tv [untitled] April 8, 2016 7:01pm-8:00pm EDT
subsequent to the publication of that book, that i mentioned, i become concerned about a fifth facet or face of nuclear terrorism which i don't think is received enough attention by national governments including our own. and that's the potential for nonstate actors who don't attempt to acquire nuclear material, don't attempt to build a nuclear device of any sort, but think that they may be able to we sip tate a nuclear exchange between countries propossessing nuclear weapons. i would call this spoofing and i think the best example and one that requires more attention was an incident that occurred in 1995 when a scientific rocket, a sounding rocket, a multistage rocket, was launched off the coast of norway. the norwegian authorities informed russian authorities about plans to make this -- undertake this launch but that
information was not conveyed to appropriate command and control parties in moscow. and as a consequence, when this sounding rocket took off, russian command and control thought it was a submarine launched ballistic missile and had good reason to think so. but one can well imagine had there been a dozen of these launches simultaneously and the concern for me is that's the only form of a real existential threat i see at the moment posed by nonstate actors. i mean, i'm very much concerned about fissile material and making use of dispersal devices. that would be horrendous. but if you're really talking about an existential threat, i think it's actually spoofing one needs to be more concerned about at the moment in a number of
regions, possibly including, you know, george's favorite area which is south asia. >> thank you. professor hecker, you know, in your opinion how acute is this problem of insecure nuclear materials? in which countries are we really facing the greatest dangers there? >> let me first address the russia issue because -- >> yes, thank you. >> -- you happened what's happened over that time and then what about the russians walking away and how vulnerable does that leave the nuclear materials so let me go back to 1991, '92 while senator lugar was entertaining the russians in his offices, we los alamos scientists and livermore and we were interfacing with the russian nuclear weapons scientists. it was totally unheard of during those times and i first went to their secret city, their los alamos in february of '92.
and next month i'm going to make my 52nd visit to russia. since this time. and most of it is addressing this issue of the security issues that we had. so when i look back on 1991, '92, the number one, two and three greatest nuclear threats and concerns i had were all related to russia and the coming apart of the soviet union and what happens. and then, we had this incredible combination of u.s. government actions that were really important, including president george p.w. bush's presidential nuclear initiatives. nonlugar act. visionary legislation. the track two nongovernmental community really came on in force. actually ahead of the government to sort of push into action talking to each other because
they knew it was going to take a lot of cooperation. and then, we the scientists at these nuclear labs began to work together. so, at that time, and that's the story we tell in this book in 1,000 pages. so i'm going to try to give you a quick synopsis of those 1,000 pages. so what we faced in 1991, '92 is a soviet union coming apart. and the 15 nations that made up the soviet union, particularly russian federation, then having access to these enormous nuclear assets a the a time when the country was literally coming apart. you know, the economy in total turmoil, political system changing. the safety net for the soviet people, now, russian people. going away. and now it was really what i would call the making of a perfect nuclear storm.
what you had at that time, you had a soviet union with 30-some thousand nuclear weapons. 30-some thousand. you had a russia then left with some were around 1.4 million kilograms of fissile material, the stuff you can make the bombs out of, that means plutonium and highly enriched uranium. just to remind you, nagasaki, the plutonium bomb, 6.2 kilograms of plutonium blew up a city. 6.2 kilograms of plutonium is this much. that's it. hiroshima was highly enriched uranium. it was more. but today let's say you could make a bomb out of 25 or so kilograms. so smaller than a soccer ball. and we're talking about 1.4 million kilograms in hundreds of
facilities and buildings. and this is not fort knox stuff. and actually one of the thing that is really bothers me about the fluke clear security summit there's too much talk of this lock-up. why don't we just lock up -- you can't lock these materials up. you dissolve them in acid. there's waste. you work with them in muk clear power or in nuclear weapons. so the problem is there was all this, so we talk about concern of loose nukes. and of course, nonlugar was really essential. then the second was a loose materials. you know? could some of this material get away? in 1992, i really didn't see how we were going to get through the next ten to 20 years without significant loss of russian nuclear materials. the third we were worried about was loose people. experts. the soviet complex had about a million people working in that nuclear complex. of course, not all of them
nuclear weapons but let's just say lots of them. so you were worried about the loose experts and then the fourth was loose exports. so you had the four loose nuke problems. now you look back 25 years later. loose nukes, didn't happen. loose nuclear materials, a little bit. of course, again, as i said, doesn't take much but incredibly small amount of fissile materials. it's unbelievable what actually happened to the russian complex. loose experts? basically nothing. you know? not anymore than we have had in the united states. loose exports, a bit of a problem with the iran in the 1990s but russia's come around to be a responsible nuclear exporter. so those four things didn't happen. and today, the situation in russia is significantly improved where it was in 1991, '92.
