Special Briefing
Ellen Tauscher
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Washington, DC
March 29, 2010

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MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. We – of course, the President on Friday, after talking with President Medvedev, announced that we have completed work on the START agreement. And we thought that given that historic development, we’d bring to the podium for the first time in her tenure – she’s been on the job for about nine months but has spent a good deal of time overseas working on missile defense issues, but also in Geneva working specifically on some of the negotiations that led to the historic step last week.

So we thought we’d start off the briefing today with bringing Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher to talk a little bit about how we got to this point and where we go from here.

Ellen, thanks for joining us.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Thank you, P.J. Good afternoon. Thank you very much, P.J., and good afternoon. It is my first time up here. It would have been nice to be here sooner, but I’ve been in Geneva, as you know, for the past three weeks. I’m also headed off to Brussels tomorrow to brief the NAC on START.

Before I get into talking to you about the new START treaty, I want to echo President Obama’s words about the horrific and tragic events this morning in Moscow. Earlier this morning, I talked to my counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov, and expressed my personal condolences to him. Obviously, we – our hearts and minds are with the people of Moscow and all of those hardworking people going to work that were innocently cut down today on the subway.

So this is a very big month for national security issues. President Obama and President Medvedev will sign the new START treaty early next month. On April 12th and 13th, President Obama will host the Nuclear Security Summit and we expect to release the Nuclear Posture Review in that same timeframe. As you know, the Nuclear Posture Review – the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference begins in New York at the UN in May, so that leaves two additional pieces in the President’s agenda.

As you know, the President supports the ratification and early entry into force of the CTBT. We have no specific timeline for consideration by the Senate. We’re doing our best analysis necessary to determine how to best move the treaty forward.

With respect to the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, we urge the Conference on Disarmament to take up negotiations of the FMCT. We know that an agreement will not be reached to either quickly, but we do believe that we must make progress to ban the production of additional material for use in nuclear weapons.

The Obama Administration is taking these concrete steps because we realize there is no greater threat to the American people than the threat and the spread of nuclear weapons. So let me talk a little bit about the new START treaty for a minute or two, and then I’ll let you guys fire away at me.

This landmark agreement accomplishes two goals. First, it enhances our national security by cutting by about one-third the nuclear weapons that both sides are permitted to deploy, and it maintains an effective verification regime appropriate to the obligations in the treaty. It does this while allowing us to retain the nuclear force levels we need to protect our country and our allies. The treaty does nothing to constrain missile defenses either. As I said at the White House on Friday, this treaty is about offensive strategic weapons.

Second, it furthers our goal of resetting our relationship with Russia. This treaty shows that the United States and Russia can work together on many issues of mutual interest, including top priorities like nuclear security and nonproliferation. The real issue at hand is that the treaty increases transparency and predictability. The lack of both is too costly and too risky for both sides.

As we head toward the NPT Review Conference in May, the new START treaty demonstrates that the United States and Russia are abiding by the rules of the NPT. We’re doing our part to revitalize the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Let me conclude by saying that I look forward to working with the Senate as we seek its advice and consent to ratify the START treaty. Our goal is to submit the treaty in the late spring and to seek ratification by the end of the year. With that, I’ll be glad to take a few questions. Yes?

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Bob Burns from AP.


QUESTION: Good, thanks. You just mentioned submitting the treaty to the Senate in late spring. Will the text of the treaty and the protocols be made public before then or after then? And I have a more technical sort of question for you if you don’t mind.


QUESTION: On the counting rules for bombers, as described in the fact sheet, it seems to say that the bombers themselves are counted as one warhead each. The warheads themselves appear not to be counted at all and I’m curious what the rationale is for that. I mean in the case of the U.S., you have about 500 bombs and missiles that could be associated with the bombers that are apparently not counted.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, let me go back to the first question, which is how are we going to package everything and when does it go to the Senate and what will the public see. Obviously, right now, we’re going through an important pre-signing notification briefings with our closest allies and I – as I said, I’ll be going to the NAC tomorrow. Many of our allies are being reached out through our embassies and our networks around the world.

This is important to realize that the treaties have three parts. It has the treaty part, the protocol, and the annexes. Both the treaty and the protocol are finished. They’re being conformed, as you can imagine, and being scrubbed. The annexes, which are very technical in nature, that really talk to, for example, in the inspection regime and the verification regime – if the decision is made that there are going to be inspections, the annexes talk about how many people arrive on Tuesday, who’s going to buy them lunch, how long they can stay, what their duties are, and how they leave. So these are very technical in nature. They’re being completed right now in Geneva. We hope to have them completed soon after signing, but certainly by the end of the month, and hope to put the treaty package together for it to go up to the Senate.

