|New American Strategies
for Security and Peace
William J. Perry, Ashton B. Carter, Rose Gottemoeller,
Amy Smithson, Wendy Sherman
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WILLIAM J. PERRY
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.
ASHTON B. CARTER
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
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.
VARIOUS MALE/FEMALE SPEAKERS
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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: 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
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: 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?
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
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
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.
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
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]