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Panel I of a Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - the G-8 Partnership for Non-Proliferation of WMD


Location: Washington, DC

Panel I of a Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - the G-8 Partnership for Non-Proliferation of WMD

SEN. BIDEN: (Strikes gavel.) The committee will come to order. I apologize for the brief delay, but our record keeper took Amtrak this morning, and -- that was a joke; just strike that from the -- I'm usually the one that is holding things up here.

I -- in June, at the summer meeting in Canada, the heads of state of the G-8 -- the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia -- agreed to establish a global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Under this initiative, which has become known as 10 + -- excuse me -- 10 + 10 Over 10, the United States and other members of the G-7 club of the advanced industrial democracies agreed to commit to up to $20 billion in funding over the next 10 years to support specific projects in nonproliferation, disarmament, counterterrorism and nuclear safety. These projects will initially focus on Russia, but they could expand to other nations, including other states of the former Soviet Union.

The United States appropriated approximately $1 billion in FY 2002 on threat reduction efforts in the former Soviet Union. So it remains unclear whether the global partnership will result in additional U.S. funding above and beyond our current spending levels. At the very least, it may leverage increased funding on those important projects by our allies in Europe, Japan and Canada.

The global partnership contains an agreement on a set of common guidelines to govern future nonproliferation projects. These include consensus on tax exemption, liability protection and adequate access by donor representatives to work sites to ensure funds are being well spent -- issues that have complicated previous international efforts at nonproliferation assistance to Russia.

The announcement of this new global partnership pleased many of us who have been calling for a more focused international commitment to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, in the former Soviet Union in particular. We live in an age in which, as the president has put it, the greatest threat to the U.S. national security is the danger that outlaw states or terrorist groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction for use against the United States and our allies. This concern is the principal reason why the United States Senate is now debating a resolution to authorize the president of the United States to use force, if necessary, against Iraq.

It is also why we must focus on the vast repository of nuclear, chemical and possibly biological weapons that still exist in Russia today, more than a decade after the Soviet Union collapsed. Nothing, in my view, poses a more clear and present danger to our security. Our greatest concern remains that groups like al Qaeda or states like Iraq will steal or illicitly purchase poorly guarded stocks of weapons of mass destruction in Russia.

Russia is committed to securing and destroying its excess weapons, but it needs help -- financial and technical -- to do so. Although the United States has provided billions of dollars in threat-reduction assistance to Russia, there remain under varying conditions of security roughly 1,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium; 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, including 2 million artillery shells containing nerve gas at one of Russia's facilities alone; and an unknown supply of biological pathogens. Russia is making fitful progress in disarmament and dismantlement, but with military budgets of roughly $7 billion a year, it can only do so much without significant international assistance. The United States and our allies have fundamental responsibility to do all we can to help Russia destroy its excess weapons and better secure its remaining stocks.

The announcement of the G-8 global partnership was a significant achievement, in my view, but it was only a first step. We cannot allow this important international commitment to dissolve into empty words and failed implementation. At the request of my colleague and the leader in this entire area, Senator Lugar, I called this hearing to examine how the United States plans to work with its allies in carrying out the terms of the G-8 global partnership. How will the existing nonproliferation programs in Russia be affected? Should we increase the current levels of U.S. assistance, or do we envision the global partnership only as a means to leverage greater contributions by our allies in Europe, Canada and Japan? What role do we envision for debt for nonproliferation as a potential funding mechanism? And to what degree will the G-8 members coordinate assistance efforts? What benchmarks will we use in measuring progress in coming years for carrying out this commitment.

To help us answer these questions, we have today an impressive set of witnesses. First, the honorable John R. Bolton, the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security affairs, will provide the committee with an overview of the G-8 global partnership and the long-term U.S. vision for this agreement. On the second panel, representatives from the departments of State, Defense and Energy will explain how the global partnership will affect existing U.S. programs and whether new avenues of cooperation may yet exist.

For the final panel, we are pleased to have distinguished outside witnesses discuss how the global partnership is faring in Europe, where outside experts recently held an important nonproliferation conference.


SEN. BIDEN: Secretary Bolton, the floor is yours.


SEN. BIDEN: The entire statement will be placed in the record.


SEN. BIDEN: I should note, if you don't mind me interrupting -- and I do apologize for this -- it is our intention to try to do that. But for the press here, it should be known that I know of no outright opposition to that treaty. Whether we get it done or not before we leave -- and I don't know when we're leaving, whether that is next week or -- it could be any time, and we may not get it done by then.

We may have a lame-duck session. It would be my intention to bring it up in the lame-duck session to get it finished if we, in fact, have a lame-duck session. And if that is not the case, whether it's -- assuming I'm reelected -- and I do not assume that -- and whether I am the ranking member or assisting the chairman or the chairman, I think we could both say we'd be prepared to move it immediately. So I just want the message to go out that there is no delay related to opposition to this treaty.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the interruption, but I think it's -- because a lot of people have been asking. That's why I interrupted you -- (inaudible) -- (apology ?).


SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

I have a very basic question. What is the operational mechanism? In other words, who's in charge? Is there a committee that is headed by one of your counterparts in one of the other countries, each -- and there's a council, in effect, that -- I mean, how does, mechanically, from an organizational standpoint, do we get from -- other than principles being involved -- do we get from this commitment to actually having boots on the ground somewhere dismantling something that is categorized as a weapon of mass destruction? I mean, mechanically, how does this happen?


