Podcast Takeover: Nuclear Security, From The President’s Inbox

Why It Matters is pleased to present an episode from its sister podcast, The President’s Inbox. Today, U.S. national security is dependent on international nuclear agreements. How does the world regulate nuclear weapons as countries continue to advance their arsenals?


September 16, 2021 — 33:18 min
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James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Gabrielle Sierra

Podcast Host and Producer Full Bio

Episode Guests

Rose Gottemoeller

Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer, Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation

Show Notes

Nuclear weapons control is critical to global stability. As Russia, China, and other adversaries advance their nuclear capacity, U.S. national security comes into question. Today, developments in missile technology threaten deterrence and negotiation. How does the United States promote arms control while countering adversaries around the world?


Dig Deeper 


From Rose Gottemoeller


Negotiating the New START Treaty, Rose Gottemoeller


From CFR


The Future of Strategic Arms Control [PDF], Rebecca Lissner


Reinventing Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation as Cooperative Endeavors, Lukasz Kulesa


U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Control,” CFR.org Editors


Read More


Experts assess the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 50 years after it went into effect,” Brookings Institution


Putin’s Exotic New Missiles Didn’t Come From Nowhere. What Can the US Do in Response?,” The Diplomat


China Is Building A Second Nuclear Missile Silo Field,” Federation of American Scientists


What’s Driving China’s Nuclear Buildup?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Watch and Listen


Why Is China Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal?The Daily





Hey Why It Matters listeners. So we're at a midpoint in our season and working fast and furious on new episodes. But in the meantime, did you know that the Council has other podcasts you might be interested in? One of them is called The President's Inbox. It's the Council's interview show hosted each week by our director of studies, Jim Lindsay. Well, this week we're going to run a full episode of TPI on our feed so that you can check it out yourself, and to tell you more about it here is Jim himself. 

Gabrielle SIERRA: Hey, Jim.

James M. LINDSAY: Hi, Gabrielle.

SIERRA: I'm really excited to finally have The President's Inbox on our Why It Matters airwaves. So for those who aren't already familiar, can you tell us just a bit about your show? What is the show about?

LINDSAY: Happy to, Gabrielle. It's great to be joining you on Why It Matters. You're doing great work. I love to listen. The President's Inbox is an interview podcast. Each week I sit down for about 30 minutes with an expert to discuss a major foreign policy challenge facing the United States. My guests have included former government officials, activists, authors, and historians, both from the United States and abroad. Our goal on the show is to have an engaging conversation on a big topic and to give our listeners insights into the opportunities, dangers, and trade-offs that confront policymakers.

SIERRA: Well, I'm really excited to play an episode. So can you just tell us a little bit about the one everyone is about to hear?

LINDSAY: The episode that listeners are about to hear features a conversation I had back in August with Rose Gottemoeller about the future of nuclear arms control. We sat down and discussed how much the nuclear arms control debate has changed in recent years and how the Biden administration should respond to a whole new set of issues.

LINDSAY: Now, many people listening to us may know the only bilateral agreement that exists between the United States and Russia is the New START Treaty. That's the one that Washington and Moscow renewed for a final five years back in February. As that's happening, both the United States and Russia in the midst of major nuclear weapons modernization programs, developments on the technological front are blurring the lines between conventional and nuclear weapons, and China is expanding its nuclear arsenal, turning what had been a bilateral rivalry into a trilateral one. So lots to talk about.

SIERRA: Great. Well, I'm super excited to hear it, and thank you so, so much for stopping by and lending us your episode.

LINDSAY: Happy to join you Gabrielle, and I hope listeners enjoy the episode.

SIERRA: Thanks, Jim.

LINDSAY: Welcome to The President's Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is the future of arms control.

LINDSAY: With me to discuss the efforts to regulate if not eliminate nuclear weapons is Rose Gottemoeller. Rose is the Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and it's Center for International Security and Cooperation. From 2016-2019, she was deputy secretary general of NATO. Before that, she served for nearly five years as the undersecretary for arms control and international security at the US State Department. In 2009 and 2010, she was the chief US negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, better known as New START, with Russia. That experience is something she relays in her recently published memoir, "Negotiating the New START Treaty" which was released this past May. Rose, thank you very much for talking with me.

