Nunn-Lugar at 20: Assessing America’s Progress on Risk Reduction and Terrorism Prevention
CONNIE SAYERS: Good afternoon. I’d like to ask everyone to take their seat. We’re going to begin the program in just a few moments. I’m Connie Sayers, Vice President of National Journal, and I’d like to welcome you to the policy luncheon, “Nunn-Lugar at 20: Assessing America’s Progress on Risk Reduction and Terrorism Prevention.” In addition to the folks in the room, I’d like to take a moment to welcome our live-stream video viewers who are watching at NationalJournal.com. The event is also being broadcast on C-SPAN2. So that we can have your full attention for the program, I’d like to ask you to take a moment to silence your cell phones.
We do want this to be a lively discussion. We want your thoughts, your comments. We welcome your suggestions on this event via Twitter at #njnunnlugar. That hashtag again is #njnunnlugar.
We will also be coming around with a microphone during the Q&A session, and we just ask that you say your name and your organization, if you have a question.
The event would not be possible without the generous support of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Sam Nunn School for International Affairs at Georgia Tech, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and the Elliott School for International Affairs at George Washington University. And for the past ten years, National Journal has been a proud partner with the Nuclear Threat Initiative to publish Global Security Newswire, a critical and award-winning resource.
Here, from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, we have Joan Rohlfing, who serves as president and chief operating officer, a position she has held since January 2010. While providing leadership to all NTI programs, she also personally directs the secretariat for the Nuclear Security Project, led by former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn, in their effort to galvanize global action to reduce urgent nuclear dangers. Joan.
JOAN ROHLFING: Thank you, Connie. I’m delighted to be here today to represent the Nuclear Threat Initiative and to congratulate our CEO and co-chairman, Sam Nunn, and our board member, Senator Lugar, on the 20th Anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Program. Twenty years ago, Senators Nunn and Lugar showed tremendous foresight and statesmanship in recognizing and working to prevent a potentially catastrophic threat by proposing a joint US-Russian effort to help Moscow and the states of the former Soviet Union keep control of their weapons, materials, and know-how.
Ten years ago, Senator Nunn, having left the Senate, and entrepreneur Ted Turner founded the Nuclear Threat Initiative, with a mission very complementary to the Nunn-Lugar Program. NTI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Guided by a prestigious international board of directors including former Senator Pete Domenici, who is with us here today, as well as our former President Charles Curtis, who is also with us today, NTI focuses on closing the gap between global WMD threats and the global response to those threats. Recognizing that governments have most of the resources and authority in the large-scale work of threat reduction, NTI emphasizes leverage. It’s not just what NTI can do throughout the world; it’s what we can persuade others to do. We use our voice to raise awareness and advocate so-lutions, undertake direct action projects that demonstrate new ways to reduce threats, and foster new thinking about these problems. NTI has also worked to develop public education initiatives that reach a range of audiences, from officials around the globe to ordinary Americans concerned about the safety and security of their children and grandchildren.
One of the key partners in this effort has been the National Journal Group, the host of today’s event. When NTI was founded in 2001, public awareness of the threat posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons was low, while the reality of those threats was high. We felt that an independent news source would best serve the public and NTI’s mission, particularly in what was already a changing media environment. Launched on October 1st, 2001, just weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Global Security Newswire has become a critical, award-winning resource, produced independently by the National Journal Group and underwritten by NTI. We are confident that as more people read Global Security Newswire and become educated about global security issues, more of you will become engaged in helping to find solutions to these challenging problems.
I’d also like to recognize and thank our next speaker, Dr. Bill Potter, of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, which provides in-depth analysis and content on weapons of mass destruction for our website, NTI.org. Bill has been a tremendous leader on these issues for many years and a valuable partner to NTI over the last decade.
On behalf of the NTI Board of Directors, we appreciate your participation today, and we are honored to be part of this special event. Thank you.
SAYERS: Thank you, Joan. And, please, everyone, enjoy your lunch. Please begin.
I would now like to welcome Dr. William Potter to offer some additional welcoming remarks. Dr. Potter serves as the Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies and Founding Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including Principles versus Pragmatism: Nuclear Policies of the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism. Dr. Potter has served as a consultant to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the RAND Corporation. Dr. Potter.
DR. WILLIAM POTTER: It’s a great honor to speak to this distinguished audience on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Legislation, sponsored by Senator Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar.
I believe it’s fair to say that few legislative initiatives have had such a profound impact in promoting U.S. and international security. Although that assessment is widely shared today, it was much more problematic in December 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved and four of the successor states possessed literally tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, massive quantities of weapons-usable nuclear material, huge stocks of chemical munitions and biological agents, and a staggering quantity of delivery vehicles for weapons of mass destruction.
Senators Lugar and Nunn recognized that this weaponry and pre-cursor material might be coveted by both nations and non-state actors who also might be emboldened as the collapse of the So-viet Union left the successor states with depleted capacity to safely decommission or even guard their arsenals, much less provide adequate pay to their weapons scientists and nuclear custodians.
In short, a vast supermarket of WMD material, hardware, and know-how had been opened as a consequence of the Soviet Union’s demise and presented the post-Cold War world with an enormous and immediate challenge. Senators Nunn and Lugar’s extraordinary leadership in recognizing this threat to world peace and conceiving, legislating and sustaining an unprecedented program to reduce this danger is why I have had the privilege, repeatedly, to nominate this dynamic duo for the Nobel Peace Prize, an award they richly deserve and, I hope, will someday soon receive.
I have even less time this afternoon to speak than when I used to be given five minutes to testify before the Senate commit-tees on which these great legislators have served. In my con-cluding remarks, however, I would be remiss if I did not high-light the importance they have both attached to education as a vital but underutilized tool for promoting nonproliferation in the United States and internationally. It’s my great fortune to contribute to this shared objective of training the next generation of nonproliferation specialists in my capacity as Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
As director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, I’m also very pleased to note how delighted we are today to include in our audience a group of 15 young Russian, Chinese, and American scholars as part of the Joint CNS Georgia Tech Project Adam Stulberg and I direct on promoting strategic stability at lower numbers. I believe this project, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, represents the best hope for building an international community of nonproliferation specialists who will work cooperatively to sustain the tremendous advances in peace and security achieved during the 20 years since the visionary Nunn-Lugar Legislation was enacted. Thank you.
SAYERS: And now I’d like to ask our speakers to join us on stage. Our moderator for today’s discussion is National Journal Senior Editor James Kitfield. James has written on defense, national security, and foreign policy issues from Washington, D.C., for more than two decades. He is a three-time winner of the Gerald R. Ford Award for distinguished reporting on national defense, most recently in 2009 for his first-hand reporting of the Afghan War and other ongoing conflicts and threats. He has twice won the Military Reporters and Editors Association Award and the Medill School of Journalism’s top prize for excellence in reporting.
