tv Atlantic Council Discussion on Nuclear Security Policy CSPAN April 29, 2021 5:47pm-6:35pm EDT
>> former defense and state department officials discuss nuclear security, and invent hosted by the atlantic council. >> hello, welcome. i am fred camp, president and ceo of the atlantic council. i would like to welcome you and those of you live via c-span to this event on preventing nuclear proliferation and reassuring america's allies. i would also like to acknowledge and salute the chicago council on local affairs. it is an honor to work with you and the council with whom we are
hosting the events. we are joined by an extraordinary group of speakers including the president of the chicago council of global affairs, u.s. ambassador to nato 2009-2013. i am also proud that he is a former board member of the atlantic council and still engages with us on a great many issues. i am delighted the former secretary of defense chuck hagel is here. and christopher ford and former deputy secretary, elaine bunn. i particularly want to salute secretary hagel for his time as chairman of the atlantic council. he still serves on our international advisory board as a single statesman. i turned to him for advice all the time. -- i turn to him for advice all
the time. thank you so much, secretary hagel, for all you do for the atlantic, and for our country. as the biden administration develops its national defense strategy and considers its approach to nuclear policy, the atlantic council has brought together this event to shape thinking on how to strengthen america's nuclear security guarantees and consider nuclear policy issues including modernization. today's panel emerged from a truly first-class report published by the chicago council in february. the report was published by a task force cochaired by secretary hagel and former secretary of defense, miniter -- minister of defense now, malcolm rifkin. and the former australian prime minister. kevin serves on our advisory board for secretary hagel. and the ambassador was the director. it argues that finding american
alliances in the changing security environment have shaken american security decrees and shaken the nonproliferation regime. we will consider things from the paper today at the front end of the panel. you will hear ivo give a nice summary of the key points in that paper. america's more than 30 formal treaty allies depend on a strong nuclear deterrent for security. just last week, the atlantic council's practice area issued a brief arguing in favor of continuing on the bipartisan plans to modernize the u.s. nuclear triage, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and bombers. today's event will consist of a panel discussion moderated by washington post national
security correspondent missy ryan. to our viewers, if you would like to have a question considered during today's event, please tweet it using #acstrategy. or submit it if you are listening on zoom by using the zoom q&a function. so now, it is my pleasure to pass the virtual stage to missy ryan, reporter from the washington post covering the pentagon, military issues and national security. thank you, everyone for being here and i look forward to a great discussion. over to you. >> thanks. it is a real honor to be here with this distinguished group of panelists discussing this important topic. as we start, it will be helpful to ask to summarize for the audience the chief conclusions of this report.
i will add one additional request to there. -- request there. could you tell us as you summarize this why, amid all of the challenges the u.s. is facing at this moment, why is it the right moment to focus on nuclear guarantees and the threat of continued proliferation? >> thanks, missy. thank you so much for helping us put this on. it is great to collaborate with you and the atlantic council as we have on so many issues in the past. i am sure we will do so in the future. missy, as you asked, where did this come from? it came from a realization that as allies were starting to question the american alliance and a security guarantees which were emphasized and became worse in the trump administration, but already existed before, while at the same time they were facing the security environment rapidly
changing in russia and europe with the russian conventional and nuclear modernization in china with the rapid buildup of its nuclear capabilities also, the north korean threat. the allies started asking for the first time in 30 plus years, if we get to a war and this escalates to the nuclear level, who can we rely on? it is a question that used to preoccupy allies throughout the cold war. it was particularly big in the 1960's. but also, it returned in the 1970's and 1980's as the key issue. we thought it was important to remind people about the contribution that the u.s. nuclear guarantee has made to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons among allies. if you go back to the mid-1960's
to the intelligence community assessments of the likelihood of further proliferation, the country problem, it was america's allies, germany, japan, south korea, and other countries, that were seen as the most likely proliferant. -- proliferants. that ended by the nonproliferation treaty, but also by a more significant commitment by the u.s. to secure the nuclear defense of its allies in europe and asia. and so, as the credibility of alliance guarantees are questioned, this issue of whether or not the country should defend themselves by requiring their own national capabilities or look for other nuclear guarantees from other countries than the united states was coming to the fore. that is why we put together a
task force. we at the chicago council, as fred said, was cochaired by secretary hagel, prime minister rudd, secretary malcolm rifkin. we had former defense and foreign ministers, not just from europe, but also from asia. we very deliberately looked at this problem not as a nato problem or east asia problem, but as an allied problem of the united states. we described the problems in the report, the growing threats allies faced and are convinced we need to redouble the guarantee of the united states to its allies and spend as much time thinking about, how do you reassure allies as you think about how to deter adversaries? the reality is, it is often much
more difficult to reassure allies because they have to be 100% certain of that, that there will be a nuclear guarantee that will continue. whereas, when you're trying to deter someone, there has to be some uncertainty whether or not the u.s. would be willing to use nuclear weapons on behalf of its allies. how do you reassure? we lay out a series of recommendations. i will not go in detail, but point to a few critical ones. first of course, it is critical for the united states to reaffirm all its security commitments to all of its allies. steps the biden administration has already begun. it has been also necessary to back those up by significant steps on the military side, including reversing the withdrawal decision of u.s.
