Chaired By: Senator John F. Kerry
Witnesses: Ellen O. Tauscher, to be under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
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SEN. KERRY: This hearing will come to order. Good morning. It's a great pleasure to welcome everybody here today, and particularly our nominee, who is a good friend of mine and a lot of folks over here, and we have worked together. I am proud to say I have alumni from my staff who are stalwartly helping to guide -- though she doesn't need a lot of guidance -- our nominee along the way, and we're proud of that too.
And I see that you are accompanied by a strong cohort of the House here, and it's nice to see some of those members along with you, and our colleague, Senator Feinstein.
Let me just say a few comments in opening, and senator Lugar will, and we don't normally do this, but I'm going to let Senator Isakson also say a few words. And then Senator Feinstein, we welcome your comments. And Senator Boxer asked me to -- she is chairing a hearing and could not -- but she came over here to pay her respects and I think has a statement for the record.
But you have long been a leading congressional voice on national security issues, and all of us respect that. And now you've been chosen by the President to serve as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. I appreciate that Senator Feinstein is here, and I thought Congressman Hoyer may come over or not at some point. Great. Well, we welcome them. Where is he hiding? Oh, here he is. Good timing. Mention your name, and you appear, Steny. Welcome. Happy to have you here.
REP. STENY H. HOYER (D-MD): (Off mike.)
SEN. KERRY: Our nominee faces a significant number of challenges. We all know that. The terrorists are actively seeking to obtain sensitive materials and technology in an effort to launch catastrophic attacks with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Governments that can't feed their populations and can't find jobs for their young people can still produce weapons-grade fissile material, test weapon designs, and field long-range missiles, threatening other countries with destruction on an unimaginable scale.
Recognizing the urgency of the threat, Congress created the position of the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security in 1998 to ensure that the President and the State Department could always call upon a senior-level official squarely focused on "assisting the secretary and the deputy secretary in matters related to international security policy, arms control, and nonproliferation."
America must pursue the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and I applaud the President for affirming our commitment to this effort in his April speech in Prague. This is not a dreamy vision built on naive optimism. We all understand the difficulties of getting there, (indeed ?) a very different world with a lot of different perceptions and a lot of different attitudes and checks and balances against behavior.
But that said, it is clear that every step you take towards that world is a step that makes everybody safer. And so it's worth pursuing it. And that is why it is really a straight calculation based on national security interests of the United States, which has now been endorsed by steely-eyed, Cold Warriors like Henry Kissinger and George Schultz. They recognize a fundamental truth; that we face a fork in the road, and if we don't dramatically transform our policies to aim in the direction of a world free of weapons, we will face a world in which many more diverse actors wield ever more dangerous weapons, and the chances of nuclear weapons being used will grow, and also the chances of materials falling into rogue hands also increases significantly.
The ultimate goal, needless to say, is not going to be reached quickly, and possibly not in our lifetimes. But in the meantime, we need to deal with the question of our security. And so long as other actors possess nuclear weapons, we will too.
So this moment presents ample opportunities for significant progress and perhaps even a major breakthrough in the coming months and years. While the goal may be some distance away, there is increasing agreement that prudent, practical near-term steps in that direction are going to benefit all of us.
We can and should work on a number of those steps immediately, and specifically, steps that Congresswoman Tauscher, when confirmed, will be charged with overseeing; dealing with North Korea and Iran's unacceptable defiance of their nonproliferation commitments, negotiating a replacement for the expiring START agreement, on which, I'm pleased to note, we are reportedly already making progress, securing vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years, working toward a global treaty to ban the production of fissionable material for nuclear weapons, now that the Administration has broken the nearly decades-long impasse at the UN Conference on Disarmament, and finally, consulting with the committee and the Senate as we reexamine the case for ratifying the CTBT.
Of course, along with all these duties, she will also be charged with guiding our international security assistance, peaceful nuclear cooperation, and military export control policies to ensure that they conform to the larger foreign policy objectives of the country. In these areas too there will international agreements for which she will have to seek the support of either the Senate or the full Congress.
With such a lengthy to do list, we wonder if perhaps the nominee isn't thinking right now that chairing the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces in the House Armed Services Committee isn't such a bad job. Fortunately, we have a person before who has demonstrated a really admirable commitment to public service and bipartisanship and to America's security and ideals. And given her seven terms in Congress, I am confident that if confirmed, the undersecretary will seek a close working relationship with this committee, keeping the Senate fully informed and involved. Given the urgency of her work, I intend for the committee to move quickly on this nomination, and I hope the Senate will approve her in a timely manner.
So let me turn now to the senator, who, when it comes to matters of proliferation and international security, continues to set the standard in this body for putting principle in front of partisanship, Senator Lugar.
SEN. RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I join you in welcoming our nominee today, Representative Ellen Tauscher, to be the next undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. If confirmed, the nominee would be responsible for addressing the number one national security threat facing our country; mainly the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In addition, the nominee would construct arms control strategies, render judgments on conventional weapons sales to foreign governments, implement export controls, and develop policies on missile defense and security assistance. Her work would be a critical element of the United States government's response to the proliferation and nuclear security issues related to North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and many other nations.
Two weeks ago, I participated in the opening ceremonies of the Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility at Shchuchye, Russia. Shchuchye represents one of the most dangerous proliferation risks in history. When the project started, 1.9 million chemical munitions were stacked like wine bottles in a poorly guarded, ramshackle wooden structure. During a visit to Shchuchye in 1999, a Russian major took my photograph demonstrating how one of the munitions stored at Shchuchye, an 85 millimeter shell filled with nerve gas, could be carried in a simple briefcase. That one shell could have killed tens of thousands of people if detonated in an enclosed area, such as a stadium.
Now, despite the intense threat posed by these weapons, it took 15 years of painstaking effort to get to this point. All involved had to overcome a thicket of political, legal, bureaucratic, logistical, and engineering issues that threatened at multiple points to derail or delay the project. The contributions of several other countries besides the United States and Russia had to be integrated into the plans. Moreover, the Shchuchye project would not have been possible without Russian and American ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Thankfully, all of these elements occurred over the course of several administrations so that we now have reached a point at Shchuchye where the nerve gas is being neutralized shell by shell.
I reflect on this experience to illustrate that non- proliferation and arms control achievements do not happen solely through presidential declarations. They depend on negotiations with difficult countries and unglamorous implementation work often carried our in remote environments without much public appreciation or understanding. The policy directives of the President, Cabinet secretaries, and undersecretaries are important, but they do not guarantee success. Policymakers also must be diligent managers who ensure that negotiations, bureaucrats, and technicians at every level of our government are working effectively to achieve results.
I look forward to hearing from Representative Tauscher on the priority she plans to assign to the Nunn-Lugar program and its partner efforts in the State and Energy Departments and how she will transition United States policy to counter emerging threats.