Rose GOTTEMOELLER: It's my pleasure, Jim.

LINDSAY: Now Rose, I want to talk about the New START Treaty, but in a moment. I want to begin with the big question, which is really the one about the future of arms control. We've both been around for a while. We came of age in an era in which a lot of nuclear agreements were negotiated. The big important ones were obviously the superpower treaty between, first, the United States and the Soviet Union, then the United States and Russia. But over years, a number of those treaties have been terminated. The US withdrew from the ABM Treaty back in 2001. Recently, we pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, also left the Open Sky Treaty, which is not specifically a nuclear weapons treaty. Have we come to the end of the age of arms control?

GOTTEMOELLER: I don't think so, Jim. I think it's important to pay attention to what US national security interests are and if they are served by a nuclear arms control treaty, then we should continue to negotiate them. I do want to stress that the New START Treaty, which continues in force, is one where the Russians are continuing to comply with the treaty very well. But that is the key question. If our counterpart countries are not complying with the treaty, if they are violating the treaty, then it ceases to serve US national security interests, and that's exactly what happened in the case of the INF Treaty. For example, that the Russians had begun violating the treaty with a new missile. So it was important, I think, for the United States to take those steps. But for me, that's always the ruler that you check, does it serve US national security interests and is the other party complying with the treaty?

LINDSAY: So let's talk about the New START Treaty then, Rose. Could you just first walk us through what the treaty does and what it succeeded?

GOTTEMOELLER: The treaty limits US strategic nuclear forces and Russian strategic nuclear forces to 1,550 deployed operational warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles. These are missiles, bombers, both sea-launched and ground-launched missiles, and our air-launch bomber systems. It's a treaty that is important because it keeps the United States and Russia limited to those numbers while we have both been carrying out modernization. The Russians are about a decade ahead of us. They modernize their strategic nuclear forces, their triad of sea-based, land-based, and air-based systems, and now in the next decade the United States is undertaking a modernization as well. But I always call these modernizations judicious ones because they are carried out within the limits of the New START Treaty in this case, and that is another reason why I think it's important to look to the future and put in place further limits so that we ensure that whatever the Russians do to modernize their nuclear forces going forward, we keep them under control.

LINDSAY: Rose, could you help me understand precisely what 'modernization' means in the context of the US/Russia arms competition, because obviously the United States and Russia, and before that the Soviet Union, have had for decades the ability to obliterate each other. So what is new about the changes being introduced into the arsenal? It's just a matter of replacing new versions of older things, or are they more effective or reliable in important ways?

GOTTEMOELLER: I think President Obama said it best when he gave his famous speech at Prague. He said as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. So systems need to be replaced because they become safety hazards. You don't want the missile to blow up in its silo or, heaven forbid, on a submarine. They must be secure, and that means that we do a lot to ensure that nuclear warheads cannot be fiddled with, they cannot be stolen and used by a terrorist. So there are various locking systems that are used, highly technical some of them, to ensure that if a warhead somehow fell into the wrong hands, it could not be used by someone not authorized to do so. And they must be effective. These weapon systems exist and are deployed for many, many years in the most difficult of environments; out in the middle of North Dakota or on the Russian steppe. Very cold winters, very hot summers. Same with submarines in the deep ocean deploying for many years at a time.

GOTTEMOELLER: So the missile systems have to be effective under very difficult operational circumstances, and it's for these reasons that they do need to be modernized after a while. You want to make sure that they are safe, secure, and effective, and some of these systems, believe me, have been in deployment for a long time. The first Ohio class submarine, which the United States is still running, was launched in 1979. So you see it's high time to think about what new platforms we need to ensure our safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal.'

LINDSAY: Now, Rose, when the New START Treaty was originally negotiated, there was a fair amount of opposition to the US decision to sign the treaty. Can you sort of walk us through what the objections were to the New START Treaty?

