Council on Foreign Relations
New York, NY
PETE PETERSON: Good evening. Good evening, all.
You know, as I think about HBO, it must be quite a bone in the throat of the other networks. Last night, for example, was an extraordinary tribute to HBO reflecting the remarkable diversity and quality of their programming. They received 27 Emmys, more than 70 percent more than the next network. So Richard Plepler, executive vice president, here is with us tonight.
And Richard, I want to congratulate you and Jeff and Ted, originally, not only for that great achievement involving such a wonderful institution, but for the highly productive and ongoing partnership with the council.
Mr. Richard Plepler, executive vice president of (accounts ?). (Applause.)
RICHARD PLEPLER: Thank you, Pete, very much, for those nice words.
Welcome everyone to the premiere of Last Best Chance. I want to thank as always friends at the council for being so helpful and putting this evening together in such short time.
Earlier this year, we premiered here at the Peterson Center our movie Dirty War. As many of you know, the film explores the haunting possibility of a dirty bomb going off in the center of London and the consequences of such an event to a major city.
Watching the news on July 7th and the days thereafter, one saw the harrowing images, which were eerily reminiscent of our film, though thankfully without the nuclear component.
So when the Nuclear Threat Initiative produced a film that also addressed the issue of nuclear terrorism, we thought that it should at least receive the widest possible audience that it could. And we agreed to run it on HBO on October 17th. And it will receive many subsequent plays thereafter.
Our hope, which, of course, we share with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, is that the movie will contribute to elevating the media’s and the public’s understanding of this crucial issue. So special thanks to the NTI, especially to Brooke Anderson who helped make this partnership possible.
I want to thank Senator Nunn and Senator Lugar for their bipartisan work on this issue. As many of you know, together they created the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, realizing years before most of the world was paying attention that it was crucial to secure the nuclear, biological and chemical stockpiles of the Soviet Union. And they continue that essential work today.
Sam Nunn, who The Wall Street Journal accurately describes as, quote, “someone not known for his Left Coast sensibilities,” deserves special thanks for getting the NTI into the movie business. It was his idea to make this film as a way of gaining greater public understanding and attention about these issues.
I had the pleasure of having dinner with Senator Nunn in Washington a few weeks ago. And I came away convinced that there’s a Hollywood producer in him that’s just waiting to be discovered. (Laughter.) So tonight could be that night.
I also want to thank Vartan Gregorian, president of The Carnegie Corporation of New York, for his leadership and providing critical financial and moral support for this film.
And also in absentia Jonathan Fanton of The MacArthur Foundation, who gave crucial support as well.
I would also recognize, and unfortunately he couldn’t be here because he got sick yesterday, Ben Goddard, the writer of Last Best Chance, who took a complex issue and made it accessible and helped advance the public understanding of our greatest global security challenge.
The great Ted Turner is also here. Ted, as we all know, is one of the preeminent figures in our industry. And through his generosity made the Nuclear Threat Initiative possible in the first place. Of all the extraordinary things that Ted has accomplished, perhaps his greatest work will be the Nuclear Threat Initiative. So I think he deserves a round of applause. Mr. Turner. (Applause.)
And of course, we are very honored to be joined this evening by Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett is a strong supporter of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an early booster of this film, and even urged his shareholders to order it. And so it is no wonder that NTI has had more than 50,000 orders for DVDs. Everyone listens to Warren Buffett.
After the film, Pete will introduce Warren and Ted to say a few words about the film.
A round of applause for Mr. Buffett as well. (Applause.)
And last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge our former CEO, without whom HBO would not be HBO, now the chairman of Time Warner Entertainment and Network Groups, Mr. Jeff Bewkes. (Applause.)
So thank you all for being here. Thank you, Pete, following the screenings and, as I said, brief remarks by Ted and Warren. CNNs Jeff Greenfield will lead us in a discussion.
Now it’s our privilege to present Last Best Chance. (Applause.)
MR. : Well, I’m sure after that movie experience we know the owe the deepest gratitude to Ted Turner and you, to Warren, for your support, to Sam, you and Dick. And particularly to our friends Jeff Bewkes and Richard Butler for making this message available.
I’d now like to introduce Ted Turner, if I might.
It seems to me—no, I’ve got some things to say about you. I’m not sure you’ll like them, but we’ll wait and see.
It seems to me that there are far too few lovable curmudgeons who say what they think and they think very important thoughts. And then they speak these thoughts in the very venues that most need them.
I’ll give you an example of what took place here at the Council on Foreign Relations. This venerable institution, which is not used to having its origins challenged. Ted started his speech by saying the Council on Foreign Relations was a perfectly awful name and we ought to change it promptly.
He asked questions like what was this foreign business all about? It’s just people don’t like having foreign substances in their eyes. And you like being called a foreigner when you go abroad?
So he said I insist that you change the name to the council on international relations. And he made a threat that he wouldn’t come back until we changed it. And I’m delighted, Ted, that you didn’t go ahead with that threat.
But we can also be very grateful that Ted is a remarkably generous and far-sighted curmudgeon. For his notable charitable contributions include a billion dollars to the United Nations Foundation, $400 million to the Turner Endangered Species Fund and $250 million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which as Richard Plepler pointed out, may well turn out to be his proudest legacy.
So Ted, as chairman of the council on international relations, I want to welcome you, sir. You’re a most loveable and most generous and most far-sighted curmudgeon.
Ted Turner. (Applause.)
TED TURNER: Thank you. Thank you, Pete, that was so sweet. Everybody’s already been introduced by name. And I’ll go through really quickly. I want to thank HBO for running the program and helping us promote it. And Carnegie and MacArthur for helping us fund it. And Warren Buffett for all the work that he’s done and has kind of adopted the Nuclear Threat Initiative and God knows we need it.
Now, I just have a couple of minutes. And it’s very clear when you see this program why there was a need for this organization.
When I—as short a time ago as nine years or eight years ago when I started in this—the United Nations Foundation—we left peace and security off of our list of things to do because I was—even though I had been running CNN for 20 years, I still thought that nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, was the area that the government took care of.
And so when we started the U.N. Foundation, and I said, you know, what’s the government doing about nuclear weapons? And we couldn’t come up with a real good answer. There were some things, but clearly not enough.
So I said, you know, we need another NGO in this world and in this country that helps the government. Because the government—it can use help. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with helping the government.
And so that’s why we started this organization. And we still have a lot of work to do. The one thing in the last presidential campaign that President Bush and Senator Kerry agreed on in their first debate—and this was the most dangerous thing—the threat of weapons of mass destruction was the greatest threat that humanity and the United States faced.
