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New American Strategies for Security and Peace
Conference Transcripts:

Panel Three:
William J. Perry, Ashton B. Carter, Rose Gottemoeller, Amy Smithson, Wendy Sherman

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The number one danger facing the country today, in my judgment, is a nuclear bomb or biological attack in an American city. Even before 9/11 Osama Bin Laden was pronouncing his goal was to kill as many Americans as possible and he was exhorting his followers to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

After 9/11 we have to understand that he is serious and that this is a real threat. Therefore, the number one national security priority for the United States ought to be preventing that catastrophe from happening. The good news is that there is a substantial barrier to a terror group being able to make their own nuclear bomb from scratch.

Therefore, in this field our goal should be to keep them from getting over that barrier. Two of our speakers today will talk about how to achieve that goal. The barriers to chemical and biological weapons are not so formidable. And, therefore, our goal must include a timely and effective response to a chemical or biological attack after it has happened.

We have four very experienced and knowledgeable speakers on these subjects today and I’m going to turn the floor over to them immediately to let them tell you about their ideas on this subject. The first one is Ash Carter, Professor at Harvard. He’s going to be speaking on the subject of overhauling counter-proliferation, as well as the crisis in North Korea. Ash.


MS: Thank you, Bill. Thank you, organizers of this event. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m going to kick off this panel, which is about weapons of mass destruction, and I’m going to use as my text a statement by President Bush with which I agree very much, which is that the essence of national security policymaking in the era into which we’re entering is to keep the worst weapons out of the hands of the worst people.

And what I want to describe is what might have been, should have been the response to that mandate after 9/11, and it still can be. What should we do if we really take on board what he said? Now as is usually the case with a really important problem, it is a fact that our approach to dealing with weapons of mass destruction is a many tool toolbox.

It’s not one thing. So over in the course of history, for example, our alliances and security partnerships have successfully dissuaded countries like Germany, Japan and Turkey from wanting to get weapons of mass destruction in the first place. At other times, focused U.S. diplomacy, when buttressed by the international support embodied in the various international arms control regimes, has confronted and reversed proliferation where it’s been occurring (Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and so forth).

Where bad intentions have persisted despite dissuasion and despite diplomacy, we’ve tried to stop the bad stuff from getting into the bad hands through export controls, covert action, Nunn-Lugar and so forth. We have said, and I think we should continue to say that our response to anybody who ever uses these weapons against us will be overwhelming and devastating and not to exclude anything in our armamentarium.

We have developed, and from time to time fielded, defenses — active defenses, passive defenses. So all of these are part of the tool kit and, yes, also pre-emption which, I’ll come back to this shortly, Bill Perry and I were looking at in 1994 with respect to North Korea, which might come around and which, of course, we conducted in Iraq in 1993.

There are many tools in the toolbox for dealing with weapons of mass destruction. I think it’s fair to say, however, that since 9/11 we’ve done one thing in one place. One thing (pre-emption), one place (Iraq). Elsewhere in the toolbox and elsewhere around the world we have done very little.

What we might have done and what we now should do is what I want to direct myself to, namely, overhaul that entire toolbox. Let me give you some ingredients, very briefly, of what that overhaul would entail, and then my guess is that some of what I say will be enlarged upon by others on the panel.

Consider the fact that as we sit here today, just for example, following up Bill Perry’s mandate that at least as far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the wherewithal to make them so far in human history has all been done by governments. So all the fissile material is in the custody of government somewhere.

And job one has to be to make sure that that, wherever it is, it doesn’t get out. The fiscal year 2001 budget for the Nunn-Lugar Program, just to take you one example, was $443 million. The request for fiscal 2004 now, this is after an attack on New York and after what WMD wore in Iraq, the request for $451 million.

To me that makes no sense. And, therefore, had we been serious about the worst weapons and not just the worst people. By the way, I would say that we’ve done an excellent job against the worst people. It’s a whole other discussion, not here. But I’m talking about the worst weapons now.

I think that Nunn-Lugar ought to be dramatically expanded in scale and scope. But that’s a no-brainer after 9/11. In fact, I would go so far as to ask you to imagine this. Imagine that if in addition to a coalition against Al Qaeda properly formed after 9/11, we had formed another coalition.

A coalition against weapons of mass destruction terrorism. What might the coalition against weapons of mass destruction terrorism do? It would, as the coalition against Al Qaeda was seeking out the cells of Islamist terrorists, it would have sought out cells of unsafe guarded wherewithal to do damage.

Weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world. Essentially a Nunn-Lugar of global scope using 9/11 as the platform to catalyze that. Imagine that, if there had been another coalition against weapons of mass destruction. Somebody did imagine that. Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar, interestingly, 10 years after imagining that the Cold War might end with loose, nuclear weapons.

Second thing we should have done after 9/11 is overhaul counter-proliferation in the Department of Defense. Now I know something about this because I was present at the birthing of the counter-proliferation initiative there. And let me remind you what that was about.

That was about finding non-nuclear counters to weapons of mass destruction in the hands of people who wish us ill. And over time that was taken from a focus on the battlefield to ports of embarkation, airheads and finally to rear areas, including the homeland. And it reflected the belief that I certainly share, that the Department of Defense has a major responsibility to defend its own against weapons of mass destruction.

And to the extent it develops technology and techniques, they are generally applicable. And that counter-proliferation is an essential part therefore, of military transformation. But look in the Department of Defense at the counter-proliferation programs. They’re all over the place.

