News conference to release the report "Controlling Nuclear Weapons and Materials: A Report Card and Action Plan"

Transcript of News Conference Releasing
“Controlling Nuclear Weapons and Materials” Report
Nuclear Threat Initiative and Harvard University

SENATOR NUNN: We appreciate all of you being here today because we are releasing a very important report called, “Controlling Nuclear Warheads and Materials.” This overall effort has been sponsored by a foundation that I co-chair, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and Dick Lugar’s on the Board and, of course, we’ve written a foreword to the report, but we have the real authorities here today -- Matt Bunn and Anthony Wier -- and so we’re going to let you ask them questions, but first Dick Lugar and I are going to make a few brief introductory comments. We appreciate your being here.

Warren Buffett, the world-renowned investor who is an advisor to our NTI Foundation and our Board of Directors, notes that quoting him, “If the chance of a weapon of mass destruction being used in a given year is 10%,” and so that is an assumption, “and the same probability persists for 50 years, the chance of getting through the 50 year period without a disaster is .51%. Roughly one-half of 1%. If the chance can be reduced to 1% each year, instead of 10%, there is a 60.5% chance of making it through 50 years without a disaster.”

Now, Warren is a real mathematician, but according to my mathematics, this means that if we make it ten times harder for terrorists or nations to use a weapon of mass destruction in any given year, we can make is 120 times less likely that we will suffer from a use of these weapons for the next 50 years.

This is very high leverage security for the American people. And I think it tells us what risk reduction is all about. Not perfection, but risk reduction. And that’s what this report is all about. Reducing the risk to the security of the American people and indeed to the people of the world.

The report we are releasing today, “Controlling Nuclear Warheads and Materials,” is the most comprehensive analysis of what we must do to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist’s hands and reduce the risk to United States citizens and to the world. This report analyzes the terrorist pathway to a bomb and explains every opportunity we have for blocking terrorists at every stage of their effort.

As the report makes clear, the most effective and least expensive way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to secure nuclear weapons and materials at their source. Acquiring weapons and materials is the hardest step for terrorists to take. And the easiest step for us to stop. By contrast, every subsequent step in the process, building the bomb, transporting it, detonating it, is easier for the terrorist to take and harder for us to stop.

That’s why homeland security for Americans begins with securing nuclear weapons and materials at the source, in every nation and every facility that has them. The fight against nuclear terrorism must be global, because the supply of nuclear materials is global. The total U.S. budgetary commitment to securing nuclear weapons and materials -- the best way to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist’s hands -- is approximately one-quarter of 1% of the defense budget.

Now this is totally inadequate to the task. And yet we spend far more than any other nation to this threat that threatens all nations. Tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the raw materials of terrorism, are spread around the world. In many cases, poorly secured. Terrorists cannot build nuclear weapons without this material. If they are going to get it, they are going to have to steal it or buy it. And our job is to make that as difficult as humanly possibly.

A great deal of critically important work has been done. And the people in this administration who are working these issues deserve our praise, but they also deserve our objectivity.

We’re not moving as fast as we can and we’re not moving as fast as we must. Terrorist groups are racing to get weapons of mass destruction. We should be racing to stop them. This report points out that little more than one-third of the potentially volatile nuclear material in Russia has been protected by initial rapid security upgrades. One third. Scores of research reactors fueled with highly enriched uranium and essential ingredients for nuclear weapons around the world remains dangerously insecure.

Standing with President Putin at the White House, President Bush said, “Our highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.” I applaud President Bush’s words. President Putin has made similar statements and it is clear that he believes that Russia faces similar threats. But statements alone are not enough. President Bush must make it known in the Congress, the White House and throughout his administration that his top priority is keeping weapons of mass destruction out of terrorists’ hands. And he must give this matter his sustained personal attention. He must make it the central element in our security relationship with President Putin and the Russian Federation.

The United States and Russia must work together to provide high level leadership and build a global partnership against catastrophic terrorism. Our allies and friends must step up to the plate and do their part as participating and contributing partners. This partnership is essential and could rapidly and dramatically reduce the risk. This means that working with President Putin to remove obstacles in Russia is essential to our cooperative work. It means making Russia a full partner with global responsibilities and duties in this arena. It means requesting and fighting for the budget resources necessary to get it done. It means coordinating the effort among the agencies of the United States government and the nations of the world to develop a global partnership to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of terrorists’ hands.

The report that we are releasing today makes key recommendations and Matt will be going into those. Just a couple of them worth mentioning: creating a focused strategy with all the authority resources and expertise needed to remove nuclear material entirely from the world’s most vulnerable sites as rapidly as possibly; an accelerated nuclear security partnership with Russia in which both countries would set the goal of completing rapid upgrades of all nuclear materials and warheads within their borders within two years and comprehensive upgrades within four years. A new initiative to secure, monitor and dismantle the most dangerous war heads, especially those not equipped with modern difficult-to-bypass electronic locks to prevent unauthorized use. And this initiative would be modeled on George H.W. Bush’s 1991 initiatives. The stakes could not be higher. Seven years ago, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States, saying he was confident he could “end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America.” Terrorists are racing to get nuclear weapons. We ought to be racing to stop them. And this report shows why and how.

