Grantee Hosts Discussion on Next Steps in Arms Control

As the U.S. Senate works towards ratification of the New START treaty, all eyes are on the next steps for the nuclear security agenda.  On November 8, the Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung convened international experts and Obama Administration officials to discuss the "Next Steps in Arms Control."  

The discussion consisted of three different panels supported by leading experts from the United States, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, representatives from the U.S. government and NATO, and a lunch keynote address by Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance and the Chief Negotiator for the New START agreement.

Gottemoeller emphasized the importance of the ratification of New START during the lame duck session to bolster national security by once again allowing U.S. inspectors to verify Russia's nuclear arsenal.  She went into detail discussing the negotiations of New START and the Senate ratification process.  She also addressed how the verification regime for the New START agreement evolved from the START treaty and how to the benefit of both the U.S. and Russian such processes have been steam-lined.  

Daryl Kimball the Executive Director of ACA - a Ploughshares' grantee - moderated the first panel entitled "Next Steps in U.S.-Russian Arms Reductions." The discussion addressed not only what both the U.S. and Russia could do post New START ratification but also what steps could be taken by both countries in the event the Treaty was not immediately ratified by the U.S. Senate in the post-election session.  Some of the ideas the panelists proposed included taking forces off of hair-trigger alert and further increasing transparency between the U.S. and Russia over the exact make-up of their nuclear stockpiles and their facilities.  

The second panel of the day addressed "Tactical Nuclear Weapons and NATO."  Chaired by Catherine Kelleher of the University of Maryland, the discussion addressed both the anachronism of NATO nukes and the lingering concerns of "new NATO countries" such as Poland when it comes to European security arrangements.  Helpfully, a commentator in the audience pointed out that considering the nature of our discussion and the debate elsewhere countries inclined to keep tactical nuclear weapons in Europe should feel heartened  by the continual concern for developing credible security assurances were the nuclear weapons to be removed.

The last panel of the day, moderated by Tom Collina the Research Director of ACA, focused on Missile Defense and NATO.  The panel tangled with questions, including "What role might NATO play in regional missile defense?" and "How can the United States, NATO and Russia cooperate on missile defense to facilitate further progress on arms reductions?"  Many experts agreed that the proposed missile defense plans have the potential to negatively effect missile proliferation and future U.S. and Russian negotiations regarding NATO's tactical nuclear weapons.

A transcript of the event will soon be made available by the ACA.