They’re scattered, they’re small, and they’re doing less today even than before 9/11 because they’re all assuming somebody else in the government is working on this problem. So the counter-proliferation activities of DOD also should receive much more managerial focus, many more resources parenthetically to the extent we expand our non-nuclear counters to weapons of mass destruction.

And there should be. And that part of DHS, which is not doing airline security, border control, emergency response or trying to figure out which office to sit in today, which is most of what they’re doing, there ought to be since this is the most important form of terrorism, they ought to be doing something about that.

Meanwhile, as the department stands up and doesn’t do anything about weapons of mass destruction, the Office of Homeland Security and the White House, which Tom Ridge originally inhabited, is withering. And so the orchestration of the entire government’s investment in weapons of mass destruction is withering wit it.

Fourth, and on this I won’t say very much about, we might have taken the opportunity of 9/11 to fix some of the international agreements covering weapons of mass destruction. They’re valuable because when we go after proliferators, we do so with the support embodied in those agreements.

And that’s an argument why even agreements that aren’t fully effective are still in the national interest. But we can make them a lot more effective, and we should have done that after 9/11. And finally, fifth thing we should have done is overhaul weapons of mass destruction intelligence.

I don’t need to dwell on that point for very long because of the Iraq experience which we’re all still trying to sort out. But no tool in the counter-proliferation toolbox can be effective without good intelligence. And we need to ask ourselves how well we’re doing.

Remember Don Rumsfeld rightly said when he did the ballistic missile commission that the slogan he used was “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. That is, he was not willing to take the fact that the intelligence community not have specific evidence about weapons of mass destruction as evidence that those weapons didn’t exist and, therefore, we didn’t need to do anything.

Now whatever you think about ballistic missile defense, that was a cogent argument or it’s a cogent question to ask, whether we have the intelligence to buttress any strategy against weapons of mass destruction. And I think we could do a lot better and we should have embarked on that overhaul as well.

Well, there are five things that we should have done right after 9/11 to go after the worst weapons as well as the worst people. Though, if I may, I’d like to say one thing about North Korea, but I don’t want to overstay my time. I’m willing to come back to that if you’d like to hear from the rest of the panel.

MS: Our next speaker will be Rose Gottemoeller who’s had extensive experience both in and out of government in the national security field. Rose.


FS: Thank you, Bill. I’m going to continue the theme that Ash laid down about tools in our toolbox. And I’d like to concentrate my remarks on the tools that were honed in the past decade of cooperation with Russian, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other countries. I’m starting with a positive message.

That is, I believe we have the tools at hand to address and maybe even to resolve some of the major nuclear proliferation problems that we face. We know how to work with a country to eliminate its nuclear weapons systems as we cooperated to cut up missiles, bombers and submarines in Russia.

We know how to help a country safely transport nuclear weapons and materials to secure storage or destruction facilities as we worked with Ukraine to help them move 2,000 warheads to elimination facilities in Russia, and as we worked with Kazakhstan to package up hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched geranium and move that material out of Kazakhstan in Project Sapphire.

We know how to safely pack up nuclear weapons material, highly enriched geranium and plutonium and lock it down under IAEA safeguards as we did with Kazakhstan, three tons of ivory grade plutonium at the Octile (ph.) facility on the Caspian Sea. And, yes, indeed, with North Korea at the Ung Bejun (ph.) reactor where we locked down 8,000 plutonium fuel rods for almost 10 years, preventing them from being turned to nuclear weapons uses.

We just didn’t get those fuel rods out of there fast enough. That’s another story, perhaps Ash would like to comment on it. Finally, we know how to work with other countries to come up with technical fixes to nuclear problems such as in our work with Russia to improve sensors and monitors for nuclear warhead safety and security.

This knowledge and the tools that go along with it can now be put to work to tackle some of our tough proliferation cases. Let me just briefly encapsulate the case of Iran. We could work with the International Automatic Energy Agency to provide remote sensing equipment to monitor the suspension of the uranium enrichment program there.

We could work with Russia to develop special containers, locks and sensors to oversee the flow of nuclear fuel to the reactor and to oversee the department of spent fuel from that reactor. We could cooperate with the European states, with Russia and the International Automatic Energy Agency to develop a plan now, in advance, to work with Iran to eliminate its uranium enrichment facilities.

Such joint work, in my view, could be especially fruitful because of the already existing cooperation that is taking place in the G8, the so-called global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction. I’ll return to the global partnership in a moment.

But first, solutions of this kind don’t emerge in a vacuum, and this was a theme that was introduced very effectively by Flynt Leverett in our last session. That is, you have to engage countries’ interests. We have to be willing to sit down with countries and do some tough talking about where their national interests lie, both on the negative and on the positive side, as we sat down with Ukraine and Russia in 1993 and 1994 to figure out a way to get those almost 2,000 nuclear warheads out of Ukraine.

We convinced Ukraine that their interests lay in joining the international community, rather than isolating themselves in nuclear splendor on the outskirts of Europe. And we convinced Russia that their interests lay in working with Ukraine to satisfy Ukraine’s national security concerns and also concerns related and interests related to nuclear energy in Ukraine.

If you show people their interests, then a policy can move forward. But we have to be willing to talk straight with them and to work with them. I realize that launching an immediate and direct dialogue with Tehran is a heavy lift for the United States in general, whether a democratic or a republic administration.

That’s given the long history between us and the many difficulties on both sides in terms of finding those who are willing to engage. But we should be willing to work coherently with our partners, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and the IAEA so that they may have an effective, well-supported dialogue with Tehran on solving the nuclear problem.