So let me, at this stage, turn it over to my partner for a long, long time in this effort, now the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, always a great United States Senator and a great leader in this arena and many others, Chairman Dick Lugar.

SENATOR LUGAR: It is an honor to here with my friend, my partner, Sam Nunn, to help introduce the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s most recent study, “Controlling Nuclear Warheads and Materials: A Report Card and Action Plan.”

As Sam has pointed out, we are involved in a global war against terrorism. The world remains awash with nuclear weapons and that’s what this report is all about. Terrorist organizations have demonstrated suicidal tendencies. We must anticipate that they would use weapons of mass destruction, if they got them and had the opportunity.

President Bush, as Senator Nunn has pointed, has said that, “our highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring these weapons of mass destruction.” Indeed, it is.

But let me just say that we’ve had great success with the Nunn/Lugar program in successfully immobilizing 6,000 warheads - according to our scorecard, about half. But this report really very vividly points out where all the rest of the nuclear material, the weapons, the facilities are at this point. It is global in its approach. And this is important because any of this material in weaponized form or as fissile material or what have you, is deadly. We have to understand that.

Now if I’m impatient about it, perhaps it comes because I wish my colleague was still on the Congressional firing line. But I am. And I am working with a broad coalition of Democrats and Republicans and people in the administration who are trying to come to grips with the fact that this is truly urgent. I say this is the experience of the last year, it was perhaps our best year in terms finally of total appropriations combining Defense, State and whoever else was doing something to help decide.

But it came with great delays -- great expenditure of effort. That in my judgment, was unnecessary if we understood the problem. By that I simply mean that from the beginning, Congressional stipulations with regard to the Nunn/Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, have required that somebody in the administration waive these requirements. We came into a situation last year where no one would waive the requirements. I visited personally with the President of the United States in June, following his signature on the Moscow Treaty, and I pointed out to him as I have recently in the debate on the floor, in which we have ratified the Moscow Treaty, Mr. President, we can pass the treaty. You can stipulate that we’re going down to 2,100 or 1,800 warheads by 2012, but it has no chance of happening, no chance whatever without there being Nunn-Lugar funds throughout this period of time.

And therefore, there needs to be a sense of the urgency, the budget, the requirements, the cooperation that is required if we are serious. Now the President was serious. And he instructed Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, to instruct their people to call members of Congress. All of this occurred, but I’m here to tell you until January of this year, this is following the conversation of June, we had not cleared away all the obstacles, even to appropriation of this year’s funds.

This study will help us. Any member of Congress, any member of the administration who seriously reads this study and understands the dimension, the urgency, the danger or nuclear, we’re talking today just about nuclear, so we’re not arguing with people as to whether chemical and biological is as important as nuclear, we accept the fact that nuclear is important. It kills a lot of people very, very fast if there’s a mistake. And having seen this inventory, hopefully we have some people who find true religion again. That it is important systematically to find it, to secure it, to help destroy it, wherever there are cooperative partners prepared to do that.

Furthermore, last year at the behest of the Pentagon, the State Department, tried legislative initiatives even to give our own armed forces the ability to deal with this material if they should happen to find it in a country outside the former Soviet Union. Even that initiative had hard going. I hope it will not have hard going after people understand the proliferation situation illustrated vividly in these issues.

And finally I would just say because I’ve just gone through the exercise personally, this is all on a remarkable NTI website. You can plug in the year, the program, the threat, the location, whatever, and find details of every dollar that has been appropriated or unappropriated on how, every cubit of whatever is out there. It’s a resource that even if you lose your copy of the report, it is there for you at whatever hour of the night you finally come to a sense of belief and urgency. So I’m going to commend this to my colleagues. So if they have pangs of conscious, or better still, some sense of our national security, they will tune in.

And I appreciate more than I can tell you, each of you tuning in this morning for this remarkable study.

SENATOR NUNN: Thank you very much Dick. And now Matt Bunn and his colleague, Anthony. Matt, you take it from here.

MATTHEW BUNN: Okay. Probably a lot of you are asking, what’s new here compared to all the reports that have been put out on this subject before. So let me just walk through a few of the key items that we think are new and different in this report.

First of all, we provide an updated assessment of the threat, including documented anecdotes of insecurity in the former Soviet nuclear complex, stretching right up to January of this year. For example, the Russians have confirmed that during the course of 2001 and 2002, terrorists carried out reconnaissance on Russian nuclear warheads four times; twice at nuclear warhead storage facilities and twice on nuclear warhead transport trains.

Secondly, we provide the first ever integrated look at what we call the terrorist pathway to the bomb and the things that the U. S. Government can do to block that terrorist pathway at each step.

