Lugar's Extended Remarks for the Symposium on Cooperative Threat Reduction: Partnering for a More Secure World

By:  Dick Lugar
Date: Dec. 3, 2012
Location: Unknown

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn were honored on today with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service for their creation and leadership of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

The medal is the highest award that is presented by the Secretary of Defense "to a private citizen, politician, non-career Federal employee, or foreign national. It is presented for exceptionally distinguished service of significance to the Department of Defense as a whole, or a DoD Component or function, where recognition at the component level would not be sufficient for the service rendered."

As part of the program at the National Defense University, Nunn and Lugar discussed the status and prospects for the program with The Dead Hand author David Hoffman. President Obama also spoke to the symposium. Below are extended remarks by Sen. Lugar that will not be presented at the symposium but may be cited in coverage.


Instead of rehearsing Nunn-Lugar "war stories" developed over the past 20 years, I want to talk about the present status of the Nunn-Lugar CTR program and more particularly about its future.


Windows have defined much of Russian history. In the time of Peter the Great, Russia was in search of its "Window on the West" as Russia sought to reform itself throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries.

During the Cold War, Paul Nitze warned of a "Window of Vulnerability" as the Soviet Union began its nuclear buildup.

I have spoken for many years about the Window of Opportunity--defined by the Nunn-Lugar Program.

The end of the Soviet Union ushered in an era of change and risk unprecedented in history. I have worked to ensure that we took full advantage of the opportunities presented to the United States to remedy the risks posed by the massive stockpile of chemical, nuclear and biological knowledge and material amassed throughout the former Soviet Union.

Extension or Renegotiation

Press reports indicate that some in Russia now seek to end the Nunn-Lugar Program. Similar thoughts are to be found in various political circles on Capitol Hill.

SOAE and Umbrella Agreements

To my mind, the continuation of our work on strategic offensive arms elimination (or SOAE) remains the backbone of our effort, and indeed the primary reason for our having an Umbrella Agreement. If our SOAE program in Russia is terminated, regardless of the reasons for doing so, I am concerned that the rationale for the program in Russia and the utility of the Umbrella Agreement itself disappear.

Is the Window Closing?

In short, if the window of opportunity is now to be closed, that ought not to be done without considering the consequences.

In the coming year, both the Nunn-Lugar Umbrella Agreement expires and the agreement to purchase highly-enriched uranium from Russia, called the HEU Purchase Agreement, also terminates. Russia has decided that the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow also ought to end its efforts in Russia, and while a great deal of work has been done to move the ISTC to Kazakhstan there is no word on future projects.

USAID was also recently expelled, and the revelations regarding an illegal Russian military procurement network in the United States have damaged relations. On Syria, Russia continues to be unhelpful, and the United States has not yet granted a Jackson-Vanik waiver to Moscow given concerns about human rights in that nation.

Nunn-Lugar and New START Treaty

The Nunn-Lugar program is a triumph measured in more than the numbers of missiles, warheads, chemical weapons and biological pathogens now under lock and key or destroyed. It has been the basis upon which the United States has found constructive means to engage former adversaries and new partners, motivated by a common desire to detect and defeat new threats.

While I championed Senate passage of the New START Treaty, it is not presently the only basis for non-proliferation-focused engagement with Russians. But it may become that in the future if we are not thoughtful!

New START is about transparency, predictability and stability--and 18 inspections each year on each side, nothing more. If either Russia or the United States terminate, reset or otherwise modify everything else, then New START becomes the only vehicle wherein all our other strategic issues are discussed, and that situation would not serve us well. We would be reverting back to the days when the only really honest engagement we had with the Russians was under the ABM Treaty's "special consultative commission."

Moreover, when the Senate approved New START in December 2010, many Members understood that Nunn-Lugar would continue its efforts to eliminate Russian weapons for more than just 2 to 3 years of the treaty's 10-year duration.

