trying to show how some of the points that are made about tet are wrong. >> could you explain how the media at the time and i guess over history have gotten it wrong? >> yeah. in fact, all front of the book is about how inconsiderate wars like iraq and afghanistan people use the tet offensive as an analogy quickly but they use it incorrectly. i start as a quote from contemporary sources and go back and retrace them. >> can you list a specific thing that was your inspiration for getting started on this? >> other than my publisher wanted it. i've been studying insurgency, counterinsurgency for 30 years. ..
>> thanks very much for your time. >> thank you. >> from the national museum of nuclear science, pulitzer prize winning author richard rhodes examines the prospects for nuclear disarmament in the post-cold war age. this is a little over an hour. [applause] >> thank you very much. i've been on book tour for about a month and a half now, so at this point one ear is stopped up, i can't hear out of my left ear -- [laughter] and my speech may be a little ragged, but i will do my very best. in any case, this is a wonderful place to end that long process, with people who are more knowledgeable, certainly, than
most americans about these issues and these technologies. this, i'm going to use some slides just as kind of background. some of them will be familiar to you. but i want to pick up the story of the nuclear age as this last and fourth volume does roughly at the end of the cold war. i think of what happened around the end of the cold war as a kind of extended version of a clean-up process. when various countries responded in various and interesting ways to the end of the superpower division which had really polarized the world. i think the first sentence of the book begins, "when the ice broke on the river of history at the end of the cold war." and there was a sense of a lot
of different individual/national issues coming to some resolution or reaching a point where they could be reopened because the countries no longer had to align themselves so rigidly with either the soviet union which was no more or with the united states. i think one of the most remarkable events was the discovery that -- or the announcement by south africa around, i think, 1993 that it had built six and was working on a seventh world war ii-type gun poms but had decided as a result of the end of the cold war to dismantle those weapons and put them away. the story, as most stories do, turned out to be considerably more complicated than that. indeed, south africa had built a number of little boy-type bombs,
six and part of a seventh. but they had also prepared themselves to use those weapons. these are actually the ballistic casings, the bomb exteriors that they had manufactured in case they were actually needed. their program was, at least as they announced it officially, that they were concerned about the 45,000 cuban mercenary troops in angola to the north of south africa during the latter years of the cold war. that they were concerned that these troops might invade south africa. if so, then they wanted some leverage with other countries, and particularly the united states, to get some support for repelling this invasion. and their plan was that they would first quietly tell the united states, we have some nuclear weapons. and if united states wasn't responsive to that, then they
would test one underground. and if we were not responsive to that, then they would prepare to use one as a tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield. that was the official story, and although it's rather bizarre when you think about it, it's not so different from north korea's effort over the years to use its potential and now actual nuclear arsenal as bargaining chips in forming an alliance with the united states. but at the same time, there's considerable evidence that south africa had actually begun at least planning toward a full-scale development of a nuclear capability that would include not only world war ii gun bombs, but also implosion bombs, tritium-boosted bombs and even some original work on thermonuclear. the tritium is important because it ties south africa to early work or work during the middle
years of the cold war by israel. i've found what i think is ample evidence of an israeli test of about a three-kill lo ton artillery rocket in the south ocean about 1200 miles southeast of cape town on a couple of little islands that belong to south africa and that are shrouded in fog and clouds more than 250 days a year. the question is, what was south africa's part? south africa's part seems to have been to allow the israelis to stage out one of its ports which was closed during the period of time when the test was believed to take place. you, i'm sure, are familiar with all of the signs that were picked up around the world that there had, indeed, been a test. not only via satellites which
have been presented as somehow failing and inadequate and, therefore, somehow detected a classic double flash from a nuclear explosion. before -- but there were other signs as well. there were hydrophone recordings, there were sheep in new zealand with iodine 131 in their tie ride and a number of others. there was a large flash detected from the japanese station in antarctica, enough, i think, to indicate there really was a test. what south africa got in return besides some unknown support for its efforts was a certain amount of tritium. and i think that fact alone makes it clear that they were working on more than these world war ii-type bombs. in any case, with the end of the cold war -- and this is my point -- the, the cuban troops went home from angola.