so, their nuclear are now really well protected. their nuclear materials are much better protected. their experts which often in the 1990s didn't get paid for six months at a time, they're getting paid. they're doing well. and in exports, they're exporting legitimately and making actually significant money that way. so the russian nuclear complex has come an enormous way. so one of the reasons they shut off the -- >> they don't need us. >> -- that was they've made much progress and most of this program that we're talking about was focused at improving their facilities, their people and they said, hey, you know, we are done. where's as good as you guys. stop focusing on us. okay. so to some extent that's good news. the bad news is that if you're talking about nuclear safety or nuclear security, you're never
done. and just when you think you're done, and you get complacent is when the problems happen. and we have had those problems in this country, actually more so than they have now had in russia. and what's so important is for us to continue to work together because this issue of the nuclear security from the weapons to the materials to the people to the exports, it doesn't just require the government action. we were fortunate. we had this visionary legislation. that by itself would have done nothing. actually, in this case, we had two senators who kept traveling over there. they kept working this themselves. but then all the way down the line, we had several thousand scientists and engineers from the u.s. labs and the russian labs go to each other. thousands of trips back and forth. i mean, literally thousands of projects back and forth. >> how much of that is still happening?
>> it was only through that that we got the sense that, hey, they're doing well and now they've cut off that interaction and that is a pity and so that's what we'd like to get restarted. >> yeah. dr. perkovich, your expertise among other things deals with south asia and pakistan is often mentioned. i alluded to it as a place of terrorists to obtain materials for a nuclear device or ready-made weapons. how accurate is that assessment? >> well, i mean, i think some of the things that sie hecker talked about to me or welcomed good news, first of ulg, but they're also indicative of a logic to remember even as we're wo worrying and that is that states including pakistan and their leaders have greater
motivations even than we do to maintain their crown jewels. so nuclear weapons to pakistan are the most important thing to the pakistani army. pakistani army is the most competent organization in pakistan. may not be fully kompb tent but it's the most in pakistan. when people ask me this question which i get asked a lot, i say nuclear weapons are the safest thing in pakistan. now, that may not be enough, you may say they're still not safe but from a pakistani point of view, what more do you want to do? they have lots of things to worry about and the other things that i think are more worrying, the nuclear weapons will be more safe and secure, to. >> have they been at all amenable to american assistance? >> it's quiet but there's a long going department of energy cooperation with the pakistanis on securing the nuclear assets. it's very, very difficult
because the pakistani military, we worry the most about terrorists getting them. they worry the most about us getting their nuclear weapons so when the osama bin laden raid happened, the first thing when they got news 0 of that within hours, they started moving nuclear weapons, securing the nuclear weapons thinking the u.s. was coming after their nuclear weapons. so there's good news in that, too, which is if they could secure the nuclear materials and weapons against us they're securing them against other people, as well. i don't have a problem with f that's the motivation. the psychology of the issue is different than you might first think about it but it's fairly positive, i would say. and their openness to cooperation without getting too close. again, they want to make sure they hide the things from us. and now the more that the u.s. cooperates with india which is a bipartisan objective in washington, then the more the
pakistanis say wait a minute, the new biggest friend is indians and when the americans have the capability and want to talk about the nuclear capability, it's part of the plot with the indians to come get it so we have to be aware of that going nah nah to the pakistanis. >> to turn to another issue the new president will unher it is the iran deal. dr. perkovich, you published a article entitled -- an editorial i think the iran deal, no better alternative, now make the most of it. that's expressive, i think. i wonder what the other panelists would like to tell us about your view of the iran deal, how much more secure does it make us and what are the problems? mr. potter? >> okay. i think, actually, sieg is probably focused on that issue more than i have but i share,