So the public piece of this that the White House, of course, and the President will be very involved in, and certainly Secretary Clinton and others – the ratification part – will culminate with the completion of all three pieces. So sometime later this month, various parts of the treaty will become public and be part of the debate.


UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: When you talked about heavy bombers, I think it’s important to look at these numbers. These numbers are pretty important, because they show not only how important this treaty is, but they show that both sides have made commitments to significant reductions.

We will limit deployed strategic warheads to 1550 per side, which is about 30 percent below the 2200 maximum that was in the previous Moscow treaty. There will be a limit of 800 total number of deployed, non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers. This is (inaudible) below the 1991 START treaty limits. And another separate limit 700 of on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear capable heavy bombers.

And we have a verification regime that combines elements of START with new elements designed specifically for this treaty. And so we have onsite inspections for both deployed and non-deployed systems, data exchanges, exhibitions, notifies.

So this is different than START. It is, I think, the best elements of START. The kinds of questions you’re asking, I think we’re going to wait for a bigger part of the debate. There are kind of –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, you’re asking specifically about heavy bombers.

QUESTION: And why – what’s the rationale for that kind of –

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I think what we want to do right now is talk about why this is an important treaty and what the elements of it are. We’re going to be talking –

QUESTION: (Inaudible) is one of the elements of it. Right?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, it is part of – it is one of the elements of it, yes.

QUESTION: But you won’t talk about why you took that approach?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, it’s the approach that we both agreed to. I think that you have to understand that there’s heavy bombers on our side and there’s certainly mobile missiles on the Russian side. And what we did was - we did everything we could to get an issue of parity so that we knew what we were going to inspect and we knew that we had the ability to do those inspections in a verification regime that had both transparency and accountability.

Yes. Hello, Jill, how are you?

QUESTION: Fine, Secretary Tauscher. Thank you. Jill Dougherty from CNN. You know, I hate to bring you back to the same subject, but missile defense. Just this morning I was at a briefing over at Brookings and an expert was quoting the Russians as saying that this treaty does – and I’m not quite sure what word they’re using, but link or limit – he seemed to be saying that they interpret it as limit missile defense. Can you just, you know, definitively explain that?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: I can definitively tell you that I’m kind of an expert, too. I was chairman of Strategic Forces in the House. I know a little bit about missile defense and was certainly there when most of this was discussed and negotiated. As we’ve talked before, the presidents met in July and they made it very clear that there is an interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive weapons. But there is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense systems.

QUESTION: So that – definitely, the U.S. can go ahead and build and develop –

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Definitely, positively, and no way, no how – there are no limits to our ability to put the phased adaptive approach forward and the other systems that we have worked on in the past. Certainly, we have our CONUS system in Fort Greely and in Vandenberg, but there’s no limit, no constraint now.


QUESTION: Elise Labott with CNN.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Yes, good to see you.

QUESTION: Good to see you. One, quick follow-up on that and then I have a kind of bigger picture question. Do you think that the signing and ratification of this treaty might create a better atmosphere to follow up on a lot of ideas out there for a joint NATO Russia missile defense system as proposed by some in the U.S. and also by the NATO secretary general?

And then if you can take a bigger picture look, I mean, it might sound obvious to some of us who follow these issues, but as the U.S. and Russia reduce their nuclear arsenal, how does this work in comparison to the other nuclear powers out there, growing nuclear powers such as North Korea and possibly even Iran? How does this put the U.S. posture in terms of defending the U.S. against threats?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Okay. On missile defense cooperation, we have been talking to our Russian friends for months about the opportunity to cooperate on missile defense. We have made it clear the phased adaptive approach that the President announced in September is a system that has been put up on the web and is available through the Ballistic Missile Defense Review. So there’s – everyone has the ability to understand what the phased adaptive approach is. And that system, which is phased over 10 years, is based on the SM3, both sea-based and land-based systems, and it has a number of different places where it may be deployed over 2011

in the sea – in the Mediterranean, 2015 in Romania, 2018 in Poland, and there are sensors and land-based and sea-based radars that are part of that. And this is a system that the President announced because he wanted to have NATO indivisibility, have all NATO covered, protect our forward-deployed American troops, American assets and our NATO allies against the emerging short-, medium-range threat out of Iran. And it is not a system that either threatens Russia or, frankly, is capable of doing anything. It’s a limited system to – it’s not posed against Russia, it is not formed against Russia, and we’ve made that very, very clear.