south africa, by then had become an international pariah and didn't like to be in that situation. and this is, perhaps, an uglier side of their decision to eliminate their artal, they didn't want to turn nuclear weapons over to the black african government that was about to replace the white apartheid government that had built -- so they not only destroyed the weapons, they also destroyed all the documentation of the engineering papers and so forth, thereby, they hoped, preventing any further development of a nuclear arsenal in their country. with all that said, they still represent the first country with a nuclear arsenal that voluntarily decided to eliminate it. and in that sense, i think they deserve all credit for it. then there was the fascinating, to me, work of our iaea and u.n. groups in iraq after the first
gulf war. here, of course, two of the team are standing on the soft iron core of a calutron system, electromagnetic isotope separation system that the iraqis had decided to develop as their, excuse me, yeah -- can i get some more water? -- had decided to develop as a way of getting all around the export constraints that were imposed on them around the world. this was a real surprise to everybody. some of you may have been involved in this effort. it was so surprising, and i tell you this story just because it's my small contribution to the dishonoring of iraq, that david kay in trying to explain to the younger inspectors what a calutron was took out his copy of the making of the atomic bomb, my book, and opened it to
the diagram i have there and the description and read the description to the other inspectors so that they would know what to look for. when they got to an iraqi military base where they had had a tip there might be calutron magnets somewhere stored, the iraqis would be loading these 64-ton magnets onto the back of tank transporters, 40 or 50 of them at a time, and roaring out the back of the base into the desert while our guys were coming in the front with the kind of broken-down land rovers that the united nations had supplied them for their inspection work. bob gelucci told me of hanging outside a land rover with a camera videotaping these trucks with their magnets, other calutron parts roaring off into the desert ahead of him with the iraqis firing into the air trying to scare them off. i mean, it really was kind of
cops and robbers, or cowboys and indians, this whole process. i think the most interesting story was david kay's story when they finally in a major iraqi government building in downtown baghdad got a tip that if they looked somewhere in that building, they would find the iraqi plans for their bomb, an implosion bomb. that would be the smoking gun they needed to prove that the iraqis, contrary to what they were telling them, were, in fact, working on nuclear weapons. they searched the building pretty thoroughly, and it was pretty clear that everything had been scrubbed. but then as they were working their way down to the building, they happened to go back to the back of a rather narrow hall in the basement and opened the door and found a little room that the iraqi clean-up crew had missed. and there amongst all the documents, david kay said, it was the first thing i pulled out
of the pile was a six month report on the bomb program that included a detailed engineering drawing of an implosion device. so he had his proof. but then he had to get it out and get it back to new york. and that was going to be a problem because the iraqis were really unhappy that he was searching this building. thus began, that day, the four-day standoff in the parking lot that i'm sure all of you remember following on cnn, because kay had a satellite phone, one of the old-fashioned ones with the suitcase that opened up to make the antenna. and he said that was a lifeline. we really weren't sure what was going to happen to us, but we were determined that we weren't going to leave the building as we'd had to do previously on a couple of inspections without the documents in our possession. now, part of the secret is he'd already shipped them out. he said, we had a colonel on the team who had the worst case of
diarrhea, he said, i've ever seen. and we had to get him to a hospital to get him rehydrated. and the iraqis were sympathetic. and he said and then we had these kiwi mean, of course, new zealand, medics who were smart, tough guys. so, he said, i just stuffed the document into the colonel's shirt, and he laid down on the gurney, and they carried him out, and everything was fine. that document went to a german transport plane at the international airport the same day and flew off to new york. nevertheless, they were still stuck in the parking lot because they weren't going to give away the fact that the document was already gone, and they had many other documents as well. with the satellite phone as their one link to the world and their one hope that they would survive this operation. so after about 23 hours on this phone the first day nonstop, kay said, we hung it up for a moment, and it immediately rang.