First of all, a terrorist group has to form in the first place, a highly capable group with extreme objectives of the kind that Al Qaeda is. Then that group has to decide to escalate to nuclear violence. Our efforts in the war on terrorism need to be focused intensely on finding and destroying the groups that have the characteristics that might make them prone to nuclear violence.

Third is this critical choke point that Senator Nunn talked about, the actual theft of a nuclear weapon or nuclear material -- the hardest thing for the terrorists to do, the easiest thing for us to block. This is where some of the cooperative threat reduction efforts begin having their preeminent effect, where programs can focus on securing the warheads and materials, stabilizing the employment for nuclear personnel, so that people aren’t desperate enough to try to steal some of the material they have access to, on monitoring these enormous stockpiles and ending further production of them, on reducing these stockpiles.

Then, if the terrorists weren’t the ones who stole the material or the bomb, if it was someone else, as has been the case in all the cases we know about so far, they would have to get to the terrorists. They would have to acquire the stolen weapon or material. The thieves and the buyers have to find each other. And there, our efforts to interdict nuclear smuggling and again to stabilize employment for nuclear personnel so that you reduce the pool of potential conspirators in that chain, again, have their preeminent effect.

You need to smuggle the weapon or the material to a safe haven where you can work on making the weapon or overcoming the safeguards. There, again, interdicting nuclear smuggling, stabilizing the employment for nuclear personnel so there would be fewer people who might be willing to sell you the expertise – you would need to do those things.

Finally, once the terrorists had a weapon, they would need to smuggle it into the country, to the target, and then detonate the weapon. And that’s where the Homeland Security response begins to come in. But those are the very desperate, last lines of defense. If terrorists have already gotten there, we’re already in desperate danger.

The key elements that can do the most to reduce this risk are right here on stealing the nuclear weapon or the weapons materials. Which leads me to the third new item, which is a comprehensive look to try to quantify how much of the job have we done so far in blocking the terrorist pathway to the bomb. Across the spectrum of securing nuclear warheads and materials, interdicting nuclear smuggling, stabilizing employment for nuclear personnel, monitoring stockpiles and reductions. And what you can see here is that across a very wide range of potential metrics, much less than half of the job has been accomplished. And we also talk in the report about the rate at which of the job is being done. And that rate, while the President and senior officials of his administration, including Secretary of Energy Abraham, have worked hard to accelerate these efforts, that rate remains painfully slow. Slower than it needs to be to have a good chance of winning the race to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist’s hands.

For example, in the year after the September 11 attacks, only another 2% of the potentially vulnerable nuclear material in Russia had comprehensive upgrades of its security and accounting completed. There’s just too much gray space on this chart. And that gray space represents thousands of nuclear warheads not yet secured. Hundreds of tons of nuclear bomb material, enough for tens of thousands of nuclear warheads that is not yet secured. These have to be moving faster.

And so that leads me to the fourth new element in this report, which is the most comprehensive available action plan, prioritized action plan, of what can we do to move this agenda along faster. Senator Nunn has already talked about several of our key recommendations. A fundamental recommendation though is that we should no longer be the ones writing this report. We would like nothing better than for the government to reply to our study by saying, “no, we don’t like your action plan. Here’s a better action plan that will get the job done faster and more effectively.”

But the reality is that today, there is no senior official in the U. S. government with full time charge of leading all of these programs. There is no integrated and prioritized plan for how we are going to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and we think that has to change.

Finally, as Senator Lugar mentioned, the fifth new item is a new website and online compendium to this report that provides the most detailed available program by program assessment, how much has each program accomplished, how much is yet to go, how much has been spent on that program, what are the key issues it faces, what remains to be done, technical background, legislative updates and so on.

Fundamentally our message is very simple. The President has said keeping weapons of mass destruction out of terrorists’ hands is his top priority. He’s launching our nation on a course to take extraordinary action to deal with the threat of Iraq. We believe he needs to take similarly extraordinary action to deal with the hundreds of other terrorist pathways to the bomb around the world. If he focuses with the laser-like intensity he has on Iraq on dealing with this threat, he can dramatically and rapidly reduce the risk to the United States of a terrorist nuclear weapon going off in one of our cities.

So I think I will stop there. Anthony is here to answer questions as well as me as are Senator Nunn and Senator Lugar.

Q: What do you think the probability is of a terrorist group currently having materials or weapons – what is the probability in 10 years or 20 years?

MATTHEW BUNN: Well, of course, no one can quantify that number. I think the probability is distressingly high. Not that it’s, I certainly believe it’s well below 50%, but the comprehensive devastation that could occur if a terrorist group did get a nuclear weapon makes it, even if the probability is low, a threat that we need to deal with immediately.

The reality is that there are hundreds of buildings around the world in scores of countries where the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons are dangerously insecure. Many people don’t realize that the key difficult part of making a nuclear bomb is getting a hold of that nuclear material in the first place.