Joining James we have two Senators who forged a landmark bipartisan cooperative program to destroy weapons of mass destruction. To date, the Nunn-Lugar Program has deactivated more than 7,000 nuclear warheads that were once aimed for the United States.
Senator Sam Nunn serves as co-chairman and chief executive of-ficer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He was the United States Senator from Georgia for more than 24 years. Senator Nunn attended Georgia Tech, Emory University and Emory Law School, where he graduated with honors in 1962. After active duty service in the U.S. Coast Guard, he served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He first entered politics as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives in 1968. During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nunn served as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. His legislative achievements included the landmark Department of Defense Re-Authorization Act drafted with the late Senator Barry Goldwater.
U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar is the ranking Republican of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a well-known leader in the international security issues. A proponent of free trade and economic growth, Senator Lugar was elected in the U.S. Senate in 1976 and won a sixth term in 2006 with 87 percent of the vote, his fourth consecutive victory by a two-thirds majority. Senator Lugar has been instrumental in Senate ratification of treaties that reduce the world’s use, production, and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In 2006, TIME magazine listed Lugar as one of the top ten Senators and dubbed him “Wise Man of the Senate.” James.
JAMES KITFIELD: Great. Well, thank you, all, for showing up today. I think it’s really an honor for me to be with these two gentlemen on the 20th anniversary of Nunn-Lugar. One of the advantages of being around this town and doing what I do for so long is you acquire a long memory in a town that’s got very short memories. And from covering defense since the mid-80s, I would say that Nunn-Lugar has proven to be probably the most effective, far-reaching, bipartisan Congressional project I’ve seen on national security issues in my time here, along with Goldwater-Nichols, which Senator Nunn had a hand in both. It’s the kind of thing I think we see too rarely now, so it’s befitting that we come here 20 years later and think about what this program means and what it’s accomplished.
As I said, we have short memories here. We’re already, what I think, in sort of the post, post-9/11 era. We had the post-9/11 era, we had the post-Cold War era. But when Nunn-Lugar came around, it was very much the tail end of the Cold War era. And I think we forget, really, in the time--there’s so much joy in the crumbling of the Soviet Union--about, really, how dangerous that period was. We had an empire crumbling, which frequently leads to other wars throughout history. But this was the first time you had an empire crumbling that had 30,000 nuclear weapons, 60,000 bombs’ worth of material, 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, smallpox, tens of thousands of scientists who suddenly didn’t have a paycheck but had a lot of nuclear know-how. So it was really a time of existential change and threat.
At the same time, and not unrelated to the crumbling of the Soviet Union, you had this little group called Al-Qaeda that was just getting established, which had a very nihilistic vision of the world and an appetite to acquire weapons of mass destruction. So you can imagine what was in play here, and the threats really were--and it is not an exaggeration to say--existential.
At that time, Senator Nunn, you traveled to the Soviet Union. You met with Mr. Gorbachev at the time when he just had survived a military coup. Talk us through that, because I want to start the narrative at a place where we understand what was in play.
SAM NUNN: Well, thank you, James. It’s great to be here. And, first, I want to thank National Journal, George Washington University, the Nunn School and Bill Potter at Monterey Institute, and all the people who made this anniversary possible today.
I was in Budapest at a meeting, actually, relating to sort of an east-west dialog, and Dave Hamburg, who’s in the audience today, was head of Carnegie at that time, and they had sponsored a series of meetings with members of parliament and leaders from the soviet union, as well as the United States, as well as Europe, meeting together. During the middle of the meeting in Budapest, Hungary, our Russian friends--then Soviet friends--got on a plane and went back because Gorbachev had been taken captive. There was an attempted coup.
About two days later, after one of my friends by the name of Andrei Kokoshin had left--he flew back in an emergency situation--he called me on the phone, and by that time, Gorbachev had just been released. The coup was over. Yeltsin was the hero. They were gathered all around the Russian White House, they called it. And he said, “You got to come to Russia.” And I said, “Well, I hadn’t got a visa.” He said, “We’ll have your visa in the lobby in about 30 minutes.” I said, “Nobody in the Soviet Union has ever done anything in 30 minutes. It’s impossible. But if it's there, I will come because, otherwise, I’ve got to leave on a plane this afternoon.” Sure enough, he had the then ambassador to Hungary come to the lobby, handed me a visa. I got on the plane, went to Frankfurt, and then I flew from Frankfurt in.
And when I was in Frankfurt in the airport, the American embassy paged me and told me not to come because they couldn’t handle it. It was chaos over there. And I said, “Well, I’ve got a Russian friend who’s going to take me around.” And so I went on.
And so, sure enough, Andrei Kokoshin, who I’d known for some time--he later became number two in the Russian Department of Defense. Dick Lugar knows him well. He took me around for about three or four days. That was during the period of time where the Supreme Soviet met with people from all over. And they were really debating the breakup of the Soviet empire. Gorbachev was there. I had a chance to meet with him, which was a very interesting meeting because I asked him--one thing I asked him--and I’d been with him several times before. I knew him fairly well. And I asked him, “Mr. President, during the time you were in captivity, did you have full control of the nuclear weapons? Was there a danger of command and control?” He didn’t answer me, and that was a huge answer because Gorbachev had always been a very frank person. So that made a huge impression on me. And then sitting there while the Supreme Soviet was debating with leaders from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus--all of them had nuclear weapons in their own territory--really trying to decide the breakup of the Soviet Empire made a big impression on me.
I’ll never forget one other little incidence that happened during that time. As I was sitting up in the audience listening to that kind of debate, I had--my interpreter was a fellow--Dick, you also know him--named Sergey Rogov. And he was so wrapped up in the reform and the opportunity for change in Russia that he, basically, couldn’t help but editorialize as he went along. I’ve never had an interpretation like that. He would tell me what they had just said, and then he’d say under his breath, “Lying S-O-B.” And so it was quite a time to be there.
Anyway, long story short, I get on the airplane, and as I head home, I basically decide if I could possibly get my colleagues to do something with me in the Senate and the House, and we’d try to tackle the subject of loose nukes--as Graham Allison now calls it--because as James, you said, there were just thousands of nuclear weapons, tons of chemical weapons, huge amount of nuclear material that could be made into weapons, and smallpox, actually, in some cases, ready to be put on a missile. So that was the condition we found.