So we believe that there is a lot of opportunity to cooperate the United States and Russia both through the NATO-Russia Council and bilaterally on what we consider to be common threats. We do share a number of kinds of common threats. The proliferation of short and medium-range missiles over the last four or five years has increased dramatically and that’s the kind of system where we can either cooperate on radars or certainly on early warning, and certainly on the systems themselves. The reason that President Obama picked the phased adaptive approach is because it’s very much of a – a very good plug and play system, so many countries that have – run indigenous technologies both on radars and on defensive systems can be part of joining into the backbone of the phased adaptive approach. So that’s missile defense cooperation.

QUESTION: But do you think this will – this kind of – the fact that we’ve –


QUESTION: -- been able to agree on a new treaty and –


QUESTION: Do you think that that will create more confidence with Russia to perhaps join such a system?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Yeah. I think that that his process, this journey over the last year, President Obama and President Medvedev and Minister Lavrov and Secretary Clinton setting the reset button – this has been a transformational exercise. And one of the reasons that START, I think is going to be successful not only in and of itself for what it does, but it is also the first exercise where we have worked cooperatively with the Russians on something of mutual benefit where we haven’t improved the relationship. In and of itself, the negotiation has improved the relationship. And there are many things that we need to work on. Obviously, Russia and the United States are very big players. We don’t agree on everything. But on the things where we do agree, I think that the whole START negotiation and the reset have worked to give us a better opportunity to work together and to gain that kind of mutually assured stability that we’re all looking for.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just on the bigger picture about how this –

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: I think the key to this, as President Obama said the other day, is that what new START shows everyone is that both the United States and Russia take our NPT commitments very, very seriously. And the more that we make the NPT the cornerstone of the nonproliferation strategy of the world, the more it calls out people like North Korea and Iran, and the more we can bring people together in a kind of big tent environment to agree on the NPT principles. So I think that’s why START really comes into the number of things that you’re going to be seeing over the next few months.


QUESTION: Charlie Wolfson with CBS.


QUESTION: Notwithstanding your words just a minute ago and Secretary Clinton’s words, the President’s words, the Russians still don’t accept what you’re saying that missile defense is not a threat to them. What’s the disconnect aside from we agree on some things, we don’t agree on other things? Why are you having such a hard time convincing the Russians if this is so benign to them?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I think that’s – that may be true about some Russians, but I certainly think the Russians that I talk to understand that the limited phased adaptive approach is targeted specifically at a short- and medium-range threat we see coming out of the Middle East. And it is a system that has great potential, but it certainly has its very defined limitations. And the Russian’s capability, as we all know, could overwhelm a system like that in seconds. So this may be more about where these deployments are and sensitivities about that.

But I can tell you right now that the Russians have been briefed many times about the elements of the phased adaptive approach. And anyone that wants to look at it, it’s on the web.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Samir Nader with Radio Sawa. Can you give us an idea about the expectations from the nuclear summit next month?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I think that the nuclear summit is another example of President Obama’s comprehensive approach to the issue of nuclear security and nuclear nonproliferation. And it’s coming on the heels of his signing of the new START treaty next week in Prague. And he’s got 42, ‘3, ‘4 heads of state coming in, where there are going to be – very, very serious engagement at very high levels, and where the President can speak directly to the issue that animates and agitates him more than virtually any other, which is the concern about nuclear security.

And so I think this is another example of where the President every day takes these issues very seriously, works very hard. There will be a number of heads of state here. There will be a number of foreign ministers here. Secretary Clinton will be having her own sidebar bilaterals with a number of people. I’ll be talking to some of my counterparts. So once again, it’s an opportunity to bring people together – very senior heads of state – to talk about something, nuclear security, where the President has – doesn’t have to be briefed by a staffer. The President really understands this issue. He really knows what he wants to do. He wants to make sure that at his level, the head of state level, that there’s agreement on the threats, and on the concerns, on everyone’s commitments.