A final word on our threat reduction cooperation. Ash has already introduced this topic, and I think we really must continue our emphasis on Russia and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. I do give the Bush Administration great credit for establishing a long-term commitment to stopping the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Together with our G8 partners, they laid down a commitment to a billion dollars a year over the next 10 years. Ash was making reference to the cooperative threat reduction program in the Department of Defense. This amount also includes the programs in the Department of Energy and in the State Department.

This is a considerable commitment, but we are still a long way from preventing a nuclear weapon from exploding in lower Manhattan and taking all of Wall Street with it. As one of my colleagues said at a meeting yesterday, if that happens, there will be an immediate one trillion dollar effect on the economy of the world as a whole.

And we must take that into account in trying to address this horrific threat. We need to keep working on homeland security absolutely, as Ash said. But we also need to keep working the problem at its source, where weapons and materials are most abundant and least secure.

And that is, in the first instance, still in the former Soviet Union. This is the first line of defense of the United States. In this context I am worried that the Bush administration is undermining its own commitment to reducing the threat. They are engaged in the kind of guerilla warfare wherein behind the scenes they slap constraints and conditions on the cooperation in a way that stops it in its tracks.

It’s a bit of insider baseball, but stay with me for a moment. I just wanted to give an example, and that is they have been using a legal dispute with Russia over liability protection to endanger two programs – the Plutonium Disposition Program and the Nuclear Cities Initiative, claiming that the government-to-government agreements that underpin those two programs cannot be extended.

And, indeed, both of those agreements went out of force. One in July and the other in September. This liability issue does seem a bit like legal detail, but, in fact, it has shut down a number of programs and projects. Another example is the Joint Data Exchange Center, the J-DEC, which is important for reducing the risks of accidental launch of nuclear weapons in Russia.

An issue that we have been concerned about for many years, but we are simply unable to make progress on because of, in my view, a legal detail. While it is important to get the liability language right in all of our agreements, it is also important to keep the programs working to assure our national security.

If I had a chance to talk to President Bush, I would say, “Mr. President, we need to do both. But please don’t endanger our national security on behalf of a legal technicality”. Final words, I’d like to say, “Mr. President, you’re not really spending enough on these programs”.

One billion dollars a year is a good commitment and it’s good that that commitment is extending out over 10 years. But it is essentially the same amount that was being spent across all programs in the last year of the Clinton administration. Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, in an important bipartisan study, the report card on the Department of Energy’s Non-Proliferation Programs with Russia, argued in January 2001 that we should be spending more like three billion dollars a year to address this horrific threat.

This amount would still be less than the four billion dollars that is being spent annually on national missile defense. We need to stop this threat before it comes to our shores. And that’s why I would appeal for that investment to approach the amount we’re spending on national missile defense. Thank you very much. [CLAPPING]

MS: Amy Smithson is a Senior Fellow at CSIS and an expert on chemical and biological weapons. She’s going to speak with us today on proliferation of those weapons. Amy.


FS: Thank you very much. During the question and answer period I’d be delighted to field some questions about some of the topics that have just been raised, namely, the technical hurdles that stand between terrorists and these types of weapons. I think there are a number of misimpressions out there about that subject.

Also, how prepared are our cities to deal with these types of attacks. And last, but not least, the subject that Rose just touched on, but more in my area, what’s happening out there with programs to prevent the drain of knowledge and materials from the former Soviet chemical and biological weapons complexes.

But today, in my formal remarks, I’d like to focus on the treaties. Yes, the treaties, because those are the bedrocks of some very important efforts to sponsor international cooperation to thwart the proliferation of these weapons. The 1997 treaty to ban chemical weapons now has 155 members.

This treaty’s activation prompted roughly a dozen states to get out of the chemical weapons business. But there are some worrisome holdout states, such as Syria and North Korea. If I were in professorial mode, I would give the chemical weapons convention a non-proliferation grade of B-.

The reasons being the bulk of Russia’s 40,000 ton poison gas arsenal still awaits destruction. And in no small part because the U.S. government has not fulfilled its pledges to help Moscow with this task. Also, U.S. officials publicly assert that some countries are violating the treaty.

These countries like Iran. Yet, the United States has not launched any challenge inspections. You wonder why? In trying to carve out a less onerous verification for its regime for itself, in 1997 Washington gutted the treaty’s two most stringent monitoring measures – challenge inspections and sampling.

Until Washington fixes the loopholes that it put into this treaty, the chemical weapons convention will not live up to its potential as a non-proliferation mechanism. Were I to hand out grades for the 1975 biological and toxin weapons convention, I would be less charitable still.

Negotiated at a time when on-site inspection was still a pipedream, the BWC lacks a monitoring protocol, and efforts to draft one were crashed at Washington’s behest during a long and drawn out review conference which ended last year. The international process, such that it is for the next three years, consists of two weeks of technical negotiations every year, followed by one week of political talks.

Few experts that I know of in this field, if any, expect anything of substance to come out of this process. How can it? For starters, the compressed talks don’t offer sufficient time to make headway on technically demanding and politically demanding issues.

Second, the agenda for the talks is incomplete. The international community isn’t even slated to address such important issues as bio-safety and the oversight of genetic engineering research. Third, the agenda is driven largely by U.S. proposals that at first blush look kind of good.

For example, Washington urged nations to pass domestic legislation to outlaw biological weapons activities and to safeguard select list dangerous pathogens. Sounds right, doesn’t it? Well, Washington’s method here, much to my chagrin, the underlying approach is faulty.