I came back, and I introduced the legislation. We’ll get to the story later, but it was interesting because we already had had--the Senate Armed Services Bill had passed. This was August of 1991. And the House Armed Services Bill had passed. We were in conference. Les Aspin--I had read that Les Aspin was trying to put some kind of humanitarian aid in the bill. So I called Les when I get back. We decided, in a conference committee, to put an aid package in on the humanitarian side and one that would also deal with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. That conference committee report was basically attacked by the left and the right.
At that stage, I was like--the preacher once said, “Man, if you think you’re a leader, and you stride out, and you look over your shoulder, there ain’t nobody following, you’re just taking a walk,” you know? I found out pretty quickly I was just taking a walk. And that’s when I recruited Dick Lugar. We’d had a series of meetings. We had to take that legislation out of the conference report, send the conference report back. Later on, we put it on the Appropriation Bill because Dick Lugar, as an indispensable and extremely credible person, joined in completely on the subject, and we worked hard on it and got it passed.
KITFIELD: Great. Great story. Senator Lugar, I want you to talk about that period where Senator Nunn comes back. You know better than I. There were a lot of Cold War warriors who had no interest in spending money helping secure Soviet weapons. They found it abhorrent, the idea that we would spend our defense budget doing something like that against the hated commies. I remember those times as well.
One author wrote on that period, “There were a lot of people who were willing to,” quote, unquote, “let the Soviets drown in their own sorrows.” You had a different take. You thought that we should take a different approach. What brought you to that conclusion?
RICHARD LUGAR: Well, it started in 1986 when Sam and I were invited to be a part of a delegation to go to Geneva, Switzerland. It was the hope for a beginning of arms control talks with the Soviet Union, which did not pan out in that period of time, but a great Congressional delegation. But we both found that we had an intense interest in the subject. And so, as a result, in subsequent years, Sam and I were both in Europe, banded together to visit often with delegations of Russians that we had met in Geneva or a derivative of that in Geneva. So we could begin to see the unraveling of the Soviet Union and the dangers that were clearly there that were not being met by arms control, which was very helpful.
I mention all of this because I remember vividly Russians coming to Sam’s office. The round table around which we met after he left the Senate, I had it rolled down the hallway to my office as a memorial to this. But they, in essence, made the point that they were not going to be able to bring security for their weapons. And, as a matter of fact, the army was not getting paid. People might take it off or, at least, would not defend it. Who knows what all would happen to it. And they said, “This is a big problem for us, security-wise, obviously, but it’s a big problem for you. You’ve spent trillions of dollars trying to contain this all this time,” which was really quite true as a practical matter.
KITFIELD: And they’re aimed at you.
LUGAR: Yeah. These meetings with the Russians were very helpful because they gave some credibility, then, to Sam’s efforts and my efforts in dealing with colleagues. We could claim that, you know, for four or five years, we actually had been dealing with Russians. It was really totally counterintuitive on two counts. First of all, that a great super power like the Soviet Union would ask another super power to disarm it, or cooperate threat reduction to work on the disarmament. That will always be historically, it seems to me, one of these things that people ponder. How in the world can such a thing happen?
The other thing is that this was not an administration initia-tive. Some of the Cold warriors were not just in the Congress, who didn’t like the Russians. Some were also in the administration. So--
KITFIELD: Of course.
LUGAR: As a result, this was going to have to be a Congressional initiative, which some have pointed out. I know Graham Allison and Ash Carter and other people who were very helpful to us--out at Harvard at that point--often made this point, that this was a Congressional initiative. And for that reason, it almost foundered for a while because after we had gained passage on this--this is the 20th anniversary of the day it was signed--even the president who had signed it wasn’t certain what to do with it, nor was his secretary of state or others.
And I see David Hamburg right in front of us today. David was on a plane with this that went out, then back to Russia and to Ukraine and Belarus, I think on that particular occasion, as we tried to convince General Burns, father of Bill Burns, now in our State Department, and others that this was for real and that there were things that really needed to occur right away. So it was not just a question of passage of the legislation. That had happened. But there was a question, then, of the administration acting.
LUGAR: And, fortunately, we developed at least enough credibility with the administration as well as with our Russian--I wouldn’t say “friends,” but they were persons with whom we had had some dealings--to get the ball rolling.
NUNN: James, one other little tidbit, because he’s sitting right here in the audience, I remember when we were debating the legislation on the floor in December of 1991, and I remember a crucial moment where it could’ve gone in any direction. Pete Domenici stood up on the floor and made a speech, and he said, “This really makes sense.” And Pete’s speech, because he has so much credibility, made an enormous difference. There were a lot of votes that came with Pete Domenici’s speech. Later on, Pete was part of what we call Nunn-Lugar-Domenici, which was a first major act on terrorism, which passed in 1996 that sort of followed that. So Pete has been a very big player in all of this and also helped stimulate the work between the laboratories in Department of Energy.
KITFIELD: Of course.
NUNN: So I consider Pete Domenici a huge partner in all of this.
KITFIELD: Absolutely. It’s great to have him here. So you were prescient in having the vision of the threat. You passed the Nunn-Lugar 86 to 8. Two weeks later, the President signs it. Two weeks later, the Soviet Union collapses. You overcome any logistical differences here at home and get the thing implemented. Are you sure that was Washington?
LUGAR: Of course it was.
KITFIELD: You have a long memory too, Senator. What arguments did you use to convince the Russians? I mean, we talk about how difficult it was for our Cold War warriors, and you talk about, yes, there were Russians in the security services who knew there was a vulnerability here, but there were some really staunch anti-American feeling in Russia as well. The idea of opening up their nuclear apparatus to U.S. scientists was sort of an anethema to a lot of them. How did you go about convincing the political leadership in Russia and these other satellite states to really embrace this thing?
NUNN: Well, it was mixed because a number of the Russian security officials realized what a problem they had. And some of them, as Dick mentioned, had been over here talking to us about the dangers and the problem even beforehand. And like my friend, Andrei Kokoshin, he was an outside NGO USA Institute without a lot of huge amount of influence before the Yeltsin takeover. But later, he was a very influential person. So it was a new crowd in the political leadership, and many of the military people understood how dangerous it was. You still had KGB presence. You still had a lot of suspicions. It took two or three years of work to gain that kind of trust.
But one of the amazing things that happened during this was there was a trust that developed between our military leadership in the nuclear arena and trust that developed with the laboratories, which I mentioned Pete had so much to do with. And that made a difference. It makes a difference still today.
NUNN: People working together on projects that have had historical animosities and distrust, working together, makes a big difference. Andy Weber sitting at the head table by David Hamburg. Andy, hold up your hand. Andy’s out there in the trenches working on chemical and biological problems. He did that for a number of years. And Andy has been a key in this. So I tip my hat to those who were out there in the field in the Executive branch, like Andy, counterparts in Russia, who really made it happen. Trust is built very slowly.