GOTTEMOELLER: There is a certain line of thought in the US body politic, and it's not new. It has existed since the very first strategic arms limitation agreement was negotiated in 1972 and brought into force, and it has to do with a number of politicians in the United States simply don't think that this is the way we should go about ensuring our own defense and deterrence. That we need to take all the responsibility and not depend on any other actors and particularly the USSR in the old days and the Russian Federation nowadays. The worry about Russian noncompliance, Soviet noncompliance, has always been strongly felt by certain actors. Interestingly enough, in the early days it was the Democratic party in the form of Henry 'Scoop' Jackson, who was quite skeptical about joining in arms treaties with the Soviet Union. Nowadays, it tends to be more on the Republican side of the aisle, but there are a number of people who are highly critical of the notion of working at the negotiating table to secure our defense and deterrence involving nuclear weapons.

So there are different views. I continue to believe that it's important that we try to gain success at the diplomatic table in addition to building up our nuclear forces as we need to, again judiciously, to ensure that we are defended against what the Russians can throw at us and also new concerning developments on the Chinese side, which I'm sure you're going to get to, Jim. But I think it's a basic philosophical question whether the diplomatic table serves us in this realm. I and many others think that it does, but it is a difference of opinion.

LINDSAY: Rose, I am going to get to the question of what role should China play in our thinking about arms control negotiations, but before I get there I just want to wrap up a little bit on the New START Treaty and the challenge of getting a treaty through the United States Senate. You know a little bit about that. Can you give us some sense of what it takes to persuade two-thirds plus one of the United States Senate to vote for a treaty?

GOTTEMOELLER: Yes. I always laugh to myself thinking about those negotiations with the Senate and wondering who was more difficult to negotiate with, the senators or the Russians. I think it's kind of a toss up to tell you the truth, but that's because the senators take their responsibilities seriously. It is a constitutional responsibility of the Senate to give advice and consent to the ratification of treaties. It's the president who actually signs the ratification document but that advice and consent function is all important, and I found in the case of the New START Treaty that the senators took it very seriously indeed. They wanted to understand exactly how this treaty is in the national security interest of the United States. We had over 20 formal hearings and briefings, countless informal meetings and informal briefings. I was answering questions in the cafeteria, in the corridors. Wherever a staff member or a member of the Senate wanted questions answered we were ready to do so, and we did answer formally over 1,000 questions for the record for the New START Treaty. So I felt that that was the all-important aspect, that the senators needed to have answers to the questions that would lead them to be confident that New START in fact is in the national security interest of the United States. So that was the most important effort.But there was another important effort, and that was to work with the public, that was to work with the media, that was to work with religious organizations in order to really get the voice of the public behind the New START Treaty as well, and telling their senators that they thought it was a good idea to vote for it. That was also a difficult and complicated campaign but it was well worthwhile, and I think both of those aspects have to go into treaty ratification. You have to work directly on Capitol Hill, but you also have to work with the public to gain their support.

LINDSAY: Well, it was ultimately a successful campaign. The Senate provided its advice and consent to the treaty. I should note that that's not true of all treaties and certainly not of all treaties dealing with nuclear weapons. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was famously voted down by the Senate back during the Clinton years. So I'm just sort of looking at the New START Treaty. One of its interesting facets is it was a time-limited treaty lasting about a decade. Can you tell us why that was the case?

GOTTEMOELLER: All of the strategic arms limitation and reduction treaties, again since 1972, have been time limited. That's why we've had this constant march of negotiation, and I think it was tied to the fact that everyone recognizes that missile technologies move and develop and advance as well as for the launch systems, the submarines, for example, and the bombers. Those technologies move in advance as well, and so for that reason every treaty from the first strategic arms limitation agreement in 1972 has had a limitation on it and has been replaced through negotiation. In the case of SALT, SALT II, never ratified or entered into force. There were a number of reasons for that, one of which was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but we have seen this constant progression. A very important treaty was the first START Treaty, which by the way, just had its birthday on the 1st of August. It was signed by President Bush and President Gorbachev, interestingly right before the August coup that contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

LINDSAY: This was the older President Bush.

GOTTEMOELLER: Yes, exactly, George H. W. Bush. This treaty was enforced until December of 2009, but that was the impetus for the rapid negotiation of the New START Treaty. George W. Bush and his counterpart at that time, President Putin, and then President Obama and the then-president of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, all agreed that the treaty needed to be replaced. The first START treaty needed to be replaced before December of 2009 and that lent impetus, I will say it lit a fire under us, to get the New START Treaty finished as quickly as possible.