If they could get enough material for a bomb, almost any country, and even some particularly well organized groups like Al Qaeda, could potentially make a nuclear bomb, particularly with highly-enriched uranium. With highly-enriched uranium, you can make a very simple, what’s called a gun-type nuclear bomb, which is literally just taking two blocks of highly enriched uranium and getting them together fast enough. If you just get them together fast enough, you will get a nuclear yield, and that is a very, very troubling reality. When there are more than 100 research reactors around the world, most of them with very modest security measures, that are fueled with highly enriched uranium.

In the report, one of the things that is also new that I didn’t mention in the category of threat assessment is a detailed scenario of what would happen if someone did set off a 10 kiloton nuclear bomb in Manhattan.

Those studies have been done before, but unfortunately they’ve usually been done with the residential population data, because that’s easy to get. The reality is, hardly anybody actually lives in lower Manhattan. The day time population density there is ten times the residential population.

So we look at that in some detail and the answer is more than half a million people immediately dead. Hundreds of thousands of additional casualties. More than $1 trillion in direct economic costs. If the wind is blowing toward the north, as it usually is in late afternoon, you end up having to evacuate all of Manhattan for an extended period of time. One can imagine what the economic and social consequences of that would be.

Q: You focused your report on the [former] Soviet Union, but what about India, Pakistan and other locales? Is the threat more severe because they don’t have the infrastructure the [former] Soviet Union is supposed to have? And what about cooperation at a commercial level next door in Iran with the Soviet Union?

MATTHEW BUNN: The report is not just about the threat in the former Soviet Union. There is in a sense a unique outcropping of threat there because the world had never before experienced a collapse of an empire armed with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.

But this is a global threat. This is not a Russia threat. And we make that point very strongly. And we talk in particular about forging security partnerships with states such as India, Pakistan, China to make sure that the materials and weapons there are also secured and accounted for.

Pakistan we consider to be a particularly urgent problem. Not because security is low there. It’s not.  But because the threat is very, very high. I mean, you have large armed remnants of Al Qaeda, you have intense sympathy for the Taliban and for extreme Islamic causes with major sections of the nuclear establishment in Pakistan, as was evidenced by the two very senior Pakistani nuclear weapons scientists who met with Bin Laden and discussed nuclear weapons with him – who Pakistani intelligence believes passed classified nuclear weapons design information.

We talk in some detail in the report about Al Qaeda’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and materials. Now we don’t address some of the broader non-proliferation issues such as Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran, which is a key issue. But this report is about the possibility that warhead materials could be stolen and fall into the hands of terrorists. It’s not about the entire non-proliferation picture.

We do make the point however, that in dealing with hostile states, such as Iraq and North Korea, it’s equally important to take all the measures we’re talking about to keep those weapons and materials from getting stolen. Because you can have all the agreements you like with North Korea to end their plutonium production as we did in the agreed framework, but if they get a bunch of stolen plutonium, then those agreements are no longer accomplishing what you want them to accomplish.

So it’s equally critical, for the terrorists and the hostile states.

Q: I have a follow-up with this issue and the senators. You mentioned that if President Bush uses the same waiver focus on Iraq as these other issues [inaudible]. I wonder if you can comment just in general on the Bush Administration’s priorities, since we are about to go to war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction. What about North Korea? What about Iran and all of the issues you suggest in this report? How would you characterize his priorities?

SENATOR LUGAR: Well, I think the President has seized the basic issue and that is physically how do you keep fissile material far apart from weapons, out of the hands of Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group, because that is the potential fatal aspect, the existential problem for our country or any other country.

As has been pointed out, the intelligence reports on Iraq always in the bottom say that even if they’re three years away from development, if they got fissile material from somewhere, then we get into weeks, months and a very different picture. And that’s what this report points out. That’s true for Iran. It’s fairly true for Korea.

So the President has to think of all of these things. My own recollection, just having visited with him, is he is thinking of all these things. But the basic underlying aspect it without knowing the particular country or month or year is the total threat here has got to be the bottom line of our foreign policy.

If in fact there is this connection finally between terrorism, suicide and weapons of mass destruction, then the hundreds of thousands of people that are suggested with one kiloton bomb, become an actuality. And how does our country deal even with one of these situations. How do you put a figure on, how could any country.

But the problem, after you see the problem, what do you do about it. Now what I’m trying to translate in my own modest way in the President’s view is legislation, appropriations, programs. Sam Nunn and I at every iteration of Nunn-Lugar called for one person, one administration person or barring that, the National Security Council head, to take up this problem in a comprehensive way on the basis that is the most important security foreign policy problem.

That has yet to occur. Whether the Clinton administration or the Bush administration, it still needs to be done. So, sort of in a Johnny one note, we would still recommend that because absent that, we have all the various agencies of the government all interested. Sometimes even vying for authority for funds. There are different patrons and committees, both House and Senate, endless conferences.