troops from germany, signing, which has already happened, new security arrangement agreements with south korea and japan. and it is starting to have a serious dialogue with allies. for 30 years that dialogue has taken place at a lower level than during the cold war. we think it needs to be enhanced. the allied partners should be part of the nuclear planning process. we should get back into the business of doing nuclear exercises that, importantly, will have political leaders as part of those exercises. something that has not happened for 30 years, but during the cold war happened on a regular basis. that way you reassure allies that in our own planning in the united states, we take their security very seriously. secondly, we call on the
europeans to bolster their conventional contributions to collective defense. of course, fulfilling the wales summit guarantee of 2% spending on capabilities, but emphasize that what matters is less overall amounts of money spent on defense and more the capabilities put forward. and we suggest that france and the u.k., the two other nuclear powers, have a serious discussion about how to deepen their own nuclear collaboration and have discussions about how they feel about covering their allies in europe with their own nuclear system in a much more collaborative manner. third, we look at asia and call for strengthening cooperation among our asian allies, particularly the koreans, japanese and australians. one of the steps we suggest
would be useful is an asian nuclear planning group, where asian allies would be sitting together with the united states to have regular discussions about nuclear weapons issues. being together is different than doing this bilaterally because it allows countries that may be hesitant to ask questions or to probe too deeply to rely on other countries that are less hesitant to do so and still to get that information, but to deepen that. finally, it is critically important we build a new arms-control dimension into the entire process because reassurance cannot only be about the deterrence side, it also has to be about the arms-control and disarmament side and we lay out a series of steps on how to bring china in particular into an arms-control framework by
relying on the p5, the five permanent members of the u.n. security council, the five nuclear weapon states under the mpt, to begin talks on strategic dialogue, to deepen the talks that already exist, to increase transparency and look at force limitations down the road that would affect all five countries, . at the same time, we should continue our bilateral discussions with the russians in the post new start to the framework. that is the layout. more dialogue with allies on these important issues. >> great, thanks ambassador. i would like to turn now to secretary hagel and ask you about u.s. security engagement with the rest of the world, which is at the heart of this report. there has been a lot of talk by president biden and his team
that america is back. on the other hand, we do here skepticism from allies in europe and elsewhere based on the deep -- based in part on the deep political divisions the u.s. is experiencing with some of the unpredictability it has cause, -- it has caused, including related to international taxes and treaties. tell us your perspective and how it relates specifically to decisions about nuclear weapons in terms of trust and alliances that the united states has with the rest of the world. sec. hagel: thank you, missy. i want to thank fred kempe and the atlantic council for allowing us to have this conversation today, and c-span. so thank you to missy and others who are participating as well. i think ivo laid it out well as to the essence of the report.