And hopefully, this movie—for those people at CNN thankfully, it’s going to run on HBO and they’re going to promote it—very well will go a long way to letting people know what needs to be done.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. : Ted, you behaved very well, I thought.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce an American that I admire as much as any American I know, Warren Buffett.
I’m pleased to say that he and I share one attribute. Not his remarkable brilliance, nor his rare insights or impressions. I’m referring to the fact that we both come from Nebraska.
Now, if you’re from Nebraska and you come back East, as they say, and particularly if you move to this sophisticated and elite New York, you confront a series—a certain level of suspicion. Why should we take this country boy seriously?
So after a while, you get kind of defensive about it. And you begin to feel like that woman on the couch in The New Yorker joke in which the psychiatrist was saying to the woman, but madam, perhaps you are inferior. (Laughter.)
Now Warren continues his remarkable wisdom with a folksy sense of humor that makes his wisdom far more memorable and, therefore, useful.
In this very hall, wherein you may remember, we had a press conference on the commission report on public trust and private enterprise. A commission that John Snow and I and a bunch of very distinguished Americans worked on.
I was—you were nice enough, you may remember, to participate for an hour and a half by video. So I was laboriously and boringly trying to make the point that malfeasance in a corporation is rarely limited to simply one incident. And that the ethical tone of the culture of the corporation started at the top and tended to spread throughout.
Warren was nice enough to participate in this conference. And he said something about that issue that I’ve never forgotten. He said Pete I agree with you. The way I like to put it is you rarely find only one cockroach in the kitchen. And I thought somehow that captured the point infinitely more powerfully than I had.
As another example of his folksy humor, I think it’s fair to say, Warren, that your enthusiasm for corporate airplanes has been a big --(inaudible) --. I hope that’s not an overstatement. I asked him how he came here. And he said he came in his plane. Now this was a new development. I asked him what he called it. He calls it The Indefensible. (Laughter.) Which gives you some idea of this man’s sense of humor.
It’s my great pleasure to introduce a great American, Warren Buffett. (Applause.)
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, first of all, I want to confirm that Pete really is from Nebraska. And I do that because as I go around the country, I run into a great many people that claim to be from Nebraska for status reasons. (Laughter.) So I try to sort out the aesthetics from the phoneys.
At the end of this film, you heard the president say the horses are out of the barn. And, of course, that’s what this is all about. Because many years ago, a very wise man said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
And in the case of the program we’re talking about, you know, it’s more like a ton of cure. There won’t be any cure unless we do the prevention job.
Now we had an illustration just in the last month of that principle about prevention and cure. Everyone knew that at some point, New Orleans was going to be vulnerable to a huge catastrophe. But they all thought it wasn’t going to happen tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. Any engineer would have told you it was certain.
And so the problem was ignored, you know. And now we have probably well over a thousand and untold economic damage.
But if you think ignoring that maxim was expensive in terms of New Orleans, then I just invite you to think about what hundreds of thousands dying and the breakdown of civil order that would follow a nuclear detonation. And as the film again pointed out, redundancy was being built in.
So, just as in Spain or in London, you might well expect multiple attacks if the capability is there.
So it’s—you know, it is the problem of mankind. And there are basically four links in the chain from evil to nuclear armageddon—there have to be four links present.
There has to be intent. And believe me, there will always be intent. We will have psychotics. We will have religious fanatics. We will have megalomaniacs forever in this world. And we have them by the millions. Most of them are unaffected, but we have them by the millions. So intent will be there.
People say if you reduce poverty, you’ll get rid of any desire to use such weapons. Well, I would just point out that these weapons have been used twice by the richest country in the world—the United States 60 years ago. So, you know, we were not impoverished. We had our reasons for using them. We had our rationale. And incidentally, I agreed totally. I was 14 at the time and, you know, I did not want the war to go on a day longer than it had to. And we said that if it takes that we lose hundreds of thousands of Americans in attacking the Japanese mainland and millions of Japanese will be killed. So we’re really doing a favor to them by incinerating a few hundred thousand.
And I can just tell you that there will be people—and like I said, I agreed with it. And if the U.S. Congress had voted on it, which they didn’t, it would have been almost unanimous, if not unanimous.
But there will always be people with twisted minds who have their reasons by they think that it would be a wonderful thing to destroy millions of people someplace else.
So intent is always going to be with us.
Knowledge is the second ingredient. The second link in the chain. And that genie is out of the bottle. It’s not easy to make a nuclear weapon, but it’s—there are plenty of people that can do it with time. And there will be more people as we go along.
So we get to the third and fourth links, which are materials and deliverability. And this touched on both. The materials are hard to get, but they should be a whole lot harder. I mean, they should—we should look toward reducing the quantities of material and making it more secure. We’ve done some things along that line. But it’s not a game where you’re playing to have 97 percent or 98 percent probabilities. And we could be doing a lot more today if we—if the people of this country and other countries had demanded it.
So we have these four links.
Like I said, I don’t think we can do much about the first two links. So you have to focus on the weak link. And that has to be material. And that’s what this message is all about.
Now, back when the Russell—or the Einstein Russell Manifesto was issued just a few days before Einstein died, there was a line in there. And it said remember your humanity and forget the rest.
And the message that with HBO’s help and Richard’s help—I’m delighted that they are participating. Because we may have gotten 50,000 copies out earlier. But they’re going to deliver this message to millions of people.
And it doesn’t need to be heard just in the United States. It has to be heard around the world. That if you’re going to remember your humanity, this has to be foremost in your mind. It has to be conveyed to the people who make decisions throughout the world. It’s something that if we don’t attend to it, we are going to see things that make what happened in New Orleans look like rounding error.
And again, I thank HBO and Richard for what they’re doing to deliver this message.
Thank you. (Applause.)
JEFF GREENFIELD: Well, welcome. I’ve had the privilege this year of hosting these gatherings of involved movies that touched on radiological war, genocide, world poverty and now nuclear terrorism. Which proves the council sure knows how to party. (Laughter.)
Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar do not need introductions. I will only say that if the scenario that you saw laid out in this movie does not happen, there are no two people in this country that will deserve more credit than former Senator Nunn and Senator Richard Lugar—have devoted impressive amount of their lives. (Applause.)
We’re going to spend roughly a half an hour in conversation. We’ll then open the floor for questions.
In the past, I have noted that we need to agree on the meaning of question. It is not, I used to say, an eight-minute statement followed by what do you think? That was before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Laughter.)
But here, a question is a question.
So with that in mind, gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.
Let’s begin with a couple of pieces of news in the last couple of days. First, North Korea announced—I believe only yesterday—that it is abandoning its nuclear weapons program—what there is of it—and has agreed to the cooperative venture that we’ve been at for a while.
Do you believe them? And if so, what does that do to the odds of bad guys getting hold of very dangerous stuff?