he said, i picked it up, and it was the operate in london -- operator in london. and the operator said, with we don't know what you're doing that you've been on this phone for 23 hours, but we're going to need a credit card. [laughter] and kay said, i told him, kay's a texan, a very smart man. he said, i told him, well, you're not going to get my dang credit card, but let me tell you what's going on here. and he told him, and one of the things he said was our reception really isn't very good. we're just -- the signal cuts in and out, we can't maintain the connection we'd like to maintain. and the operator said, maybe we can help you with that. i'll call you back in half hand hour. half an hour. so 30 minutes later the phone rang, kay picked it up, and the operator said we want to help you in your situation. we're going to move the
satellite. so he had a good connection through those four days, and it was one of the lifelines for that. and as you know, of course, i mean, one could think about this process as the first compulsory inspection, something that i think would probably be one ultimate component of any world where nuclear weapons had been eliminated because if someone decided to cheat and all else failed, one of the things that would be possible to do would be to invade that country, and that's basically what we did with iraq. the withdrawal of all of our ground-launched tactical nukes was withdrawal to the united states, was another step that went on in terms of cold war cleanup, particularly important in terms of north korea. because north korea was fully aware that there were lots of american nukes in south korea and by removing them, that began
a process that would culminate at the end of the decade in a almost resolution of the major conflicts between the united states and north korea. in fact, let me just run through that story quickly because it's quite a dramatic story, and i tell it at some length in the book. as you know, we were negotiating with north korea all through the '90s about its reactor at yongbyon, a reactor we knew was bleeding peru tone yum and -- of course, that was the process they were on. this culminated in 1994 in if a very close -- in a very close call for another war with north korea.
so close that bob gelucci who was negotiating with the north koreans at that time told me, he said, i can't seem to convince everybody -- anybody how close we were to a war with north korea. he said, we were just about to evacuate the u.s. embassy in seoul, and that would have been a clear signal to the north koreans that we were preparing to attack them or at least attack yongbyon which was the first fades of the war. now, clinton, president clinton had already had a discussion with general gary luck who was in charge of u.s. forces in korea. luck had come back to washington to say to the president a few months prior to this close call that we could win a war with north korea but that the cost would be a million and a trillion. and when president clinton said meaning what, he said a million south korean lives and a trillion dollars from their
economy because of the destruction and the disruption. so those were the stakes, and they were pretty terrible stakes. but clinton had kind of backed himself into a corner. it was going to be a series of ratcheted-up restrictions on north korea, and north korea's response had been to threaten to turn seoul and south korea into a sea of flame. you probably remember that phrase. so both sides were kind of ratcheting up into a conflict that neither side seemed to have a way to pull back from. it was just at that point that former president jimmy carter decided he had better step in, and he took advantage of the fact that for the previous three years he'd had an invitation from the north koreans every year to come to their country. and so e he went. and within 24 hours, he had been able to negotiate a standdown on
that side. gelucci, by now, was actually back in washington at the white house with clinton and his immediate people discussing what the next step was going to be. carter called from north korea. the call came into the white house, secretary came into the room and said it's north korea, president carter. so president clinton, of course, stood up to take the call, and then she said, no, he's calling bob gelucci. [laughter] gelucci said i didn't exactly crawl out of the room on all fours, but -- [laughter] and, of course, the resolution was, was good. the outcome was that gelucci went back to negotiating with the north koreans. what they wanted was a couple of power reactors. they were happy to have them under international control and all of that. but during the korean war we had
general lemay and the strategic air command had systematically fire bombed north korea almost literally, as he said, back to the stone age. we had killed more than two million north korean civilians, we had blown up all their power dens, 57% of their lick ri call supply -- electrical supply was hydroelectric. and they were still after all these years having tried first with the soviet union and now trying with the united states hoping to get renewed electrical supply for their country. it sounds like a lot less than it maybe should have been, but i asked gelucci, why would you give the north koreans two nuclear reactors? and his answer was, because that's what they wanted. that was the deal. and under the terms of the deal it would have worked out. but there were delays, and then finally, secretary of state madeleine albright went to north
korea in the last months of the clinton administration in 1999. president clinton was just about to go himself, and the election was then mooted by the question of whether george bush or al gore had been elected. clinton didn't feel he could leave the country when there was a constitutional crisis, and it all fell apart. and when the george w. bush administration came in, they seemed to have had as a basic policy rule whatever clinton did, do the opposite. but they found what was probably at most a laboratory-scale investigation in north korea of uranium enrichment, and that became a pretext for basically throwing out all of the great framework that gelucci had previously negotiated. and things went downhill from there. and now, finally, it looks like they might be coming back uphill a little bit, but not without north korea taking the step of
becoming a nuclear power which is pretty sad and tragic. you know about these points, the limitations on the two size arsenals -- two sides' arsenals. the amazing story of three countries which were major nuclear powers as a result of the dissolution of the soviet union. deciding -- not deciding, but finally agreeing after u.s. efforts to negotiate with them that they would give up their nuclear arsenals, move the bombs and be missiles to russia and signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. i'm standing on the right in this picture. the man on the left was the first head of state of the new country of belarus. his wife, he and she were both nuclear physicists, very much affected by chernobyl.