the essence of why we took a serious come along look at this. -- serious, long look at this. in answering your question, i don't think you can separate any of the dynamics involved in a country's security. in america's security. you can't separate internal threats and issues and perceptions of other countries of us, especially our allies. it is all a matter of trust and confidence. the standard, the coin of the realm, is always trust. that is in our personal lives and everything we do, but especially in foreign policy and collective security. if we go back to the post-world war ii era, when america led with its allies in establishing this new liberal world order, which was based on common interest. the united nations and all the
dozens of multilateral, international institutions were built and were not intended to fix every problem. and to adjust and adapt to every conflict and have an assured agreement on everything. no. but it was the mutual, common interest we had to build a world that was more peaceful, more prosperous, with more hope, more opportunity. collective security is very much a part of that, hence nato, our other treaty obligations. america has seven treaty obligations in effect today, some going back 100 years or more. having our allies, our friends, our partners, have confidence in our word, and not just what we
say, but what we do, is critical to everything. if they see things internally in this country like we have seen in the last half year that question not only our internal ability to govern ourselves and be somewhat united on common interests like common defense and economic issues and other issues, that reverberates out and shakes the foundations of confidence and trust. i think that is part of all of this. and ivo laid it out pretty well, reestablishing the confidence and trust we need to reestablish in our allies. because that goes beyond allies. our adversaries see that as well. our adversaries watch us very carefully, as you know. if they see a crack internally, if they see stress, if they see our allies not having confidence
and trust in us, that opens opportunities for them to do mischief and hurt our allies. it is a combination of all these things you have to factor in when you look at something like this. just one more point, and ivo made this point pretty well, when i say we, i think the u.s. and our allies. but the world has deferred interest on nuclear capabilities and deterrence, the implosion of the soviet union. because what is the problem? -- because that is the problem. there is no longer a soviet union. we dismantled nuclear weapons of the old soviet empire. we were denuclearizing, helping the former soviet union, the russians. china was still far, far away from any kind of nuclear
advances. so what was the problem? then comes 9/11. and the terrorist attack of the last 20 years, our focus has been on that, the middle east, terrorism. the whole issue of nuclear deterrence, our triad system, it is time we deal with this. we know what north korea is doing, we know what the chinese are doing. the russians are modernizing their forces. and we have to get back on top of this. again, i think that is much the reason of why we did this. ms. ryan: thank you, secretary hagel. i will turn to dr. ford. and i will ask the role of nuclear weapons in american security, how they should figure into national security is a live debate in u.s. body politics. i thought it would be helpful if you could describe from your
perspective and the trump administration, which you served, what is the proper u.s. posture vis-a -vis the nuclear umbrella? and wouldn't nuclear proliferation among partners lead to a less stable safety environment? if you could just provide your perspective on that, i think it would be helpful for the discussion. dr. ford: thank you. i hope you can hear me. i want to thank the atlantic council and chicago council for putting this on and doing me the honor of being able to participate. i would start by agreeing with what ivo and of the report outlines about nuclear guarantees both to our direct security interest in the alliance collectively with our allies and also to nonproliferation. i think in some respects, u.s.
security guarantees, if you could peel back the cloak and see the inner decision-making and questions, my guess would be that u.s. security guarantees have played as important a role in turning off existing nuclear weapons programs in countries around the world than even institutions like the mpt. we have had enormous success, coupled with u.s. alliance guarantees to keep their from being a great deal more proliferation. from my own perspective, the nuclear aspect is critical. it is not the entirety of our deterrence. what we offer allies and partners has many components, but nuclear is one of them. it has always been a critical piece. you can see the alliance has been, our alliances in general, i do not want this to be a
eurocentric discussion, in the endo pacific and europe, have faced considerable constraints from developments there, going back a few years. we have to assure them those alliances are fit for purpose. the purpose originally was of course to deter overwhelming conventional aggression, not just nuclear aggression. and their ability to do that has been challenged by developments in russia and china, depending on one's regional perspective. in both cases, the treaties we have come to rely upon in our approach to national security both in the cold war and post-cold war area have been affected by geopolitical revisionism. europe has been a centerpiece of russian policy since putin came
to power, as he made clear in a 1999 publication. it has been a key point of our strategy, in effect, to relitigate the postwar dispensation in europe, and in the major pillars we built around trying to lock in place that post-cold war peace, have -- post-cold war peace, if you will, have been undermined by the russians ever since. the in norma's -- the enormous success we once had in an entire class of nuclear delivery systems has been undone by massive russian violations, which resulted in the collapse of the treaty. the open skies treaty, similarly. undermining the building purposes of that. the conventional forces in europe treaty never complied, or
never recently, by the russians. there has been a transparency process. the russians have been systematically taking aim at the pillars of what the international community tried to do to lock in place the post world war dispensation and the peaceful, noncompetitive environment we hoped to take for granted thereafter. our nuclear guarantees and power and perception of our willingness to be there with both of those things are critical to ensuring our allies feel secure against the growing threats they face in east asia and europe. that is why, for example, in the trump administration, in response to the elaborate growth of russian nonstrategic weapons capabilities, imf violations, took a couple steps in helping
shore up guarantees we offer to our allies. the new lower yield submarine missile warhead was designed to offer the west and answer to these new lower and russian capabilities, lower yield tactical. but to do so in a way that was deferential to european sensibilities, which clearly would not have been pleased with additional appointments of u.s. nuclear weapons on european soil. it was a way to -- i thought a very deft answer to an alliance deterrent problem. we took steps to restore the submarine launched cruz missile capabilities. the obama administration abandoned them in 2010. our allies in asia thought that was an important piece. yes, there was an allusion to drawing down troops in germany.