At some point, we’ve got to take this seriously as a nation. We are somewhat, but I think this report underlines that the President has to offer that leadership and really has to get somebody, if he is not going to take it on personally, to be the chief honcho over all of it.

SENATOR NUNN: Just very briefly, Senator Lugar has answered the question and I agree with his categorization of it. I would add that I think the common denominator here if you look at Iraq, you look at North Korea, you look at this whole tier of problems with nuclear material availability, the common denominator is that it takes a global effort to basically address all of those problems. You’ve got to have cooperation in this area. If you don’t get cooperation from Russia, then the biggest stockpile of this material is not going to be properly secured.

So whatever we do in the various battles has to fit into an overall strategy. What we do in Iraq, what we do in North Korea has an effect on our cooperation, not only in this arena but in dealing with terrorism in general.

So a cooperative effort is absolutely essential. And what we have to be very careful about, whether it’s Iraq or North Korea or any other part of the battle, is that we don’t destroy the kind of world cooperation that is the underlying, fundamental essential of dealing with these overall problems.

And that means that we need to make an effort, as President Bush is doing, to try to get the United Nations Security Council on board in this regard, if not, without a veto, at least with nine votes. And it seems to me that unless that is done, the damage is going to be considerable. Now you have to weigh the upside and the downside and all of that and I haven’t gotten into that. But I think it’s very important that the leadership of not just the United States, but the other key leaders in the Security Council, France, Germany, Russia, understand this from the point of view that if we are not together, it makes war more likely with Iraq. And it makes the aftermath much more risky and dangerous.

They have to understand that and we have to understand that. And I also think it seems to me reasonable to expect our leaders, and you can shake them up in a bag and figure out who’s more at fault -- we in this country think it’s the Europeans, they think it’s us, but whatever it is -- the collective leadership is failing to produce the kind of unity that is absolutely essential. Not just in Iraq, but also vis a vis these underlying problems we’re talking about now.

It seems to me it is not impossible or even unreasonable for the citizens of this country and the citizens of Europe to say to our leaders, “get together.” Define what Iraq has to do and define a time. That should not be an insurmountable obstacle.

So far it seems to me that France and Germany particularly have not been willing to say at what point they would back military force no matter what Saddam fails to do or does. And it seems to me so far we have not been very definitive or clear about the things that he would have to do, A, B, C, to avoid a military conflict.

So it’s not an insurmountable obstacle for us to expect our leaders to get together and produce the kind of unity that is essential in Iraq if we are going to avoid a war, but essential in avoiding tremendous damage after a war in terms of all the risk being magnified and bottom line, even more essential in this kind of global cooperation, it is absolutely imperative for the security of this country and the world.

Q: Senator Nunn, talking about political cooperation, one of the reasons that there’s resistance in Congress – and perhaps Senator Lugar could address this as well – is that there isn’t full cooperation in Russia for the Nunn-Lugar program. There are problems with access and there are problems with the Russians being on board with this. And I am wondering if you could address that a little bit – either of you.

SENATOR LUGAR: Let me just say from the very beginning of the Nunn/Lugar Program it was almost counter-intuitive that Russia would work with the United States militarily with contractors and legislators to destroy its nuclear weapons. What led anyone in Russia to say, “we are going to more secure, in fact, if we invite American military people, technicians, intelligence all into our country and work with them to destroy our weapons?” I would just simply say one reason they did so was they appreciated they had far too many and they had no money with which to deal with them.

Secondly, there could be nuclear events given the chemistry, the dynamics inside warheads that could lead to a lot of Russians dying simply because of inadequate maintenance. And then there were arms control agreements that we both signed up to but were unfulfillable by the Russian side without substantial cooperation.

That doesn’t mean for a moment, long before President Putin, with other leadership, that everybody in Russia was aboard. Even in the recent visit I had with Mr. Ivanov, the Defense Minister, in August, a press conference with a group of people just about like you, out here. He admitted, “we have bureaucratic problems.” And so I said, “well, you know, welcome to the game. We do too.”

But same point, I was protesting specifically – the problem I had landing an American aircraft in Kirov to see Kirov 200, to get an agreement fulfilled for an anthrax antidote that our, none of your money had paid for. Specific instances that I’m asking the Defense Minister and publicly. We still don’t have satisfaction completely on either of these objectives. I have a laundry list of all the times, and Sam has too, that in the 11 years we have been rebuffed. We could not get in to someplace. We could not see somebody. What is the alternative?

Q: (off mike)

A: Yes, exactly. Should we have simply said, “you ungrateful people. You won’t even let us see whatever you’ve got here,” and therefore, we call it all off. We leave you with all of your nuclear, all the things that are here, simply because we’re in a huff. And we’re unhappy over your lack of cooperation. That is absurd on the face of it. Persistently, gnawingly, you keep working with Russian officials at every level until you get in to Kirov, or you get into Obolensk, or you get into Pokrov, or wherever you want to go. And then you find, usually, Russians there, often an old scientist, been there 25 years, who tells you where it all is.