75% of the fallout from chernobyl fell on belarus, and as he told me, he immediately contacted moscow and asked if they could break out the, the potassium iodine tablets in the bomb shelters to give to the children to protect their thyroids from the iodine 131 fallout and the response from moscow was, comrade, are you a fool? we don't want to start a riot, no, shut up about it. don't talk about it. and they even at one point confiscated the instruments that some of the scientists were using to measure the radioactivity and fallout. so he wasn't -- i asked him why he so easily gave up a nuclear arsenal that consisted of 81 nerve missiles, enough to take out europe and north america, and he said because they came with russian soldiers attached.
so he wanted them out of the country, and the only thing belarus took from the united states was some support for the actual transportation process to move them out. kazakhstan negotiated a little more, but they got rid of their missiles. ukraine was a sticking point, a country that had justifiable suspicions of russia's intentions in their direction. but eventually through a process of russian coercion and united states encouragement and support, they also in 1996 signed a non-proliferation treaty. then there's the story that some of you probably took an active part in which was the effort by our labs here to connect with the, their counterparts in the former soviet union. people who had been living in secret cities and living very well, cities behind barbed wire suddenly with no visible means
of support. suddenly facing the fact that they might well be not enough to eat within a few months. the effort then was to encourage them through the scientific and people, the people-to-people exchanges that labs arranged to be willing to discuss what else they might do. and that, of course, tied in with the nun-lugar program in congress that finally came up increaseing support through the '90s and saw them through that really terrible transition time. this is the time the directer of los alamos, the tall man on the right, is just about to shake hands with the oppenheimer of the soviet union and the directer at arse move 16. when their hands met, haruton who spoke beautiful english
actually working side by side with robert oppenheimer at one point although they, apparently, never really knew each other, he said, i've been waiting for this moment for 40 years. it was a tough job convincing the other nations who were signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that they should permanently extend the treaty. the treaty had been set up with a 25-year break point in 1970 when it came into effect because a number of non-nuclear powers were understandably suspicious of the nuclear powers' commitment to actually eliminating their nuclear weapons. as a result, unlike most treaties, this treaty was set up with an up or down vote on its permanent extension, 25 years after it came into power which would have been and was 1995. it was a very questionable issue at the outset of the '90s whether or not the treaty was going to be permanently extended, and it was important
to us and to all, everyone, that it be permanently extended however much the superpowers had been playing games about it. so tom graham, who was a u.s. ambassador and at one time the active head of the arms control and disarmament agency, decided that he would personally go to the capitals of all the countries that were in any doubt whatsoever about signing and negotiate with their leaders. and he spent the next two or three years on the road doing just that. and was able by 1995 to have turned the tide, and the treaty was permanently extended. with, however, and rightly so, some more requirements in terms of the nuclear powers meeting their part of bargain. but it was, as you know, a nuclear non-proliferation treaty more than anything that
protected the world from having 25 or 30 or even 40 nuclear powers instead of the nine that we have today. the comprehensive test ban treaty was another part of all of this, and i won't say much more about it than that except, of course, when it finally came up for ratification in the senate in 1999, the republican right had managed to maneuver things so that it didn't get even a simple majority of the senate vote, much less two-thirds as it needed. and as of today, has still not been ratified. i suspect it's on president obama's list down the road, but for now, fortunately, the united states still observes the terms of the agreement and provides funds for the very elaborate program of international investigation that has been installed around the world to track any possible nuclear tests
and, indeed, i think was one of the first systems to identify the first north korean test. so with that said, it's interesting to look at what all this cold war cost us. these are numbers that i've converted to 2010 dollars so that the full impact is there. i think the most important number, to me, is the cost of our nuclear weapons and delivery systems, $7.8 trillion. and the cold war total, $18.5 trillion which carl sagan famously said, in other words, everything in the united states except the land. i think we should ask ourselves whether we really needed to spend that much money. it's interesting to see what we, what we didn't do because of that expense, among others. the american society of civil