With respect to arms control negotiations, our most time- sensitive agenda is the preservation of the START Treaty. And on December 5th, the verification regime that undergirds the START Treaty will expire. The Moscow Treaty, which reduces deployed warheads to 1,700, would also be a casualty because it utilizes the START process. In other words, the foundation of the United States-Russian strategic relationship is at risk of collapsing before the end of the year. I am following closely the efforts of our negotiating team in Geneva led by Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller.
Beyond START, action on several steps would improve the prospects for a successful NPT Review Conference scheduled for next spring in New York. These steps include jumpstarting talks on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; correcting funding shortfalls related to the Chemical Weapons Convention, applying U.S. leadership to refurbishing the IAEA's decrepit verification capabilities and safeguard system, and making progress in establishing a nuclear fuel bank.
Representative Tauscher has served for years in the House of Representatives, where she played a role, a lead role, in the formulation of legislation regarding the safety and security of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile, of arms control, and other issues directly related to this nomination. She has represented a congressional district that contains the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, so she comes to us today with an extensive nuclear background.
On May 20, I sent 61 pre-hearing questions -- (clears throat) -- to Representative Tauscher. Pardon me. I appreciate her diligence in answering these questions. Her answers were posted on my website last week so that all members could have an opportunity to review them.
I welcome her today to the Foreign Relations Committee and look forward to our discussion of critical issues facing our country.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Lugar.
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for letting me break with tradition and say a few words, but there are two reasons I wanted to say something about Ellen that deal with Georgia, and then there's one reason that's personal.
First of all, her fiancé is from Festre City (ph), Georgia, and he's here today. I just had the privilege of meeting him. And her dad's here from Festre City (ph) and other family members. That's a great town in our state, and we're proud to add Ellen as a visiting -- I guess she won't move as a resident. If she did, she'd probably run against me and I'd be out of here by now -- (laughter) -- but we're glad to have all of you here. It's great to see Steny Hoyer here, and Dianne, thank you for coming.
Secondly, we share with the state of South of Carolina the Savannah River side, which is where right now today nuclear warheads are being reprocessed into fuel rods for power plants, which is the ultimate taking of weapons and turning them to (profit ?) shares. And I was just at the H Canyon project two weeks ago to -- now, I wasn't inside of it. I was on the outside of it to watch what's being done there, and that's great.
But the personal reason is that I had the privilege of serving with Ellen for six years in the House, had the pleasure of traveling with her to Munich, to the World Security Conference on one occasion, learned a tremendous amount from her. I think she's an absolutely tremendous appointee who I hope will speed through the Senate with all due haste, and I want to particularly thank her in advance of her remarks for the inclusion in her remarks of the acknowledgement of Senator Sam Nunn, who along with Senator Lugar have dome such tremendous work on nuclear non-proliferation. Sam is a predecessor of mine in the Senate from the state of Georgia and a great American, and I appreciate that reference very much, and Ellen, we're very proud of you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Well, thank you, senator. Those were worthy reasons for an intervention. The most worthy of all, however, notwithstanding our love for Georgia, is the fact that you're going to support her, and we appreciate that. (Laughter.)
I don't know if either of you have schedules that you've worked out, who's going first. If not, I will recognize Senator Feinstein.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Is that agreeable with you, Steny?
Thank you very much. I have Defense Approps at 10:30, so this is helpful. Thank you very much.
And as you said, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask that you place Senator Boxer's comments --
SEN. KERRY: Without objection. (Inaudible.)
SEN. FEINSTEIN: And I know she would reiterate what has been said today, and I want to thank the senators, Senator -- both the ranking member and the senator from Georgia for their comments.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that Ellen Tauscher is one of my closest friends. I've known her now for some 20 years. She's been a trusted supporter, friend. We've gone through thick and thin together. So on a personal level, the only thing I can say are superlatives, and that actually comes through on a political level as well.
I find her to be a very strong and a determined leader. She's had an impressive career inside and outside of government. And as you know, she's been in the Congress for the last 13 years.
She was born in Newark, New Jersey. She was the first in her family to attend college. She earned a degree in early childhood education from Seaton Hall University. And before coming to Washington, she worked in the private sector for 20 years, 14 years on Wall Street, and she was one of the first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and also served as an officer of the American Stock Exchange.
In 1989, she moved to California and founded a company dedicated to helping parents research the background of childcare workers. She was first elected to Congress in 1996 to represent the 10th congressional district, and she was reelected to a seventh term in 2008.
She often boasts that she has the privilege of representing some of the smartest people in the world, and I think I would have to concur. She's got two big nuclear labs in her backyard, as you both mentioned. One of them is Lawrence Livermore. The other is Sandia. On Friday we were both at Lawrence Livermore to see the beginning of the operation of the National Ignition Facility, a facility that has not been without its controversy, a facility which the interior of which looks very much like Star Wars, and a facility which really could hold the future for both fission and fusion in this country. It's an amazing facility, and there is a huge scientific world on the cusp that might be able to be pierced because of this facility.
Congresswoman Tauscher currently serves on the Committee on Armed Services of the House and on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She's chair of the 67-member New Democrat Coalition, and serves as its regional whip.
In the 110th, her colleagues elected her to serve as chairman of the Strategic Forces Committee -- excuse me, subcommittee -- becoming only the third woman to chair an Armed Services committee. And as chairman of that subcommittee, she's become, as you gentlemen have said, a major leader in missile defense. There's no doubt that she is firmly committed to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and fighting the development of new nuclear weapons.
She has also taken advantage of her chairmanship to play an active role in foreign policy and national security strategy. She's traveled extensively throughout the world, participating on numerous congressional delegations, to Bosnia, Colombia, Germany, Korea, the former Yugoslavia and Russia. She's been to the Middle East six times since 2003, including four trips to Iraq. Last August, she led a congressional delegation to Iraq that met with General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, United States troops, and members of the Iraqi parliament.
She fully grasps the fact that the United States needs the help and cooperation of our closest allies to take on the greatest national security challenges. As vice chair for the Future Security and Defense Capability Subcommittee of the Defense and Security Committee of NATO's parliamentary assembly, she has been active. She has participated in the annual Verecunda Conference on Security Policy in Munich, the Army's War College of Strategic Crisis exercise. She has addressed the Fletcher Conference on National Security and the Army Two-Star Conference for Commanders.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have laid out a new vision for American foreign policy and national security strategy; one based on robust diplomacy and multilateral cooperation, a well-trained and equipped military and economic and humanitarian assistance for the developing world. I believe Congresswoman Tauscher will be a dedicated and effective advocate for this vision and that she will serve her country with distinction and honor.
Additionally, she and Jim will be married later this month, and I think this must be just a tremendous treat for him. (Laughter.) I accompanied them -- was it on your first date --
MS. TAUSCHER: Mm-hmm.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: -- on their first date. (Laughter.) So I don't know quite what that says, except that we are indeed good friends. (Laughter.)
And so I strongly introduce and recommend her to this committee with deepest respect and with feelings of great good luck. You're welcome.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator Feinstein. That is a strong introduction indeed, and I know it comes not just as a good friend, but also from your own experience and now as chair of the Intelligence Committee, and we appreciate your input very much.