SAM NUNN: I think this a breakthrough. I think this gives the foundation for further negotiations, which can be meaningful. And it does lay out the North Koreans’ willingness to get rid of all of their nuclear weapons. At least, that’s what they say.
It also lays out the United States’ willingness to give pledges of no invasion, no toppling of the regime.
And it also lays out the premise of both parties to normalize relations.
I think there are two or three other important elements. One is the United States and North Korea did not talk for several years have been talking in the last year or so. The United States’ negotiator, Christopher Hill, had far more authority than our previous negotiator.
The second point I would make is China played a big role. And China played a very positive role here or this would not happen.
A third point I would make is that the North Koreans have probably already made a number of nuclear weapons. If this could have occurred two, three, four years ago, there would be a lot less nuclear weapons in North Korea now.
And the fourth point I would make is the details of how you calibrate the timing between the economic pledges for one side, the security pledges, and the North Koreans’ willingness not only to give up their nuclear weapons, but all importantly to provide access to inspectors to inspect all over North Korea. That’s what it’s going to take. Because all—anyone who’s familiar with Korean history realizes they dig tunnels everywhere. And they dig for the purpose of hiding things everywhere. I’ve been to North Korea only one time. But when I was there, I went out in the subway system that makes the Atlanta airport look like a foxhole. It was so deep. You go down, down, down, down.
So the verification, the timing, the sequence—all of that remains to be negotiated. But it’s a very good start and, in my view, a big step.
GREENFIELD : Senator Lugar, you want to comment on that?
SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Well, I think Sam has answered it comprehensively. I think I would express the point that probably in the last few weeks, the negotiations have taken a turn in which the United States has been prepared to accept the fact that the North Korean regime may still be there.
Now, that is a large step because very clearly then you come to the point where you add step one or two—constructive as this may be—and this all—get to step 25. And you used the word “trust;” there isn’t much of that.
But pragmatically, it’s conceivable the international atomic energy group can be admitted to all of the places—many of them unknown with regard to the uranium centrifuge business, quite apart from the Yongbyon plutonium—and progressively move through its (races ?). And we’ll—the delivery system that North Korea anticipates—now whatever may be—the food and the fuel the Chinese now provide and, to some extent, the United Nations World Food Programme and others.
But my guess is that the bottom line is that’s somewhat more economic development—some other ties and trade with the rest of the world. Now will this work with this regime that has been very off-limits?
I just would finally underline Sam’s thought that one of the benefits of the six-power talks has been our diplomats have been talking a whole lot more to the Chinese. Now, we’re not making much headway with the North Koreans, but we were getting a much richer portfolio of things that we need to be talking about with the Chinese.
Likewise with the Japanese, with South Korean friends, with others. They have been real virtuous in terms of the vigor of our diplomacy as it’s developed there.
GREENFIELD : Let me turn to a second piece of news which may be less visible.
In one of the news weeklies—I guess as an employee of Time Warner I really should know which one; Mr. Bewkes, my apologies—there’s news in that the new president of Iran—and as two gentlemen steeped in international affairs, I’ll let you try to pronounce his name—but he said something fascinating. He confirmed to the interviewer that the supreme religious leader of Iran, who is really in charge of that place, has issued a fatwa banning as un-Muslim, or immoral, the use of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Now it seems to me, given the scenario in this movie and a lot of our fears, that some religious fanatics would be part of this—does that not—and we’ll start with you, Senator—does that not strike you as something significant?
LUGAR: I think it’s significant. And, Jeff, I’m not certain qualitatively what the religious leaders or the chief had said before. The impression that they have been giving the thought that this really is immoral as they look at it.
I think that this is interesting not just from their standpoint, but likewise we need to look at the promise of Iran—the young people who are certainly in the majority and who are sort of apolitical. (These ?) friends of mine who have been able to go as young people to Iran have found that young people don’t like the idea of weaponization. And they do have a sense of nationalism which regard to nuclear programs as a whole. So therefore, the new prime minister exemplifies this in his speech to the U.N.; some others do, too. But there is, it seems to be, a residual there in Iran that is opposed to nuclear weapons and a movement of that variety.
I hope that that is enough with the religious hierarchy to some extent and the young people, and the accommodation everybody has to make there. But I don’t think that we’re out of the woods in that particular set of negotiations. And I’m simply hopeful that they continue because the alternatives are much more dismal.
GREENFIELD : I’m thinking in the interest—I may want to move to other questions, but if there’s a point worth making on this one, please go ahead.
NUNN: Just that I’d like to see exactly what the wording was. If he said the use of nuclear weapons was immoral, certainly I think everyone would agree with that. But most countries that have nuclear weapons would also in abstract agree with that.
I wish he had said—and maybe he did—that the possession or the production of nuclear weapons was immoral because that’s where we are with the Iranians. They deny that they are making nuclear weapons. They are basically pretending they have a nuclear program that is to get fuel for their nuclear energy, which they have a right to do legally. That’s what makes it so difficult. So they would probably deny that they had any intent not only to use nuclear weapons, but to even possess them. But that’s not something that’s credible or believable based on the information not only that we have, but the IAEA has.
GREENFIELD : There’s one other thing in the news that was alluded to by Warren Buffett, but it seems to me the—a potential a source for you folks of frustration. One of the things that we learned after Katrina was that the single obsession after 9/11 with terrorism had done great damage to FEMA’s response to a less dramatic event like a hurricane. We learned that in Shelby County, Alabama, under the new federal law, the local officials could get federal money to buy chemical suits to ward off an attack that had never happened, but they couldn’t get money for their communication system to communicate during a tornado, which had happened 20 times. In that same unintended consequence sense, do you worry that the focus now, after Katrina, is going to make it harder to go to the right people who are now all obsessed with what to do about natural disasters and say, you know, we do have this issue about nuclear terrorism?
NUNN: Let me say, Jeff, I don’t agree with that premise. I think the—generally speaking, the things you need to do to prepare for a natural disaster are parallel what you need to do to prepare for a deliberate disaster. In the case of the biological, infectious disease, whether caused by nature or whether caused by deliberate act of man, both of those things require the same type preparation.
Talking about the chemical suits. Well, you can have a chlorine shipment go through a major city and have a spill and need chemical suits. That is not an act of terrorism, but it would be a catastrophe for any area that had that—and we have chlorine and chemicals being transported all over the country every day.
In the case of a radiological weapon, of course, special preparation would have to be made. But in the case of all of the chemical, biological or radiological, you have the need to have hospital facilities. You have the need for relief. You have the need for fuel. You have a need for generators.
So I think that is too easy to say you’ve got to prepare for one or the other. We have to prepare for both.