Countries are asked to do whatever they think is appropriate about a range of issues associated with biological weapons proliferation. If you’ll pardon my sarcasm, how trusting of us. Recent compilations show that almost 100 nations have passed over 1,000 laws. But let’s not jump the gun and slap progress on that.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest links. I don’t know anyone who has yet to digest this huge pile of legislation, but it’s a sure bet that there are some lemons in the lot. That some of these laws aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. This let all countries do as they please approach is a formula for creating safe havens for terrorists and for nations that wish to violate the biological and toxin weapons convention.

It certainly isn’t a recipe for concerted, meaningful international action. Washington’s approach is so faulty that I’m not sure how anyone can assert with a straight face that the U.S. proposals in the current process constitute a serious effort to address the threat of biological weapons proliferation.

I might as well stand here and tell you that I can slam dunk over Shaquille O’Neal. A far more constructive approach, one recommended by a group of technical experts from the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry who reviewed the Bush administration’s proposals and found them sorely, sorely lacking, is to enact tough international standards with mandatory non-compliance penalties.

Models for these standards exist now. The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is that despite all of Washington’s rhetoric about the chemical and biological weapons threats, we aren’t exercising leadership. Sad to say, but in my view the biggest obstacle to genuine progress on chemical and biological weapons non-proliferation is us. [CLAPPING]

MS: Thank you very much, Amy. Wendy Sherman has had extensive foreign policy experience, including being the Special Advisor to the President, Secretary of State on North Korea. She will speak to us today about combating proliferation in the new arms race. Wendy.


FS: Thank you. Well, first of all, you’ve heard from the experts. I’m here in many ways as the diplomat. And every time I listen to my colleagues on this panel I learn a great deal more and I’m very grateful for their enormous expertise. So I want to talk at a little bit of a different level maybe for the people who listen to this on a web cast and don’t understand all of the technical things that we talk about sometime and all the experts that are sitting in the audience already understand.

So let’s talk first about what we’ve done right and what, in fact, the Bush administration has done right. After 9/11 and as we approached the—from the administration’s point of view inevitable war in Iraq, the American public learned about nuclear weapons, about chemical weapons and about biological weapons.

And it scared the hell out of them. As it should. And it created a moment that, as the panel has already lain out, I think, pretty well, in many ways we have squandered. Because we have Americans’ attention. They know that these are things that can come and get them.

That if a conventional airplane can be used as a weapon of mass destruction, imagine nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons. The anthrax scare, of course, obviously brought that home in a very real way to people. Small pox vaccinations brought that home in a very real way.

But instead of using those moments of understanding of the power of these weapons to really move the agenda, the treaties, the multi-lateral efforts, building not just a coalition of the willing, but a UN committed to moving on these issues, we really have not moved at all.

Second thing that the Bush administration started to do well was, as it’s been pointed out, try to make sure that the worst weapons stayed out of the hands of the worst leaders. But this was done in a way that was either a my way or the highway way of doing things.

And so although we all will agree that the worst weapons must stay out of the hands of the worst leaders, that a nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist would make 9/11 pale, as tragic as it was, pale by comparison. Again, we did not take this consensus.

The administration did not take this very powerful consensus and turn it into dollars and into action. Third, the administration did get underway a proliferation security initiative. This is an initiative to try to get countries around the world to agree to try to interdict to stop ships and trains and boats and planes from delivering these horrible weapons that we are talking about.

This is a good initiative. It’s good to get people to agree to look at the current international laws and regimes that we have in place and see whether, in fact, we ought to stop people from transporting things. But, again, the administration really limited itself by doing that again through a coalition of the willing.

An American coalition. Not through the United Nations, not through creating a new international regime to do that, not taking on some of the very difficult international law to do that, but rather in incremental step at a moment when they really could have moved much further than they have.

And ultimately, as everybody up here knows and most of you in the room know, an interdiction policy alone does not stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I called up Ash at one point when I was about to do some television commentary and said, “Let me just check.”

“I’m right, aren’t I? You can take a ball of fissile material the size of a baseball or a grapefruit, put it in a suitcase and carry it over a boarder and nobody would detect it.” That’s true. So although the initiative is a nice piece, it is not a policy.

The G8 Declaration that’s been referred to was a good commitment on behalf of the developed world to deal with weapons of mass destruction. But, again, it was a step at a moment where there was power and energy, and we did not take it to the developing world.

We did not take it to the United Nations. We did not make this a world commitment. To go back to Ash’s point, we did not create energy and an effort and a war against weapons of mass destruction. We had an initiative. Now these are some positive steps that we limited by our own actions, and we don’t need to do that.

In the process of doing that we went to war in Iraq on the basis of what appears to be somewhat faulty intelligence, and that has created a crisis in our credibility around the world. So whether it is North Korea or Iran or Syria or Libya or any other place in the world we have concerns of mass destruction, or Saudi Arabia dealing with Pakistan to get capability for nuclear energy, we limited ourselves because our creditability and intelligence is at an all-time low.

It is something we have to rebuild. It is critical that we rebuild it. So two other things that I want to mention and then I’ll do very quickly some things I think that we can do. We have harmed ourselves as well when the United States Congress agreed to begin research on small nuclear weapons.

It is one of the most profound and, I believe, under-reported contradictions in anything that we have done to date. Here we have the entire world saying we have to stop nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons. We have the American people understanding what the hell they are, and we agree that we will start research and potentially development on small nuclear weapons because we want to have the capability of going into the mountains of North Korea and taking out their weapons.

