Arms Control Challenges Faced by the Obama Administration

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law, Annual 2010 | Go to article overview

Arms Control Challenges Faced by the Obama Administration


This panel was convened at 9:00 a.m., Friday, March 26, by its moderator, Michael J. Matheson, of George Washington University Law School, who introduced the panelists: David Koplow, of Georgetown University Law Center; Newell Highsmith, of the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser; and Michael Mattler, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY MICHAEL MATHESON *

The title of today's panel is "Arms Control Challenges Faced by the Obama Administration." As I'm sure you know, the Obama administration came into office with an ambitious program with respect to arms control and non-proliferation. Among the objectives that the administration cited were some of the following: first, a reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, which presumably will start with the apparently imminent signing of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; a global ban on nuclear testing, which presumably will be kicked off by an attempt to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the United States; a new treaty ending the proliferation and production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons purposes; a strengthening of the Non-proliferation Treaty, including the strengthening of international inspections and enforcement mechanisms; some kind of new framework for civil nuclear cooperation which would ensure access to peaceful nuclear power by those who observe non-proliferation restrictions; some form of vigorous response to possible violations by states like North Korea and Iran of their obligations; and a new international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear materials.

So this morning we are going to be talking about some or all of these issues with particular reference to legal issues presented by them, and for that purpose, we have a panel composed of three very distinguished and experienced experts in this field who have worked in this area both in academia and in public service.

On my far left is Newell Highsmith, who has been an attorney in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the State Department since 1987, who has specialized during that period in nonproliferation and arms control and who currently is the head of the office within the Legal Adviser's Bureau that deals with these issues.

Next to him is David Koplow, who has been a professor at Georgetown Law School since 1981, who has taught courses, among other things, dealing with these same issues. Previous to that, he was in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency both as an attorney and as a Special Assistant to the Director, and then as Deputy General Counsel in the Department of Defense, and he is currently on leave from Georgetown serving as the Special Counsel for Arms Control in DoD.

To my immediate left is Mike Mattler, who is the Minority Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Principal Legal Adviser to Senator Lugar, and before that he was an attorney in the Legal Adviser's Office for 12 years.

Here is how the panel is going to go this morning. We're going to begin by opening presentations from each of our experts, who will deal with one or more specific aspects of this area. Then I'm going to give each panelist an opportunity to comment on what the others have said. Then we will open for questions and comments, and finally, I will give the panelists an opportunity to say anything in conclusion that they may want to.

So here's our program, and let's begin it right away with Newell Highsmith.

* George Washington University Law School.

REMARKS BY NEWELL HIGHSMITH *

I wanted to start today talking about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. My office has also been working on the START Treaty, which is currently being wrapped up, and preparing for ratification to CTBT and for negotiation of an FMCT as well as the other issues that Mike mentioned being on the President's agenda. So I could also take questions on those at the conclusion. …

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