The reason why inspectors in Iraq will never find anything is simply because the Russians perfected long ago how you would store all of this. And the lessons have been well learned. The lessons we’ve learned is you need to find Russian friends. Frequently side by side but uncooperative, obstructive Russians. This occurs every day in the world in the program.

So I would simply say from my colleagues in Congress who feel slighted from time to time, somehow that their not getting through, welcome to the party. Work harder at it. This is important. The objective of walking away from it in a huff simply won’t do. It’s unacceptable policy. Any time. Any place.

Having finally said that, we ought to insist, as we do, on as many safeguards, as many inspectors, as many newsmen wandering through these places, at (INAUDIBLE) Sam and I led a delegation of at least six Russian television cameras and 12 radio stations and the whole lot including even a local station from Indianapolis watching the destruction of missiles ad seriatim. No problem of either enforcement or verification if you know for a month, we’re coming through there -- SS17s, 18s, 19s, ad seriatim, unless back here in Congress we stop the music. Then nothing happens.

This is why I’m somewhat impatient about it. And this is why we need the evidence that is here so even the most skeptical person knows it’s there. From then on, we can talk about tactics. You want to be tough? Soft? In between? Diplomatic? Persistent? But the objective is to secure it and to destroy it. And to keep chipping away at it.

MATTHEW BUNN: I’m going to jump in on Senator Lugar’s answer because the report does address in some detail the issue of the impediments to progress. And there are very real impediments to progress on the Russian side and on the U. S. side. We have our share of bureaucracy as well. There’s a lot of places that the Russians aren’t granting us access to that we absolutely would refuse to grant the Russians access to the equivalent places in the United States.

That is why we believe so strongly that there needs to be a sustained push coming from the White House to overcome these impediments. Because the only way that the Russian system is going to respond and get rid of some of these impediments is if Putin himself is pushing to make that happen.

Secretary of Energy Abraham has worked hard with his counterpart Minister Rumyantsev, the Minister of Atomic Energy, to move these programs forward, overcome obstacles. But the reality is a lot of the obstacles are outside the Ministry of Atomic Energy -- the FSB, the successor to the KGB, and other agencies in the Russian government that are slowing things up.

So we really believe that there is an opportunity with a sustained push from the White House making this a key element of U.S./Russian relations. But it can only be done with a real partnership approach where Russian experts are integrated throughout the design, the conception, the implementation of the entire effort.

Let me give you one example. In the effort to secure warheads and materials, you can see only a relatively modest fraction has been accomplished. But with the part of the program that focuses on the Russian Navy’s nuclear materials, they’ve secured almost everything. Why? There are a lot of reasons. But one of the reasons is they have a Russian team on the ground at the Kurchatov Institute, who have Russian security clearances, are able to work their own system in a way we would never be able to figure out how to do, day after day, in Moscow, rather than just coming over once every three months or what have you. And they’re able to build the kind of trust, overcome the obstacles and they’re serving as essentially the integrating contractors. So they’re involved in the design and the conception of the entire effort. That kind of partnership-based approach is what’s needed to get this job done.

Q: The Bush Administration’s axis-of-evil approach and the possible war with Iraq seems to say that the number one threat is rogue nations with weapons of mass destruction capability linked to terrorists for a clandestine attack against the U.S. Do you disagree with that priority? And that sort of seems to leave Russia in a shadow as a problem.

SENATOR NUNN: I don’t think it’s one or the other. I think it’s all of the above. I think that is a problem. You have to be concerned. Particularly I’m concerned about North Korea and their desperate economic situation, whether if they were able to turn out a bomb a month, starting some time this summer, they would be tempted to sell some of that plutonium. So I would worry about them, number one.

You also worry about Iraq, Iran. You worry about other nations. But the easiest place to secure this would be just to buy some of it. And that would not only be true for terrorists groups but also for these rogue countries. And while we’re worried about the restarting of the reactor in North Korea, they don’t have to restart a reactor, they would buy it from some place if it gets on the market. So you have to secure it at the source. And that requires a multiple approach. Not one or the other. But it’s all.

But again, I repeat, you’ve got to have global cooperation here. Russia has got to be a partner. Matt Bunn said it very well, Dick Lugar said it very well, that the bureaucracy in Russia is always going to be bad. Putin has got to cut through it and that depends on a relationship with President Bush and that depends on making this the central security focal point between President Bush and President Putin and our two countries. It’s got to be central. That’s the only we can get it done.

Q: Senator Lugar, what does Congress need to do to respond to this report? How much more money do they need to appropriate? And do you need to write it into law that the White House designate one person to deal with this all the time?

SENATOR LUGAR: On the latter question of central management, we’ve written that into law several times. It just has not occurred. So obviously, we should try again. But I think the argument really has to finally be one in which the President himself sizes up the importance of this the way he wants to manage it. And we accept the fact it’s one President at a time. We really need to convince this one of that.