KITFIELD: Yes, it is. And I think it’s forgotten that, if it hadn’t been for Nunn-Lugar, there’s a very good chance that Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus would still be nuclear-weapon states.
NUNN: Now a lot of people don’t realize that three countries gave up all their nuclear weapons: Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. And those countries had more nuclear weapons on their territory than China, Great Britain and France put together. So this was a huge undertaking.
Another thing people don’t realize, because it’s going on still today, and that is the nuclear materials that came out of the Ukrainian missiles, the way they agreed was to get their part of the economic value for the highly enriched uranium. And so as they took those apart, both U.S. and Russia entered into an agreement where the material coming from those missiles, their proportion, Ukrainian portion of it would be reimbursed in terms of value. We bought that material. Russians blend it down. We use it in our nuclear power plants today. That’s still going on. It was a 20-year program. So if you look at the light bulbs up here, you figure that 20 percent of the nuclear power--20 percent of the electricity in this country is nuclear power. And 50 percent of the material that’s generating those nuclear power plants is coming from the missiles and the highly enriched uranium blended down to low-enriched uranium into fuel that was pointed at us during the Cold War. So one out of ten light bulbs up there is coming from material that was aimed at America in the Cold War.
LUGAR: Let me just follow up at this point that Sam and I didn’t lack nerve, and we went out to Kazakhstan to see Presi-dent Nazarbayev. And this was before we had an ambassador there or anybody else. Essentially, Nazarbayev said, “What’s Ukraine going to do? I want to know about Ukraine.”
So we went to see President Yeltsin again. This was just after the election that President Clinton had won. And he was very unhappy with both of us. He’d had a bad time with the gov-ernors of Russia that day, I guess. In essence, we couldn’t know what the translation was, but I think he was saying, “I’m going to bomb the hell out of them if they don’t give it up,” this type of thing. And he says, “I know you guys are going down there,” which we were. And so we were to give the message to them.
So we had a dinner with the president of Ukraine and others. And I suggested the idea that the United States might have $150 million that we could work with Ukraine. And he sort of jerks Sam and me almost by the nape of the neck outside to meet with the press conference that had just two reporters, one radio, one written, and said, “Senator Lugar has just offered Ukraine $175 million.” Yeah. Sam won’t remember this, but
NUNN: I remember it well.
LUGAR: On the way back to the table, he says, “Where in the devil did you get such an idea?” I said, “Easy, Sam. It’s going to be all right.” So I went back to the White House to see President Bush. He was still somewhat disconsolate over his election problem, but nevertheless, a good sport. And I asked him to write a letter to the president of Ukraine, offering $175 million to work on this, which he did.
And in any event, I suspect we spent four or five times that amount by the time we were finished, but at the same time--these are sort of vignettes that then led to people asking us to come out to see the typhoon submarines at Sevmash. And they didn’t have to do that, but nevertheless--
NUNN: They kept thinking you were going to write them a check like you did with the [LAUGHTER] _____.
LUGAR: That’s right.
KITFIELD: And I don’t want to play poker without Russians. But you mentioned that trip to see the typhoons where they were dismantling them. Each one carries 20 missiles, 10 warheads of missiles. So, basically, it could end the world with what you saw being destroyed. Did you understand then that you had launched something, a pebble that started an avalanche that was pretty historic, when you saw them actually--I mean, if you look at the score cards, 7,000-plus warheads, 2,300-plus missiles, 105 bombers, 33 missile submarines, 674 missiles, 24 storage sites secured, 2,200 tons of nerve agent. I mean, if Nunn-Lugar itself were a first-strike weapon, you’d be the most successful in history. So did you understand there that something historic had taken place?
LUGAR: Well, we didn’t have time to worry about that. It was just a question of accepting these invitations. And they came because we were available to talk to the Russians. They had developed a certain amount of trust, I think, in the fact that, first of all, we understood them, and second, that we were beginning to be able to deliver something. But the Sevmash thing was very unusual. They wouldn’t allow me to take a picture of the typhoon, standing in front of it. You know, a photo of what I am doing on my summer vacation, what have you. But a Russian did take a picture and, unbelievably, about six months later, sent it--a large one to our office, which was the first time our intelligence people, to my knowledge, had seen a picture of a Sevmash--of a typhoon in that form. But that’s a long project. I think only three of the six have been dismantled even to this day, a huge expense and a very complex business.
NUNN: James, I knew that it was succeeding. And Charlie Curtis is sitting in the audience. Charlie was Deputy Secretary of Energy when we started the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici’s program in 1996 and had that lab to lab working together. I knew that what was happening was very unusual because the military, military working together, understanding we had a common problem, and the laboratories working together, the people who developed and were the stewards of the nuclear weapon and the nuclear stockpiles. But I think when we started that program in 1996, one of the reasons we started it, in the second program, the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici, was because we were being eaten away by the opposition to Nunn-Lugar.
So when Lugar said, “We were busy,” we were busy because there was still a considerable amount of opposition to the Nunn-Lugar concept in the Congress, and they were putting more restrictions on every year. I knew I was leaving, and I felt that we had to go on the offense, and it was the first domestic terrorism bill. We started helping local fire departments, police forces, get ready for any kind of act of terrorism on the theory that people in this country needed to understand that we had to be prepared at home, but that the best defense from having a nuclear incident here at home, a nuclear terrorist incident, was to help countries secure material wherever it is. And that concept continues today. The easiest place to secure nuclear material and prevent nuclear terrorism is not in the United States, after here it’s here; it’s too late then. It’s very hard to even find then. It’s trying to help countries around the globe secure that material where it is now.
Charlie played a big role in that. Pete played a big role in that. David played a big role in that. And we, at NTI, we’re still playing that role. And Dick Lugar has expanded that con-cept. I think he might want to say a word too about that because now it’s a global. It’s not just the former Soviet Union.
LUGAR: Well, that’s a good point because Sam and I, before we got into it very far, were being invited to go out into the countryside and see the chemical weapons. Now the Russians al-ways denied they did biological weapons. And we saw lots of laboratories, pathogens stuffed away and so forth. That remains a real problem. The nuclear business, these are big. It’s going to be hard for a terrorist to carry in a nuclear warhead into the United States. It’s another thing to carry in pathogens of Marburg or Ebola or horrible diseases that can be a plague, not only in Africa, but likewise in the United States.
LUGAR: And so, as a result, under DTRA and Kenny Meyer out there presently working with Ash Carter as a strong sponsor, they’ve gone into Kenya, Uganda and to put security with the cooperation of those governments around some laboratories that were very vulnerable, and that work continues. But that’s true all over the world where people have developed some type of chemical predicament. And, of course, the huge situation there in Siberia where we’ve been working with the Russians for a long time just to go through all the chemical weapons, sort of ton by ton and bituminize it as they call it, bury it in the ground.