engineers puts out an annual report card on u.s. civil infrastructure. this is the most recent one that they've published from 2009. it's slightly better than another one i looked at from 2005. but it's not very good. i mean, we know that the infrastructure of the united states is in pretty bad repair. we know it because bridges fall down, highways are torn and schools don't work very well, the buildings, i mean. we have a major, major investment that has been foregone for many years partly because of the cost of the cold war and of the nuclear arsenals that went with it. so the society of civil engineers' estimate is that it would take about $2.2 trillion to brick -- to bring us back up to a good standard. then there's another question, and i really don't need to tell this audience that, but i will
just say briefly sometimes i think to most americans it seems that these issues are no longer on the table. i know that there are plenty of americans who believe we eliminated our nuclear arsenals at the end of the cold war which sounds ill-informed but is, in fact, i think formed by a gut instinct that the cold war was the reason for the arms race and that with the closure of the cold war, why would we need to maintain a large nuclear arsenal anymore? that, i think, is the logic behind that misunderstanding. but the truth is, p even a small regional nuclear war would have world scale climatic effects. the same group of scientists who worked out the model of nuclear winter back in the 1970s and '80s more recently took the
much more sophisticated climate models that have been developed to look at climate change and reestimated their global warming estimates and found that, indeed, global warming from a full-scale soviet/american nuclear exchange would have been worse than their earlier estimates indicated. but they were also interested in ask the question, what would a small regional nuclear war do to the rest of the world? so they looked at 115kiloton, hiroshima-sized weapons unleashed between india and pakistan and assumed they would necessarily be exploded over cities, and they then calculated -- so, we're talking about 150 -- we're talking about 1 p.m. 5 -- 1.5 megatons even
though we had weapons that were larger than those individual weapons. but many people don't understand that the main effect of a nuclear explosion is a mass fire. not radiation, it's not blast, it's mass fire. and i just throw in this photograph, this vivid photograph of the hiroshima mass fire to make that point. most of the people who died in hiroshima and nagasaki died from fire. they didn't die from blast or radiation. so now, unfortunately, my graph isn't going to animate for us, but if it did do so, you would see a little black speck emerge between india and pakistan and slowly grow into a gray haze that would cross about a three month period spread out across the entire world. the estimates that the scientists came up with was that there would be about a 2-3
degree annual reduction in average world temperatures as a result of that small regional nuclear war. two to three degrees doesn't sound like much either, but it's enough to produce hard freezes in july, and their estimate was that there would be prompt deaths from the actual attacks of about 20 million people. and delayed deaths from starvation among people who live on the edge of starvation now around the world of about two billion. so we are still very much engaged in the issues that are related to nuclear weapon withs and nuclear arsenals. one billion, sorry, i gave the wrong number for starvation. and i just listed the largest cities here in terms of numbers
of people because we are still in a world where even a small nuclear weapon could produce mass casualties in amazing numbers, numbers far beyond most natural disasters in the history of our species. here are today's inventories, i think we're going to see this go down very rapidly with the, in fact, the column on the right is an indication of after the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty comes into effect, where our arsenals will be reduced to. but 5,883 weapons is still enough for all of these facts that i've been describing to be part of the risk that we all live with. and i should just add and, again, i'm not telling you anything you don't know, that we have come to a different place now with the potential for subnational groups to acquire or even perhaps make if they can
get the nuclear materials terrorist weapons. we've come to a place where deterrence as it was classically describedded isn't going to work anymore in some instances. there's nothing, there's nothing that osama bin laden and his group, that i know of, hold that would be at risk other than the caves of tora bora if they decided to set off a nuclear weapon in the middle of new york city. i think one of the reasons that we invaded iraq in the second gulf war which i'll talk about in a moment is rather like the drunk who lost his wallet in a dark street and looked for it under the street light because he could see there, and he couldn't see in the other places. i don't mean that to be insulting of the president, but it's pretty clear that one to have main reasons for invading iraq in 2003 was to send b a message -- send a message to whomever was involved in these