GREENFIELD : Okay, and that’s fair, Senator Lugar. Did the response to Katrina—some of what we said in that meeting when the homeland security started ticking off the dilemmas. Did the response to Katrina, as far as you were concerned, just underscore what, in terms of how we’re prepared to deal with the consequences of what you worry about?
LUGAR: Well, I don’t think we’re prepared in the homeland defense situation. I think we get back fundamentally in this film and elsewhere to the fact that we’ve got to lock it up at the source. We do know the inventory of who has what in this world.
Now, the physically getting to it—politically getting to it—is another situation. And I think, you know, that this has been touched upon in discussion here and elsewhere.
For example, right now there are problems with regard to President Putin and the Duma as they take a look at the liability agreement, the umbrella agreement we’ve had with regard to our contractors and people going out to the source. President Bush and President Putin made headway at Bratislava in saying, all right, we’re going to have Americans going to the sites where nuclear warheads are being stored, and they can have three visits, and we’re beginning to get a list.
When I was in Russia in just in the latter part of August, there are at least 25 sites that we are going to be able to visit three times, and that’s new. I saw General Hopinger (ph) here tonight. He’s been out to—(inaudible)—probably got out there again this time. And there are the warheads all in line, like they’re in a tomb, and you ask why? Well, because they can’t process the dismantling of them at this point.
But the fact is is security is going to be more comprehensive as we continue to press this. But they’re political people in the Duma and in the Congress. And I would say, leaving aside homeland defense, we’ve got a problem on the 30th of September—not too many days down the trail—which we have annually because members of Congress have put conditions upon the use of Nunn-Lugar funds. Each year the president has to waive these conditions. The president has authority after the 30th of September to waive anything because the appropriation or even the authorization for defense hasn’t passed. That’s our problem to do.
These are the more practical, political problems leaving aside the esoterics of homeland defense. If we’re serious about it politically in Russia and in the United States, this is where the stuff is. And beyond that, then the Nuclear Threat Initiative has been able to pick up the pieces outside there where there were, in fact, fissile material situations in Belgrade, for example.
GREENFIELD : Senator Lugar referenced politics. There are some folks who have criticized the Nunn-Lugar initiative as just a subsidy to Russia. And the argument is, well, we give them this money, they’ll just use this money to buy other weapons. Have you made any headway in convincing the people who have made that argument that this is shortsighted?
NUNN: Well, we made that headway when we passed the legislation. That was argument we met in 1991, and Senator Lugar has met it—he and I together met it through ’96. And when I left, he’s been meeting it on the inside ever since then. He’s overcome that challenge every year.
If it’s foreign aid, then you could cut it off if Russia does something that you don’t like. If it’s in your security interest, you don’t cut it off because it’s in your interest, not theirs. I don’t call that foreign aid.
We didn’t put it in the State Department to begin with. State has part of the program now, Energy has part of it, and Defense has part of it. We took it out of the defense bill because we felt it was security.
And it is security. It’s in our interest. There’s no expenditure, in my view, that is as effective in our own interest than expenditures to prevent weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of terrorists because terrorists don’t have a return address. The whole theory of deterrence on which we spent the Cold War, mutual assured destruction, that doesn’t apply to people who are willing to commit suicide. And so I think it’s in—very much in our security interests.
There will always be people who will say the Russians—you know, if we didn’t help them with this, they’d have to spend their own money; they’d never make another weapon. Well, that’s ignoring everything about Russia, everything about their history. They’re always going to have weapons. They’re always going to have an effort in defense. But they would not have put the effort and resources into what—into getting these weapons and materials under—if we had not helped them. There’s no question about that.
Now I think we’re in a different atmosphere. We’re going to have to—if the old Nunn-Lugar effort is going to finish the job—we’ve done about half the job on nuclear materials in the Soviet Union, about half. But if we’re going to finish it, Russia has to be much more than a supplicant for funds. They’ve got to be a partner in this, and they’ve got to assume responsibility not only in Russia, but in the former Soviet Union and around the globe.
There are research reactors all over the globe. There are over 40 countries with over a hundred research reactors that were supplied by the United States and by Russia, various countries. Russia has to help get that material back.
So Russia’s got to be a partner, not a supplicant for funds. The Nunn-Lugar psychology has got to change. And we have to have a lot more reciprocity on access in terms of laboratory visits. It has to be more and more reciprocal.
And I think that also applies—we’re not talking about it tonight—but to the biological area. We need a biological transparency agreement with Russia on defenses so that we reveal what we’re doing and they reveal what they’re doing, so that we can begin to eliminate the very profound suspicions on both sides that we’re each engaged in offensive research and development.
GREENFIELD : This film asserts that the catastrophe is preventable. And we hear in the movie, we hear it in books that have been written (about this ?) that the key is to lock this stuff down.
But, Senator Lugar, Senator Nunn’s just told us that there are 40 countries that have this material. Not all of them play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Is it feasible to say that we can actually lock all this stuff down? Do we know where all this stuff is, and do we even have the potential? Or, to quote this movie, are the horses out of the barn no matter what?
LUGAR: I believe we have the potential. I pick up Sam’s point, which is a good one. The Russians are not supplicants; they need to be partners in this. And they, at the top levels, are. They understand the threats to themselves. They often describe it as entirely Chechnyan, but—(inaudible)—the other side, they are struck with the potential for destruction in their country.
They also are struck with the potential that we don’t know that much about the servicing of warheads. Even as those warheads lie in storage, there is a suspicion that at some point, something might happen to one of them, a chemical reaction that was unanticipated. And therefore, they’ve got labels on them as to when they were constructed, what the servicing has been. They would encourage us to work with those that are the oldest, for example. There’s a real consciousness there.
Now that’s true not only of the two countries—Russia and the United States—but of many others. And that’s because the IAEA has at least thought about a certain religion that inspection is important; that there has to be an international intensity of effort. And there are countries who understand that. Now, not everybody may equally.
But I just had an unusual visit leader Qadhafi in Libya. And the comment he made to me when we had moved off just in a one on one in the air-conditioned van was that I’ve been talking to the North Koreans and I’ve been talking to the Iranians. And I asked him, what did you get for giving up your program? He said nothing, nothing. I said, well, that’s not the case. I see oil people in Tripoli and I see all sorts of things. And he said, oh, that’s true, but that’s business. He said—what do you want, I asked, you know, cutting to the chase. And he wants security for his currency. He wants to deal with the U.K. and the United States on some conventional arms. And he wants nuclear energy that can be desalinize the sea. That’s discussible. And beyond that, he wants some sort of Nunn-Lugar program. Now I’m not sure what it is we can furnish to Qadhafi, but there may be some program there.
And that has bobbed up with the North Koreans, who are talking about a Nunn-Lugar program.