you know, the assessment as it's conveyed in the title, you know, by george. i think actually it's probably a better deal than many folks thought was possible. just a few years ago when we were in the midst of these negotiations. i think the real problem will be in the implementation of the deal. and there the problem is as much a domestic one as it is an international one. i think there are unparalleled intrusive inspections of the iaea has and i'm quite confident, you know, on that side of the street we'll be all right. it's the question of the opposition in both countries by large, important factions to the deal in principle. and i think that is something we can't take for granted that
we're going to be able to sustain over time. but in balance, i think if you were to ask about the nonproliferation ledger, where's the good news and where's the bad news, i think the good news is, indeed, the iran deal. let me share with you a kind of an unanticipated i think consequence of that deal because i think most americans particularly those who work in the government have had a very negative view of iran as it pertains to international negotiations with some very good reasons and terrorism is one of those. but in the area i tend to focus on a lot and that is the nonproliferation treaty review process, the gatherings four out of every five years in which countries come together to review the implementation of the treaty and looking forward, it's rather striking that while there
are all kinds of problems at the last review con flens, in fact, i recently quote an article called the unfulfilled promise of the 2015 npt review conference. i had a sub title which the editors at survival took off and it was 100 ways to say no in french and arabic. the countries that were french speaking and arabic speaking, one in particular were the problems. iran was not. iran of the nonalign movement this wast year was a constructive force in the negotiations. it's also telling that at the first committee, the disarmament committee at the united nations this past fall, all of the nuclear weapons possessors preferred a resolution put forward by iran dealing with the so-called open-ended working group on disarmament to the resolution put forward by our
allies such as mexico, chile, austria and the like. so there's a very unusual dynamic that we are observing now which i think is not familiar to most folks for obvious reasons. these are rather kind of esoteric issues but it is, i think, pertinent to the question of what's the consequence of this iran nuclear deal. >> all right. mr. heck, you want to jump in on that? >> what i kind amazing about the iran deal is how much division there is in this country about the iran deal. almost everybody has a very strong opinion, either one way or the other. most of them, quite frankly, don't understand the underlying technical issues of where they say, for instance, giving the license that ten years from now they'll have an industrial nuclear weapons capability. so, that's one concern. the second concern that i have is i wish we'd had as many people talking about north korea
as we do about the iran deal because that's a real problem. i mean, those guys not only have nukes, they got lots of nukes now. and they've been building them up, regardless of what the whole rest of the world is doing, not just u.s. failure. it's the failure of the international community and we're just sitting by. it was mentioned earlier today, this thing of strategic patience. it's neither patient nor strategic. it's a very bad move but on iran -- >> yes. back to iran. >> the following. i have had a chance to sbeer act with the iranian technical people and also with the iranian political people. and so, what's happened in iran is over the last 30 years essentially when the. >> toll las made the decision to go ahead and reconstitute a path to -- a nuclear path in the mid-1980s or so, if you watch
what they have been doing, over 30 years, this is my opinion sh they have been putting in place the capability to build a bomb. so when you add all the pieces together, that's the only conclusion that i can come up with as to why they would do what they're doing with the center refugees. why they were building a reactor to make plutonium and why they did certain types of tests over the years so they've been putting that in place, and also, sort of regardless what happens politically. it just kept on going along. and so, then what happened with this iran deal was in essence the administration agreed that they would disaggregate the nuclear problem from the rest of the iran issue. in other words, separate the problems. and by separating the problem, the good news was that's the only way they could get the rest of the world to come on board.