LINDSAY: Deadlines do tend to concentrate the mind wonderfully. But obviously with the 10-year window for New START, it was coming to its end earlier this year. One of the first decisions the Biden administration made was to strike an agreement with Moscow on extending New START for another five years, and that seemed to be relatively uncontroversial. I will note that in terms of the renewal, the issue did not have to go back before the Senate for its approval, which no doubt added to the ease which it could be extended. But I'm curious, Rose, sort of looking forward, what's going to come next? You've said that the pattern has been we strike an agreement and then something will come and supersede it. What do you see happening after the expiration of New START, particularly because of an issue you raised not too long ago, the growth of China as a superpower in what appears to be on all accounts a growing Chinese nuclear stockpile and nuclear capability?

GOTTEMOELLER: Jim, before I turn to that, I just want to tell a tiny vignette. We did have President Obama and President Medvedev breathing down our neck at the time we were negotiating the New START Treaty and so I said to my lawyer at the time, a fellow named Paul Dean, I said, "Why don't we put an extension clause into the New START Treaty so that it can be easily extended according to the terms of the treaty and won't have to go back to the Senate for further advice and consent?" So we basically dropped a five-year extension clause into the New START Treaty. The Russians agreed with it. By the way, when the time came to extend New START they did require a further legislative process on the Russian side, but we did not. So it was really at that moment when we had such pressure on us for getting New START finished because START was going out of force that we decided we needed that five-year extension clause, and I'm rather glad we put it in there.

But to turn to your major question about what next, President Biden and President Putin. One of the earliest phone calls that Biden had after he was sworn into office on January 20th, 2021 was to talk to Putin about what next. They knew they wanted to extend New START for five years. That was accomplished very quickly. But then they also spoke about moving on to negotiate whatever the follow one will be for that treaty. It will last until February of 2026, New START, but after that there will have to be some kind of new treaty or agreement. So they agreed first thing that that is something they wanted to do. That was something they reconfirmed when they met in Geneva in mid June. So part of what is happening now with a new strategic stability dialogue that was launched last week at the end of July, July 28th, again a meeting in Geneva between the United States and the Russian Federation, and they began talking about what should be part of a new treaty. And, I know that each side has some particular priorities that they want to put on the table, but they're not yet to the point of negotiation. They're still figuring out what the substantive agenda should look like for a new negotiation.

So I think for the US side, it's going to be really important to get a handle on the number of warheads that the Russians have available for so-called non-strategic delivery vehicles, shorter-range missiles that affect really our allies in Europe and in Asia. So that's going to be a high priority for the United States. We've also got a lot of concern about the so-called new exotic Russian weapon systems, some of which such as the air launch ballistic missile, the Congal, are not under the constraints of the New START Treaty, the two nuclear-propelled systems, a sea-launch cruise missile, and an additional anti-ship missile. They too have not been under the constraints of the New START Treaty, so that's something that I think both particularly the United States, but also our allies in Europe and Asia, are keen to see some constraints on as well. So I know those will be US priorities. From the Russian side, they keep saying they are very concerned about US long-range highly accurate conventional systems, as well as US missile defense systems. So there will be some discussions, I think, about what exactly goes into the treaty. But then comes the additional factor, and that is China. We don't know where China is heading with the construction of many more silos for its intercontinental ballistic missiles, but just in the past couple of weeks we've seen revelations of one site having 110 new silos, the other site having 120 new silos. What exactly are they going to do with all those silos? And, so I do think that the United States and Russia have it in their interest to get the Chinese to the table, not to negotiate. The Chinese really do have a much smaller arsenal at this moment than the United States and Russia, but we need to understand what their plans and intent are. Where are they heading with all these new ICBM silo construction projects? What do they have in mind? It's very different from Chinese strategy in the past, which has depended on a much smaller force and on a doctrine built around what we call second strike retaliatory capability, that they would not build up their weapon systems to stand against US forces in a first-strike standoff, for example, as we do with the Russians keeping missiles on highly accurate alert so that they could launch immediately and the Russians could never dare to attempt a first strike on us for that reason.