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: Mr. Lugar?
REP. HOYER: Mr. Chairman --
SEN. KERRY: Congressman Hoyer?
REP. HOYER: Thank you very much for this opportunity to appear before you, Senator Lugar, one of the most important leaders in this country and indeed internationally on the issue with which Ellen will be dealing shortly, my good friend, Congressman Isakson, Senator Kaufman. Senator Isakson, I upgraded you. (Laughter.)
I've come here with a great deal of conflict. I've been at war with myself whether to come here and vigorously oppose this nomination -- (laughter) -- or to support it. (Laughs.) Talk to Ellen about that. She is an extraordinarily valued member of the House of Representatives. And we will sorely miss her leadership and her council and her energy and her focus and her devotion to her country.
But I come, of course, to support this nomination because she will be of extraordinary value, not only to the Obama Administration, but to our country and to the international community in the task which she has been asked to undertake. I therefore testify on behalf of her outstanding character, integrity, ability to take on a demanding and essential job as undersecretary for arms control and international security. Most of all, of course, I'm here to vouch for a dear and close friend.
I've known Ellen Tauscher since she ran for the House in 1986. During her service for over a decade in the House she has always impressed me and all of the members of the House on both sides of the aisle, as Senator Isakson so ably testified to, with her grasp of the issues, her commitment to making America better, her pragmatism, and her skill at building consensus. I'm not the only one whom Ellen impressed. A Congress that is too often polarized along partisan lines -- Congresswoman Tauscher has won friends and respect on both sides of the aisle.
Her temperament makes her well-suited to a position at the State Department, while I'm sure that her diplomatic talents will be an ideal for the challenging work she has ahead of her. Congresswoman Tauscher will also bring a wealth of substantive experience, as has been testified to, by all of us. She has served for years as a high- ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and has carved out a place as one of Congress's most trusted voices on counter- proliferation efforts.
She has traveled to the Middle East six times, as Senator Feinstein has pointed out, has frequently attended the International Munich Security Conference, and has helped lead the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's nuclear threat reduction campaign. As chair of the House New Democratic Coalition, she has often spoken for centrist Democrats on pressing issues of national security. Indeed, Ellen and I have had the opportunity to work very closely together in promoting the national security of this country.
In my view, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, Congressman Tauscher is eminently qualified to serve as the undersecretary. The Obama Administration has chosen well. The House will miss, as I have said, her unique set of skills and experience, and I will miss a dear friend from the House. But Secretary Clinton's team and our nation's security will be better for all the contributions that Congresswoman Tauscher will make in the years to come.
I urge, Mr. Chairman, as you have said you hope to be the case, for earliest possible confirmation. And as is usually the case now that I have concluded, Senator Cardin decides to come into the room. (Laughter.
SEN. KERRY: That's why your delegation -- you know, he's learned. That's why your delegation gets along so well. (Laughter.)
REP. HOYER: (Laughs.) That's right.
SEN. KERRY: Well, congresswoman, I tell you, you've had two of the best introductions that we've hard up here in awhile, and I certainly appreciate both our colleagues, Senator Feinstein and Steny Hoyer coming over. Thank you very, very much. We know you're busy and need to run.
As I mentioned to you when we chatted previously, I had a prior commitment here, but I wanted to get this hearing moving and done, so we scheduled it, and I wanted to be here for the beginning. And I will certainly be here through your statement and so forth. Senator Kaufman has agreed, and he will chair in my absence, and I thank you for your indulgence.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: If we could ask you -- I know you have some family here and folks you might want to introduce as you begin, and we look forward to your testimony.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you very much, senator. I would be very honored to introduce my father, John O'Cane (ph). My fiancé, Jim Seaslak (ph) is here, my nephew, Connor Bender, our very close family friend, Marty Robinson, Ginger Pape (ph), who's my daughter's godmother. My chief of staff is here. My pals are here; Congresswoman Sue Myrick from North Carolina and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy from New York.
And earlier one of your colleagues, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen came by, and she's off to chair the subcommittee.
SEN. KERRY: Now, that's great. Well, that's really a nice thing, and congresswomen, we really appreciate your coming over. That's a big deal. We thank you.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you. Thank you, senator.
I just want to very briefly thank the colleagues that came. I want to thank Mr. Hoyer, the majority leader, for his comments and kind words and his steadfast friendship. And it's been an honor serving with him. And I know the House is in good hands with Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. And for Senator Feinstein, she is right. She is one of my closest friends. I've been enormously blessed to not only have an icon of political and public service to be such a close friend, but a woman who is a great mother, grandmother and wife, to be a close friend in public policy, and that is a true inspiration to me.
Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate you on your new role. I am enormously impressed with the energy and creativity you've brought to the committee, especially the pace and the depth of the committee's hearings and investigations. You have had an extraordinary journey since you first testified before this committee in 1971. Our nation is better off because of your determination and courage that you have shown throughout your life.
Senator Lugar, I admire your passion for keeping the world safe from nuclear weapons. I have long considered myself a fellow traveler on these issues, and it would be an honor to work with you should I be confirmed. I also want to thank my fellow Californian, Senator Robert Boxer, who is chairing the EPW hearing right now for her long-time support and friendship. And I want to acknowledge, in addition to the other distinguished members of the committee, my former House colleagues. I want to thank especially Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator Ben Cardin for being here, and Senator Kaufman, it's good to see you.
Should I be confirmed, I will miss serving in the House, and it has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I want to especially thank my constituents in California's tenth congressional district. It has been an honor to serve them for the past 13 years, and I wouldn't be here if it were not for them. I want to, again, acknowledge my family members who are here for their love and support and my family that cannot be here today for their love and enduring support.
Senator Kerry, Senator Lugar, and the members of the committee, it is an honor and a privilege to appear before you as President's Obama's nominee for the position of undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. I am deeply grateful for the trust that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have placed in me. And I look forward to working with Vice President Biden, who has brought years of passion and understanding to these issues.
Even though I might be leaving the House, I won't be going far. I want to assure you that should I be confirmed, I will be in frequent and close contact with this committee and with the relevant committees in the House and Senate.
Like all Americans who are my age and grew up during the Cold War, I participated in my share of duck and cover drills as a little girl growing up in East North New Jersey. I can remember walking home from school for lunch as planes flew overhead to land at nearby Newark Airport reciting the rosary and praying that there would not be nuclear war.
I developed an interest and expertise in non-proliferation issues because I have had the honor and privilege to represent the only congressional district in the United States with two national nuclear laboratories, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, California. After I was first elected to Congress in 1996, I joined the House Armed Services Committee and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which I now chair. Since then, stopping nuclear proliferation by protecting our stockpile, maintaining the credibility of our deterrent, and preventing terrorists from getting hold of a weapon of mass destruction has become my life's work.
In his speech in Prague earlier this spring, President Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons, a goal shared by Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. It is a goal that has bipartisan support from Senator John McCain, military leaders like Colin Powell, and three former secretaries of State and Defense from both parties, and former senator, Sam Nunn. I too want to work with you toward that goal.