SEN. BIDEN: So that -- again, to be very practical -- the Canadian government would contact the Russian government and discuss specific sites, specific initiatives. And would the guidelines used to implement their initiative -- the Canadians, for example, are they at liberty to -- under this agreement, are they at liberty to, in effect, set their own guidelines; maybe, you know, yield on some aspect of -- I'm not suggesting they should -- on some aspect of liability insurance or some -- I mean, were the outlines of the agreement relative to improper taxation, bureaucratic obstacles and the like, were they just meant as broad guidelines or do we all agree, so none of us are out of sync with one another?


SEN. BIDEN: Where -- to use a Washington word that my folks back home always are confused by, with good reason -- how do we -- Do we think it's important that there be certain benchmarks of knowing who spent what for what? And how do we establish those? How do we know? I mean, is it a year from now, when the next G-8 meeting occurs, that each contributing country reports what they've committed, what they've spent, what action they've taken? I mean, is that the effective benchmark, the yearly meetings?


SEN. BIDEN: My last question before I turn it over to Senator Lugar is, what can this -- the next Congress expect from the administration in terms of requests for this program? Is it merely -- not merely -- is it steady-as-she-goes a billion dollars next year like this year, or are we talking about upping the ante ourselves? Is there a baseline that we're starting from; that is, a billion above what we in fact already have committed, or is it that we've already -- we're meeting an obligation, this is just used to leverage outside assistance? I mean, how is it viewed in your administration?


SEN. BIDEN: Actually, I have one follow-up on that. What is the progress and status of Shchuchye right now, in terms of constructing the chemical destruction factory that we are building -- we are intending to build? Can you tell what the status of that is right now?


SEN. BIDEN: I know you have to go. I have just two more questions, if I may, Mr. Secretary. And Senator Lugar said he is perplexed by the House action, I think -- inaction. I think that's what he said.

I find it absolutely astonishing, in the years that I've been here, how both from the left and the right the things that either side -- the left -- let's pick on the left for a minute -- that the left would push -- and it doesn't relate to this -- that the left, in the political context of the Congress, would push, and then all of a sudden you'd find them taking action completely contrary to what their overall objective was.

Now you have the -- now the very people who are absolutely the strongest for the broadest authority to go after Saddam Hussein are people saying that to deal with the very thing that our intelligence community tells us is the greatest risk, which is his ability to get a hold of fissile material, that there is reluctance to give you the flexibility, the Defense Department flexibility, and the initiative and the waiver to be able to do the kinds of things which will at least aid in the prospect that it's more unlikely that he would be able to purchase or steal the very thing everyone says that if he stole or purchased, we would be in real trouble. I mean, I find it mind-boggling.

But one of the things I want to ask you about is a sort of an offshoot of that. There is the reality -- there are several conflicting realities. One is the bureaucratic recalcitrance, once you get below Putin, of carrying out Nunn-Lugar and/or any new initiative. In the 10 + 10, each country involved -- the other seven countries are essentially adopting their own Nunn-Lugar type program here. And once you get below the very top level, we find that there are those roadblocks that are thrown up, that are, you know, either old apparatchiks' hangovers or bureaucratic inertia or whatever it is. And that's on one side of the equation.

On the other side of the equation, there is the reality, the second reality: Russia has no money. I mean, we're in a circumstance where, when we're talking about, based on -- and I'm not revealing anything that's classified, but the intelligence community indicates to us that -- and to you and the public -- we're talking about a modest military budget and a total budget for all of the Russian Federation of around $30 billion. And that's a reality as well.

Now when the phrase is used, as you used it, it -- I always -- because just as you, not in a personal sense, but politically, find me suspect, I find you suspect over the last 30 years or 25, whatever we're worked together -- when the phrase is used, "what we expect from the Russians financially," that is part of the equation here in whether or not we and/or our G-7 -- remaining seven partners go forward with this roughly $20 billion commitment over 10 years.

Can you flesh out for us any more either what in the dialogue in Canada took place relative to what is at least a generic expectation of Russian contributions financially? I'm not talking about removing roadblocks; I'm not talking about liability insurance, tax issues. I'm talking about direct Russian appropriations. I assume that's what we mean by "what we expect of Russia financially." Is that correct?

MR. BOLTON: Right.


SEN. BIDEN: And -- but we thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for being here. And we wish you godspeed on making sure that we are actually able to take this very promising development, which you are responsible for in the administration, and turning it into something that will actually make us safer.

MR. BOLTON: I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman. And as I said earlier, we're pleased to work with the committee in terms of priorities as they develop and making sure that you're supplied with information about what the global partnership is doing. And I would be happy to come up at whatever time is convenient and keep you and your colleagues briefed on it.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, speaking only for myself -- but I expect it would be -- even be more -- even a greater commitment if this chairmanship changes. The single highest priority this committee's going to focus on, if I am chairman for the next year, will be the whole notion of cooperative threat reduction. I mean, to the extent that we know international events intervene, and we must respond, and we're going to have a lot else going. But this to me is the single most significant and potentially most promising thing that we could do in order to enhance the prospect that we avoid the most disastrous consequence of weapons of mass destructions (sic) ending up in the hands of people -- non-nation-states, or nation-states that are rogue states. And so we're going to be spending a lot of time on that, and I am -- (laughs) -- I am positive if my friend is the chairman that that will be the case. But either way --

MR. BOLTON: I won't comment on that.

SEN. BIDEN: -- either way, this is something we're going to on a monthly basis be focusing on.

But thank you very, very, very much.


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