i did not agree with that. we launched a defense agreement last year with poland and increased presence of u.s. troops in east europe, where they would be more likely of use in a crisis with russia in the first place. so let's not forget the steps that were importantly taken over the last four years and remember the rodders story arc of -- broader story arc of challenges to the alliance based in beijing and moscow policy, which we need to show seriousness in confronting. the final point, these challenges have been mounting at a time in which the alliance, the members of the alliance, have been less interested in the nuclear piece of that alliance, at least in some key countries. this is not just america's problem to fix. nuclear guarantees and their effectiveness are not about what is done in terms of u.s. posture
and in washington. another piece is to correct the drift in strategic seriousness which i think all of our alliances suffered to some degree in the postwar. . -- postwar period. we assumed the nasty competitive stuff was in the rearview mirror and we did not have to worry about it anymore. there has been a loss of strategic seriousness with european partners when it comes to the nuclear side. a number of european countries and their political classes are flirting with the nuclear weapons ban treaty. that is a fundamental challenge to the nuclear reassurances the alliance is designed to provide. in washington you hear, even in recent years, there are people in the important decisions that flirt with the idea of a sole purpose policy with nuclear weapons to remove the utility as a way to deter
-- the utility of nuclear weaponry as a way to deter conventional, nonnuclear attack against not just us, but our allies. you see support for dual capable aircraft. these are all symptoms of a flagging strategic seriousness and pose a challenge to try to fix. i hope we can make progress in the months and years ahead. ms. ryan: thank you, dr. ford. we will turn to the next person before we open up to audience q&a. i would like to ask you a little bit to pay her into -- peer into
your crystal ball and tell us what you expect to see from the biden administration in terms of if the major components of the nuclear policy, especially modernization and some of the newer weapons that have been introduced or discussed in recent years, and tell us a little bit about whether you expect them to continue to modernize, what the decision on the triad will be, any insight would be helpful. >> thank you for the question. certainly, the u.s. nuclear capability forces are a key part of extended deterrent and -- deterrence and nuclear deterrence and assurance for our allies. they are key and i think allies do expect the u.s. to do the second half of as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, the u.s. will have a less effective nuclear arsenal for us and our allies. every u.s. administration
reviews nuclear posture, we have seen this time and time again. this administration will do it over the coming months into the next year. i guess if i'm going to prognosticate, i would think that the nuclear modernization program that was laid out in the obama administration is likely to continue. mostly because the systems are old and need to be replaced. that includes a new ballistic missile submarine, the columbus class, b-21 bombers, it will also have a nuclear role. the long-range standoff missile that will replace the cruise that could be deployed on the bombers, including the b-52, which is a pretty old bomber.
the f-35 aircraft version that will be, that is important to our allies in europe, some of them will be buying that in the next few years. other allies have gone with other airplanes like the f-18. then the modernization of the icbms, the modernized nuclear command and control. all of those were part of the obama administration triad and dca modernization. i think those are likely to continue. exactly the makeup and how many and so forth that will likely be reviewed. in addition to that, those were supported through the trump administration, in addition the trump administration had what they called supplemental capabilities.