As President Obama has said, this is not a world where we will unilaterally disarm, but one in which we will reduce our arsenals based on mutual agreements, verification and compliance. We will maintain a safe, secure, and reliable deterrent against any adversary and an effective defense for our allies while we work towards reducing the world's nuclear arsenal.
President Obama vowed to put his energy and muscle behind his dream even though he, like his predecessors, acknowledged that it will take patience and persistence and that it might not happen in our lifetime. By reducing our nuclear arsenal, I believe that we will be in a better position to secure the international cooperation necessary to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear, as well as chemical and biological weapons.
These are weighty and complex topics that I would confront if confirmed as undersecretary of State, and I would like to spend a few more minutes reviewing a few issues. Progress toward a nuclear-free world begins with a new verifiable agreement to further reduce the United States and Russia strategic nuclear arsenals. The United States and Russia have made great progress together under the intermediate range and shorter range nuclear forces, called INF Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called START, and the Moscow treaties to greatly reduce our nuclear arsenals.
But START, the verification program at the foundation of our strategic disarmament agenda, expires in December. We have less than six months to establish a successor to START. The United States and Russian delegations are already hard at work to develop a treaty that builds on the progress we have made and provide a foundation for further reductions. The follow-on agreement will serve our country well be ensuring predictability and transparency in our strategic nuclear relationship with Russia. I look forward to seeking your input on this matter.
The nuclear threat that President Obama outlined in his speech in Prague is both more complex and unpredictable than it was a generation ago. Dangerous terrorists seeking the world's most dangerous weapons have turned the nuclear equation upside down. The best way to stop terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear weapons is to safeguard the existing stockpile and secure bomb making fissile material at their source.
Thanks to Senator Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn, our cooperative threat reduction assistance programs have made great strides in upgrading the security at Russian nuclear facilities. But the problem is not confined to Russia. We need to move potentially vulnerable, highly enriched uranium from research reactor sites around the world. We need to convert those reactors to operate with low enriched uranium, which cannot be used in nuclear weapons.
So I want to work with you to help achieve President Obama's goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material within four years. We must also continue to look for ways to enhance our security by helping others destroy weapons of mass destruction, such as the successful effort to help destroy chemical weapons in Russia, which you, Senator Lugar, most recently witnessed in Russia on May 29th.
In addition, Secretary Clinton underscores that the Nonproliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime, and the United States must exercise the leadership needed to shore up the regime.
To this end, the Obama Administration has developed a nuclear nonproliferation strategy based on multiple fronts. Effective verification and compliance are fundamental to its approach. First, if confirmed, I will focus on helping the Administration negotiate a global, verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty. This is a heavy lift, and it is my goal to work closely with this committee and the full Senate to help manage a path forward.
Second, the Obama Administration is strongly committed to working with members of this committee and with members of the Senate to obtain your advice and consent to construct a way to ease any concerns, especially as they relate to compliance and verification with respect to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In my view, working toward ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is one way we can persuade other states to permanently end nuclear testing and curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
If I am confirmed, I will work closely with you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and the members of this committee to make sure you have the most up-to-date military and diplomatic and technical analysis on issues relating to the CTBT. In addition, we must continue to focus special attention on the urgent challenges that North Korea and Iran pose to the international non-proliferation regime. If confirmed, I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in the Administration and in the Senate and the House to implement the President's policy of helping Iran make the right choice and end its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.
Finally, if confirmed, I plan to focus on the revitalization of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which implements NPT mandated safeguards. Instead of allowing NPT member states to reap the benefits of the treaty and then withdraw to build a military arsenal, the international community should achieve a consensus on the measures that must be taken to prevent such a scenario.
I have just highlighted the issues that are most timely and topical and of immediate interest to the committee and to the American people. Should I be confirmed, I will have the responsibility for a range of additional policy areas and treaties, and I look forward to consulting closely with this committee on those issues as well.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Lugar, and the members of the committee, thank you for your leadership on these issues, and thank you for your time and consideration of my nomination. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.
SEN. KERRY: Well, thank you very much, congresswoman. I appreciate that comprehensive statement and a number of the issues that you raised. And I'm just going to ask a couple quick questions before I have to run. First of all, what role do you plan to plan or have they asked you to play with respect to the Nuclear Posture Review?
MS. TAUSCHER: That's an excellent question, Senator Kerry. As you know, the NPR, Nuclear Posture Review, is underway, and it is normally undertaken predominantly by the Pentagon and Department of Defense and the interagency, and I'm happy to say that under the Obama Administration with Secretary Clinton's leadership, the State Department and specifically the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security plays a very big role. There are already staffers working in both the VCI, the Verification, Compliance, and Inspection, and the ISN agencies, bureaus of this undersecretariat working collaborative right now.
So I believe that there's going to be significant State input I think for the better of it, and as a corollary, I will tell you that on a QDR the State Department has a lot more input than it has in the past, and I think that that talks about the robust kind of -- (inaudible) --
SEN. KERRY: The Posture Review is going to be due in December?
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, it will be.
SEN. KERRY: So obviously, we hope very much on this committee -- and I think that any kind of review that doesn't take into account some of the larger interconnections and policy questions is not a very intelligent review. That's not to say that, you know, others won't have that. But I think the multiplicity of sensitivities that get brought to the table from different departments is important.
MS. TAUSCHER: I agree.
SEN. KERRY: So we hope you will press that, number one, and number two, we hope you will keep this committee fully and currently informed of sort of where that is going and the progress in that discussion.
MS. TAUSCHER: I will, sir.
SEN. KERRY: And I think that's very important and also very important in terms of our thinking about the CTBT and how we proceed here and so on and so forth.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir.
SEN. KERRY: A second quick question is on the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty with the United Kingdom and Australia. Those are both on the committee. I want to get those both done as rapidly as possible, and last fall both Chairman Biden and Senator Lugar raised concern about exactly how it's going to be implemented. We're trying to work that though now, and we intend to work it through. But I just want to make sure -- it may not be the department's preferred approach, but I'd like to make certain you'll work with the committee. If we decide that the best way to ensure that the treaty once, you know, brought into effect is going to be implemented properly, we may have to do a couple of things here, and we'd like your cooperation in that effort.
MS. TAUSCHER: Senator, you have my pledge to work cooperatively, and it will be, should I be confirmed, one of the first things that I think I would be coming to see you about.
SEN. KERRY: Okay. Also, you've noted the potential advantage of nuclear power and what it might offer, and I don't disagree. I've been busy. I just came back from China and a number of other countries, the Middle Ease, elsewhere, and nuclear power plants are going up. It's going to be a key part of our energy future, like it or not, whatever the options for the moment. And obviously, there are always non-proliferation concerns.
With that in mind, Senator Lugar and I both supported the U.S.- India agreement for collaboration, peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And you did not, I know, but now we have another agreement which is before the committee for its review, and that's between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. I'd just like to get your quick views on that, and do you think that could provide a model for non- proliferation protections as we go forward?