efforts to even subnational groups. so i want to talk for a moment about the efforts that have been made since the end of the cold war toward thinking about limiting and, indeed, even eliminating the physical nuclear weapons in the world. richard butler, the ambassador from australia who has been active in nuclear elimination efforts since the late '80s, chaired a commission that was called by the australian prime minister in 1995, the canberra commission. it was a group of people from many different walks of life of distinction around the world, peace nicks, generals and everybody in between. and of all their many conclusions, the one that richard was proud itself of and felt was the most important thing that came from that effort was what he calls the axiom of
proliferation which, to me, is a very fundamental rule. i mean, my most fundamental rule is the remark in 1944 to franklin roosevelt that we are in an entirely new situation that cannot be resolved by war. in other words, nuclear weapons introduced a condition to the world where the solution to problems had to be diplomatic, it couldn't be the result of a successful war unless it was a war against a non-nuclear power. and even that, we found, would be compromised by those very alliances that i was talking about at the outset of this talk. that's my basic, fundamental principle about this whole issue. but this axiom, in a way, follows from that because deterrence operates on the principle that if you have nuclear weapons sufficiently guarded and protected and you are attacked by a country that
has nuclear weapons or threatened to be, you can threaten in return to attack them, and that's a standoff because neither side wasn'ts to be destroyed. that's -- wants to be destroyed. that's not a victory. so, therefore, it followed, the commission felt, that as long as any country has nuclear weapons, others will seek to acquire them. that's the axiom of proliferation. the, president obama in his speech in prague in early 2009 when he, shortly after he was inaugurated as president, added a kind of a corollary. if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable. i say that because i think it's been much too easy to believe that the status quo that was so
hard-earned on the part of you here and many others around the world, the status quo of deterrence is somehow going to be a perpetual state. but, you know, technology doesn't work that way. machines aren't that reliable. people change their minds. situations and circumstances change as well. that's why i think president obama's corollary follows clearly, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, the possibility of their use exists, indeed, the probability of their use exists. more so now than when the cold war established two sides that managed to find ways to cooperate across the cold war in many different ways. that's kind of a story that never really has been told, but it's true. even our negotiations with the soviet union had to do with trying to at least know what the other side was doing.
against the idea of deterrence, helmut schmidt and his people in germany in the middle of the cold war looking for a way to resolve the dispute that had led to the division of their country into east and west, formulated the idea of common security. i think of this, again, as an outgrowth of boor's idea, that as long as they were in a new situation that couldn't be resolved by war. the germans took the idea of common security to the russians, agreed with the russians to sign a treaty that would make permanent the existing borders of states in europe, meaning west germany agreed to the division of itself into two parts. but they did that believing that that was the first step toward a
negotiated resolution of their differences and, of course, they turned out to be right. no longer against each other but only with each other shall we be secure. and this was then formulated more elaborately by a commission headed by olaf palma, the prime minister of sweden who was assassinated several years later with the commission at the u.n. all states, each the most powerful, are dependent in the end upon the good sense and restraint of other nations. even ideological and political opponents have a shared interest in survival. in the long run, no nation can base it security on the insecurity of others. i don't know of a clearer statement of the basic and fundamental problem that has to be resolved if world is to move to a situation where there are no physical nuclear weapons existent. steps to a nuclear abolition,
i'll just post briefly because i'm sure you're all very familiar with them. but, to me, they're less important right now than for us to rethink now that the cold war is long over what is the function of nuclear weapons? is there some way to have the good parts of the protection that nuclear weapons afforded us for decades and decades without the risks that are inherent in the maintenance of fallible machine by fallible human beings? i think the answer to that in the longer run is going to be what some have called virtual deterrence, what some have called delayed deterrence, but what, basically, means as long as you and people like you with knowledge of how to build and maintain nuclear arsenals
maintain that knowledge, it's possible to think of a situation in the world where there are no physical weapons around. you can think of it as a kind of reverse process of threat. if you take a warhead off of an icbm and put it in the next silo, it will take, perhaps, three hours to put it back on and launch the missile, and that's three hours instead of 30 minutes. if you move it 60 miles down the road, maybe it takes a day. if you take the weapons apart and store their parts separately as india and pakistan do today, precisely so that they don't have to face a first-strike capability from the other side, then you have more time. what's the time good for? the time is good for trying to find some other way ore solve the dispute -- some other way to desolve the dispute. i would say walk it back six