There was a day when all of this, Sam and I saw, lying in like shelves in a sporting goods store around there. And this was rather unguarded, very dangerous. It could happen elsewhere, other than Russia, even though that was our first instance.
NUNN: One million nine hundred thousand shells of nerve gas in one storage--big storage facility. We went in with gas masks, holes in the roofs. It was not secure, low land, swamp land. The buildings were sinking. They now have opened up that chemical destruction plant; they’re beginning to destroy that. Ash Carter was with us. He computed, Andy, that there was enough nerve gas there, if it was properly disseminated--and that would be impossible, virtually--but it could kill everybody on earth four times over in that one site. So God knows how anybody could’ve thought that we needed that kind of nerve--the United States produced it, not in that supply, but we were producing chemicals too. So--
KITFIELD: People forget.
NUNN: That was a period of--
KITFIELD: That arms race was out of control.
NUNN: Yeah, it really was.
KITFIELD: There’s no doubt about it. You mentioned lab to lab. And doing stories in the late 90s, when, quite honestly, the U.S.-Russian relationship had started going south again. They were having a hell of a decade, as you know. And I went out to Los Alamos in Senator Domenici’s state and talked to the lab directors who were doing these lab to lab. And I really got the sense that one of the byproducts of that lab to lab was when the political relationship got in tough times, there was still trust at that level that kept us on an even keel. I wonder if you think that that’s one of the residual benefits that had flowed from Nunn-Lugar.
NUNN: And we need to restore that now. It gets interrupted. For instance, there are all the allegations about Chinese spying and not only the Chinese access to lab to lab with the Chinese, which we need, but also the Russian-U.S. got interrupted. And Sig Hecker has done tremendous job out--he was the former head of Los Alamos. And Sig still travels around, and he still has Russian friends, but it’s not--even today, as we speak--is not nearly as good as it should be in terms of that kind of cooperation. So I know that we have to protect secrets. We have to protect technology. So do they. But we’ve got to continue to find ways to work together because we basically--with Russia and with China and others, we really have enough powerful weapons to destroy God’s world. I mean, that’s the stakes here. That’s what we’ve got.
LUGAR: Okay. Sam has envisioned on the NTI board, having Rus-sians who are very prominent from the past as well as the present but also representatives from China and India and other places on earth that, likewise, foresee potential problems. These people may not have positions in government, per se, but they’re well respected in their countries and a very good avenue for each of us to sort of keep track of what the agenda ought to be.
KITFIELD: Okay. I’ve got about a few more minutes. I’m going to ask a couple more questions, and I’m going to ask for some questions from the audience. So please prepare if you have a question for these two gentlemen.
Let’s--more recent history. You joined with Secretary Shultz and Henry Kissinger and Bill Perry, in writing this seminal op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, became dubbed one of the four horsemen of the anti-apocalypse, basically saying that you were--the drift and proliferation had gotten so concerning to you that you thought that if something wasn’t done, and the United States did not express a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, period, that we were going to face another down slope on proliferation. That was a very dire pronouncement you made. What brought you to that moment?
NUNN: My position on this evolved over a period of time. I finally--before we wrote that op-ed, working with Shultz and Kissinger and Perry--concluded that we had to take a number of steps in the world--we’ve talked about them today, and I won’t go over them--to protect the American public and that the only way we could take those steps is by cooperation. We could not do it single-handedly. There wasn’t any defense program in the world that would single-handedly, just the United States, pro-tect our public. We had to have cooperation. We could not get cooperation in taking those steps without repeating and reiterating that we were really pledged to a vision of eventually, ultimately, getting rid of nuclear weapons because that’s what we signed up to in the Nonproliferation Treaty.
NUNN: That’s what we’ve signed up to for every president since then. But we hadn’t taken it seriously. And the world knew we weren’t taking it seriously and believed that the nuclear powers, not just the United States, but other countries were hypocritical about it. And so most countries in the world that had nuclear material that we need to cooperate on chemical and biological were basically saying, “The heck with you guys. We’re not worried about it. Terrorists are more likely to hit you than they are us. You don’t stick to your pledge on the Nonproliferation Treaty. Why should we worry about it?”
So George Shultz and Bill and Henry and I all came to the conclusion that we really had to lay out that vision and say we are serious about it, and that we will work to ultimately rid the country and the world of nuclear weapons. It’s not going to be easy. Everybody knows a long number of steps. I probably won’t be alive when it happens, but that is a goal. It’s the top of the mountain, and we’ve got to get to base camp. We’re not even at base camp now. But we’ve got to get to base camp. But one of these days, it’s my hope and my prayer that we will have our children and the next generation, the young people in this audience, that will arrive at base camp and they’ll be able to see the top of the mountain. It’s going to take cooperation. I say we’re in a race between cooperation and catastrophe, not just in the nuclear field, but also in the chemical and biological field.
KITFIELD: And without the cover of you four, who could never be accused of being soft on defense, I don’t think that a lot of what has happened would’ve happened in the last years.
NUNN: Well, we’ve had 14 countries where four leaders have taken sort of the model of that four and written op-eds endorsing this concept. And then, of course, the real breakthrough came when President Obama led the UN Security Council to endorse what we call the vision and steps.
KITFIELD: He certainly embraced it. This profile in courage I have on my right here had to actually fight for the first cornerstone, New START. Wasn’t an easy fight. I talked to you during that fight. You stood up against many of your own party in saying that this was a good thing to do, and it helped carry President Obama’s water. Talk about how you envisioned the climate now here for nonproliferation treaties going forward. Were you more optimistic now that New START has passed, or was the process such that you’re pessimistic? What’s your sense?
LUGAR: Well, I’m trying to work in a very modest way along the pathway here, and I greatly admire Sam and the other three and four. But the facts of life are that as the old START treaty died before the end of the Bush Administration and nothing further was negotiated. This is very, very, very important because American boots on the ground, literally, our military and our civilian personnel and what have you, depended upon the START treaty, and they were dismissed from Russia. It’s all well and good to talk about trust but verify, but the verify part of it was sort of out of it at this stage.
Now, in the Obama Administration, they did negotiate swiftly and with the Russians, but it wasn’t until the latter part of the year that they came to a place where a treaty could come before the Senate. By that time, many people said, “There’s been a new election, and there are new members coming in here. And, furthermore, it’s Christmas, and how dare you bring up something like this.” And it was not a very nice atmosphere for the whole situation.
KITFIELD: No, it wasn’t.