MS. TAUSCHER: I strongly support the UAE 123 Agreement, senator, and I urge its support here in the Senate.
I think that it is, as you have said, a model agreement. It is not only one that is buttoned up, as we should say, with regards to nonproliferation, but it is also one that I think strengthens the security of the region, and I think that is an important secondary issue. It is important for us to have these agreements as they mature and move forward that we can offer to other countries, and I think that the UEA 123 Agreement is an example of that.
SEN. KERRY: Great. And finally, I would really ask for your help and cooperation. The President has stated his intention to aggressively and immediately pursue the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I supported that. I do support it. I want to see proceed forward. We have had some disagreement on the committee and obviously in the Senate. It wasn't ratified. And it's been ten years since that issue has been in front of the committee and in front of the country. So the cooperation I ask is we're going to begin working very closely with the labs. We actually have already begun.
We need to know before the Congress -- I know Senator Lugar needs to know. Others on the committee want to be convinced that things have changed in those ten years that warrant an adoption of this agreement at this point in time. And so that will be a very important part, I think, of your portfolio with respect to the Congress. And I'd ask your cooperation in helping us to fully vet that properly and prepare the committee and the Congress so we have real answers, and we do not want the politics of this to take over, and we want this to be based on legitimate security interests, and those should be based on facts.
MS. TAUSCHER: Senator, you have my pledge to work closely with the committee. As you have said, this is one of the most important issues that the President has put before the undersecretary of arms control and national security, and should I be confirmed, it will be very important for me to work with this committee. As you have said, in the ten years since the '99 consideration of the CTBT by the Senate, there have been enormous changes in the verification pieces of the science, in the safeguards. We have ten full years of certification by the lab directors of the safety and reliability and security of the stockpile, and we have had tremendous advances by the CTBO, the organization that monitors and manages the CTBT treaty on being able to deal with seismology and understanding exactly what events are around the world so that we could have a sense for what is happening.
So I think that there's a lot of new information out there, but it will be my responsibility and my honor to work very closely with you to make sure that the committee has everything it needs in the military analysis, the scientific and technical analysis, and the diplomatic analysis as to why this would be the right time to consider the CTBT.
SEN. KERRY: Terrific. Well, we look forward to doing that, and let me just say on a person level again how excited I am about your nomination. I enjoyed so much working with you in the numbers of times we've had a chance to do that, and I have great respect for you personally -- (inaudible).
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you, senator, very much. I appreciate it very much.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Lugar.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you. Let me pick up the conversation with regard to Nuclear Posture Review. In response to questions that we raised for the record and you've already answered, you've noted there is an ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, and the administration will complete it this year, as you've responded to Senator Kerry, it will make key decisions regarding future size and composition of our strategic nuclear forces.
I raise the question today because some would prefer to wait for the outcome of this review before completing arms control negotiations with Russia. We've already outlined extensively the December 5th date, which is a critical one, and Rose Gottemoeller and her team are at work and are making progress as far as we can tell. President Obama and President Medvedev apparently hope to make some statements about the situation when they meet in July. And we still, then, have before us ratification by the Senate of the treaty, which gets into schedule problems and leadership difficulties as we try to surmount all the rest of the agenda.
But in the face of this, I do believe that there are many difficulties in negotiating a successor to the START Treaty with Russia while the Nuclear Posture Review is under way before it is completed. And how should we answer critics who would say that your December 5th thing is one factor, but we've not really heard the verdict on the Posture Review.
MS. TAUSCHER: I think that's an excellent question, senator, and I think that we are going to do a number of things to allay the concerns that have been expressed, and I think that while they are serious concerns, I think that we can allay those concerns. First and foremost, we have the ability to multitask, so while we are going through the Nuclear Posture Review, at the same time there is guidance from the Pentagon as to the military requirements for the stockpile and a number of other issues that are informing the negotiations and our negotiators.
On July 15th, Rose Gottemoeller, our assistant secretary, our primary negotiator for the START Treaty, will come up to the Senate, and we'll meet with, for example, the National Security Working Group. Should I be confirmed by then, I would suspect that a number of my visits up here will be to make sure that we are outlining exactly where we are on the negotiations, what the tenor and scope of the negotiations are, and how it dovetails with what is going on with the NPR.
And I'm confident that we can assure everyone that while it looks as if there's a review going on and we're going ahead and making decisions that what is going on in the review is informing what is going on in the negotiations and that I think that it is necessary because of the deadline of December 5th for the expiration of START that we do that that way. It's not perhaps the preferred way of doing of it, but it is I think one that you can be assured is fully informed as to what the NPR and the military requirements in the Pentagon and the interagency are talking about, is part of what the negotiation guidance is.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, that is very reassuring, and we'll work together to try to reassure colleagues -- (inaudible).
MS. TAUSCHER: I appreciate that, senator. I'm going to need your help on that.
SEN. LUGAR: On May, the 10th, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation, Rose Gottemoeller -- (inaudible) -- stated, "The United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons," the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty we've discussed earlier in this hearing. On May 29 at a conference on disarmament and Geneva, a (newer ?) plan was agreed -- restarting negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. You've stated in response to the questions we've posed to you -- and I'm just simply -- quote sort of generally -- but this specific statement you make -- "We are reviewing the verification issues related to a potential treaty." And indeed, you've restated that again today.
But now, state for the record and this hearing -- what are the fundamental challenges in your view that will face us in concluding such a treaty, and in your advanced answer you state that "our challenge now is to get negotiations on MFCT started," as this step was necessary before briefings could be offered to the committee. Given the news from Geneva now, have negotiations now, in fact, started, and if so, when can we expect you or other senior officials to discuss them with this committee?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, senator, I understand your concern, and I think that should I be confirmed, you have my pledge that we will continue to work very closely and cooperatively and transparently as best we can -- not in an open session, of course -- to assure you that while there are challenges, both technically and politically, to verification of strict limits and the things that we know that we have to be assured of, we believe that the confidence building measures that are being conducted in support of these agreements are really accruing to the United States that better national security and better a sense of a relationship with Russia.
As you know, we need Russia on many different issues, and I think that we are very pleased with how these negotiations are going. Everyone is aware of the December 5th deadline. Everyone is concerned that we've had to begin this while we have the NPR going on. But having said that, it will be with very close consultations with the Senate. It'll be with very close consultations in the interagency.
And the exposure that I think -- %%%% and the exposure that I think that my confirmation can bring to the process that we will be able to assure you and other Senators that everything we're doing is within the scope of the things that have been promised, that we will have a verifiable treaty and one that will serve the national security interests of the United States.
SEN. LUGAR: Well this is also reassuring, you've stressed the importance of this cutoff treaty and the importance of that to all of us that we all stay in touch and are able to collectively respond to questions that are raised by critics as well as friends of the process.