months to a time where the materials are available, but the weapons have to be assembled and certified and inserted onto their delivery system and so forth. in that situation there's always, of course, the risk of someone deciding to break out. and i think back to the remarkable document that robert oppenheimer and the other members of the acheson and lilienthal commission assembled, put together, worked out in 1946 which was then kind of botched by bernard baa rook and changed around when he presented it to the united nations. what oppenheimer -- be ruin at one point asked oppenheimer, where's your army? so many chiefs, how are you going to stop that? there's no provision here for any enforcement. and oppenheimer said, well, somebody started building a nuclear weapon, that would be an act of war. and that means every other
country who was party to the agreement would necessarily be threatened and concerned. and presumably, would proceed step by step toward some negotiation to coercive negotiation to, perhaps, conventional invasion as with iraq in 1991. but oppenheimer pointed out, at the ultimate point if all else failed, the other countries involved could always reconstitute their nuclear arsenals as well. and under those circumstances we would only be back to where we are right now. so it's not so implausible, i think, or idealistic as, i think, plans for the elimination of weapons must often seem especially to those of you who have worked on them and have been involved in them for all these years. the question really is why would
anybody want to go there, why would anybody take the risk? and i think that has to be surrounded with all of these steps that i posted in the previous slide in this way so that there is a very high level of confidence that nobody's going to cheat on the agreement. further more, and i think this is a point that often escapes lay people including myself, and that is treaties aren't normally negotiated with the idea that you're going to cheat on them. they're normally negotiated because all sides feel that they have of value, that they give security. and under those circumstances it's not easy to imagine the situation where someone would try to break out. but if they did, the fact of delayed deterrence would be there in the background as long as we maintained a nuclear infrastructure of people and equipment that would make it possible to reconstitute an
arsenal. for me, this is the bottom line. it's not simply a statement of neil spoor's, it's based on a very fundamental fact. when it became possible to -- when it became possible to release the energy locked in the nucleus of atoms, all the systems that had been set up of international politics that were based on the assumption that national sovereignty could be defended with conventional forces fell to the wayside. it no longer became possible to maintain national sovereignty by going to war because war became, as the phrase was all those years, suicidal. under those circumstances it's as if nuclear energy shorted out
the limited amount of energy available for conventional explosives and moved the whole political system over to a different place. we're still in the middle of beginning to work out the consequences of this discovery, of this formulation. and i, we haven't, we haven't made that much progress, but if you look, for example, at the number of nuclear tests over the last 60 years, there's a japanese artist who's put together an animated slide. it's a map of the world, and it shows each nuclear test with a ping for each one. it is shul fascinating. it run -- it is absolutely fascinating. it runs 15 minutes. you get ping, ping, ping, ping, ping. the middle of the cold war is a series of sounds, it becomes clear quickly the sides testing
designs. there was something like a communication going on at this very low bid rate of nuclear explosions between the united states and soviet union. it drops off dramatically in 1991, and then there are just a few. and then finally in 2006 there are a couple in north korea, and that's it. silence after that. i mean, that is, to me, a really deep, graphic version of what's been going on. all of this, and now we're down to here, and the question really is where do we go from here? and i know you all are involved in that question. and i hope the answer is we go to some place that's safer and more secure, where negotiation to the extent that it can replaces threat. those would seem, to me, to be the ideal places to go. so that's, for me, the end of 30 years of work. i've written my last nuclear volume. i caught up with the present.
i'll have to wait another decade before there's another book to write. i hope i should live so long. but in the meantime, i think i want to say as i've said to this audience before, thank you for your dedication and commitment, doing something that is morally complicated, very much so, and i'm sure you know that. but was something this nation asked you to do. not always, i think, for the best of reasons. but there there it was and theru were, and you did, as we all know, a superb job. the fact is, no nuclear weapons have exploded by accident since 1945, since ever. so thank you very much. [applause] so questions and comments? we can do a little bit of that.