The United States is a member of the P-5, the nuclear weapons states. We also want to make clear that we’re doing our part, new START is an example of that. But we also want to make clear that every country is responsible for nuclear security.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am. Raghubir Goyal, India Globe. This morning, U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement took place and U.S.-India Business Council applauds this because they are fighting --


QUESTION: -- the (inaudible) member companies. How this agreement will affect as far as between the U.S. and Russia, this treaty, and also upcoming nuclear conference next month in Washington as far as between U.S. and India?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, you know that the United States and India have a very significant and prized relationship. We’re very happy to see that this agreement is moving forward, and the reprocessing agreement is one piece of a very large 123 agreement, and we’re happy to see that it’s moved forward. Well done.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. Dimitry Kirsanov of – with ITAR-TASS. Again, just for a second, could you talk briefly about the presumed linkage between the missile defense and strategic offensive arms in the text of the treaty? Is it in the preamble only? And secondly, if I may, Deputy Assistant Secretary Frank Rose spoke recently on missile defense issues. And he said that within this working group that you co-chair with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov, the United States has tabled a number of proposals for bilateral missile defense cooperation.

Could you elaborate a bit on that, please?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Sure. I’ll take that part of it first. Actually, today, when I talked to Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov after I gave him my condolences for the tragic incidents on the Moscow subway today, we were making plans on what we could do with some of our free time, assuming there is some, on April 8th while we’re in Prague. We have a very good relationship, working together on many, many different issues. The NPT RevCon is obviously an issue that we care about significantly.

So one of the things is that we have tabled a number of different things. Both sides have responded to each other on the issues of missile defense cooperation and a number of things. So we’re anxious to get together. The bilateral commission that the presidents put together have every element of them. Thirteen, I think, subcommittees have all met. We are all tasked with the very visible and vigorous set of agenda items. So I will be meeting with him in Prague and we will continue our conversation.

What was the first part of your question?

QUESTION: The linkage between the missile defense and --

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Oh, that. There is no linkage.

QUESTION: None whatsoever?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: There is a interrelationship that both presidents have acknowledged, back in July, that I think we all did acknowledge, and frankly, was acknowledged in the first START treaty – the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms. That is it.

QUESTION: Madam, may I just quick follow my own question, please? A quick one.


QUESTION: This 123 agreement means U.S., India are now ready to do business and U.S. trucks are ready to roll in India? Or there are more hurdles before we get to business?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: No more hurdles as far as I know. As far as I know, the RFP process and the – everything is moving forward. It was a very successful negotiation, a very successful agreement with a very significant partner of the United States.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.


QUESTION: How are you?


QUESTION: Elaine Grossman from the National Journal Group.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Yes, good to see you again.

QUESTION: Good to see you, ma’am. Could you elaborate on a couple aspects of verification, one being telemetry exchanges? Could you tell us a little bit more about how many and how that will be done? And secondly, verification of Russia’s mobile missile – ICBM missiles, how will that be done, particularly with the monitoring at Votkinsk? And –


QUESTION: How will you gain confidence then as to what they’ve got?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Right. Well, on mobiles, on telemetry, we will exchange – I don’t know if you saw what Secretary Gates said at the presidential press conference at the White House on Friday, but we had telemetry as part of START. Over time, it’s been clear it’s not necessary for the verification regime of new START, but we have decided to do an exchange of up to five of – launches. And it will be the work of the bilateral commission which is part of the overall administration of the treaty to make decisions on each side as to – each side will make decisions as to what launches they’re going to put into the telemetry exchange. So that’s where we are on that.

On mobiles, what was exactly the tenor of your question on mobiles?

QUESTION: Oh. How will the United States gain confidence in its verification regime of what –


QUESTION: -- mobile missiles the Russians have fielded, have deployed?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, the good news is we have a very good history from the START regime as far as verification and confidence. And on this case, we don’t have mobiles; the Russians do. We do not have the same kind of oversight over Votkinsk as we did in the original START treaty. But at the same time, we believe that we have enough enhanced transparency and supplemental verification that will give us everything that we need. And so we’re confident that we will be able to have what we need.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a bit, though? Will they be – will the Russians be required to bring them into a certain area on certain dates and –

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: There are a number of different exchange – data exchanges, exhibitions, and inspections that will be part of it, and national technical means will be part of it.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Hi. Michael Bruno with Aviation Week. Congratulations.


QUESTION: Can you elaborate a little bit on conventional prompt global strike and how that falls under the treaty? I know at the White House press conference, I believe Admiral Gates or Secretary – I’m sorry, Admiral Mullen –


QUESTION: -- or Secretary Gates said it is not affected, but I’m curious if there’s any language.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: There is no effect for prompt global strike in the treaty. As a conventional arm, it’s something that we’re not specifically addressing in the treaty. Very much like missile defense, it doesn't have any constraints to it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one or two more.