Three Essential Questions

This Administration needs to be engaged at the highest levels to ensure future success. Let me pose three questions: Are we really sure that we have accomplished all we can through Nunn-Lugar in Russia? Have we set the conditions in Russia such that we are comfortable no longer doing what we have been doing? And, lastly, do we have a real plan to expand the process of numeric reductions under START and Nunn-Lugar to yet broader forms of cooperation to enhance strategic stability?

Unfortunately, I think the answer to these questions is "no."

Allowing the Umbrella Agreement to end is unlikely to be this Administration's preferred course. However, I am concerned that what may emerge from its sporadic negotiations with Moscow may not provide needed protections for American contractors that undertake Nunn-Lugar work. Allowing Russia to tax our assets there is equally untenable. We must ensure that any Agreement that might emerge in the future is a usable one.

Preservation/Broadening the Relationship

I would challenge this group to think with us as we move into an uncertain period in Russian-American relations not only about how to broaden our agenda with Russia, but how to preserve it as well.

Past Accomplishments/Unfinished Work

All too often, we fail to appreciate what we have achieved in light of present difficulties. We need to step outside our current political climate and understand that Nunn-Lugar has always been difficult work, often politically unpopular in both Russia and the United States. But we cannot risk the future extension of the Umbrella Agreement by delinking it from the dismantlement of missiles . Some 50 more heavy missiles could be dismantled in the next budget year, alone!

The October 2012 Nunn/Lugar CTR Scorecard reports the destruction of four SS-19 ICBMs. Indeed, it is also useful to recall that the Russians released nine SS-25 ICBMs and associated road mobile launchers in 2012, but due to delays in their bureaucratic release process, the nine SS-25 were not released until last month. The first one was disassembled last week.

The Russian side recently announced plans as well to eliminate another eighteen SS-25s during the first six months of 2013, making a total of 27 ICBMs and their associated road mobile launchers to be eliminated in just eight months. While the intention on the U.S. side is to get all this done, the capacity of the elimination facilities will likely limit us to only 18 to 20 ICBMs eliminated by June 2013 if the Umbrella Agreement expires at that point.

Enlarging the Window

In conclusion, we must not allow traditional Russian intransigence and current American fiscal fears in the short term to close our longer-term window of opportunity.

Perhaps because of a perceived common interest in both Moscow and Washington in managing a shared nuclear danger, we expected common sense to prevail in the run-up to the end of the Umbrella Agreement in June 2013. Perhaps we assumed that Nunn-Lugar was simply too important to allow the Parties to let it lapse. Perhaps we were guilty of wishful thinking or perhaps simply an inability to imagine a world without Nunn-Lugar.

The constriction of Nunn-Lugar by Moscow may be part of a trend wherein the Russian Government seeks to gradually "walk back" from long-standing arms control verification measures. While not an argument for shelving additional arms reductions, it should put all of us on notice that both governments will need to pursue additional initiatives, beyond mere reductions, to manage mutual suspicions and enhance strategic stability.

The "New Political Realities'

There remains some hope that Moscow and Washington may yet salvage the Nunn-Lugar CTR program. But the "new political realities," so often voiced by critics in both capitals, have been slowly suffocating the bilateral arms control process. Although reductions in the nuclear arsenals on both sides have emerged from our bilateral arms control efforts with Moscow, the most important part of that process, and where the Nunn-Lugar program has led the way, had as its primary objective the construction of a more stable relationship, initially with additional decrements to each side's nuclear weapons.

But the Nunn-Lugar CTR objective to create a truly cooperative effort to manage nuclear dangers has yet to be fully achieved, even as both sides may be reaching their political, if not their strategic, limits of any further reductions to be made.

What we sought to do with the Nunn-Lugar program was to fundamentally change the most dangerous dynamic of the Cold War. Critics will argue that most of the reductions have already been accomplished and that Moscow now has the wherewithal to pay for the rest. Those same critics will assure us that the respective nuclear modernization programs in each country will not rekindle anything like another strategic nuclear arms race. But even if the Nunn-Lugar CTR program persists in a somewhat different guise, it will take real statesmanship and political courage to overcome the "new" political realities in both capitals that are beginning to resemble the old ones from the Cold War.

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