So that's not where the Chinese have been. They've said, "Well, if somebody dares attack us, we'll be sure we can retaliate," and that means they could keep a much smaller force on much lower alerts. So things are changing in China with their modernization program and with their doctrine and strategy. We need to understand more about their plans and intent. I would argue the Russians do as well.

LINDSAY: Rose, could you just help us understand sort of the size differential between the current Chinese nuclear arsenal and what the United States and Russia have, both deployed and on reserve?

GOTTEMOELLER: Yes. This is an interesting question. I think the easiest way to talk about it is to talk about warheads. The United States and Russia each have under the New START Treaty 1,550 operationally deployed warheads. In addition, they hold other warheads in reserve, and so we say each side has approximately 4,000 total warheads both operationally deployed and weapons held in reserve status. So that is a big difference with what the Chinese have. According to a Department of Defense report from September of 2020, our estimates are they have approximately 250 warheads. The numbers vary between 250, 350; not known exactly in the unclassified literature, but certainly fewer than 500 warheads total, and the US is concerned that they could double those numbers. Well, if they doubled them, they'd have 700 warheads. So that's still quite a few fewer warheads than 4,000 on the Russian side, 4,000 on the US side. So there is a big differential. We always say that the United States and Russia still have 95% of the weapons in the world, and so I think there are good reasons for the United States and Russia to continue to reduce numbers.

LINDSAY: Well, I will note that diplomats in Beijing are quick to point to the size differential between the relatively small Chinese nuclear arsenal and what the United States and the Russians have, but I also take your point that if the Chinese nuclear arsenal grows it becomes of greater interest to both Moscow and Washington and more directly affects their national security interests. So maybe you can sort of pick that apart. I'm curious. Do you have a position on why it is that the Chinese have suddenly gone out and essentially drilled 240 holes in the ground for silos? Again, this is a real break with their whole position of minimum deterrence that they've had since they first detonated a nuclear weapon back in October 1964.

GOTTEMOELLER: Partially I am attracted to the argument that some experts have been making that this is a shell game approach, and that's exactly the approach that the Soviet Union took back when they had not yet put the resources in to build up a very large strategic nuclear arsenal. They dug a lot of holes in the ground, and so it was very difficult for the United States to target their ICBM force because we didn't know exactly which holes had missiles in them. And so I'm attracted to the notion that the Chinese may have taken this shell game approach as well. However, if you consider the precedent further, you see that the USSR in the end of the day did build up a very, very significant strategic nuclear arsenal with many more warheads and many more delivery vehicles. Many more particularly ICBMs, but also a very capable submarine force and bomber force.

So I think that is the worry certainly for US experts. I believe that the Russians should be looking at this problem with a very skeptical eye as well, because the Chinese could be on the cusp of building up a very capable strategic nuclear arsenal unlike, as you pointed out, Jim, anything that they contemplated in the past. So we need to keep a sharp eye on what they're up to, and I think it's all important to get them talking right now to hear what they have to say about what their intent is and to be very open, of course. The reason they'd come to the table is to hear what our plans are. So to be very open, of course, about what our plans are for the future both on the missile offense side, but also on the missile defense side. The Chinese always claim a great worry about what the United States can do to defend against their much smaller missile force, so that might be part of what is driving them as well.

LINDSAY: Well, what do you make of the argument that the Chinese are acquiring more nuclear weapons, drilling more holes in the ground to put ground-based missiles because they are concerned about the ability of their deterrent to actually work precisely because the United States is making great progress in building effective missile defenses and so the only way that they can get ahead of the game is to build more missiles than American anti-missiles can shoot down. Does that dynamic possibly apply?