Now the application of the program can be to 20 countries and 40 countries. We passed laws now that we can go outside the former Soviet Union. There were some members of Congress so suspicious of our program they wanted to confine it to that for a long while, and it took quite a fight just to amend to be able to go out to Albania and get rid of 16 tons of nerve gas, which we did last year, which is sort of off the trail. But my own view is that we do know where it is, and with cooperation of the nations involved we will know a lot more about how we can inspect it, how we can bring confidence.
GREENFIELD : Is there a problem here? There’s a—I love those sayings that come from your part of the country. I come from New York; we dont’t have those colorful expressions—well, not those. But there’s an expression when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember you started out to drain the swamp.
NUNN: It’s not your neck, but I’ll go along with it.
GREENFIELD : Okay. (Laughter.) Take a look at this audience, Senator. Here it’s to the neck. (Laughter.)
But the point is this. So four years ago, after September 11th, we decided it was critical to establish a very close relationship with Pakistan. We needed them for what we are doing in Afghanistan, so that we now have an ally there. But that’s also the country whose notorious doctor, A.Q. Khan, has been, I guess, out peddling nuclear know-how to any customer. Is there a dilemma that we have in trying—this what maybe you meant a while ago—that in trying to fight one battle—in this case, the battle of terrorism—we disarm ourselves, so to speak, in the ability to say to Pakistan, what’s up with him? What happened? And how close was he to the ISI? And just how tough are you on this guy?
NUNN: Well, Dr. Khan is a national hero in Pakistan, and he is also our worst nightmare. He is the scientist who has the knowledge, who knows where the material is, who made his own country a nuclear power, and who was willing to sell it.
Now on a scale of one to 10 in terms of breaking up the Khan network, I give us a 10. In terms of knowing what he really in the way of a network, I give us about a two because their government has not allowed us access where we can really question him unless, Dick, there’s something I don’t know. So this one is a real dilemma.
I think one thing, though—and this is a long-term, I don’t say instant solution at all. The United States has to change the perception and psychology that having nuclear weapons is a wonderful thing for a country.
Now we preach against it with other countries. But at the same time, we’re talking about the possibility of renewing nuclear testing. We’re talking about—we’re the country that has more nuclear knowledge than anyone else—we may need to test again. We’re talking a new nuclear weapon, a bunker-buster weapon. That is the totally opposite psychology that we need to be creating in the world. Now which is more important: to have a psychology that nuclear weapons have become less and less relevant, or to have a psychology that you are not a big boy unless you’ve got them?
The other thing we don’t do very well—and this gets to the Libyan point that Dick Lugar made—we don’t do very much about countries that haven’t given up their nuclear weapons. When Dick and I were in the Ukraine in the early 1990s, it looked like they weren’t going to give up their nuclear weapons. And I remember we had breakfast one morning, and what they told us is, very frankly, we give them up, you won’t pay any attention to us later on. You know, it’s the whole morning after. (Laughter.) It’s a psychology.
We have to create a different psychology. Nuclear weapons have to become less relevant. The country that has more of them than everyone else has to lead the way. Russia has to join in. But we are doing, in my view, a rather poor job of that. (Applause.)
GREENFIELD: At the risk—at the risk of tiptoeing into an area of political controversy, I’ve seen some arguments that the reason why Iran was so interested in developing nuclear weapons was, as it looked across the border to Iraq, it said, you know, the easiest—and then looked at North Korea—and it said, now, let’s see: the United States invaded Iraq, which didn’t have nuclear weapons, and it isn’t doing anything in North Korea, which does. If we want to protect ourselves from the American colossus, it seems to us that maybe we ought to get ourselves some nuclear weapons.
LUGAR: Well, they may have thought that. I—
GREENFIELD : Well, what do you think of that argument?
LUGAR: Well, I suspect the regime may very well entertain that thought. But I think we have to probably weigh something that’s more difficult, and that is that a good number of nations believe that they ought to have nuclear energy programs. And in the case of the Iranians, they will continue to argue that theirs is a peaceful program. Now we’ve continued to argue that they’re buying centrifuges and they’re doing things here that we don’t know about, and therefore we don’t trust them.
You know, it this point that’s—getting back to Qadhafi—he wants to have a nuclear program there to desalinize the sea. My guess is that—and then maybe North Koreans—we’re going to have to try to weigh how the countries in this world have nuclear programs that they may use for fuel, for energy—at the same time that energy becomes prohibitively expensive in the carbohydrates, in the oil and natural gas. And at the same time, there are sufficient international controls, inspections—IAEA or others—that give us some degree of security if that’s what it is, a peaceful program.
We really haven’t quite gotten to that point. We’ve said these regimes really want to have nuclear weapons to defend themselves and to sort of (move ?) it out, literally. And maybe some have entertained that and have some hotheads within the regime. But it seems to me a lot of other people are saying that that’s not where we’re headed, and perhaps they’re prepared to accept some type of international controls. And this is why it’s something beyond even the Russian-United States partnership that’s going to be required.
Not a lot of intensive diplomacy on our part beyond characterizing regimes as either in the club or out of the club and so forth. I think, you know, we’re talking more about Pakistan, and this is a tortuous problem in terms of diplomacy and the difficulties that are involved there to this day. Sam is right; A.Q. Khan has not come clean, nor are the Pakistanis really going to make him do so. And furthermore, we pray that President Musharraf remains because some of the alternatives there are not very good. And India and Pakistan, sort of on the way to wherever they were headed, had tests. And we hope that they would not get into problems in the meanwhile.
You know, already out there, there are huge problems that are—in international diplomacy—that are going to require a great deal more vigor, I think, on our part there, quite apart from prohibition words.
NUNN: Jeff, let me add one point on this, taking up on Dick Lugar’s comment.
The key here is, in my view—I believe in nuclear power. I think we’ve got to have nuclear power, but we also have to have a philosophy of protecting nuclear material from cradle to grave. And that has to be a culture. It has to be spread around the globe.
Without nuclear power, I can’t find any rationale that shows substitute energy that’s going to be able to be enough to do the job and also keep the air from being polluted all over the world. It’s particularly true with China and India, whether the United States has more or not. Those countries go to total or particularly fossil fuels exclusively, then we’re all going to have a clean air problem. So I think you’ve got to have nuclear energy.
But I also believe that we have to have a culture that says that all nuclear material is protected. One way of dealing—it’s only one—two, but I think a very important two—whether the Iranians’ argument, the Libyans’ argument, we want nuclear power, you won’t let us produce nuclear fuel because you say that’s going to be used in bombs. We don’t trust the nuclear supplies group. Russia, the United States gets mad with us, or France, they cut us off so we don’t have nuclear fuel, we’ve got to make our own nuclear fuel. And that’s the circle we’re in.