Let me, and I'll mention chemical weapons as it's been mentioned, I had the privilege of being in Sochi with our ambassador to Russia who did a wonderful job of creating the best possibilities for Russian/American cooperation and a good feeling coming from a project which is enormous and which about $1 billion of American taxpayer funds have been invested and it's no small situation.
However, even though chemical weapons destruction has been important, often overlooked, we have had real problems when the tests were made by the Department of Commerce as treaty implementation. And these adversely affected our ability to staff key positions within the mission at OPCW. This is always a problem working through different cabinet agencies and intergovernmental work but I mentioned as we made a record of the history of Sochi it involved as you would recall three years in which the House of Representatives refused to appropriate any money at all.
So out there in Russia things just stopped and because we're having a dispute back home. But then we got going again, then we imposed so many stipulations the administration was unable to agree with all of them in another year. And so it went. Now more recently the cutbacks of staff have made it very difficult to implement this thing in a satisfying way. I suspect that probably most observers of arms control see nuclear weapons -- 13,300 warheads that were once aimed at the United States -- as the major problem. But the chemical weapons is represented in Sochi because they are small, .85 millimeter and some are larger of course --
MS. TAUSCHER: Very portable.
SEN. LUGAR: -- yeah, by terrorists whether they're Chechens within Russia and this one reasons the Russians have cooperated because the face the terrorist problem. Or otherwise it would be counterintuitive for the United States contractors and military people to come into Russia and destroy two million weapons with the Russians cheering. But the dilemma still is that they're probably 1,800,000 still to go in the next four or five years and to prayerfully drilling my hole in the bottom of each one of them, extracting the materials, doing what they call bituminizing, that is solidifying, burying in the ground, systematically we will go through at least that part of it.
Now at the press conference there, there was a gentleman from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, I know he was very helpful because the Russian press zeroed in on the Russian leaders, and they said will you meet the chemical weapons convention deadline of 2012. Well amazingly the Russians replied that they would and they gave percentages of year by year as to how they approach 2012 and longer across the finish line.
Then the question was raised well what about the United States. Well fortunately this neutral gentleman dealing with international community mentioned that there are two situations in the United States that probably are not going to make it across the finish line, and this comes about because destroying chemical weapons is very difficult, disputes have occurred in those sites as to how it was to be done. Likewise some monies have not been available on occasion. The Russians will not finish by 2012 and probably not by 2017 for that matter, but we may not either.
Now I mention this because we've talked a lot about credibility in the international community and that was the purpose of these questions with the international community zeroing in at the moment of celebration. But I ask you as you have opportunity to review the whole chemical weapons predicament both from the Russian side as well as our side. Likewise, the allegations made by the Russians as to who had actually paid for Sochi were interesting. I think inaccurate, but once again this is going to require some thoughtfulness on our part and it's important we establish an international community what we have done because it's important and acknowledge what the Russians and others have done likewise.
So this is less of a question and is simply a comment because I think you can generally agree with the line of thinking --
MS. TAUSCHER: I do.
SEN. LUGAR: -- that I've expressed.
MS. TAUSCHER: I do, Senator. You know we have a deadline of April 29th, 2012. We have had some funding and construction problems at the two site in Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky, we hope to be on track to be about 90 percent of the way by 2012. I agree with you on the funding issue, I was in the House in support of the funding for Sochi but I think the predictability in funding on a number of these things is a place where we need to show American leadership and certainly I believe that signing treaties is the ultimate commitment of a nation state and it is important to live up to the obligations of those treaties that we do sign. And certainly we only do that when we have the advise and consent of the United States Senate.
So there's a lot on the line when the United States steps up to the line and says we're going to do something. And part of it is to not only get it signed and to agree but to also then do the funding and then to do the construction and to finally do the job that is meant to be done. So you have my promise Senator that we will do a thorough review of the obligations that we have, where are we falling short, how are we going to get a predictable sense of funding for those things. And then I think we're going to have to come back and ask you to help us because we're going to need the heavy lift of both the House and the Senate, both authorized as appropriators, to make sure that we are on target to keep our promises where we have put the American people's name on the line in signing these treaties.
SEN. LUGAR: Well I appreciate that information very much. One reason I'm enthusiastic about your nomination is that you have served in the House of Representatives, you know the nitty gritty of how this proceeds. It's one thing to sign the big treaties and to set dates and have a lot of hurrahs, but it's another year in and year out through different chairmen, through different administrations and what have you to get the job done. And without that pursuit and that you can illustrate from your own experience in trying to counsel others.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much.
MS. TAUSCHER: No, thank you Senator.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Cardin.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Well first let me concur with my colleague from Maryland Congressman Hoyer and am so pleased that Congresswoman Tauscher has agreed to take on this new responsibility. I've had the honor of working with you in the House of Representatives and the president could not have selected a better choice and we're just very proud of your continued public service and I just really want to thank your family, because this is a family commitment --
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
SEN. CARDIN: -- and it's a lot of sacrifice and we just appreciate your willingness to go forward.
I also want to concur in your observations on Senator Lugar, we're very proud of having, being able to serve with Senator Lugar on this committee and in the United States Senate. He told us about his experiences in Russia. It was not easy to get there.
This was at great personal sacrifice but it was important for the United States to have a person of Senator Lugar's reputation present at that opportunity to emphasize the importance of the progress being made here and we're very proud of the role that Senator Lugar that you have played here and we look forward to the continued progress in making the world safer. And I think you're going to have a great partner in Congresswoman Tauscher on this and I just really wanted to emphasize that.
Ellen, let me just ask you one or two questions. One is that I agree with you that the new start treaty is going to be very important, we have a deadline of December when it expires. There's great interest in the United States, there's great interest in Russia to complete a new START Treaty. And I certainly support that but let me just if I might point out the obvious.
When we look at the nuclear weapons threat internationally, you look at Iran, you look at North Korea, you look at the problem areas of the world and we have not gotten the type of cooperation from Russia that we would have like to have seen in developing an international strategy to contain Iran particularly.
And I just really want to put on the table as we are talking with the Russians and making progress to a new start treaty, something again which is in the United States interest and we have a very clear deadline, it seems to me it may give us opportunities to improve our strategies in dealing with other problems around the world where the United States and Russia have a mutual interest. And I would just encourage you to use every opportunity you can to advance U.S. policy and to make this world a little safer.
MS. TAUSCHER: Senator, I couldn't agree more and you know I think back to our time as members of the House with great fondness and I think the great state of Maryland is well served by having you here. I will tell you that I have as I said to Senator Lugar earlier I consider myself a fellow traveler but I have never been anywhere in the world either on nonproliferation issues or talking about nuclear, chemical, biological weapons when I don't walk in the room and someone doesn't ask me to give their regards to Senator Lugar.
So I agree with you that he is the exemplar for public service and for a historic opportunity for our relationship with Russia. Senator Lugar quickly identified at the fall of Soviet Union the opportunity for us to have a take down of the Soviet Union in the most responsible way. And that investing American time, energy and money was the best way to protect ourselves.