LUGAR: But, nevertheless, we tried to work our way along, and we got 71 votes, ultimately, for the New START treaty, but there’s still a little bit of a testy relationship with our Russian friends. I don’t want to overemphasize that. But various other issues have come into this, but nevertheless, we’re back. The boots are back on the ground. I still get the monthly reports from the Pentagon of how many warheads were taken off of missiles, how many missiles destroyed, how many silos, submarines, or what have you, which I treasure because this isn’t over. This is a situation working with the Russians that is very, very important. So, ultimately, at least a number of my Republican colleagues agreed with this. And I hope that they will stay with us because we are going to have some more discussions and debates. The appropriations each year for Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction, DTRA, all the rest of it, really depends upon this bipartisan thing.
And Sam made a good point. In the old days, in some years when so many restrictions were placed on Nunn-Lugar, that they didn’t do anything. They were so busy filling out reports. The whole year passed without the appropiations even being spent. So this has gone through several administrations and ups and downs. This is why it’s very, very important. I cherish this opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary to remind everybody where we were, how we’ve come along, and what we need to do.
KITFIELD: Well, just like Senator Nunn offered cover for a lot of people to come along and envision, I don’t think New START would be where it is today if you hadn’t done what you did in fighting it because you bring a lot of people with you.
NUNN: We would not have had the treaty without it, would not have any verification. We would be two super powers still with thousands of nuclear weapons with no way to verify. Your confidence starts down. Military is getting paid to assume the worst case.
NUNN: Dick Lugar deserves a huge amount of credit for getting that START treaty through the Senate.
KITFIELD: Absolutely. One last question, then I’m going to go to the audience. And I have to ask this question because when I was going back and thinking about Nunn-Lugar over the years and all my reporting on it, you know, you had two statesmen who engaged in risky shuttle diplomacy. You had a vision to avoid a coming, potential catastrophe. You had effective politicking to get over, ideological resistance. And you reached across the aisle and did something historic. And it strikes me that we see too little of that in Washington. We’ve had a brutal year in this town between the two parties reaching impasse over impasse over impasse. And I’m just curious whether you think that this town is still capable of producing something like what you guys were able to. If so, what are the elements that we can point to that says, “Allow this to happen”? And if not, what’s missing now in our politics?
LUGAR: Oh, I’m confident and optimistic that we can do it. But nevertheless, why there are some days that are better than others in this business. Unfortunately--we’ve talked about a lot, but this went over a 20-year period of time. There were days and months, I think, when Sam and I were working together where things were not going particularly smoothly. One of the nice things about the initial thing was that we invited, I think, 14 members of the Senate: 7 Democrats, 7 Republicans to come together to hear Ash Carter give a paper. And that was really helpful, to say the least, maybe essential. And there are many who have been included in these situations who have seen what has occurred and who are very proud that they were. But I think all senators have to recognize the dangers of biological and chemical quite apart from the residual of the nuclear, the problems of India and Pakistan quite apart from what might happen in Iran or North Korea. And you may say, “Well, this doesn’t really pertain to Nunn-Lugar,” but it does in the sense that cooperative threat reduction has really reached out to all weapons of mass destruction, picks up allies in many committees, not just foreign relations and armed services. And I would just emphasize that, that the need, really, to share that responsibility and to share the load and, likewise, share the credit if something occurs.
KITFIELD: Still exists. Senator, do you think that our politics are still capable? Do you worry at all about...?
NUNN: I worry about it because I saw what I thought was an unusual opportunity to get our fiscal house headed in the right direction, which will take 10 to 20 years. It’s not going to happen overnight. Super committee given all sorts of power, committee appointed by the leaders, and it came up with a big zero, and I thought that was very discouraging. But I agree with Dick in the long run. I think our American political system is stronger than the Congress or the administration in any one period of time. I think we don’t allow vacuums to exist too long in American politics, and we’ve got a huge vacuum right now.
I compare the two parties with two wings out there flapping with no fuselage, a plane flying along with all wings. And there’s no center, and the center has got to rise up. At some point, it will. I hope it’s this election, but we’ll see. But I do believe the vacuums will be filled. I think there are a number of other people that are in Congress, like Dick Lugar and I were, that can work together. But the atmosphere is pretty poisonous right now.
Two-party system has historically served us well. If the two-party system does not begin working better on matters like fiscal and energy and environment and finding ways to work together and compromise, I think there will be an outside force. The American people will not let it keep on going like it is now.
KITFIELD: It’s not working. Okay. I’m going to open up to questions from the audience. Just raise your hand. If you would please just state your name and affiliation, please. Senator Domenici, I’m going to start with you, if you have a question. Oh, a microphone, please. Get to you as fast as anyone else.
PETE DOMENICI: Sam, thank you so much for mentioning me. I appreciate it very much. I would like to share a couple things that were interesting. Well, into this spending of American money on the Russians for various activities of the type we’re talking about here: one big expenditure of money was to give the Russians money to secure their facilities. And once the soldiers left, they had no security. The security was soldiers walking around the outside. Inside, you didn’t know, but they never got out. The soldiers maintained that. So when that left, nobody knew what would happen. We had a program put in place where they could at least count what went in, what went out.
I was over there once, and I couldn’t believe what I ran into. In one of the closed gates that we had to open, there was a camera. We had taught them how to take pictures of people coming in and out. I looked up at it, Sam, to see what it was all about and it said, “Made in Albuquerque, New Mexico.” What happened was some of the people there got excited about Russian exchange of activities, because I was, and they went over there and did business with them, and they built the cameras as it fit an American requirement.
The second point I’d like to make is that all of your work to try to get highly enriched uranium--which was a generality to you all--to get it shipped over here so it couldn’t be re-used. I happened to fall upon that, and I want to tell you how exciting it was. One afternoon, I took a bill on a supplemental appropriation for $375 million. Never a hearing on the matter. I took it to a OB sub-committee with my trusted aide, presented it and said to OB, “This will buy highly enriched uranium from the Soviet Union, from Russia, and it will feed our electrical power plants for God knows how long, and they won’t have very much left when we’re through buying it.” He said, “Why did it take so long for it to get here?” I said, “I don’t know, but if you tell me it’s okay, we will buy it.” And sure enough, he quickly said to one person that was there, “If you aren’t voting with me, I’ll call all the Democrats back, and we’ll do it.” And I said, “No, the Republicans will be for it too. Let’s just do it.” And he said, “It’s done.” With that, we bought all of their uranium. We’re still--
KITFIELD: Still doing it.
DOMENICI: --still doing it. It’s 5 to 10 percent of electric lights in America comes from that. And at the same time, I would like to tell you that people that impressed me the most in terms of helping America bridge the gap were the leaders in the national laboratories. And I give you one in particular, Sig Hecker. He’s now at Stanford as some kind of a fellow. Those kind of people actually--if we could still find them, we can do the cooperating that you’re talking about because without a doubt, they have real friends over there, no question about it.