Well, believe me, I want to get rid of North Korea’s capability, but not only are we undermining the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by doing this, which of course we haven’t ratified ourselves, but we’re encouraging a new arms race around the world. We are undermining our very own credibility.

And finally, the lesson that was most learned, I believe, from Iraq by countries like North Korea and Iran, though I’m a little more hopeful about Iran today, is that the only way to deter the United States is to get nuclear weapons. The conventional weapons, even chemical and biological weapons, won’t do the trick.

And for us to have unwittingly help teach that lesson is really a tragedy. So quickly, what can we do? As people have suggested here, we can strengthen some of the regimes that already exist. The NPT is not a failure, but it has some problems. And the Director General in a recent economist article, which I would all commend to you, laid out a whole series of potential steps to strengthen the IAEA that we all should take a look at.

Some of them I like, some of them I don’t like. But we should all take a look at them. Secondly, inspections do work. We know now that inspections had a powerful result in Iraq. We just didn’t quite understand it right. Third, we ought to look at issues like automatic sanctions if, in fact, countries pull out of regimes.

This is a tough one for us on the progressive side of the ideological ledger, but it’s something that we need to take a look at in this day and age because we now are not only dealing with state actors, we are dealing with non-state actors. And so counter-proliferation and non-proliferation become even more important.

Finally, let me end with a quote from Nigel Chamberlain and Catherine Crandall in an article called “NPT in Crisis” that was in the British American Security Information Council, April 2003. “The potential nexus between nuclear weapons and terrorism is the leading security issue in the United States and in much of Europe today”.

“In light of this new threat, progressive arms control and international diplomacy have been discarded by the Bush administration in favor of disarmament by forceful intervention, preemptively if required, and with nuclear weapons if necessary.” That tautology cannot continue to exist.

It does not serve any of us. We have to move forward, not to one side or the other or backwards. [CLAPPING]

MS: Thank you, Wendy. Now we’ll end with a three or four minute coda from Ash Carter on North Korea.


MS: Well, I’ll try. I was saying that we’ve done a lot about the worst people and not enough about the worst weapons. So we have a coalition against terrorism, but where is its weapons of mass destruction ingredient? We have transformation in the Department of Defense, but where is its weapons of mass destruction ingredient?

We have a new Department of Homeland Security, but what is it doing about the worst kind of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction terrorism. We’re re-making the world in international understandings, but what are we doing about the weapons of mass destruction structures?

And we’re overhauling intelligence, including domestic intelligence, but what are we doing about better weapons of mass destruction intelligence? Nowhere are our deficiencies in dealing with weapons of mass destruction more apparent, not just structurally but in a very specific way, than in North Korea.

North Korea, as we sit here today, we understand at least they say, extracting enough plutonium for five or six nuclear weapons. Now they say that and we say, “Waaahhh! We don’t really believe you,” which is a remarkable thing to me. But at any rate, that’s what they say.

And if they’re right, that is a much, much, much bigger deal than anything we suspected Saddam Hussein of doing. Now I was in favor of the operation against Saddam Hussein. I think weapons of mass destruction is serious business. And it’s a whole other discussion. And, of course, we’ve learned more since then.

But what’s going on in North Korea makes anything that we suspected pre-war in Iraq look like a piker. And in the face of what I think would be an intolerable defeat for U.S. security, is it’s not just in their hands, but it’s in the hands of anyone to whom they may fall from North Korea, both of those problems equally resting.

It’s an intolerable defeat for American policy if we allow this to happen. And yet we have said at various times all sorts of things about this. We’ve said it’s not a crisis, but it’s intolerable. We’ve said that we seek a diplomatic solution but that we loathe the party with whom we would conclude that diplomatic agreement.

That we have a policy of pre-emption, but that if North Korea goes nuclear, they can only expect isolation. This to the most isolated country on earth. So it would be funny, except that it’s the most serious security emergency in front of us. What do we need to do?

And Bill and I have written about this and we lived through 1994, in many ways an entire replica of what is going on now. And we certainly believed at that time that we needed to be prepared to use force, pre-emption in today’s overblown lexicon, and risk war in order to stop that result in North Korea.

And at that time we did a plan for a strike on Ung Bejun which, had it been executed, would have had serious consequences. But we felt it was an intolerable defeat for U.S. security for that to occur. And I believe that’s still true. I think we need to try to talk the North Koreans out of it.

I’m not sure that two years into this nightmare that’s any longer possible. Two years ago I would have said I’d give it a reasonable shot. Today I’m not as optimistic. I think we need to try to follow that diplomatic path. We need to pull our government together behind a diplomatic strategy.

We need to communicate that to the others who are at the table with us, very necessarily. But they can’t play their role in our play until we write the play. And we need to be willing to accept a successful result, which is an agreement with North Korea. I’ve been there.

It’s not a very pleasant place. But you have to be willing to accept an agreement that doesn’t solve everything — all your problems with North Korea, but does solve your most important problem with North Korea, namely nuclear weapons. But we have to be willing to accept that.

Otherwise, this isn’t real diplomacy. In that agreement we ought to be able to offer at least one thing, and I’ve been saying this for a couple of years, an intangible thing which is to say what should be true, which is that we have no intention of attacking North Korea if it forgoes nuclear weapons.

We will not like it, but there’s not an American national security imperative to remove the government of Kim Jung Il unless he persists in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. So that at least ought to be an ingredient that we should be prepared to add to that package.

