Still Hope for Arms Control

Article excerpt

Judy Dempsey interviews Rose Gottemoeller, US Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Q: Late last year, the Americans broke off conventional arms control talks with Russia. Why? Gottemoeller: The situation simply could not continue indefinitely. The Russian Federation had "suspended implementation" of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) in December 2007. Last fall, we decided we needed to take action. Together with a group of other Treaty signatories-- NATO allies and partners Moldova and Georgia--we agreed to halt implementation of the Treaty with Russia. We continue to implement the CFE Treaty with all the other states-parties. We were sending a message; we considered it to be a rational countermeasure, and did it more in sorrow than in anger. It was a message to Russia that we would like to see them come back into implementation of the Treaty. The United States is committed to revitalizing the conventional arms control regime in Europe and continues to consult on finding a way forward with our Treaty partners. Q: What could restart negotiations? Gottemoeller: Right now, I think we're in a good place. It is still premature to talk about negotiations, but ceasing the implementation of the CFE Treaty toward Russia actually opens up an environment to explore new opportunities for the future of conventional arms control in Europe. But first we need to do some very basic work on the concepts and substance, together with our allies and partners, including the Russians. Everybody knows that the CFE Treaty simply is not relevant anymore to the current security situation in Europe. It was negotiated at a time when the Warsaw Pact was still standing against us. Q: It was a Cold War relic? Gottemoeller: What we have now is an opportunity for a regime that would be clearly post Cold War. We need to think ahead about what will be most helpful, contributing to resolving the frozen conflicts and strengthening regional security. I think the Russians have the same interest in stable and predictable security relationships as other countries. Q: If you look at the entirety of Russia's security outlook, tactical nuclear weapons are an important card, because its conventional forces are so weak. Where do we stand with regard to tactical nuclear weapons? Gottemoeller: It is true that the Russian military doctrine is quite clear on the strategic importance they give to tactical nuclear weapons. But we need to pull the aperture wider. When President Obama signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010, he said that the United States would like to negotiate further reductions in three categories of nuclear arms: in deployed strategic nuclear weapons, in non-deployed strategic nuclear weapons (for example, held in storage facilities) and in non strategic nuclear weapons, the so-called tactical nuclear weapons, which are the ones that concern Europe. …