NUNN: And Charlie Curtis helped enable those programs too.
DOMENICI: That’s correct. He helped us with ours. He helped us with one that paid people to come over here and get educated and go places in the world so they wouldn’t be developing weapons. We did that one. And we did one to go over and build industry, industry to industry. You helped us with that one. They all followed in the footsteps of Nunn-Lugar. Thank you for inviting me today.
KITFIELD: If we can just get [CROSSTALK] _____ to you, to focus on energy policy, we’d appreciate it.
DOMENICI: Well, there’s an easy energy policy. Now it’s coming on its own, on its own. The best energy policy will be here in about 10 years if they just leave it alone. Read Yergin in Sunday’s paper. He’ll tell you the answer. He’s right.
KITFIELD: Okay. I like it. Other questions? I see one in the back there, by the camera.
RICHARD SOLASH: Hi, I’m Richard Solash from Radio Free Europe. Nice to have this opportunity. I wanted to ask Senator Lugar if he could follow up a little bit on a question that was asked a bit earlier regarding New START. You said that the relationship with the Russians on nonproliferation right now is still a bit “testy,” to use your word. Some people would say it’s a lot worse than just a bit testy because the Russians have even threatened--some people in Russia have even threatened to pull out of the New START treaty citing problems with the missile shield, that if the U.S. goes ahead with its missile shield plan, that could kind of tip the balance of power. Based on that, how secure do you really think the New START treaty is? Can it withstand these pressures that are now being put upon it?
LUGAR: Yes, I think it can, but I think you make a very good point that--it’s a side issue and one which the Russians feel is integral with the first issue. The missile defense with regard to Europe is going back and forth and not with very good resolution. So, as a result, work that might be occurring in Russia to further the New START treaty to move in to, say, tactical nuclear weapons has been stalled. This is not the first time in the 20-year period that we’re discussing today that these sorts of things have occurred. And it’s not that I see this as any less serious. We always take very carefully the Russian arguments. But at the same time, I perceive it as a part of the overall debate we are still having as two countries with our NATO allies in the middle of it, and likewise, the potential for Iranian nuclear missiles being at the heart of the question that our European allies want the protection. So the Russians may not be convinced that the Iranians are a threat to them or to anybody else, but we think they may be. So we’re going to have to continue to discuss this. But it’s just important we keep in touch with our Russian friends throughout all of this and sort of understand that these stallings and difficulties will occur, but nevertheless, that we are going to overcome them.
KITFIELD: Any questions? I see one right here. Her first and then you next.
JESSICA VARNUM: Jessica Varnum from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Thank you, both. And you both stress that this is an issue of paramount importance and that it’s going to require long-term commitment in a next generation. And so I’d like to ask you, as people experienced with the Congressional process, is there something that the U.S. Congress could be doing to ensure that we have long term, an educated citizenry, an educated next generation of leaders who will be invested in these kinds of issues and of specialists, because we’ve made a number of commitments through things like the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Process and the Nuclear Security Summit to the need for nonproliferation and disarmament education at all levels. But we don’t currently have, really, any process for that to occur at, for example, the high school level, where it’s tremendously important, I think, or just in general in this country. And, perhaps, we need some kind of legislation that would mandate that. Thank you.
LUGAR: I would just comment quickly that there are a number of high schools in our country that have been debating this and learning about it. It’s quite remarkable, and we see a good number of these students and their teachers coming through our offices. But I see Bill Potter here, and Bill is prepared, I think, to teach all of these students. Matter of fact, I would commend enrollment out there at his center because--I’m being very serious about it--this is a course that really deals with potential leaders for the next generation and maybe beyond that now. And I’m heartened by that and, likewise, other efforts that Bill has been associated with.
KITFIELD: And I think education’s actually critical. It’s one of the issues that the labs, themselves, were worried about, that there was not a new generation of scientists coming along because there were no tests anymore, which was sort of the in-terest behind [stockpile?] stewardship, just give them the science that would sort of create an imagination to want to do this kind of work. Okay, I had a question right over--oh, I’m sorry, Senator Nunn...
NUNN: Well, I was just going to say I know you’re already doing great work at Monterey on this, educating young people. You know, there’s a lot going on in Russia right now, as we speak, and I’m told there are 50 million Internet users in Russia, the biggest number in Europe, and that has a lot to do with the climate right now where people are demanding that there be accountability in government and demanding that there’ll be an attack on corruption in Russia. I see some real hope in this. I see hope of young people communicating, because the young people, the new generation is going to--they’re going to have to deal with these problems in the future. And the more we can solve now, the better your future’s going to be. But Russia and U.S., Russian, Chinese also, young people really need to form bonds, and the Internet gives us a way of doing that without necessarily having to do it through governments who sometimes break off relationships like that when they’re having difficulties, politically.
KITFIELD: Okay. Question over here.
MIRIAM MAZER: My name is Miriam Mazer. And I am here on behalf of Fuel Cycle Week. Obviously, Nunn-Lugar was intended for the Soviet--well, the former Soviet Union and the territories associated with it, but a number of other countries have created their own nuclear weapons today or are on the track towards creating it. I was wondering if there have been any efforts to extend the treaty to other nations outside the former Soviet Union or possibly form a treaty with similar terms inspired by it in these past couple of decades.
NUNN: The answer is “Yes.” Dick Lugar’s already expanded the program [the availability of eligibility for global--
LUGAR: Nunn-Lugar Global.
NUNN: It’s global now, thanks to Dick Lugar. Our NTI, Nuclear Threat Initiative team, about a year ago, went over and briefed the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese on the concept so they would understand if North Korea ever were willing to terminate their nuclear program, the Nunn-Lugar concept could be applied to North Korea. That’s a big “if.” But, nevertheless, it does apply now, thanks to Dick, globally, and his dealing with such things as biological dangers in Africa. I know Dick has led that personally.
KITFIELD: Do you have any comment?
LUGAR: I just commend Sam for his compliments.
KITFIELD: Okay. We have one question right here, and then I’ll get to you in the back.
VALERIE ANTSIFEROVA: My name is Valerie Antsiferova, and I represent CRDF Global, one of the organizations that implement CTR. You spoke about the importance of building and maintaining relationships. Obviously, there are a lot of stories about different relationships. For those of us, on the implementation side, who will continue working under the CTR umbrella, what would you suggest will be the key components of successful international cooperation in the future, maybe two or three things that we should keep in mind, lessons that you’ve learned through your career that will help us to successfully continue implementing the program? Thank you.
KITFIELD: Great question.