This is a package that should be a larger, more comprehensive than anything the North Koreans have ever agreed to. Will they agree to it? I don’t know. If they don’t agree to it, Ash Carter (I don’t want to speak for everyone else) is not prepared to accept a North Korea going forward to serial production of nuclear weapons.

And I think that’s about as big as it gets in our national security domain. And if we’re not willing to risk serious consequences to avert that outcome, when are we ever willing to risk serious consequences? Thank you, Bill.


MS: We have now time for questions and comments from the floor. How shall we proceed?

MS: Myles (inaudible) from Arms Control Today. This is for Secretary Perry and for Dr. Carter. In 1994 and in 1993 you had a more receptive South Korean government in terms of putting pressure on the North Koreans. How would you counsel the Bush administration to deal with the South Korean government now, which is much less receptive to a pre-emption strategy or a military outcome to the conflict?

MS: That’s a very good point. When Wendy Sherman and Ash and I were asked by the President and Secretary of State to formulate a new policy with North Korea back in 1999 I guess it was, the first thing we did before we even talked with the North Koreans, before we even thought about North Korean policy, was got together with the South Korean government and Japanese government, and over a period of two or three months worked out a comprehensive program which all three governments firmly agreed to.

That policy had both an upside to it, which is offering concessions of North Koreans, and a downside, what we would do if they did not accept and proceeded with the nuclear weapons. The important thing was that all three governments were together on the downside, as well as the upside.

The point you’ve made now is that we’re not together with the South Korean government on either the upside or the downside right now. And so any plan, any policy we try to invoke will suffer from that deficiency. I don’t believe we can invoke a sensible policy on North Korea without having South Korea with us.

So that’s a prerequisite to any of the things we’re talking about here. Ash, do you want to add a gloss to that?

MS: No. I think that we’re a long way from being there and having them with us. I don’t despair of that myself, but Bill’s right. We’re not going to be fully effective on either the upside or the downside.

It does create a little dilemma for the North Koreans. That is, it makes no sense for them to lash out against South Korea in response to actions by the United States. And that’s something that they might do well to think about in North Korea.

MS: Wendy.

FS: The only thing I want to add is last time I was in Seoul about a couple months ago I sat down with six university students from six different universities in Seoul. And there is no question that the younger generation in South Korea is in a very different place than the older generation in how they see the north and probably as importantly how they see America.

And it’s not a very hopeful picture that we’re all going to be on the same page. But what I think we all are sort of skirting around here a little bit, and it’s much broader than the question you asked, is there is a fundamental question which we didn’t discuss up here.

And that is one choice that some in the administration, I think, would make. And that is that it is acceptable to allow countries to go nuclear and better to spend one’s resources containing that capability. And we have backed in to this in some ways because we have India and Pakistan and most people believe, as well, Israel as non-declared nuclear powers or sort of quasi-declared nuclear powers in the case of some, but not members of the NPT.

And so I think there is a much broader question here that we all have to confront because I do think there is some in the administration who would allow North Korea to go nuclear rather than have a catastrophic war or, as Ash pointed out, agree to anything. And that has very, very, very staggering consequences for how we deal with nuclear weapons in the world.

MS: Question?

FS: Beth (inaudible), Center for Arms Control Non-Proliferation. Could you share with us what some of the consequences might be of a strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities?

MS: The nuclear facilities that are most vulnerable to attack is Ung Bejun and its surrounding facilities. Those could clearly be destroyed by the United States. The risk, which is a risk to everyone, North Korea, South Korea and to us, of course, is that North Korea would take that opportunity to commit suicide, which is what a war in South Korea and on the grand peninsula would be for North Korea.

I should tell you all that war on the Korean peninsula is nothing like Desert Storm, nothing like what you saw on the Arabian peninsula. This is war in crowded suburbs, modern city. So the intensity of violence is shocking. This is very, very serious business, but it’s a serious issue for the North Koreans as well. Stakes are high for everybody

FS: Contamination.

MS: There’s a question of contamination. We’re getting into sort of the details, but that is less of a problem today than it was in 1994 because of the operating history of the reactor. I mean, to the extent you’re hitting facilities that are not operating today or that are operating with relatively fresh fuel or only spent fuel, you don’t have the contamination risk, which we felt we could deal with in 1994. But anyway, this is sort of details.

MS: Another question in the back.

MS: My name is Adam Schubert. A few weeks ago on Meet the Press Condoleezza Rice said that Iraq had all of the plans to develop a nuclear weapon. All they lacked was fissile material which I kind of likened to the idea that I have all the plans to spend a million dollars, I just need the million dollars.

But the question occurred to me, in this day and age of information proliferation what is the threshold of what we would think a nation should or should not have in terms of the capability to develop a weapon. Is it that they know how to do it, they just lack plutonium, or is it a less of a threshold that we should now be concerned with for the problem of proliferation?

MS: That’s a good question. I’m going to ask Ash to deal with that one and, Rose, you may want to comment as well.

FS: Uh huh.

MS: There’s no secret, there’s no fundamental complexity to making a bomb. Uranium’s easier than plutonium by a substantial margin but, still, it is within the can of any organized government. Certainly to include the North Korean government which isn’t very good at lots of other things, but nobody doubts they’re capable of it.

And I believe down the road it’s within the can of organized groups like Al Qaeda. There’s no secret and it’s not too difficult. And in that sense, nature has been unkind to us. Nature has been wonderfully kind to us in the sense that nuclear weapons are made out of two materials – plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which don’t appear in nature.

And, thank you, turn out to be a terrible nuisance to make. That’s the precious fact upon which we rely. That it’s a pain in the neck to make it. It’s conspicuous. And if you can stop people from making it, then they can dream about being millionaires all they want.