particularly china, russia. there's no way that if you fold in whatever else iran is doing you're going do get russia on board. but if you focus only on the nuclear piece, they managed to get all of those guys lined up. and so, now they have the makings of a nuclear deal. and so, what they did with this nuclear deal, technical stuff is very straight forward. at the time they started the deal discussions, the iranians in a month or two could have made enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb. would have probably taken them six more months to build a crude bomb taking a couple of years to build something, you know, a bit more sophisticated but they were within a couple of months to be able to make the materials for the bomb. that's how close they were. and what the deal does, and i had these discussions with the iranians and i didn't believe -- i kept on telling them. you got an open space. you know? between the military and
civilian capabilities. well, they open space and that space stayed open, you know, sort of this year that you've heard. and the year, it's pretty good. you know? that's pretty good. so what they have now done is with the deal it takes a year to reconstitute and if they want to cheat or as george's buddies say, sneak out instead of a breakout, they could do -- that would be more difficult because the whole inspection regime is much more rigorous than anything that's been put there. what they did with this plutonium, would have been a plutonium producing reactor. entombed the core and agreed to redesign the reactor to make the americans less concerned about the plutonium which is the second path to the bomb. so they took all of those steps and from a nuclear standpoint, that's all good news.
you know? if ten or 15 years they want to go back and march towards a bomb, they can do that. they have the capabilities to do so but we'd know it if they were doing it. so that's the good news. the bad news is by disaggregating, you know, that doesn't mean they're going to behave in all the other areas so you relieve the sanctions to get more money. their own money. what will they do with that money? what will happen in the next ten to 15 years? so my bottom line to that was i don't know what happens. we don't know which way iran goes but i'd rather not face the next ten to 15 years with them having nuclear weapons and then still worried about the other issues. to me, this is by far the best that you could do. >> senator lugar? >> i know we are about to get to questions and i appreciate that, but just want to say i'm indebted to my colleagues on the stage today for the
argumentation which came to play because the facts of life are that as this deal came up every single republican in the united states senate indicated opposition. there was a situation in which the white house called me and asked if i could help, in fact. they were implored it much more strongly than this, as a matter of fact. and called sam nunn my partner. so we penned an op-ed that was published in "politico" and elsewhere around to begin with. and then another one with bennet johns, former senator from louisiana. and john kerry then called and said, i'm going up to philadelphia to try to make a case there for a national audience. i'd like you to come on my plane and introduce me and sort of start out by talking about some of your experiences with arms control and what have you which is certainly an interesting
trip. and secretary kerry gave a tremendous speech, really outlining point by point everything that's been suggested today. and even at that point, within the democratic party, there were not enough vote tots get across the threshold of the parliamentary situation they had but nevertheless excitement was that by the time we finished that day, word came that one senator, whoever it may have been, on the democratic side finally said yes. looked as if it finally was going do get across the finish line. i mention this because we have not had an arms control treaty now since the new starr treaty in 2012 when john kerry was chairman. i was ranking member still in the senate an subs request toent that, why, no soap, whatever. so it's semi miraculous somehow this one got across the finish line but it was very important, really, that it did. i just salute everybody involved
that process. >> before we get to questions which i do want to do, i want to take you up on the hint and talk a little bit about north korea. so, maybe i'll start with you, dr. perkovich. just how close are the north koreans to obtaining a weapon that can strike american territory? >> i would ask seig. but and there are many, many reasons for that. but i -- as you can kind of tell with my response to the pakistan, the talk about the threat doesn't motivate me very much because we have known what they are for a long, long time. north korea, depending on how you want to measure the worry, 1992 at the latest where we really, really worried. so i was still young. it's -- so the issue is what are you going to do about it? so we can talk about north korean threat but it's been there. what are we going to do about it? and that to me is the biggest problem. sieg alluded to it. we can't have an adult
conversation in the united states or more importantly between the united states and the allies japan and south korea about a north korea. we have to have a pretend conversation about they're going to dismantle everything and we'll be able to verify it all and it's all going to go away and i think, you know, at least in my view, that, you know, that option went away a fairly long time ago with this regime in north korea and so as long as that's kind of of a precondition for doing something about it, or the precondition for even having a discussion about it in washington, we're not going to have the discussion because it's fantasy. it's bipartisan problem. democrats aren't any better on this than republicans are. they all want to say, oh, north korea's got to rid of everything. that's the premise. we won't talk to them unless they agree on that premise to go into it and it's fantasy. it's not -- it's totally -- fantasy in the way that when you talk to a 3-year-old you tell stories because you don't want