LUGAR: Well, I would suggest that, essentially, we’re going to need to continue to work carefully with our military people in the Department of Defense. For example, we’ve had briefings recently from General Dempsey and others who have stressed that we are going to be involved in much more connectedness with intelligence services with friends and foes alike and that, as opposed to, perhaps, sending divisions and battalions of troops, we’re going to be using drone aircraft a bit more. This is the military side of that.
From a less-military point of view, I think the question is with this intelligence, as we are able to send scientists to various countries and divine, really, what is being developed by various countries or various groups of people, we will have a backup, at least, of the United States military but, likewise, diplomacy and smart diplomacy and ways, really, of making certain that the rest of the world knows that we want to try to coordinate safety with regard to weapons of mass destruction, whether they are chemical, biological, or nuclear. This is not meant to be vague, but it is, I think, in process of being formulated as to how--I’ve mentioned DTRA, Defense Threat Reduction Agency presently working with the Department of Defense. They are trying out all sorts of new avenues and I think with some success. And so I’m eager to, on the legislative front, try to back them up and to make certain that they have the money and the Congressional authority to do that.
NUNN: Let me mention a couple things. Broadly speaking, with all the problems we’ve got in the world today--and we could list numerous problems around, North Korea among those, Middle East problems and so forth. But if you back off, the way I view history, and look at the great powers today--and there are a number of those great powers: Europe, Japan, China, Soviet Union, of course, the U.S.--we’ve got more in common with the great powers than I think we’ve had in, at least in my memory of history. But we’ve got the animosities. We’ve got historical reconciliation that has never happened. We’ve got the leftovers of the Cold War. We’ve got China, spheres of encirclement and so forth. So we have all of these fears and animosities. But if you look at it, objectively, there’s every reason for young people to say, whether you’re in China or Russia or Europe or Japan or the United States, “We’ve got to find ways to work together because we have so much in common.” And I view that as inevitable sweep of history if we will get behind that kind of concept. And I think the younger generation can do that.
One thing we are doing right now at the Nuclear Threat Initia-tive is non-governmental, and I always emphasize the governments have to do the heavy lifting here, but governments have not been able because of a lot of different impediments, including political reasons, to come up with any kind of measure or common way of determining how secure nuclear materials are. They need best practices and standards and so forth.
Our organization’s going to publish an index. We’ve teamed up with the Economist Intelligence Unit from London, and we’re going to publish an index of 32 countries that have weapon-usable nuclear material. We’re going score them in five categories, three or four sub-parts in each category, 18 ways of scoring. And we’re going to have a list sometime in the middle of January of countries and how well they’re doing, comparing one country with another. We’re not trying to put some people at the bottom of the list and some at the top; although, that will happen because of the scoring system. We’re trying to give everyone some criteria so that when they have the South Korea and Nuclear Materials Summit, as a follow up to the Obama Summit here, they will begin to be able to discuss how we should have a baseline of judgment and how we should measure improvement in securing nuclear materials and preventing catastrophic terrorism. So we’re going to do that in January.
There are a lot of things you can do outside government that government can’t do. I’m hoping government will start debating this at the South Korean Summit. So yes, there are a lot of things that can be done. But, overall, I really do believe, I repeat that the nuclear powers, as well as other countries in the world, have more in common now than we have in many generations. If we just could back off our historical animosities and distrust and begin to work together to dissipate that kind of distrust.
KITFIELD: Last question--I think we have time for one more--in the back there.
EDWARD ROEDER: Hi. Edward Roeder, Sunshine Press. I wanted to follow up on Mr. Kitfield’s last question about the politics. It seems that in 1991, had you not been able to attach this to a conference committee report, it probably never would’ve hap-pened. And I’m wondering if, looking at today’s politics and how broken things are and how we can’t even pass a budget, does the breakdown on Capitol Hill and the inability to deal with an issue such as this one represent a threat to national security?
NUNN: I believe the head of our intelligence agency said, not long ago, that the fiscal problems of America were the biggest threat to our national security. And I think those in Europe would say the same thing. So, in my view, we have to have Democrats and Republicans working together on the fiscal side. It is not physics. It’s not chemistry. It’s math. It’s simple arithmetic. And you have to have restrained and entitlement growth. There’s no question about that. Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin said that. Simpson and Bowles said that. You have to have restraint in a lot of other programs. You also have to have some revenue. You’re going to have to have both. If we can get on a trajectory, fiscally, then I think we will greatly improve our national security. If we don’t, I do believe it is a threat to our national security, the fiscal side. I’d say the same thing about energy.
LUGAR: I think one of the problems, presently, is that--we’re commemorating the 20th anniversary, but the bulk of the membership of Congress have come into Congress in the last 20 years. They were not around at that particular point or in the first five years and so forth and, for the moment, understandably. Our national attention, our political attention is on our domestic problem of jobs and job creation and so forth. But, nevertheless, all of us have a responsibility, not necessarily to be educators, but to try to bring up the history that we’re discussing today. This is why I cherish this moment and the attention that’s being paid because it is an opportunity for members who have been much more involved in debating the debt ceiling or the CR running out or what have you to consider, really, the issues that are here. And I appreciate NTI’s ties with the National Journal and the ability, every day, to inform members of Congress and to at least give information that’s occurring so that when these debates do occur--and that was true with the New START situation. It wasn’t so much, really, that people were opposed to New START. They had really not thought about the subject. I’m not sure they wanted to at that particular time before Christmas. But it’s necessary, really, to have this ongoing educational process. And I think NTI has been very, very helpful in this respect, sort of bridging the Congresses and the years in between.
KITFIELD: Great. Well, I couldn’t agree more. Please give a hand to my two wise men of Washington. And, Connie, do you want to see us out?
SAYERS: Great. And on behalf of National Journal, I’d like to thank the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Sam Nunn School for International Affairs at Georgia Tech, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Senator Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar and you, our audience, for joining us this afternoon. For video of today’s event, please visit NationalJournal.com/events. And thank you very much for coming.
In conversation with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), National Journal Senior Correspondent James Kitfield discussed the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and its impact on global security over the last two decades.
the Nuclear Threat
Reducing the risk of nuclear use by terrorists and nation-states requires a broad set of complementary strategies targeted at reducing state reliance on nuclear weapons, stemming the demand for nuclear weapons and denying organizations or states access to the essential nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.
Global Security Newswire
April 24, 2013
WASHINGTON -- The United States' work to destroy Soviet-era unconventional arms in Russia could be getting "less important" now that many projects have been completed, a senior Defense Department official said on Tuesday.
April 11, 2013
WASHINGTON -- New Senate legislation is in the works to modernize a key U.S. nonproliferation program that came out of the Cold War and make it more applicable to regions outside the former Soviet Union, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said on Thursday.