GOTTEMOELLER: Well, it's a very similar argument to the one the Russians make. But honestly, I look at what kinds of resources the United States is putting into national missile defense and I see those numbers being very small indeed. There is no way that the United States has anything more than a limited national missile defense, just as we say to defend against the possibility of a North Korean strike or possibly in the future an Iranian strike. I think and I always say that both the Chinese and Russians would have good strategic warning if we ever decided to pour more resources and then try to build a national missile defense system that would be comprehensive like the Reagan so-called Star Wars program. We just don't build and deploy in those kinds of numbers. So they should take some confidence from that, but they do not and they always argue for that reason that they are very worried about the US technological advancements, they are very worried about...the Chinese also say what the United States can do on a regional basis, which is why they are so concerned about our cooperation with the Japanese, for example, on the Aegis Ashore system with the deployment of the so-called FAAD radar system and the ROK. They are very concerned about these kinds of developments as well. So again, a good reason to talk, I think. They can ask questions about our missile defenses as well as we can ask questions about theirs and what they're doing, by the way, also with new space-based capabilities, as well as their strategic nuclear arsenal.

LINDSAY: Well, as you start telling the story, Rose, it becomes more and more complicated because you have what it is countries are doing, you have uncertainty about the intentions behind what they are doing, and then you overlay changes in technology that may be outpacing or have outpaced prior agreements. I really want to pursue that aspect of the challenge, which is when we think of classic US/Soviet Union then US/Russia arms control negotiations, we used to divide missiles up into categories. You had strategic missiles, intermediate missiles, short-range missiles, and in these sort of bilateral negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union then Russia, much of the focus was on so-called strategic nuclear weapons, that is weapons that go intercontinental distances. But now when you start adding additional countries in you get other dynamics, because all of a sudden shorter-range weapons can be quite threatening.

LINDSAY: Obviously, you recall back in the 1980s debate over the Pershing IIs or so-called short-range missile capable of going from if it was stationed in Europe to the Soviet Union, the SS 20s in reverse. So we got the INF Treaty and, of course, the INF Treaty is now by the wayside because the argument, certainly made by the Trump administration, is that, (a) The Russians weren't complying with the treaty, but also (b) lots of other countries now have intermediate-range missiles that could target strictly US forces overseas, so we have to shake up who sits down and has that conversation. So how do we think about arms control going forward where we have these additional complexities. No longer two players. You can't simply make things easier by only looking at certain classes of weapons. How do you make that work?

GOTTEMOELLER: I think you have to consider carefully where traditional arms control measures still have a role. And by the way, the Russians have begun to regret, I think, their actions which precipitated the end of the INF Treaty because now they are very worried about the advent of a new US conventional ground-launch cruise missile in Europe. And the Chinese, by the way, it's caught the Chinese attention, too. They're concerned about the advent of the new US conventional ground-launch cruise missile being deployed in Asia. So when you have gotten your counterpart's attention in that way, you have some potential to engage in new negotiations, so I think there's possibilities with both Russia and China in this case because China does have some equivalence of capability. They have a large number of capable intermediate-range missiles which we're concerned about because they are carrier killers, as we call them, so we can look for some opportunities, I think, to bring both them and the Russians to the negotiating table to talk about not an identical kind of treaty to the INF Treaty, but to talk about some new regional constraints on INF.

I think we should start with Russia and China, but we should think in the future about whether some other parties need to come to the table as well. The Indians, for example, and the Pakistanis are both putting in place very capable intermediate-range systems, and that's one reason why President Putin argued that Russia should get out of the INF Treaty because all around its Eurasian periphery, Putin argued, all of these countries were getting such systems. So I wouldn't throw away this traditional arms control tool, though. Perhaps we can make the same arguments that we made effectively at the time INF was negotiated. That is that these kinds of intermediate-range systems pose the threat of no warning attack to critical targets, particularly strategic command and control. Therefore, everybody should have an equal interest in placing constraints on them. 

We'll see. We'll see what is possible. But my argument is let's not throw out the traditional arms control methods, but we do need to think anew about how we get constraints on new technologies that are not so dependent on hardware as our traditional nuclear arsenals have been. In the cyber realm, for example, we have been trying to think, and I know that's something that the Biden administration has been quite keen on, trying to think about ways to at the outset just get better behavior with regard to the maligned cyber attacks that have been going on. So there's a normative aspect of this. Can we all agree that it's in everybody's interest not to attack strategic command and control with cyber weapons, for example, but then to go forward from there to think about perhaps some other kinds of constraints and controls that we can place in this area. But these are big questions and big new questions, I think, for the arms control community.

Hardware limits are not going to work in the same way as they did in the past, and we have to think about what we can do to get our arms around some new technologies more dependent on software than on hardware.

