Lynn Rusten is NTI’s new Senior Advisor to the Global Nuclear Policy Program. She has held senior positions in the White House, Department of State and Congress, bringing deep expertise in nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and national security policy. During the Obama administration she served in the State Department and as senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on the White House National Security Council staff.
Following a short consultancy, you joined NTI late last year as senior advisor for global nuclear policy. You've got a very extensive background in these issues. So what are you going to be doing at NTI?
going to be advising on the full range of nuclear policy matters and contributing
to NTI’s projects in this area. I have a lot of experience in nuclear policy, arms
control and nonproliferation, so I expect to be helping with NTI’s work on U.S.
nuclear policy, for instance with respect to the Trump Administration’s forthcoming
Nuclear Posture Review; the future of the New START Treaty; strategic stability
and relations with Russia; how to globalize the reductions process as well as
advance verification to support reductions in the future; and more.
I'm also going to be leading our congressional outreach efforts on Capitol Hill. We already do quite a bit of that, but our leaders - Secretary Moniz and Senator Nunn – are interested in stepping up their engagement with members of Congress and staff to share their perspectives and NTI’s work on reducing nuclear and other WMD threats. NTI is also interested in stimulating greater awareness of these issues on the Hill and encouraging those who wish to take a leadership role in addressing them.
There's a real lack of understanding around nuclear weapons issues and policy on the Hill, but given the size of the budgets, the consequences of use of these weapons, and the consequences for our military, we need to change that, right?
I think the lack of understanding is reflective of the fact that these issues have not been front and center for the American people or Congress in recent years the way they were during the Cold War when people were very focused on U.S.-Soviet tensions and worried about the potential for nuclear conflict. There were also a lot more treaties that came before the Senate for advise and consent. I think what's happened over the last couple of decades is that the issues just haven't been as salient, and as a result, there's been a real loss of institutional knowledge and memory as members and staff have turned over and haven't been forced by the legislative agenda or international events to focus as much on these issues.
I think we’re at an inflection point now, though, because of issues like the North Korean nuclear threat and the deterioration of relations with Russia. These issues are gaining more salience so I think we have an opportunity to try to educate members and staff about the policy challenges and also about the tools that are available to address them. And by tools I mean diplomacy, I mean arms control and nonproliferation agreements, I mean the kinds of threat-reduction work that's been done in the past and how those tools can be applied to different aspects of the problem and in different regions.