One way of dealing with this is to have some type of backup reserve that’s under international control, like IAEA. It might not be housed by the IAEA. They don’t have the facilities. But you could put it in Switzerland or you could put it in the Netherlands or some place like that that would be perceived as neutral. It would be the resort—the fuel supply of last resort. So that if a nuclear supplier defaulted, the country that was in good standing, that was not producing its own fuel, that was not reprocessing or enriching, would be eligible to get that from an international body that would be perceived as neutral.
I think that concept, I believe, is being talked about. And I think it would be in the interest of all the major—particularly nuclear countries—to make that happen.
GREENFIELD : I’m going to turn the questions in about 5 minutes or less. But I wanted to ask you since, it’s your chance to have at a possible juicy target. To what extent have the media covered what you both regard and what many people regard as the single most serious threat to hundreds of thousands of lives? I know that you were on “Meet the Press” when this film was first released. “Nightline” did a special on it. But those are two relative, serious gems. I mean, you know, I can hear our producer say, you know, this would be a great subject. Could you somehow tie it into a missing young woman in the Caribbean? (Laughter.) You know, is there enough focus on this to measure the threat?
LUGAR: Let me just say that the problem here is we’re dealing with the Nunn-Lugar act over 14 years of time. All sorts of things happen in this world every day. Now out at Siribatica (ph), even as we meet tonight, they’re grinding through some more missiles. They will deal with four during this month. This is not newsworthy particularly, but it’s tremendously important. Four more very large missiles are not going to be anymore.
You know, that’s the nature of the program. Here we took a look finally at our scoresheet. And there were 13,300 warheads that the Soviet Union had aimed at us, sometimes six, eight or 10 to a missile. About 6,700 of those have been taken off of missiles. About half of all the silos in which the missiles were located have been filled in. And you know, this is newsworthy in a sense. That the awesome amount that was involved. The peril we had—whether we knew about it or not—is not over, but you’re sort of moving through this. And this is not great news?
Now, from time to time there are newsworthy events in which the media might be more helpful. Right now at Shchuchye, where the very largest chemical weapons destruction situation—at least the neutralization process—is heading towards completion in 2007, still at a snail’s pace. And it will only consume four and a half percent of the chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union each year thereafter. So this is a long wait. And the impatient people will say, why only four and a half percent? Well, this is 40,000 metric tons or nerve gas. It’s awesome why anyone ever produced all this.
But this is all out there. When we’re talking about securing it, this is a big job. And yet, some things are happening internationally. The Poles have put money to this, the U.K., the Russians a lot more each year, and we ought to be watching that trend. The Russians do have more money. They aren’t supplicants, and we described the partnership as to how they come into this.
Finally, with regard to the biological, the Russians are still in denial they ever were developing any weapons at all. There are four places that neither Sam nor I have been able to get to, although I’ve tried to get to Kirov-200 one time. And they said you can fly out there, but you won’t be able to land the plane. Well, we finally landed the plane, but we didn’t see the facility. We saw people down the street from the ISTC program who described it.
Here is a situation still, at this late date, of denial with regard to this. Yet in Azerbaijan in early September, we signed an agreement for an exchange of pathogens. This was one of the old laboratories, converted now to people that are doing good work and sharing with us what they have, as we share with them what they have, and potential antidotes to pathogens that could be extremely deadly, quite apart from the kind of nuclear carnage we contemplated tonight.
NUNN: Jeff, let me mention two stories that really were very big developments that didn’t get covered much at all. One was when in the early 1990s, after we passed the Nunn-Lugar program, the Clinton administration was able to get four nuclear countries—Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan—that had huge nuclear capability—in fact, most weapons aimed at the United States; Kazakhstan and the Ukraine alone had more than Britain, France and China together—all four of those countries worked together with us, and we ended up with one country with their finger on the nuclear trigger. The other three countries gave up nuclear weapons.
Now another story that was missed, in my view, in large part continues today. Dick referred to it a minute ago. One of the ways we got Ukraine to give up nuclear materials, and Russia, was to—when the warheads were dismantled, the highly enriched uranium is worth something because it can be blended down into low enrich uranium, which is burned in nuclear power plants. The United States agreed, if Russia would blend it down, deactivate the warheads, not only to buy the Russian highly enriched uranium blended down, burn it in our power plants, but also to give Ukraine their proportionate share. Ship to Russia, blend it down, burn in our power plants.
We are halfway through that program. It has produced billions of dollars for Russia. This is where the big money is for Russia. They use it for a lot of the things we want them to use it for. They may use it for some things we don’t. But it is a purchase.
I’ll give you one vivid example people can understand. If you look at the United States, we right now produce approximately 20 percent of our electricity with nuclear power, about 20 percent. Fifty percent of the fuel that produces that electricity—the nuclear electricity—comes from highly enriched uranium from Russia and Ukraine that was formerly in warheads that were aimed at the United States of America. So theoretically, if you look at these lights up there, one out of every 10 is coming from HEU that was in warheads aimed at the United States.
I call that a parable of hope. It’s a parable of cooperation. And it also has the added advantage of not only being true, but it also is an ongoing program that needs to be accelerated.
One thing we at NTI have just completed is we funded a study by the Russians—they wouldn’t work with our government in this particular case—to see if they could double the blend-down rate of their highly enriched uranium. And it’s very technical. I won’t get into it. But that study is now being briefed in Russia and it’s being briefed over here. Our governments would have to do it. But there is hope and there are things that we are cooperating on.
GREENFIELD : Swords into plowshares.
Okay, we’ve got about 15 minutes. We’re going to take questions. Yes? And speak up—there are mikes.
QUESTIONER: Lindsay Howard, Howard Communications. You’ve given us a perfect evening and a perfect movie. But I’d like to return to the morning-after question and also international diplomacy. We forget the allies who help us. You talked—you spoke about Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan at the beginning of independence helped load the warheads into our plane to be taken out. Ten years later, they shut down the largest military industrial complex outside of the United States in the world.
GREENFIELD : And the question is?
QUESTIONER: And the question is, are we creatively engaging other allies in this same way and giving credit and encouraging the people who are helping us?
NUNN: Our foundation has had a very good working relationship with Kazakhstan. We have helped them move nuclear material, and we paid for it—a lot of it—from the Caspian Sea area, which they believe to be dangerous, and we do too, over to the Russian side of Kazakhstan. We helped them develop the ability to blend it down from high enriched uranium to low enriched uranium. We are taking our board over there; after we go to Russia in early October, we’re going to Kazakhstan. And we’re going to have President Nazarbayev there. He’s going to have us there is a better way to express it. And we’re going to celebrate the progress they’ve made.