LINDSAY: So, Rose, what advice do you have for people working in this area going forward when you have changes in technology really upsetting the ability to use traditional regulatory arms control frameworks? You add in the fact that now you don't have to look just at two countries, but three, maybe four, maybe five, and then the interactions among those various things, the blurring of the line between the nuclear and the conventional attack. So for those people who are working on these issues, what advice do you have for them? Sounds like a tough challenge.

GOTTEMOELLER: It's an exciting time. Go for it. I think the agenda's much more exciting now than it has been for decades. Challenges that are out there such as how do we monitor and verify warheads, for example. We've never tried to tackle that before, but there are new means and methods available for verification, including remote sensing and robotics and so forth. These are exciting times for the technologists among us, but they are also exciting times for those who are more on the conceptual side of things and thinking through exactly how we fit together traditional arms control constraints with new approaches, including perhaps as I've mentioned some normative approaches to gain some new consensus about the necessity of keeping safe haven for certain kinds of capabilities, such as our nuclear command and control. These are all exciting ideas and making the case for them at the negotiating table will be a challenge, but I think it is a worthy challenge and it is one, frankly, that we're up to, Jim.

LINDSAY: It obviously is a very big challenge, Rose. We didn't even exhaust the list of issues on the arms control agenda, didn't mention Iran, didn't mention North Korea, so there's a lot to do there. But having said that, I'm going to close up The President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Rose Gottemoeller, the Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute and the author of the terrific new memoir, "Negotiating the New START Treaty". Rose, thanks for joining me.

GOTTEMOELLER: Thanks, Jim. Terrific conversation.

LINDSAY: Please subscribe to The President's Inbox on Apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you listen, and leave us your review. They help us get noticed and improve the show. As always, opinions expressed on The President's Inbox are solely those of the host or our guests, not a CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis with Senior Producer Jeremy Sherlick. Zoe also did double duty as our recording engineer. Thank you, Zoe. Special thanks to Director Margaret Gach for her assistance.

This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.


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In this special episode, Why It Matters follows up with CFR President Richard Haass to hear his insights on the war in Ukraine.

In this special episode, Why It Matters follows up with CFR President Richard Haass to hear his insights on the war in Ukraine.

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For years, large corporations have exploited international tax laws to pay less taxes. But last year, 137 countries backed a potential solution: a 15 percent corpora...

For years, large corporations have exploited international tax laws to pay less taxes. But last year, 137 countries backed a potential solution: a 15 percent corpora...

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How can the world create better medicines? More powerful solar cells? New batteries? The answers could come from a revolutionary research tool known as the quantum c...

How can the world create better medicines? More powerful solar cells? New batteries? The answers could come from a revolutionary research tool known as the quantum c...

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The world is already witnessing the effects of climate change. One inescapable and irreversible consequence is sea-level rise, which could destroy coastal cities. Ho...

The world is already witnessing the effects of climate change. One inescapable and irreversible consequence is sea-level rise, which could destroy coastal cities. Ho...

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In this special episode, Why It Matters sits down with CFR President Richard Haass to ask the basic questions about the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Pu...

In this special episode, Why It Matters sits down with CFR President Richard Haass to ask the basic questions about the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Pu...

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The world is moving toward electric vehicles and clean energy, but a green future doesn’t depend on wind turbines, solar panels, and Teslas alone. It will also requi...

The world is moving toward electric vehicles and clean energy, but a green future doesn’t depend on wind turbines, solar panels, and Teslas alone. It will also requi...

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Top Stories on CFR


 Iran is seeing its biggest protests since 2019 over the death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. Pro-women, anti-morality police demonstrations evolving into broader anti-government protests. Drawing international support and a crackdown by the regime.

Saudi Arabia

The U.S.-Saudi relationship is fraught with complications. Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world, giving it influence over what Americans pay at the gas pump. At the same time, the kingdom’s human rights abuses are at odds with the United States’ stated democratic values. Who holds the power in this partnership? And what compromises are being made so the countries can work together?

Energy and Environment

Billion-dollar disasters such as Hurricane Ian are on the rise in the United States. Officials should take swift action to reduce the damage and protect Americans.