them to understand the real world. and that's what our -- what we're doing now on this issue. >> professor, hecker? yes. >> let me start by sort of backing what george said in terms of bipartisanship. north korea is a great example of bipartisan failure and everything was bipartisan. if you go back and you want to assess the blame to somebody, you can start with reagan and they were laying the foundation for a nuclear program during ronald reagan's presidency. during george h.w. bush, they essentially got everything ready so by 1992, they were ready. you know, and then during clinton, it turns out they actually went back for a while but while they went back on lieu tone yum, they were developing the uranium path to the bomb so they made progress. during george w. bush, they built the first bombs. you know? he said, we'll never, you know, let north korea get a bomb. well, they got a bomb. by the time he went out of
office, they probably had five or so bombs but they were pretty crude. and then we got president obama. by the time he goes out of office, they may have 20. 16 to 20. i'm not worried about north koreans hitting the united states with a nuclear weapon. they can do that at this point. and even if they could, why would they want to? i mean, that's a death wish. that's not the problem. so what we're missing the point, the real problem is, these guys went from having this crude bomb and a few bombs to developing an arsenal that they believe in. and which each nuclear weapon they build they put their whole country more on that nuclear weapon. and so, george, i look at them like a coming pakistan. and they start thinking about nuclear weapons for all the things that they could possibly do and when you do that and you have an arsenal of ten to 20 weapons including possibly somewhere down the line fielding tactical nuclear weapons, that
is really dangerous. that's the danger of north korea. it's not nuking the united states. they're building an arsenal and nobody -- none of us, not the chinese, not the americans, none of us are doing anything. >> can we learn anything from -- oh. >> i agree with my colleagues entirely but i think we run a risk of focusing exclusively on the dangers poised directly by north korea. i think one also has to ask, you know, how do other states in the region respond? how will south korea respond? will it revive the nuclear programs it had once upon a time? how will japan respond to situation? how will china respond to the behavior of south korea and japan? so it's a very dangerous world and it's not exclusively function of what north korea chooses to do or not to do. >> maybe one last question for professor hecker.
can we learn anything from the iran deal in terms of dealing with north korea? >> so what do we do? basically. >> yeah. >> i have been to north korea seven times. the first time when i came back, i actually had the great pleasure of reporting my visit to two senators by the name of lugar and biden in 2004. so i've been there seven times. after the fourth visit, i started advising my government to say they're serious. they're serious about building a bomb. what we ought to do and -- they're not going do give it up. so, just don't let it get worse. it is like if you're in a hole, stop digging. don't let it get worse. came back in 2008 and i said three noes. you know, no more bombs. no better bombs and no exports. that's what we want from them and then you got to give them something in return, sort of a three "s. s. address the security concerns and economic and energy help. you need to have that sort of an
adult dialogue if they can't get rid of them. at least stop making more. if they had stopped making more in 2008, we wouldn't be in this fix we are today. >> so by implications, you think the makings of an agreement? >> they continue to make progress. for those of you -- i was going to say for those of you who have seen bill potter's folks have done a lot with the imagery of kim jong-un in front of one of the colleagues calls a disco ball and claims to be a hydrogen ball. i'm not concerned about any of that. i'm just concerned the fact they're building the arsenal. >> very briefly, on the three noes talking about, no more bombs, in other words, no additional bombs, no better bombs, no exports and seems to me right and then he talked about a deal, something they get, incentives. that's not our policy. our policy instead of three noes is just say no like the late
nancy reagan about how to deal with drugs with -- it's about as realistic. it's wishing that the problem goes away. and so our position right now is, no, should get rid of all of it and not that much of a bargain there. that's what i mean. it's not grown up in the way that sieg was talking about. >> i think we really should open this to the audience so i would ask you to be succinct in your question and ask a genuine question. don't use this as an opportunity for comments. and wait in the mike. so are there any questions? yes, over here and you have a mike there. all right. >> so thank you all very much for an extremely informative panel. i'm looking around this room and i'm seeing that it's more sparsely attended than the previous panels and we could be sad about that or weekend think of it as a great triumph and a credit to all of you.