MS: Rose.

FS: I just wanted to bring up a topic that we haven’t yet addressed today but I actually think is the most likely near term threat involving things nuclear, and that is dirty bombs. It is, in fact, I believe and Ash referred to this, somewhat complicated, although not all that complicated to make nuclear weapons.

But it’s not at all complicated to make a dirty bomb. And you can use any kind of radiological materials, you can use nuclear waste, you can use medical isotopes. And my view is that this is the immediate and real threat to U.S. territory that we face everyday right now because it is the type of threat that is very readily accessible.

Now how do we deal with this problem? In my view one of the key aspects that we have to wrestle with is public education. People have to realize that if a dirty bomb goes off on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., a lot of people are not going to die. Some people may be injured by the explosion itself, and there would be contamination that may make some people sick.

Those are the issues that we have to convey to the public and ensure that they understand that this is a problem of environmental contamination and economic damage to this country. But in terms of mass destruction, it’s not the same as a nuclear explosion. It’s not very satisfying to say, “Well, we’ve got to educate the public”.

But I would hope in the case of a radiological attack on Washington, D.C., that we would not lose more people out of panic from jumping in their cars and trying to drive out of the city than we lost from the radiological attack itself.

MS: Another question. Yes. Could you identify yourself and if appropriate direct a question to one of the panelists.

FS: It’s Nina Hachegean (ph.). I’m from the Rand Corporation. I’m not sure who should answer this. Anyone can take it. I’m just wondering what our policy should be toward a country like Pakistan which, at least in the past, has been a proliferators but is now a pretty key ally in the war against terrorism.

MS: That sound like a foreign policy question.

FS: Yeah.

FS: I think it is a terrific question and terribly difficult. And I have to honestly say I wish at the end of the Clinton administration we hadn’t been in the position that we were in with Pakistan either. But it is one that we have to take on seriously. We need Pakistan in the war against terrorism.

But that doesn’t mean that we should back off from pushing them around weapons of mass destruction over which they have control. Let’s put it this way. It’s been reported that Pakistan has been the conveyor and the purveyor of some of the materials necessary to other countries around the world.

And it’s been reported that they have been one of the purveyors to North Korea’s capability. And so I think that the administration, the United States has a responsibility to push very hard at Pakistan in every way we possibly can to not continue on the path that they have been on.

MS: More questions? Way in the back.

MS: Yes. How do you do? I think one thing that’s been missed in this is how does a terrorist group pay the filthy lucre to get these weapons. Now in Afghanistan the drug lords, both ours and theirs, the Talibans, are already back up to even greater production of opium and heroin than beforehand.

Throughout America you have the thriving cocaine population with the narco-terrorists. I note that on the panel of advisors for this committee is George Soros. George Soros paid a million dollars to Alijandro Toledo (ph.) to defeat Fuji Mori (ph.) who had just about crushed the narco-terrorists.

He has also paid over 10 million dollars for drug legalization in the United States. And since money is fundable and he’s one of the chief funders of the Center for American Progress, I’d just like to know your take on receiving drug money.

But it is certainly a part of the money that will go into the production or purchase of the weapons of mass destruction you have discussed.

MS: I’m John (inaudible) with the Carnegie Endowment. When United States wanted to get rid of biological weapons, we gave up the right to have them. And when we wanted to get rid of chemical weapons, we did the same. If we want to get rid of nuclear weapons, do we have to consider the path by which we give up our nuclear weapons?

MS: I’ll make a first stab at that. I think the world would have been far better off had the nuclear weapons never been invented. But they have been and we do not know how to un-invent them.

MS: Louder.

MS: We can legislate people should not have nuclear weapons, but we cannot un-invent nuclear weapon. So I fear that for better for worse nuclear weapons are in our future no matter what we think about. Ash, would you want to comment? Anybody else?

MS: No, I only need to say that we are signed up in the NPT eventually to getting rid of nuclear weapons. But it’s one of those things where the nuclear weapons powers are signed up to do it when everybody has gotten rid of nuclear weapons. And nobody can quite foresee that time.

There’s another thing that I want to note, which is U.S. nuclear weapons have had a powerfully useful effect in stopping the further spread of nuclear weapons. If you go to Germany or Turkey, for example, NATO allies, and you ask members of those government over fifty years why is it that there was never a debate in their country about whether they needed nuclear weapons of their own, an important part of that answer was our nuclear umbrella.

It’s true of Japan, it’s true of South Korean, it’s true of Taiwan on and off in certain periods in history. So I think our arsenal actually plays a complicated role that reflects our own role in the world.

I’m sorry, you weren’t doing that personally, but our weapons do have another affect, which has been salutary in the history of nuclear age.

FS: May I comment on it?

MS: Please.

FS: I think we also have to look at what the current situation of U.S. policy is with regard to this question. Ash pointed to the Article VI of the NPT which has long been and places the U.S. as a signatory of the NPT and a nuclear weapons state under the NPT. So, certainly, it’s part of our national policy.

But I have experienced a great deal of discomfort in the last couple of years because in the current national security strategy of the Bush administration they have a kind of three-pronged approach to nuclear weapons. They say, “Well, we can continue to reduce.”

FS: Perhaps we will have to halt those reductions and maintain what we now have in place. Or in the future, perhaps if the threat situation is such, we will have to raise the number of nuclear weapons in our arsenal. And this, I have found, to be of concern.