So this is what we’re trying to do. But our government, in my view, is also working with Kazakhstan on a number of things. I’ll let Dick speak to that.
But again, we don’t pay nearly enough attention to countries that have given up nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus are three of those. There is still substantial amount of nuclear materials—highly enriched uranium—in all three of those countries. So it’s not—the problem is not solved. Part of it is, but we have a long way to go.
LUGAR: I would just simply supplement that. And I mentioned Azerbaijan, for example, and Georgia as two countries that had the small situations. But currently we have very good ties with them now, and so with the rest of the newly independent states.
Frequently, the people there really didn’t know what was happening to them, where the encampments of difficulty were, but the governments there now certainly do. And they’ve opened up. And through deployment of the scientists or the pathogen exchanges or chemical controls, a lot of cooperation.
GREENFIELD : I just want to let you know, there’s going to be a massive amount of frustration as there are enough questions to keep us going. We’re supposed to stop about nine. And so you have my insincere apology in advance. (Laughter.)
The gentleman over there toward the back. Yeah. And if you can wait for a mike, there’s one right there.
QUESTIONER: Bill Luers.
Senators, congratulations on the work you’ve done. And we all thank you for your leadership.
Senator Lugar, I testified before your committee last year about our three-year-long negotiations, discussions with the Iranians. We are the only Americans talking to the Iranians. Do you think that what happened in North Korea now opens the door to the U.S. beginning to discuss directly, either together with our Europeans or directly with the Iranians, to see whether we can head off their hell-bent commitment to nuclear power and maybe nuclear weapons?
GREENFIELD : Thank you.
QUESTIONER: And would you push this on the president of the United States? (Laughter.)
LUGAR: Well, the president and Secretary Rice will have to determine their negotiating strategy. But my general feeling is that they’re fully prepared to be aggressive in attempting to find agreement there. The question is we have three European friends. We believe they’ve been doing a good job. At the beginning of the year, we began to give them some support, a lot more support. And so I think it’s going to be coordinated with them in addition to whatever impetus that we want to put into it.
But there’s a different negotiating posture. I think it’s paying off. But we’re a long distance from the finish line area. You see as many articles in the press about the reference of all of this to the U.N. Security Council, and then the analysis of who would veto it.
And I think, you know, we have the problem here that India, quite apart from China, had ties with Iran. Now these ties are ones that they believe for their national security are important energy ties. Leaving aside the whole nuclear problem, this is a world of extreme competition right now for hydrocarbons and the national security of countries depending upon this.
So we have similar agendas that are criss-crossing here. But nevertheless, I’m encouraged by the course of Secretary Rice and the president in recent weeks, and we’ll continue to visit with them.
GREENFIELD : Okay. Yes, ma’am? I’m trying to give equality to both sides of the room. Yes, ma’am?
QUESTIONER: I’m Nancy Bird, Council on Foreign Relations.
You mentioned the impasse between efforts in Russia to solve the problems of nuclear security there in terms of the Russians denying access and the U.S. government requiring the ability to monitor its investments there. What would you suggest specifically in order to resolve this impasse? Do you think that we need to relax our requirements about monitoring, or is there a way to persuade the Russians to grant greater access more quickly? Senator Lugar suggested that now 25 sites have been opened up for access, but there is still a long way to go. How can we speed up this process?
LUGAR: We’ll have to keep talking about it. And it is very important the president brought it up with President Putin, and my guess is it’s going to have to be taken to that sort of level to happen.
We’ve had this problem for a long, long time. As you go out in the field with our—(inaudible)—threat-reduction specialists, they’re frustrated. And sometimes, if you’re out in the field, you can actually work with Russians, and you move ahead, surprisingly. They invite you into sites you hadn’t expected you were going to see.
I remember this was the case of (Severomorsk ?) and the typhoon submarines. They never expected to see those. One day they asked us to come up, and they wanted to begin thinking about destroying them. So there are breakthroughs of that kind.
Systematically this has to happen through diplomacy at the highest level because there are many Russian military people, some of them pretty old folks, who are deeply suspicious. And even if you talk to the defense minister, he may admit down deep he’s not really sure he’d go there. Now that’s serious. This is not something that simply because we wish that it was so. The idea of spying and intrusion simply disappears.
GREENFIELD : Senator?
NUNN: I agree with everything Dick said. I would add to it that we have had a lot of reciprocal visits in the past, but they are probably on the downside now. Gene Hagraga (ph) who’s sitting on the front row here, ran our whole nuclear strategic command, and he went to the Russian command center, and he had the Russian—his counterpart—come to our command center. That’s where Ted saw the “60 Minutes” program on it and decided it was time for him to step up to the plate, which he did in a very big way. So this reciprocity is very, very important psychologically.
Also, Sig Hecker, who ran Los Alamos. Sig has probably been in virtually every nuclear installation in Russia except a few. But he also had the Russians come to Los Alamos. And then we had the spy scandal with the Chinese—suspicion of the Chinese—and the laboratories closed down on that reciprocity.
We’ve got to open up that reciprocity and continue talking. The Russians have been able to destroy us 10 times over for many, many years. I’m not sure of what the great threat of what they’re going to learn in the nuclear plant under Sig. (Laughter.) I don’t think there is one.
Now other countries it would be different. But bilateral transparency between the United States and Russia—not only in nuclear, but as I mentioned a few minutes ago, it’s also got to be in biological because there’s so many suspicions on the biological area, a lot more than there are in the nuclear area. And we have certain reasons to be suspicious; they’re not all on account of speculation. But that transparency and that biological cooperation on defensive efforts is in our fundamental secured interests, and I hope that President Bush and President Putin will find a way to move in that direction.
GREENFIELD : Okay. Oh boy. Way in the back? Yes, way in the back?
QUESTIONER: Kevin Sanders, One World Radio and One World TV.
One point which was touched fleetingly on in the film is one of the true criminal insanities of our age. Carl Sagan once said that the end result of science has created a situation in which we have booby trapped the planet for destruction. Because the president said why do we keep these weapons on high alert? As we speak, America and Russia both maintain 2,500 weapons on high alert.
GREENFIELD : And the question would be?
QUESTIONER: The question is, why is this so, since it is known that it could be remedied in 36 hours in an emergency? All the weapons on hair trigger alert could be taken off alert, and experts say that verification would not be a problem. The question is, then, why are they still on alert?
GREENFIELD : Okay.
NUNN: I would say that the question suggests the answer. And the answer is they—we should take most of those weapons off high alert. We should take them off for our own secured interests. The Russians should take them off for their own secured interests. There would not have to be a long, negotiated treaty. We could have an agreement by the two presidents, very similar to what George Herbert Walker Bush did with Gorbachev on tactical nuclear weapons right after the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union collapsed.