right? officials in government, scientists, scholars, who negotiate and so forth made it possible for most people to think that this is not something to worry about. that's amazing. truly amazing. i was born in the year china detonated the first nuclear and also happens i just learned cooper created dr. strangelove." that was a very different time. >> 1964. >> 1964. very good. how times have changed. right? and you made me even more nervous, dr. hecker, and happier we got to where we are now and most people don't feel it's something to worry about. i'm very worried about north korea. donald trump helpfully told reporters at "the new york times" that we might need to let south korea go nuclear in order to address that problem. i didn't think that was a grown-up solution. i do have a question. i wanted to go back to dr.
perkovich's rather sunny description of pakistan. there was a fellow of khan and doesn't come up much these days. i thought you argued cogently pakistan doesn't want to let go of the crown jewels. at one time there seemed to be another logic. one had a hard time keeping a straight face aziz lam bad claimed a renegade on his own business. what made him a thing of the past and confident other people aren't doing that right now? >> totally fair question and he's referring for those of you that don't know, aq khan, the leader of the pakistani enrichment program and beginning in the late 1980s and through 1990s he was selling either blueprints for centrifuges or a broken down centrifuges to iran that didn't really work very well but out retailing basically. basically what happened is pakistani nuclear program relied
a lot on imports throughout. so components and other things to build their enrich. and other capabilities and some point he realized you could hit like a reverse switch on a fan and export out through the same same thing and make money. and so, and so he did. and some of it we know in a sense was state sanctioned so the part with north korea, even my pakistani friends will say, yeah, the army knew about that and that was -- that was -- but i think it still affirms my point. for them, that was not only a business but a strategic transaction. they got mill missiles from north korea in return. that was a winning thing and they weren't worried about north korea acquiring nuclear weapons because it wasn't any threat to pakistan. the iran bid depending on who you talk to was also authorized by the army chief at the time who was a shia, general bay and
he thought they should change the -- iran has a border with pakistan so that they should kind of improve the relations with shiites, widen their parameter. iran wouldn't cause a problem to them and it wasn't like they were giving them a bomb. they were selling them some centrifuges. so -- so in a sense -- it affirms the basic. >> yeah. >> -- issue. but then there was an issue once it got exposed. it was ter my humiliating for the pakistani army and the political leadership and they realized they had a real problem. and so, since then, since basically 2001, they revamped the system. they've imposed a lot of discipline. he's under house arrest and still some people in washington will say, well, why don't they won't provide him for interrogation and the pakistanis say so you can waterboard him and that discussion doesn't go very far. so he's there. but i think things have changed and they realize that great harm was done to their reputation.
now, we still have a policy dilemma there because pakistan -- the u.s. is welcoming india into the nuclear supplies group, a cartel of 45 countries that control exports. the other groups don't want india but obama said i'll do what i can to get india in. the pakistanis want to be part of the nuclear suppliers group and the u.s. and others say aq khan, you have to make more restitution before that. the problem is if inyeah gets into the nuclear supplies group, india would thereafter forever be able to block pakistan. and so then you create an incentive for the pakistanis that say if we're never going to be treated like a normal, responsible state, what are the incentives? if we're always going to be the outcasts and pay for the aq khan sin, can't redeem ourselves, what do you want us to do? this is a current policy dilemma
and i think president obama's position is wrong on this and who knows what the next administration will do? to try to reinforce what's improved since 2000 is what i would say. >> do you want to react to that? >> yeah. there are two points i would make. one i think the last point that george made is tremendously important because we face a lot of proliferation challenges today. many of which are almost beyond our ability to control. but the issue in my mind at least with respect to the u.s./india nuclear deal, the change in our export policy, the exemption given to india and the nuclear suppliers group and now the talk of admitting india as a full pledged member to the nuclear suppliers group, in my mind, is self inflicted punishment. i don't see a redeeming quality. and one reason is that it basically devalues the benefits
