN: --because it's focusing on the wrong part of that curve. And so -- and in your -- I mean, I can understand how you want to cling to this idea that there's a zero. But let me ask you, how many -- if Pakistan has forward assemblies over here and six pits over here, how many nuclear weapons do they have? If I have a hundred kilograms of HEU metal upstairs, how much -- how many nuclear weapons do I have?
LODAL: I want to say that I think these are some of the things that of course would have to be worked out in the decades it will take to get close to the point where that's the main issue. But I think today we face a very different set of issues, and that those issues, I believe, can be dealt with through a lot of the things that Jonathan suggested, ultimately
And I don't want to imply that I think they're not issues. I think they are issues. But I think we're so far from that world where that kind of short-term break-out versus longer term break-out question -- or the main question that we right now should focus on trying to get our government to take the leadership position that we need to take to actually make this program its primary focus, as opposed to a lot of other things that it's off doing right now. It's got rhetoric, but it's got a bunch of programs that don't fit the rhetoric and certainly don't fit what I think ought to be the right policy right now. So we ought to focus on getting the U.S. government, because that's what going to do it.
And with all due respect to Jonathan's great efforts last week and other times in New York, the UN's not going to do it and no other country in the world's going to do it. The Russians don't even want to do it. And so either we're going to take the lead to move in this direction or it's not going to -- it's not going to go.
FERGUSON: Because we don't -- yeah, Tom, I just want to make sure Henry gets in. We have about four or five minutes left, and I want to finish on time. So Henry Sokolski and then we'll have the panelists make their final brief comments. Thank you.
SOKOLSKI: These comments by Mr. Lodal are interesting about how he's not convinced our current arms control efforts are really tuned to the terrorist threat and going to zero. I think you're right. They're not. And the good news is zero is not right around the corner, by your own admission, apparently. And I have to say, having looked at all of the evidence that we're able to get our hands on about nuclear terrorism -- no specific intelligence; probably not right around the corner either.
But that does raise, I think, a reasonable point which would leaven, I think, what Tom was saying. If you're focused on preventing an immediate war, you're worried about warheads on top of missiles. If you're worried about diversion, terrorists, proliferation, you are worried about the material. And I don't think we are focused enough on our limitations in curbing that threat. And I think we're whistling past a lot of graveyards, which Tom has done a lot of work on.
So I encourage you to focus, again, more on what is doable and not doable with regard to safeguarding. It's not everything. You can't safeguard everything. A little candor there would go a long way.
One question, though. I am a little astonished about how much you guys badmouth nuclear weapons in one respect. If you take a look at almost anybody who's in the military in Russia, China or the United States, they are very interested in EMP. They do see it as a very practical weapon. And they don't see a downside as much as you folks talk about with regard to collateral damage, because it's zero, you know, at least directly, with relation to the weapon. To some lesser extent, I think some of those countries -- not the United States but other countries -- do see a use of these weapons against large armor. I think India, Pakistan, Israel and Russia and China all do. I would hope that you would disabuse them somehow of the utility of these things. You need to talk to that point and you don't. And I think it makes some of what you're saying less credible as a result.
FERGUSON: Okay. We'll have one or two minutes, so if the three of you want to make some very brief comments, and then I'll -- the other participants, thank you. And we'll call it a successful workshop -- any parting comments by anyone? We've said so much already.
LODAL: I think the only thing I would add is that I don't disagree that the materials are the problem, and that's why there's so much focus in -- certainly in the article on the comprehensive control regime, which is designed to control all materials as best as possible. And that's both to Tom's point and your point. And ultimately, that's what you have to control, is all the materials, if you're really focused on terrorism and proliferation threat.
But it turns out that a big bunch of those materials happen to be inside bombs right now. And so you need to control the working bombs as well. Also, they can be stolen, and that's why I don't think the small ones and the tactical ones are less of a problem than the ones on top of warheads. And the ones on top of warheads are owned by states and we know who owns them and deterrence probably works pretty well there, but it doesn't work for these other things.
With regard to no identified threats of terrorists, I'm not sure that's exactly right, A, and, B, I think what's happened here in Pakistan the last couple of months is enough cause to reconsider that in and of itself.
GRANOFF: Henry, I have made the case of the unacceptability of nuclear weapons in India and all over. And I concur with you completely. I mean, nuclear weapons are inherently nondiscriminatory; they affect future generations. Any -- you know, any cursory knowledge of what happened at Hiroshima should convince anybody that they're unacceptable for civilization and that by accident or design they will be -- they will end up going off.
I mean, when William Perry spoke at the UN last September before about 50 foreign ministers and talked for the first time about his being awakened one morning at 3:30 a.m. because sensors had never been used before and mistook a sunrise for a possible launch. And you realize how precarious this situation was with the United States -- or a handful of them disappearing for an afternoon in the United States. And you think of the command and control in countries like Pakistan or India, I mean, it's just an unacceptable risk.
And I think that one of the biggest problems that -- every time I come to Washington it just hits me like a tsunami -- is that we see this as a national security issue, whereas it's a global security issue. Any use anywhere is going to affect the whole planet. And it's very myopic. We're talking about the future of humanity with these weapons. And right now we are a country with the capacity to lead in establishing a legally enforceable regime.
To me, nuclear weapons are the first major horse out of the barn where humanity has to decide whether this generation will be the last generation. Science and technology in the future will, I predict, allow fewer people with less resources to do much more damage more quickly. We -- there will be new technologies. And so now is the time to establish a normative legal regime to constrain these kinds of threats that science and technology are giving us.
It's not about -- nuclear weapons are not about nuclear weapons. They are about an absolutely dysfunctional way of human beings communicating with other human beings and resolving differences. It is a dysfunctional way of organizing social development on the planet Earth. They have no place in a global civilization.
If anything has been learned in the last few years, we cannot isolate the United States. We can't isolate it from viruses, from flus. We can't isolate ourselves economically. And the climate of the planet Earth simply doesn't recognize national borders. We have to create a new global order in which cooperation is the norm. Nuclear weapons have no place in that world.
FERGUSON: I think that's a well-put way to end a workshop under our International Institutions and Global Governance Project in terms of its global themes that Jonathan Granoff reminded us of at the very end. It's not just about nuclear weapons. It's about all of our global institutions and how to make them better and actually help humanity.
So please join me in thanking the two Jonathans and Jan Lodal for their excellent presentations.
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