of those, i doubt that the sea launch cruise missile will come to fruition. because it has not started yet, it is still under analysis and review. it will be costly, and all the nuclear modernization is costly. and because i don't see -- there -- that there will be support. there is already some noises on the hill that they may run into some problems. the other supplemental capabilities from the trump administration, the lower, not low, but lower, yield warhead for the ballistic missile, it is already deployed. it has been deployed for over a year. it is a sunk cost both economically and politically. it may be reviewed, i don't know that it will be drawn back, though.
if i were to prognosticate i would probably say no but we will see. but i do think that whatever the specifics of the nuclear force modernization program and how it plays out in the view and in funding on the hill, i think with proper consultation with allies -- that means not just saying we are going to announce this tomorrow, it means real consultation all along the process -- that the precise makeup and characteristics of the nuclear force are not likely to have the greatest impact on allies' use of nuclear deterrence. that is about the overall relationship, peacetime consultations, the crisis management exercises that ivo talked about earlier, it is about that whole web of interactions that we have with allies. as long as there is a baseline of effective nuclear arsenal, if
we are confident in our nuclear deterrence capabilities, the right consultation allies will be too. ms. ryan: thank you so much. i think we need to move to audience q&a. we are going to try to keep the answers short, but we are going to start with a question from a bob from brookings. his question is how can united , states strengthen the extended nuclear deterrent in east asia? he offers a few possibilities he would like to put out there. nato-type sharing arrangement, greater forward deployment of dual capable delivery systems, redeployment of u.s. nuclear weapons on allied territory. secretary hagel, do you want to take a crack at that? we can open it up to the panelists.
>> i will refer to ivo for a minute because he touched on some of this, but i think what bob has laid out are good and essential points that need to be carried forward. i think that what ivo said and what some of the other panelists were talking about, more consultation, more involvement, and asia planning group, those -- those kinds of things would bring integration not just of the appreciation of the problem, how do we deal with it, what do we do, what is each country's role, what can we do, that would be the starting point. >> i would just agree and make a larger point that elaine ended with, the nature of specifics of the nuclear force posture, even
where they are deployed, is less important than the strength and nature of the alliances that are served by it, and therefore consultation and talking and close coordination is important. including not ruling out options that allies may decide they want . the three that bob mentions are ones that you hear from the south korean, certain parts in south korea, and certain circles in japan. they are unlikely to be easily implemented, but they are the kinds of things you would want to discuss in a nuclear planning group bilaterally, quadra laterally, because we want the australians too. ms. ryan: dr. ford, would you like to jump in? dr. ford: i myself do not have any problem with any of the things that bob suggested. i would suggest the algorithm , and it sounds like ivo would
agree. i think we probably all struggle over the years in different administrations, a problem is deciding what we think in the right answer is from a perspective of alliance reassurance and having to explain to our allies why that should be reassuring to them. if he were to approach this from what they think they need and as a jumping off point in terms of how we approach the alliance, that would probably be a good thing for all concerned. ms. ryan: i'm going to move onto another question, this comes from -- please excuse me in advance, marcus, for perhaps mispronouncing her last name -- marcus, a senior fellow at the atlantic council. marcus says, some argue that with korea is nuclear armed and will remain so will undermine
the reassurance of u.s. allies and fuel proliferation in the region and globally. my view is admitting this unpleasant reality would help the united states to motive i'd -- motivate and justify improved proliferation efforts. what does the panel think about this? ms. bunn, do you want to jump in on that? ms. bunn: sure. right now, north korea does have nuclear weapons and we need to work with our allies in the region about how do we deter conflict and nuclear use. admitting that we need to deal with, today, we can still have the aspiration for north korea giving up its nuclear weapons, but what we do now, and i think we need to continue in the future, to work with them about how do we deal with the facts as they are now?