of being a nonnuclear weapon state in the nonproliferation treaty. you now have representatives from three different legally binding nuclear weapons free zones who are basically ignoring their legal obligations not to engage in nuclear trade with india. so that's not what i was planning to say but i felt obliged to make that comment. i think -- i mean, i believe that notwithstanding the demise of aq khan network, that there are other elicit trafficking networks out there dealing with technology. one of the problems is that there are so few prosecutions for engaging in nuclear trade and the punishments are almost inconsequential. sometimes when i'm asked, you know, to comment on this for television or radio or something like that, i make reference to the fact that which,
unfortunately, not only funny but i think it's true, that in almost all countries there are more severe penalties for driving under the influence than for driving with fissile material, whether it's lieu tone yum or highly enriched uranium. it is not just a question of the developing world, whether it's africa or latin america or asia. it's in the most industrialized countries, as well. so we have real problems in terms of providing meaningful disinventives to engage in nuclear trade. >> i just wanted to add, you know, bringing up aq khan is very legitimate. it was egregious. there's no question. but i think the important part is what george said. since that time, the pakistanis have been trying to clean up their act and the issue and it's very important issues when you talk about pakistan, india. there are the concerns that you have with nuclear weapons being in the hands of governments and then there are concerns that you have with nuclear assets getting
out of the hands of governments. and those two things are linked and while we were trying to get the nuclear weapons out of the hands of the pakistani government, you know, so that we actually -- so that we take the nuclear weapons away from them or somehow they would go ahead and denuclearize, they were not willing to deal with us on the security aspects. however, now, the current administration is essentially said, look, india and pakistan, they have nuclear weapons and there's not much we can do about that. so now you actually have a chance -- i mean, george and i and bill are worried because there might be an india/pakistan, you know, nuclear exchange. but you actually have a chance to make some gains on the nuclear security piece that now there might be the opportunity and i'm working with the pakistanis precisely in that direction to see whether say, look, we are not after your nuclear weapons. we just want to make sure you control all of your assets.
no more aq khans. you know, the terrorists and everything else. i think we have got somewhat of a change. >> thank you. lady right there. >> jessica matthews. i wanted to ask sieg since you're in three, three quick related north korea questions. the first is, what do you think they want nukes now for? presumably it's a defensive move against south korea. right? i mean, for -- but i'm asking the question. and/or because they fear apocalypse in some way. but i was puzzled by your saying that what troubles you is that they're building an arsenal they believe in. i don't quite -- i don't know what you meant by that and i -- it seems to me actually sort of a good thing.
very often. that's one thing nukes can do. and potentially could in a south asian context, as well. the second is that whatever your answer is, how sure are you? because in my experience, every single negotiator we have had with north korea, special envoy, the longer they spend with them, the less sure they feel like they understand. and i mean, that's a serious comment. and the third question maybe is overtaken by events but at least while we were having this six-party talks i always wondered why on the question of ending the korean war, why we didn't just say, yes. i mean, i understand it's a bargaining chip. but if it's one they really care
about, and it's one that buys us nothing, right? i mean, we don't give up anything by saying, yes, we agree. the korean war is over. would it have made a difference? do you think? >> so we just on monday we had a session at stanford at our center with the discussion about north and south korea and actually it was with chinese and so for the first time i heard the only reasonable reason for that third question as to why not just give them the peace treaty and say that's there? that was always my feeling and the comment from one of my colleagues was that what the u.s. government is concerned about and this administration, particularly, that is the signing of that peace treaty, you know, ending the armistice is actually a mechanism by which the north would like to split
south korea away from the united states. and so, that it might be a mechanism for creating space between the u.s. and south korea. it's the only one that i have heard -- i'm still -- i'm not that worried about it. right now, that alliance is about as good as it's been for quite sometime. on the first one, my view had always been that it's for regime survival. you know, more so than the country's survival. for their security. and indeed, you know, as one looks at -- why do countries build nuclear weapons? that security part was the most important part why they built the weapon. one usually says a second reason is sort of an international one. prestige. you know, trump card. one shouldn't use that word. prestige. and then the third is domestic. well, in north korea, those two different play the first role but once they tested all of them play a role and so now getting rid of the weapons will be