And it was not easy, was it Senator Lugar, to make the initial negotiations nor was it easy frankly after the Cold War for average Americans and even politicians to believe that we should so quickly come to the aid of a former enemy. But thank goodness and thank God Senator Lugar persevered and we have the cooperative threat reduction programs and a number of other non-Lugar programs that have worked.
And I agree with you, Senator Cardin that any opportunity that we have to engage with someone that has the kind of influence that Russia has and there are certainly China and a number of other countries that have very significant influence in a multipolar world, we need to take it. And that is what President Obama has vowed and said he wants to do and that is certainly what Secretary Clinton has done with her flair and I think significant success. So you're absolutely right, it is important for us to engage on multi disciplines, multi levels with the Russians and I intend should I be confirmed to be able to do that.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you. I do want to underscore the point that Senator Lugar made and it's one thing to enter into agreements, it's another thing to put up the resources to implement those agreements. And as time moves on, the interest sometimes is not as great as when you started. So sometimes you lose sight of how much it costs to safely eliminate the threat. And that came home in your visit to Russia and I think it's a point that we need to continuously remind our colleagues that this is an ongoing commitment, it's not going to be dealt with in one year, the destruction of chemical weapons, particularly, but also other weapons that we are seeking, other materials that we're seeking to have safely disposed of.
So it will require someone with the experience on how Congress operates, Senator Lugar you're right about that. And the attention span of Congress is not as long as sometimes as we would like to see it, so it will challenge Congresswoman Tauscher's talents, but I know she's up for it.
One more point if I might.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, Senator.
SEN. CARDIN: And just to put on your agenda to take a look at and that deals with the foreign relations act that deals with satellite technology. I mention that because there are restrictions under the foreign relations authorization act as to transfer a launch into outer space from China. The manner in which satellite technology is now being implemented has changed since those restrictions were first placed in law. And I would just ask that you review these programs to make sure that we're not disadvantaging American companies in a way that is not inconsistent with our national security interests, which obviously comes first. And would just ask that you put that on your agenda for review and see whether we shouldn't be looking at some modifications in those laws.
MS. TAUSCHER: I very much appreciate that Senator Cardin. We are going to review our expert control policies. We have a vibrant and robust technology and innovation business in the United States that is second to none. And it is vitally important first and foremost that we protect those items, some of them are dual use items that are aptly necessary for our national security and those are the thing that we have to protect the heck out of and make sure that there is an unambiguous support for the protection of those items.
At the same time, I believe that we have to understand that the life cycle of technology these days can be as short as 18 months and can be as short as two years. You could actually have an item that is you know released 1.0 and right following it in a few months is release 2.0. And this item might have to be protected and that we absolutely have to protect but we have to understand what it is we have to protect. We cannot protect 25,000 items to the extent that we need to protect them. But we do have to absolutely unambiguously protect the things that we must protect. So I think it is important for us to review and take a look at certainly with full transparency with this Committee and with the Congress what exactly it is that we are meant to protect, what are the mechanisms we're going to use and the assurances going to have that we can protect those things. And what is the review process once something is no longer a necessity to protect to get it off the list so that we can put the thing on that needs to be protected.
I think in the beginning we realize that we had to protect X number of things and then it became X plus and then X plus and then XX plus and you cannot protect everything or its lifecycle, you can only protect it while it is important for national security.
So it is a complicated set of circumstances, it is important to have the authority but it's also important to have the confidence and trust of the Congress that we have a regime to do that here in the United States where we can protect absolutely and unambiguously the things that need to be protected and that we can move them off the list and bring on the things that need to be protected.
So we're going to need your help on that.
SEN. CARDIN: Well I agree with that analysis, I think that's the right analysis and of course you currently represent a state that has produced some of the best companies for technology growth that has helped our national security --
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir.
SEN. CARDIN: -- and so do I represent a state --
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, you do.
SEN. CARDIN: -- that falls into that category, we've had some friendly competition over the years.
But the important point is you're exactly right, a lot of this technology growth is international in some respects and if companies are prohibited from being engaged internationally, their viability's effected and their ability to create new technologies to make us safe are compromised if those companies were to relocate in other countries that don't have the same restrictions because they have modernized their national security assessments.
So I think you're right on target on this and I look forward to working with you so that we can protect our national security but also be able to keep technology here in the United States, that's important for our national security.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir and create jobs, I mean, the balance it will always favor national security. But we also need to create good paying American jobs and having America be at the forefront of technology. And it's that sweet spot that we have to find to make sure that we are absolutely protecting the national security items, but at the same time, we're cognizant that there's a war of markets for things that can be taken off the list. And that we have to then protect the news things that need to be protected.
SEN. CARDIN: I agree. Thank you very much.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you Senator.
SEN. CARDIN: I appreciate again you being willing to take on this new responsibility.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you Senator Cardin.
SEN. KAUFMAN: I want to thank joining with my colleagues and just saying how much I appreciate what you're doing in taking this on and the ability of your family to go along with this and make the sacrifices that are going to be required is really important. And I must say I agree with the leader, if we could clone you somehow and keep you in the House and also have you do this job, it would be a great step forward for the country.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you Senator.
SEN. KAUFMAN: I'm daunted by the breadth of your responsibilities in this new position and I think that just sitting here listening to the arms control and nonproliferation section of your job is like a tour de force in what we have to do and how complex the problems and how interrelated they are and I think it's clear you have the support of really one of the key people in the Congress, in the country in Senator Lugar who has turned this into an incredible journey that will be looked back on in terms of how a member of Congress effected what was incredibly important to us. And as Senator Cardin says, sometimes in the Congress we have kind of a short attention span but I think that one of the great things about what Senator Lugar has done is he gets up every day and worries about this, he never moves off course, he's always thinking about how to do this. And our kids and our grandchildren are going to thank God that he did all this because where we'd be without the things that he did and what Senator Glenn did earlier is just terrifying to think about it and where we'd have to get to to get it.
I'm daunted by doing this but I think that an area that you have that we haven't talked about and that is you head up the bureau of political and military affairs.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes.
SEN. KAUFMAN: And I think with the new kind of adoption of counter insurgency, this particular bureau is incredibly important as we move forward. And I think that really having the undersecretary on the beat in addition to the other things that you're carrying is really, really important. So I would like to spend just a few minutes talking about some questions about that involvement.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Because how State interrelates with DoD, what's really incredible to me is how much when you talk to the leaders in the Department of Defense the military, I had a chance to travel overseas the next couple of months to most of the trouble spots and it's amazing how the Department of Defense has just gathered this whole idea of building after we clear and hold and then we build and how important the civilians are in a dominant.
So that being said and here we are in Iraq and we're getting ready to leave, I mean how do you see your job in kind of coordinating the counter insurgency message forward as we leave from Iraq?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well Senator Kaufman if I could just briefly before I answer your very interesting question if I could just say that on June 27th I am going to marry a retired Marine CINCSLAC (ph) -- and my 18-year-old daughter goes away to college on August 13th to play division I volleyball at Bucknell University.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Congratulations.