And the high alert posture of both sides now is a threat to the United States. The reason it’s a threat to the United States—and the world, in my view—is the Russian warning systems have deteriorated. They have deteriorated warning systems, radar and satellite. They haven’t been able to maintain them. They’ve got a lot of blind spots. I know what happens in the military mind when you have blind spots and you think you might be the victim of a sneak attack. Military begins to get their finger closer to the trigger, and that’s the situation we’re in.
It’s a great paradox because we’re working with Russia in so many areas. But it right now is fundamentally against both security interests of the United States and Russia to continue to have this massive number of weapons on hair trigger alert.
It’s also a bad psychology for the world. We ought to be an example to India and Pakistan, where there really is a huge danger of some type of attack there. But we’re not right now, in my view, doing what we should do.
If the United States and Russia move to get the weapons off hair trigger alert—most of them—there would also be a very powerful example of making nuclear weapons less relevant and make our arguments with other countries much stronger in supporting us on Iran and North Korea.
GREENFIELD : All right. The young—the woman back there? And I think we’re going to make this the last one. Me and Arlen Specter are running this thing on time. Yes, ma’am?
QUESTIONER: Hi. I’m Moshumi Khan (ph). I’m an attorney in New York. And I’m not related to Genghis, Louis and, most specifically, A.Q. Khan.
But my question is, can you comment on the recent U.N. assembly where they didn’t talk about nonproliferation and disarmament? I think it’s very important.
And number two, can you talk about the political accommodation of the U.S. vis-a-vis India and its own nuclear energy program?
GREENFIELD : Thank you for that question.
LUGAR: Well, I would just comment that I think Secretary-General Kofi Annan indicated that he deeply regretted the discussion. Your suggestion might have occurred in the new formula for the U.N. didn’t happen. I think we would concur with that, and to suspect that it needs to be discussed. It needs to be elevated. So we would hope to do that.
What was the second part of the question? I forgot.
GREENFIELD : India.
LUGAR: Yeah, India. And here is the situation. Dr. Rice has visited with me, I’m sure with others, as we try to explore what legislation is going to be required for our country to be able to enter into the partnership with India that was a part of that summit conference without violation of other nuclear-control principles that we have. It’s not an easy question, and there is some congressional controversy.
Now essentially, the administration feels very strongly—and I agree with them—that our friendship—our partnership—with India—a strategic, basic move of this variety is tremendously important for our country and our interests and that of the Indians.
And I believe it is possible to work our way through a situation that does not compromise our relations with others or to lead to questions on their part as whether the Indians are receiving special favors and sort of violating general protocols.
But that legislation has not been drafted yet by the administration or by the Congress. This is a work in process with the rest of the world commenting widely, as well as a number of Americans who I respect.
So I would just ask for some forbearance for a moment because I believe that the partnership is tremendously important and can be productive.
And ultimately, India will have to have nuclear energy for many of its needs and is prepared, as I understand, to segregate the civilian programs from the military programs. To have proper inspections that are involved to give confidence to the world. We have many steps to go in that process.
GREENFIELD : Since we are at the end, now we’re going to pretend that we’re at the end of “Meet the Press.” And you have 20 seconds each. Graham Allison in his book, Nuclear Terrorism, estimates that likelihood of a nuclear attack—not radiological, a nuclear—at I think a 50-50.
What do you think?
Senator Nunn and then Senator Lugar.
NUNN: I don’t know what the odds are. I think it is preventable, though. I think the things we’ve seen in this film and the things we’ve talked about can be done. I think we are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe.
Let me quote Warren Buffett, who’s one of our big supporters.
Warren , you correct my arithmetic here.
But Warren says if—and no one’s asserting that this is the odds—but if there’s a 10 percent chance of a nuclear catastrophe in the United States in one year, and it persists for 50 years, by statistics you have only one half of one percent chance of avoidance. In other words, over a 99-percent chance it will happen sometime during that 50-year period.
But if you can reduce the 10 percent chance to a one percent chance in each year, and that one percent chance persists to 50 years, then you move the odds from one half percent to almost two thirds—67 percent chance of avoidance.
So what we’re talking about it not guarantees. We’re talking about risk reduction. And I’d say that every percent that we can move that stage towards less risk in all of these issues we talked about, we greatly reduce the odds whatever they are.
LUGAR: I think just important to say that now that we realize really what the risks were for 40 years prior to 1991, we feel very fortunate—anybody who’s been in this—that there were not even accidents along the way, leaving aside overt attempts by people to use these weapons.
I mentioned the 13,300 warheads, but you have on top of that all of the tactical nuclear weapons that we heard about tonight. And these are still not under the same sort of regime. This has been too tough a negotiation problem for the United States and Russia.
So we’ve been very fortunate. My own view is that we probably have a good chance of being fortunate for a while, but only if we are rigorous in the ways we’ve been discussing tonight. If that falls apart, then—(inaudible)—question really of sort of where and when.
But I think, you know, this is a determined group tonight. That’s—I appreciate the fact the film is going to be shown. (It would be ?) more of a constituency of determined Americans. And I believe we can do it.
I think you still can list it finitely and mop it up.
NUNN: Jeff, if I could take 10 more seconds. I want to thank Pete Peterson, the council on international relations (laughter) for being the host tonight—terrific. We really are grateful to you—you and Richard and the whole team.
To Richard, thank you and HBO. We think that this is going to be a very important message for the American people.
Also, I want to thank Vartan Gregorian because Vartan at Carnegie has been a tremendous supporter of our initiative. He also helped pay for this film. And he also worked with MacArthur to get up both Carnegie and MacArthur funding. So we are, indeed, very grateful for that.
GREENFIELD : To wrap this up, I want to say very brief things about each of these gentlemen.
Some years ago, being prescient about bloviating senators, I did a piece for ABC News about how much they talked at committee meetings. I put a clock on them. There was one senator at this committee who blew the whole piece up. I couldn’t use him because he came in and he had short, direct, concise, information-seeking questions. That was Sam Nunn. (Laughter.)
In 1996, Dick Lugar made a run for the presidency. A foolish notion, he had only been senator for 20 years and one of—(inaudible)—what conceivably crossed his mind, I don’t know. And he made the centerpiece of his campaign warnings about nuclear terrorism. And being the smart, thoughtful, political journalists that we are, we all came to the same conclusion—his poll numbers wasn’t moving—weren’t moving in Iowa.
Our focus was wrong. His focus was right.
And the last thing I want to say is you were privileged tonight to be hearing from two of the greatest secretaries of state that never were nominated because they—(inaudible). (Laughter.)
Thank you—(inaudible). (Applause.)
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