U.S. State Department outlines non-proliferation priorities

The U.S. State Department's acting undersecretary for arms control and international security recently spoke about future priorities for arms control negotiations after the New START treaty.

Rose Gottemoeller, who also heads the department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, recently delivered a speech to Exchange Monitor's Fifth Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit where she outlined her perspective on how the United States can maintain a safe and effective nuclear deterrent.

Gottemoeller said that the traditional concept of nuclear deterrence does not apply to the threat posed by terrorists. Terrorists, she said, pose a greater threat than a large-scale nuclear exchange. Because the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as well as other states' nuclear arsenals, has little relevance in deterring the threat, nuclear states must garner support for strengthening nonproliferation regimes.

"So what is the next step?" Gottemoeller said. "The administration continues to believe that the next step in nuclear arms reductions should be pursued on a bilateral basis, since the United States and Russia still possess the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world.

"With that in mind, we have a great example in the New START Treaty. The implementation of the Treaty, now underway for two years, is going well."

Gottemoeller said that the treaty allows the United States and Russia to resolve implementation issues, but also each country's flexibility to deploy the weapons in accordance with their national security strategy.

Gottemoeller said she hopes to begin multilateral negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to further negations on disarmament. She said beginning such negotiations is a priority for the United States and the majority of other states.

"None of this will be easy, but the plan the Administration is pursuing is suited for our security needs and tailored for the global security threats of the 21st century," Gottemoeller said. "By maintaining and supporting a safe, secure and effective stockpile - sufficient to deter any adversary and guarantee the defense of our allies- at the same time that we pursue responsible reductions through arms control, we will make this world a safer place.

"To paraphrase President Kennedy, whose speech 50 years ago at American University launched the NPT process, we will succeed by moving forward step by step, confident and unafraid."