MS. TAUSCHER: And my friends behind me in the House you know it is a very daunting challenge to pick up this job but I'll tell you that I feel so supported and I feel very, very blessed to not only have my family's support but my friends in the House who are you know either pushing me out the door or trying to hold me back and to know that I can work with Senator Lugar and Senator Kerry and all of you it is and certainly has Secretary Clinton and the president, I think this is an extraordinary time to do what is going to take extraordinary work.
And you have my pledge as someone that coming from the legislative branch going to the executive branch. I'm not confused as to what it's going to take to get this done. And it's going to take the political will of the American people. And you are the political will of the American people. And that means that you need to be constantly briefed and have as much transparency and confidence that you can have and that is my pledge to you.
On the whole issue of political military and Iraq I think what's really important to understand is that in my 13 years as a member of the House Armed Services Committee my relationships are actually very strong in the Pentagon. I'm very happy to see that assistant secretary nominee Andrew Shapiro had his hearing the other day. I hope he will be confirmed soon. We have a number of very pressing issues in political military. We have a very strong POLAT (ph) program where we are putting obviously senior military officers paired with our best foreign service people. We intend to expand that as best we can.
As Secretary Gates has said who's been a fabulous advocate for the State Department, there are more people in the Army band than there are diplomats. And I think that what we're trying to find now and perhaps smart diplomacy is an overused term but I think it's an accurate one.
What we know after the last ten years after the horrific attack on September 11th, after Afghanistan and now Iraq and as we move out of Iraq and as we reposition to defeat counter insurgency in Afghanistan what we know better than ever is that we have the finest military force in the world, and these are volunteers, unbelievably young men and women from around the country. And they should be the lever of power that we use the least and last.
And that said that the rest of us have to stand up first. And that means that the civilian corps and that means everyone in the federal government whether it's the Department of Labor, whether it's Department of Agriculture who is trying to figure out how to talk the Afghans out of poppy into winter wheat, it's just about having more civilians on task and doing the mission.
And I know that Secretary Clinton has talked about this and so has President Obama. And what's important I think Senator is that over the next few months as I hope to be confirmed and transition to the job that I can spend time with all of you and get the wisdom of how you think things should be. I expect that the secretary will want me to do what she's done so well which is a listening tour. And what I would like to do is really understand what your sense for where we are at this moment and where we need to go in the short, medium and long term would be.
In Iraq we have a number of challenges obviously. We have a significant amount of funding that we still have to provide to stabilize the country.
We have foreign military sales, we have foreign assistance that we have to do. All of this is done inside the undersecretary of arms control international securities purview. So I will work with you and others and the interagency and I will expose any ideas and plans that I have with you and for you, but what is clear is that we have to leave Iraq better than it was and we have to leave it in a way that is stabilized not only for itself but for the region. And that is what the president has said, that is what General Petraeus has said. And I think that we have an opportunity to do that.
Yeah, it's a very short time from now when we will be leaving the cities of Iraq and it's important that we do it in a way that is fundamentally going to protect not only the American people but the Iraqi people and the region. And so it's going to take a lot of work together for us to be in that place and I look forward to the opportunity to do that.
SEN. KAUFMAN: And now Afghanistan, I mean Afghanistan we have a major I use the term surge but really surge of civilian employees in there and again once more to implement the counter insurgency the military's very much with us. Do you have any thoughts about how we get this done?
MS. TAUSCHER: I do, Senator. I think what's important and I think that General McChrystal and others, he certainly embodies the opportunity. I think that what we have seen is that are in world where we cannot put down the past because the past has not gone away, things have just gotten more complicated. Senator Lugar knows this better than anyone. We have not moved away from conventional warfare, we know that it still is going to exist, but we have moved into the world, morphed into this world of counter insurgency and that in and of itself is destabilizing because you have to be able to have your forces prepared for missions that are at some times contradictory.
And so I think the choices General McChrystal is a good one in Afghanistan and the region. The region needs to be prepared to deal with a long term counter insurgency and that we need to be able to provide them with not only military training, funding, armaments and the kind of cooperation that we're going to have with each other to make sure that we can defeat the counter insurgency that is in Afghanistan that is causing such trouble to the region. And we are going to have to do that with cooperation of a number of our allies who are helping us. It is difficult to make the case right now.
As you know we have a very large NATO mission there. I have been frustrated as a House member that a number of our allies have caveats on their troops, they didn't really step up at a time when I thought that they should have. But at the same time I think we have to be clear as to what the mission is and I think that now that we have articulated what our planned exit strategy is and what the circumstances on the ground need to be in order for us to leave, I think that we're going to continue to get cooperation by out NATO allies and others. But at the same time, this is still a hard slog and it's going to take all of our efforts to make sure that we're taking the temperature, that we're serious and deliberative about the move that we make going forward. And I think that President Obama has shown that he is very much interested in the advise and consent of General Petraeus and others in making sure that we're doing this the right way. And I think the patience of the American people are going to be needed and I think that our collaboration is going to be important, too.
SEN. KAUFMAN: You know it's kind of like counter insurgency, I feel like that kind of like you know you wait for six months to buy a car and then you want it the next day, I think we now have a consensus in the military about counter insurgency. I just say that we've got to spend as much time training the folks in the State Department from the Department of Agriculture, from the FBI that we send over there, we have to start doing that now. And I think you're in an ideal position to kind of lead this charge in terms of recruiting people just to do this. I mean, you can't sequin somebody from the Department of Agriculture and put them in Afghanistan, they didn't sign up for that. I mean, that's essentially what we're doing now. So I'm looking for a State Department to look down the road in terms of we've got a counter insurgency training ground, we're going to have to have the counter insurgency civilian side of counter insurgency as well recruited, as well educated, as well trained as the military people that are going to have to serve with them.
So you know in addition to all your other responsibilities, I feel a little guilty kind of laying this on you, but I just think that everybody's, I've never seen such unanimity in the military that this is what we have to do, what it's going to take. Like you say, there's more people in the band than there is in the State Department. If we're going to do this job right, we're going to need all kinds of civilians over there working with the military, and as you say, this counter insurgency's going to go on for awhile.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes, sir. I think you're absolutely right. I think the template for the future is to have you know only use our military when absolutely necessary and have a plan to get them out as soon as safely as we can, but also then have the civilian surge that is going to be excellent foreign service officers, people from the civilian affairs side, people from the Department of Agriculture, military police, people that can figure out how to stand up the civilian side of what is you know now a safer place to live so that civilians and children go back to schools, civilians can go back to work, but it's going to take a concerted effort and I think to a certain extent a rapid response force of the civilian side, the civilian surge is going to have to be constructed and I think you've got some ideas on this Senator so I'll be back to you to see what exactly it is that you think we should be doing.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you sir.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Senator Lugar, do you have any more questions? Senator Cardin? Well then we'll adjourn this meeting. I'd like to leave the record open until noon tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10th, if my colleagues would like to submit questions for the record.
Thank you very much.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you very much.