and those are not inconsistent. ms. ryan: anyone else want to jump in before we move on? all right, i'm going to move on. we have another north korea related question from simon lee, a reporter from radio free asia. a $100 million question here, the question is, what is your suggestion to deal with the north korea nuclear threat, how do you assess nuclear deterrence against north korea? do you want to take a crack at that? >> this is a tough issue. i think there are two things you are trying to do. one is you want to reassure your allies that you take the threat seriously and that you have a strategy for dealing with that, . the strategy for dealing with the north korean threat has to be an emphasis on deterrence,
conventional conflict deterrence, cbw, and it turns of nuclear use against allies and against the united states. at the same time, you need a strategy for engaging the north koreans, which is important for reassurance because allies worry about two things, they worry about being abandoned by the united states, that the u.s. will leave them in the lurch when something happens, but they also worry about being entrapped, that they get into a war that was not of their making or of their interest. the way to deal with that is to -- is through negotiations. i am a fan and believe that we use an incremental approach. i do think the goal of the nuclear rise asian -- nuclear radiation -- nuclearisaztion of
the peninsula is something. it has been repeatedly assessed. as late as in the singapore declaration. therefore, having an engagement strategy that tries to move us into this direction step-by-step while at the same time focusing on deterrence is the only possible way we are going to get at this problem. ms. ryan: secretary, would you like to weigh in on that? it has plagued u.s. policymakers for decades including when you , are in the senate and at the -- when you are at the pentagon and asked you are secretary. cooks obviously i think this is a difficult issue, it is a very difficult issue. it is never perfect. you have to have some bottom line dynamics as to the purpose and that has to include your
allies and those who are looking at this issue as not just a korean peninsula issue or north korean issue, but it is a world, it is a global issue. it is never easy, these issues are complicated, but i think what ivo laid out his rights. -- is right. your strategy, into your thinking, planning, and your engagement, longer term, and it is incremental. it is step-by-step. but unless you have got allies with you on this to essentially try to isolate north korea in some way, that is not going to cause an explosion or cause a
war or some erratic behavior from kim jong-un, but that is delicate and it is imperfect. i think he summed it up pretty well. >> we have time to squeeze in one final question and i am going to directed to dr. ford and we have about 90 seconds left. question from john, and the question is, what is your level of concern regarding technology transfer between north korea and iran, particularly as it relates to nuclear weapons and delivery systems? do you want to address that as we wrap up? dr. ford: my level of concern is high, not necessarily because enormous things have recently happened, but because that isn't easily available option for both of them and something that neither of those countries would scribble on doing if they thought they could get away with it. we are watching it with enormous
worry i'm concerned about what might perhaps come to pass there, so i think it is great to be watching. as a footnote, from the perspective of both deterring the north east of the south korea and reassuring seoul that we are there for them as an ally, it has been an important piece of north korean strategy to try to decouple the u.s. from south korea through essentially mounting threats to our homeland, and that is why the capability is so important to them. they want us to be having second thoughts for fear of losing los angeles or something. so from reassuring our south korean allies, the answer has to be having to do with postures and doctrines that make the decoupling less, feel less inevitable from a north korean
perspective, and that may be a very complicated amalgam of possibilities as well as nuclear reassurances. that is hard part of the mix and finding that recipe, but i think we need to be focused on undermining their efforts to separate those two pieces of our alliance and our end as we go forward. >> i want to thank all of our panelists. i wish we had more time for discussions, but we have to wrap it up here at 11:45. i would recommend everyone to go and read the full report with a clear summary of the issues and clear policy recommendations. again, thanks to the atlantic council for organizing this event and all of the panelists were spending some time today and talking about the important issues. >> this evening, former vice president mike pence will deliver his first public remarks
since leaving office in january. he is the featured speaker at a social conservative group in south carolina. watch live coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. on c-span or listen with the free c-span radio app. saturday on the communicators, brookings institution vice president darrell west discusses his book, turning point, policymaking in the era of artificial intelligence. >> it is not just one revolution that is taking place, it is 10 or 20 or 30 different things taking place simultaneously. it is the growing ubiquity's of technology in all of our lives, and every sector, and domestic policy applications as well as the national defense. we have a long chapter on national defense and military aia. that is the unusual aspect of this period, and what makes it difficult to deal with, it is