QUESTION: Just to follow up on Jill’s question, I think what the expert was saying today at Brookings was that the fact sheet that he saw said there were no limits on current or planned missile defense programs. And his concern was, well, what about the unplanned ones. (Laughter.) Well, and Lavrov on Friday was also going into this and he had some comment from Moscow which was to the effect that he was implying that the understanding is that missile defense is more or less at the current levels, and if there is a jump on one side or the other, then the other side can pull out of the START treaty. Now, is that your understanding as well?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, let me just say this. There are no constraints to missile defense in the START treaty. That’s one piece of it. Each party – if you look at the START treaty itself, each party has the ability to include unilateral statements. Those statements now are still being negotiated. But each party has the ability to make a unilateral statement.

For example, in the START treaty, both sides had statements. One had – certainly from our side, we had certain statements and the Russians had certain statements, and in the end, we abrogated the ABM Treaty and they didn’t get out of START even though we have missile defenses.


UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: So unilateral statements are what they are. They’re a statement by – they’re not agreed, obviously. One side says one thing, the other side says another. We – those are still being negotiated. But they are a statement by one side that is not influenced by the other, and they are part of the treaty package. They are viewed by the Senate and the Duma, but in our case there are no limits and no constraints on missile defense.

QUESTION: So you said those statements are still being negotiated?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Each side is going to make their own decision. Not negotiated with each other, but each side will make their own decision as to whether they will have a unilateral statement and what they will say.

QUESTION: And you – so you expect them to have one on missile defense?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: I don’t know. They may. But once again, (inaudible) as history, you have what happened in the START agreement. And we had a statement, they had a statement. We ended up abrogating the ABM Treaty and their statement said that they may leave the START treaty if we had missile defenses, and they didn’t.

QUESTION: Well, would that not undermine this treaty somewhat, though, if that’s their understanding of it that missile defense is somehow frozen at its current and planned levels –

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Nothing that we have done or said leads anybody to believe that missile defense is either frozen or will be constrained.


QUESTION: Just one last one. It’s pretty much what Elise was asking. If you – given this Administration’s focus on the zero option – a world without nuclear weapons, and given the fact that these are significant cuts and there could be more, the question arises among some friends of the United States – they begin to question whether the United States is actually able or willing to defend them the way they expect to be defended, which would lead them to think that they need nuclear weapons, too. So this is going to be an increasing argument. So how do you answer it?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, Jill, I don’t think anyone questions our resolve. I don’t think anyone questions our resolve to our extended deterrence that we have extended to our NATO allies and some others, and I certainly don’t think anyone thinks that our – the quality of our deterrent has degraded while the quantity has decreased. I think it’s very important to remember that we have the strongest deterrent in the world. And President Obama has made it clear that he believes that’s important. If you just look at his budget for the NSA, which is about $5 billion, it’s a $600 million increase to maintain the quality of the stockpile stewardship programs and our deterrent well into the future.

So I think that what’s important now is that as we go around and talk to our allies and as we make it clear what START is and isn’t, as we talk about the NPR, as we talk about our commitment to a very strong Nonproliferation Treaty regime, that we put the facts out there and we do it as we always try to do, with strong information. So we have a very strong deterrent. We’ve made significant investments in it. At the same time, the President has an ambition for a world without nuclear weapons that he is very eloquent and very persuasive about. But even he has said that this is something that is off in the future; it will take patience and persistence and may not happen in his lifetime. But he certainly has used a lot of his time and energy to make sure that this is clear that this is what his ambition is. And – but at the same time, while that is an ambition, the President has gone very far to make sure that we have the strongest, healthiest, and most effective nuclear deterrent in the world.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Is – would you like to see as a next step –


QUESTION: -- an agreement with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons, and is that in the realm of the possible?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Well, I think it’s important that, as I’ve said before, I spent a few hours on Wall Street as a small child. When you’re doing an negotiation, the most important thing, obviously, is to do one that creates the opportunity for the person you’re negotiating with to want to do the next one. And that’s why I think that this is a treaty that will serve the United States and the Russian people very well, because it makes significant reductions, it is transformational in the kinds of verification that we’re doing and the kind of inspections, and it creates trust but at the same time has verification. But it does it in a way where we have transformed our relationship. And while we’re not BFFs on everything, we certainly have a very, very much more congruent way of doing business than we did in the recent past. And I think that that will serve us all well. But that means what do we do next, and we have a big agenda for next.

QUESTION: Is tactical – an agreement on tactical weapons part of that?

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: It certainly is an ambition of the President and Secretary Clinton to begin to have those conversations.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.


QUESTION: Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: You didn’t hurt me. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You’re doing a good job. (Laughter.)

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PRN: 2010/371