On the appropriations side, this is a two sided business, as Sam Nunn has said. This is cooperative reduction. This is not unilateral situation. We have got the parameters of the problem and so we have got to work with Russia so they understand the same data that Mr. Bunn and Mr. Wier have given to us. But they will be interested in this. And they’ll have the availability of the website. They can sit up days and nights looking through the same thing as we can. We finally have a shared sense of data and purpose in all of this, which is pretty well spelled out.

So then, in our own way, we seek friends and allies and there are many of them in Russia. The partnership aspect of this, starting with the President of the country, working through the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister and the Ambassador here and everybody else. Dr. Pak dealing with the chemical, that isn’t dealt with here, but he’s an important player in all of this. These are important friends. They come and go all the time. And so do we. And I would just simply say without telling tales out of school, on Friday, Dr. Rice and I talked together about all the friends we have in Russia. Because we’ve been visiting. I was even asked to call the President of Mexico and he went to surgery as we reported today, so we talked to the Foreign Minister.

Because we need partners. And not only just in the Iraq situation, but we’ve got to talk about issues they are interested in. And we’re going that. I was just saying this is tremendously important. The partnership aspect, the finding of the Russians out there who understand the gravity of the problem for them and for the world. Because Russia and the United States have finally got to lead the global coalition. I don’t know if Matt has put a figure on this, but I would suspect 95% upward of all the weapons of mass destruction, in terms of material, laboratories, weapons, so forth. It’s either here or there. And that is a very substantial reservoir from which to deal if you are looking as terrorists to buy or steal.

Q: Senator, have you convinced your House colleagues of the importance of this effort?

SENATOR LUGAR: Yes. Sometimes. It has taken a while. And I would say, and we’re not dealing today with the chemical weapons problems at Shchuchye which has been a specifically difficult problem.

The President just signed a one year waiver to keep doing something there. Destroying nerve gas and so forth which is pretty important too. So we will need to renew this so it doesn’t all stop out there again.

Some House colleagues have given us three years up from many other programs, so I’m grateful for that. On the other hand, why we need waivers every year on issues of national security with the President himself making the determination is not clear to me. In other words, there’s not wisdom I think in the Senate sufficient to countermand the President and say, “this is really not important, Mr. President. Stop destroying nerve gas or rounding up nuclear materials.” We really have to get over this in terms of our intramural sparring. So to the extent that I have caused any ripples of unfortunate unhappiness over there, I’ll try to be more diplomatic.

But I would hope at the same time, members of the House and Senate would read the report and get the facts.

Q: Senator, I have a question for all of you in fact. Is it your view that the war in Iraq [inaudible]?

SENATOR LUGAR: Well, just a quick answer. Only to the extent that the nuclear program, whatever it may be in that country, ultimately in the event that Iraq disarms, they’ll disgorge whatever they’re doing. In the event they don’t disarm, it will be found and destroyed so that the opportunity, at least, to go after fissile material will temporarily be gone. However, as we’ve been discussing in the Foreign Relations Committee, the day after, whatever the conflict or disarmament happens, then if we are not very adept as a nation in either our management of Iraqi affairs temporarily or working with the successor government, why we would be back at the starting place again. The successor might very well pick up the remnants or have people that remember the science or it could be obtained to come back. In other words, we would have a cooperative relation problem with Iraq. We would need to have a government there who believes the same thing we’re talking about in this report. Notwithstanding, whether we’ve been through a battle or whether there was surrender to the United Nations, 1441.

MATTHEW BUNN: Can I just jump in on that as well. The reality is that Iraq is only one of hundreds of potential sources of the essential ingredients of weapons of mass destruction around the world. Whatever happens in Iraq will not effect how much gray space there is on this chart. My concern, as Senator Nunn expressed, is that if we go forward with the war in Iraq without international support, we may undermine the prospects for the political-level partnership that’s going to be needed to get this gray space to go away and to move the agenda of blocking all of the other terrorist path ways to the bomb forward. I think that’s a significant concern.

SENATOR NUNN: I think it’s important on Iraq that we make it clear over and over again that the difference between Iraq and a lot of other what used to be called, now politically incorrect, rogue nations, is the fact that they’ve defied the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, time after time after time. That’s the fundamental distinction. But that also means that in describing our goals there, we have to tie it to those resolutions. And it also means we need to get the support of as many nations as we possible can. Hopefully nine nations because the legitimacy of what we do is based on the breach of the United Nations Resolutions and we would like to have the body who’s resolutions have been breached speak favorably of what we are about to do so we don’t undermine what the other very, very important and crucial goals in the world, including this major set of goals, including also North Korea and I’m sure other problems.

Q: Senator Lugar, if Russia uses veto power and once again forces a British resolution on Iraq, would it have any impact on US-Russian relations? And secondly, if I may – [inaudible]? When do you expect that determination?

