Center For Defense Information: Reykjavik Revisited
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
CONTACT: Center For Defense Information
Whitney Parker, (202) 797-5287
WASHINGTON - September 5 - The following executive summary references a 16-page policy brief published by the World Security Institute in cooperation with the Lawyers Alliance for World Security. For a copy of the full policy brief, visit here, call 202-332-0900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty-one years ago, at the October 1986 Reykjavik Summit, President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev entered into an unprecedented dialogue regarding their desire to eliminate their countries’ nuclear weapons. “It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons,” Reagan said. Gorbachev replied, “We can do that.”
Building off this bold statement made before the collapse of the USSR, former Secretary of State George Shultz, who was with Reagan at the Reykjavik Summit, organized a 2006 conference at the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, marking the 20th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit to “rekindle” the vision portrayed at that historic meeting. The conclusion to the Hoover Institution conference (referenced in the policy brief as the “Hoover plan”) was summarized in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal authored by Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn – and gained worldwide attention, especially after the Journal published a response from Gorbachev, echoing the same sentiments, three weeks later.
Now, in the fall of 2007, a policy brief published collaboratively by the World Security Institute and the Lawyers Alliance for World Security, provides additional support for the goals outlined by the four former government officials – two Democrats and two Republicans – to work toward a nuclear-free world. George Bunn, the former general counsel of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and a negotiator of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and John B. Rhinelander, former deputy legal adviser at the Department of State and legal adviser to the U.S. SALT I delegation, analyze the proposal put forth by the “realists” in a brief titled “Reykjavik Revisited.” After fleshing out points within the plan and contrasting it with the Bush administration’s actions toward nuclear weapons, Bunn and Rhinelander outline the necessary steps that states must take – especially the United States led by the next president – to transform this goal into a reality.
The proposal of the four realists was different from any they had put forth previously. Their plan called for partial initial steps, including increasing warning times by “de-alerting” strategic nuclear weapons and substantially reducing their numbers, as well as eliminating U.S. and Russian short-range, forward-deployed nuclear weapons, and several important proposals dealing with fissile materials and the nuclear fuel cycle. The eventual goal of their efforts would be the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.
Given that the United States must realistically take the lead role in comprehensive nuclear initiatives, Bunn and Rhinelander discuss how the Hoover plan might best be implemented through U.S. policy and note three substantial factors not listed in the plan that would need to be addressed:
Despite Reagan’s motto of “trust but verify,” the Bush administration continues to ignore the importance of verification, relying on verification already done by U.S. satellites. Bunn and Rhinelander stress increased focus and work on verification as an urgent priority.
* Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)
The authors stress that strategic BMD must be explicitly addressed at the same time as deep reductions and eventual elimination of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launch ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Once there are zero deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, cooperative ballistic missile defense might be an “acceptable insurance policy” against cheating.
* Second, Third and Additional Stages
Work should begin to develop, without the necessity of a timeframe, a three or more stage plan which would lead to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. The best approach at this stage, Bunn and Rhinelander suggest, would be to “frame issues, technical as well as political, that must be addressed at subsequent stages.”
The authors emphasize and expand on several steps in the Hoover plan, which form the basis of their policy proposal:
* Removing the hair-trigger alert from the U.S. and Russian strategic missiles, possibly through a two-stage process where initially, the missiles would have a “technical fix” to disable immediate-firing capabilities and second, the actual warheads would be removed and stored separately from the missiles in a “verifiable manner;”
* An initial reduction by 2012 to no more than 500 strategic nuclear warheads each associated with U.S. and Russian de-alerted weapons; incorporated in a new U.S.-Russian treaty replacing the Moscow Treaty (SORT);
* The “de-alerting” and reduction of the United Kingdom’s and France’s nuclear arsenals;
* A commitment from China to not significantly increase its limited number of strategic nuclear weapons while modernizing its forces;
* Formation of a “joint enterprise,” comprised of the five nuclear states that are both recognized in the NPT and permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, the UK, France and China – where discussions should include the 13 principles agreed to at the 2000 NPT conference;
* In addition to U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the United States should work with certain other states to encourage their ratification at the same time;
* Because uranium enrichment facilities can be used for either peaceful purposes or weapons, substitute multilateral facilities of cooperating members; and
* Encourage periodic public reports by a new UN Security Council subcommittee on new security measures taken by states.
As the authors note, the Hoover plan was an “implied critique” of the Bush administration for their limited nuclear arms control and reduction efforts, which lack long-term vision and shun mutuality of obligations. The 2001 Moscow Treaty (SORT) obligates the United States and Russia to reduce the deployment of strategic nuclear warheads by 2012, but provides no framework to eliminate the warheads once removed from the missiles and no plan to assure that each side is following through with their commitment. Furthermore, the authors state, Bush has refused to support the CTBT, refused to extend soon-to-expire verification provisions in START I, and has shown little interest in participating in discussions and negotiations with other countries who possess nuclear weapons, outside of the SORT Treaty with Russia.
The Hoover plan could begin the necessary dialogue between the United States and other nations. In this context, the next administration will have the task of rebuilding the lost trust of the U.S. leadership. If the Hoover plan, as revised and amended at two additional conferences, were adopted by governments starting in 2009, the goals put forth at the 1986 Reykjavik Summit could go from being a distant memory to positive steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
“Reykjavik Revisited” offers the specific ideas for how best to achieve the goal first put forth by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.