Wendy talked a little while ago about some of the issues related to the possible development of new small nuclear weapons. I believe that if we are on an upward projectory, then we are attending to undermine the superiority and effectiveness of our conventional forces.

If we are depending on nuclear weapons, then other countries around the world will come to depend on nuclear weapons. And our conventional superiority is not as clear, perhaps, in its effectiveness as it is today. So I think we have to think very, very carefully about whether we want that projectory to be up at any time in the future, or whether we should continue to press that projectory down.

I believe, myself, we need to continue to press that projectory down, although I agree with Ash and with Dr. Perry that it’s a long way into the future before we can envision getting all the way down.

MS: Question in the back.

MS: David Eisenberg with the Base American Security Information Council. This is to Dr. Smithson and anybody else who cares to address it. I understand the objections to the BWC protocol and the objections on the basis that you have naturally occurring micro-organism, dual-use infrastructure, transportable materials, hard to keep track of.

I am wondering, and this is a two-part question, in the aftermath of the failure of the BWC protocol and the deficiencies that you pointed out with regard to the national implementing legislation that has been proposed both here and in other countries, is there any model that you see as being suitable for trying to control BW pathogens?

It seems to me that they all suffer from the same (inaudible), which is sort of based on the material inventory control mechanisms you’ve seen so often for nuclear materials (i.e., highly intrusive inspections, rigorous accounting systems, etc.). That would seem not to apply to the realm of BW.

And, secondly, do you have any concern about the proliferation of laboratories and other bio-facilities which are now being created, both here and in other countries, in the aftermath of September 11th and the anthrax attacks? It seems to me these represent potential points of leakages in that it would be hard to keep control of many of the pathogens which are going to be used in experiments and bio-defense test fare. Thank you.

FS: That’s it for the softball questions. I thought I was going to get out of this Scott-free. For those who don’t follow this as closely as the questioner and I do, the effort to craft a protocol for this treaty did disintegrate. The Bush administration rejected what was on the table a couple of years ago.

In my mind they did the right thing because you don’t strengthen a treaty by adding something incredibly weak to it. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t think we can do a lot better. And that is exactly what I would urge the Bush Administration to do, to get back to the negotiating table in a very serious manner.

Their current proposal regarding trying to craft a monitoring arrangement would investigate suspicious outbreaks of disease. This leaves nowhere on the horizon any discussion next year, and that’s when it’s supposed to take place (all three weeks of it), any discussion of facilities that are suspected of producing biological weapons.

So my critique, as voiced earlier, is that the Bush administration doesn’t appear to be very serious about negotiating a strengthened biological weapons convention if I am to judge them by their proposals. As far as multiplying our problem, over the last year or so there have been any number of new laboratories starting to be built.

These are high level bio-safety laboratories (bio-safety level four). Some would argue that we need more such laboratories in order to conduct research on diseases and ways to thwart these most dangerous pathogens. However, I think we probably could have avoided multiplying the problem because we will have more people working on these things in more places had we simply strengthened our main center of bio-defense, which is at Fort Detrick in Maryland, and some of the existing laboratories.

And now there are going to be so many, I think we’ll have a difficult time keeping track of things. And yes, that does concern me.

MS: We have time for just one more question.

FS: Hi. I’m Catherine Carroll. Although this isn’t an especially political panel, you all spend a lot of time thinking about these issues, and I wonder if any of you have any thoughts about what could be done to generate more public interest in these problems and support for moving forward on some of these fronts.

Ambassador Sherman mentioned the fact that we sort of squandered an opportunity post-9/11 when there was a lot of attention and public interest and a panic even about WMD. In some ways now we’re going to have another opportunity that—since there’s an election coming up and I wonder if any of you have any thoughts about what could be done, what sorts of arguments would be effective in generating some public pressure to take some action on these issues.

MS: I’ll take the first crack at that. I would say that this new foundation and this forum is one example of how to do that. So we thank John Podesta for that. Wendy, let me give you a second shot there.

So I think there are opportunities left. Probably we don’t have one megaphone loud enough, so we have to have a lot of microphones to do the trick. So everybody should use them.

MS: Amy, do you want to add to that?

FS: Not so long ago polls revealed that the things that Americans were most concerned about in terms of their security were Osama Bin Laden and chemical and biological terrorism. I haven’t seen one recently, but I bet you that’s still pretty near the top.

I think you can capture a lot of attention by simply pointing out that truth is sometimes stranger and more compelling than fiction. How many of you knew before I pointed out that the United States had spent an awful lot of time talking about the threat of biological weapons, but in the past few years and for the next couple of years if the Bush administration’s current course holds won’t be doing very much about it? That is a very compelling argument in my book.

MS: Rose.

FS: Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to speak to a group of high school students up in Baltimore and I asked the question I always ask, which is “Okay, let’s do a little test”. I should actually do it with this group. “How many nuclear weapons do you think there are in the world?”

And I don’t want my children or my family waking up every morning with their teeth chattering over it. I won’t just the opposite. And it seems to me the job of government is to provide security so when you wake up every morning, you think about something else than whether you’re going to survive the day.

MS: I think on that note we’re going to end. Thank you all. [CLAPPING]

MS: Let me thank the panel and thank all of you. The reception is up the stairs at 6:30. The dinner is at 7:30 with former National Security Advisor Brzezinski and Senator Biden. And tomorrow morning, beginning at 8:00 a.m., we have Senator Clinton and Governor Mark Warner kicking off a morning of discussion about homeland security and intelligence and anti-terrorism.

So this has been a remarkable day. And thank you so much for being with us. [CLAPPING]