>> let's, let's take a moment for whoever would like to ask the question for the c-span folks' position. so if you would raise your hand and be called, richard, you decide who you'd like to have a question from. >> to him. want to wait for the mic? >> wait a moment, if you will, until the mic comes. >> -- store their weapons separately also? >> i couldn't even hear you. >> any idea if the the israelis store their weapons down in the nay gave or wherever they've got them? are they -- >> no. no, i don't know. ful no. there's a certain amount of knowledge but not very much about the israeli nuclear arsenal. i've seen estimates that differ by as much as 90 weapons -- 80 weapons, 300 weapons. it's pretty clear they've worked on boosting. i think that's why they made tritium, what else?
yeah, thank you. sir, they'll bring the mic. >> there's another corollary to the one you were talking about, and that's also overwhelming conventional superiority causes of immense value to a country who doesn't have the money to counter that to get a nuclear weapon. so we're in kind of a quandary here in the u.s. where we have overwhelming conventional superiority, and that is a road block too, doesn't it? >> i'm sure you're aware that the united states would be relative ri even -- relatively even more dominant in a non-nuclear world than we are now. one of the things that is a threat, of course, to the united states even from be a small country would be nuclear weapons. but that's not at all true when we're talking about conventional weapons. so it seems clear to me as i've tried to think about how you move from where we are to where i was suggesting we might go
that the united states is going to be asked to reduce its conventional capability. it's the sheer, the sheer mass of military force that we have assembled. and that's going to be very complicated. because we're also going to be asked to eliminate our nuclear weapons. i don't imagine this is all going to happen tomorrow or take place very easily. it's going to depend very much on how much it makes sense to people, practical, conventional, defensive, security sense to live in a world without the threat of these weapons of immense destructive capacity. we'll see. sir. >> in some sense, though, haven't nuclear weapons sort of kept the peace? after all, countries which have a nuclear arsenal, have they ever really gone to war with
each other? perhaps in part out of fear of what might happen? india and pakistan really haven't fought directly, and we didn't with the soviet union, so there is an argument that mutual assured destruction, in fact, does work in some sense to keep the peace. >> the question is haven't nuclear weapons, in fact, kept the peace? you know, there's no question, i think, that at a deep existential level, at the level of gut fear that deterrence has worked. but if you look at deterrence as a theory which was elaborately developed by what i call the nuclear mandarins during the high years of the cold war, we accepted defeat in vietnam, the russians accepted defeat in afghanistan rather than escalate to use nuclear weapons. they were not weapons that had -- deterrence didn't work at the level of coercion very much, but it certainly coerced the two superpowers. but, unfortunately -- and this is why the so-called four
horsemen; george shultz, sam nunn, bill perry and henry kissinger at the 30th anniversary of reykjavik -- got together and decided to start an effort to eliminating nuclear weapons. there is now the real possibility, and i think it's going to be an increasing possibility in the future, that subnational groups can get their hands on some sort of nuclear weapon, and many -- in that circumstance, deterrence seemingly has no value at all. and what could we threaten such a group with? the only thing we could do was hope we could ap rehelp them and stop them before they set off whatever device were developed. so from the point of view of the four horsemen, and i mentioned that because my opinion is my opinion, but those men at least had major experience in government. they saw that change as
millennial, as very important and as a reason to move to zero or as quickly as possible. sorry, yeah. [laughter] >> richard, do you really think the iaea and the u.n. are capable of brokering a deal to diplomatically remove nuclear weapons? and if they can't, who's going to do it? how do we do it? >> you know, the activities that have been a part of the nuclear test ban treaty have involved the development of systems of surveillance and inspection all over the world. and i think it's in that context -- i don't imagine that the u.n. can vibe vie grably
serve that under the present formation. richard butler, for example, has proposed a new special security council for nuclear issues where there would be no veto. that would be vital because the veto has been, of course, the spoiler through many, many occasions since the u.n. was formed in 1945. but the iaea has the capability. the u.n. didn't do a bad job in iraq under somewhat limited circumstances. and, again, i have to say -- and i know this is really hard for people to buy -- but countries don't sign treaties with the express intention of cheating on them. nor is it immediate obvious to me what a country that secretly built a few nukes would really be able to do to the rest of the world anyway. they could make a mess, no question.
but what exactly would there threat be? and what would be its basis? and how long could they expect it to operate before other countries responded in wayses that would be painful to them? i mean, it, to me, is part of the, of the evidence that we're at a very early point in thinking this new world through, that that kind of question is valid and isn't immediate obvious how you answer it. but we do have a lot of beginnings all over the place. the nuclear test ban treaty is one of them. but the -- and the test ban treaty particularly with all of it, with all of it international program of surveillance and inspection, the whole new development that some of you probably are involved in to develop nuclear forensics so that if nuclear materials do turn up in the wrong places, in the wrong hands, one can identify, a country can identify where they came fro