SENATOR LUGAR: Well, on the second issue, I have introduced the Jackson Vance appeal and I did so simply because I think we ought to do that. I think the administration wants to do that. It was not moving along. Nobody else was introducing it, so I did. So we’re going to have a debate. I don’t know how rapidly the relevant committees will come together on that, but I would hope very soon, and for obvious reasons. It has a lot to do with our relationship with Russia. And that was one good reason for introducing the bill on Monday, to demonstrate that there is an important relationship and we care. And we’re reaching out.

I would say in regard to relationships as a whole, in the event that Russia were to veto the resolution, that would not be at all helpful in the relationship. Let me just say beyond that, however, I think Sam could trace this as I could and certainly these charts do, with regard to the appropriations and all the political history, we have had some very bad times in the last 12 years in terms of the Russian/American relationship. We can argue on occasion, it barely existed. I mean it was there in form, but in terms of any spirit of cooperation, it certainly was very deficient and had to be revived several times.

But the property threat reduction went on anyway because it finally was an existential problem for both of our countries. It is so fundamental. Whoever is in power in the United States and Russia has to take this seriously. And they have. Not everybody. But enough. It was sort of a vanguard of the faithful that kept it going. That will continue to be the case.

Now my own view is that we ought to, in fact, be doing a lot of things with Russians. And we’re promoting the number of things we can do with Russians. And we’ll continue to do that. Because it’s very, very important to the security of the world, the security of Russia and our country.

SENATOR NUNN: Let me just mention a couple of things. There is a section in here on cost. Somebody asked about resources a little while ago. And Matt and his team have not tried to put a precise figure on it, but the best estimate we had on cost was the Baker-Cutler report that was issued about two years ago, two and a half years ago, and that was looking strictly at Russia, not global, and that was about $30 billion. And I believe the number that has been tossed out as a possibility in this report for the global effort would be about $50 billion.

But that is a very, Matt, you described it, that’s a very loose, it’s not an analytical estimate at this stage. Somebody else would have to do that. But let me mention one other thing that needs saying here. There’s implied praise and there’s direct praise and there’s implied criticism and direct criticism in this report. And that’s what objectivity is all about. But I want to say that President Bush and his team deserve a great deal of credit for stepping up in major way -- last year in the Summit Conference of the G8 and securing a pledge from the G8 to match the United States expenditure of about $1 billion a year for the next ten years, called Ten Plus Ten Over Ten. Now that was a pledge. And the resources have to be forthcoming. The pledge is, a lot of times at the G8 are not met. Our NTI Foundation has a major effort led by CSIS to try to get those resources to back up the pledge, and turn the resources into programs. But that is a major step towards creating the kind of global partnership that Senator Lugar and I have been calling for, that Matt Bunn and Anthony called for in this report, and that is absolutely essential.

And the Bush team deserves a great deal of credit for leading that effort, as do the Russian leadership, President Putin and others, because without them, it wouldn’t have happened. As do the allies who signed up for it. But now we’ve got to convert pledges into money and money into programs and programs into action.

Q: Senator Lugar, do you think we’re getting permanent waiver authority or eliminating [inaudible] – process all together to try to eliminate some of these obstacles?

SENATOR LUGAR: I think we ought to examine which of the certification objectives still have some validity of having an accumulation historically of good ideas that came along and may have, in a number of times over the last 12 years, and they’re all stacked up there together, so some thinning out of all of this.

I’ve discussed this with Dr. Rice for example to try to get the views of the White House. Because they’ll have to be strongly aboard any such attempt to thin out quite apart from illuminating these. There is some validity just to argue the other side in saying clearly we ought to always be asking the Russians for fundamental cooperation on treaties that we have signed. Even if our interpretive difficulties of these things.

However, the President still, in the event that the Russians are not fulfilling every aspect. For example, three or four bio-military situations, still, a bit sticky in points, shouldn’t be. We really know everything going on I think at any of the four, we just have an old line beauracracy that hasn’t retired and we’re asking the Russians to get along with it. A new relationship.

But in any event, it’s there. Now technically, you could say the Russians are not fulfilling everything, ipso facto, we just cut the program. The President has to have permanent authority to waive that kind of thing. To be President of the United States, you have to have ability to do whatever is required for the security of the United States. Without some Congressional staff stipulation that slipped in one year being the reason why you shut down the whole works.

MATTHEW BUNN: Thank you all for coming. Again, the website is available here. Anthony and I will be here to answer questions and to show people the website. We think President Bush has a great opportunity to rapidly and drastically reduce this risk to the United States. Thank you.

March 12, 2003

At a news conference at the National Press Club, Sen. Nunn, Sen. Lugar and experts at the Project on Managing the Atom, release this NTI commissioned report that recommends steps to accelerate and strengthen nuclear threat reduction programs and calls for expanding these efforts to address insecure nuclear stockpiles around the globe.

Matthew Bunn

Professor, Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Richard G. Lugar
Richard G. Lugar

Former U.S. Senator

Sam Nunn
Sam Nunn

Co-Chair, NTI