difficult because of that. so why do they want them is still primarily i think a regime survival. however, again, in that discussion we had this week, some of my colleagues actually brought up the fact that, you know, kim jong-il, he had recognized that, you know, south korea is so far out ahead economically that the idea of ever taking south korea over again is gone. kim jong-un is very young man. and the economy is actually doing reasonably well. you know, in spite of all the sanctions and everything. and so, it isn't clear that there aren't some thoughts, as he builds up this arsenal of ten weapons, 20 weapons, 30 weapons, he actually looks at that as a mechanism by which they could get south korea, get unification back. so i would not rule that out in this current regime. it wasn't there during the kim
jong- jong-il. it may be there now and that's very worrisome. >> that cheerful note, another question. yes? >> there's one in the back, too. wave your hand. there you go. >> i'm wondering if you could continue with this theme of regime survival. so, if this is the case that pakistan and iran and north korea are wanting to acquire nuclear weapons technology to ensure some sort of continuation in their regime, is that argument then applicable to other more advanced industrialized economies? so, is this why britain ultimately pursue nuclear weapons, as well, and france? it seems to me we seem to in e the -- in these discussions on nuclear proliferation, we seem to disagree gait between unstable -- these are countries we're comfortable with they have
nuclear weapons but these countries shouldn't have nuclear weapons even though the strategy might be the same. >> i'm going to let george answer that except let me take one small slice of that. iran. i wrote a piece a couple of months ago related to the iran deal and i actually positive itted the fact that iran actually does not at this point -- want nuclear weapons for regime survival. they think their regime will survive better right now better without pursuing nuclear weapons. so in my opinion they've put nuclear weapons in the background and to understand that you have to understand how iran fits in that neighborhood. they're essentially the only one left standing. they don't need nukes right now. they apparently not worried about being nuked by somebody else unless they pursue nuclear weapons so i think in iran's case it's actually not the same as north korea. george? >> i think that's exactly right on iran, that it's -- precisely
the one thing that could topple the regime would be trying to get nuclear weapons. because that had -- would have intensified the sanctions which would have intensified discord . as obama said in the atlantic article, which some of us interpreted a long time ago, you know, he wasn't prepared to go to war over enrichment, the president. but if he had seen them going for nuclear weapons, he was prepared to go to war. same with the israelis. from an iranian point of view, after saddam had been nicely removed from the scene and shia took over iraq, what's their problem? it would only be something that could attack them because of a nuclear weapon program. more over, what they are very keenly aware of -- there's this incredibly intense loathing between iran and saudi arabia. more intense than anything i have experienced, whether it's
kind of racism in the united states or india and pakistan, nothing compared to the iranians and the saudis. so the iranians see themselves as vastly superior to saudi arabia in every possible way. they look and they say the only thing that saudi arabia could do to equalize us would be to get nuclear weapons if we did. if we don't get them, the world will keep saudi arabia from getting them. i totally agree on that. but i appreciate the spirit of your question. i think france is a great example of a country for whom nuclear weapons or the guarantor of the security council and great power status, this is why the french government get s upst when we talk about this. i know for a fact, the french government sent officials to washington a day later to demarche the u.s. government. stop saying that. the british, much more
ambivalent. they have a monarchy. if they got rid of the monarchy, keep the nuclear weapons. they have a lot more kind of going on. russia, this is clearly the way putin sees the importance of nuclear weapons and the increased rhetoric where they are talking more and more about nuclear weapons, which i think exaggerates actually what they are doing. it's clearly for them the guarantor of russia's great power standing in the world is nuclear weapons. so i think you make a point that is valid to the other states at least. >> well, we have five more minutes. much as i would live to give you all the last word, we might take one more question. what do you think? yes, sir. >> hi. i'm john zachary forbes. i'm a student here at the school of global and international
studies. we have been talking a lot about other countries and how they -- the importance and value they place upon nuclear weapons, why they have pursued nuclear weapons programs. but i was sort of wondering if we could be a little self-reflective and talk about today in 2016 what does the united states government -- what value do we place today on our nuclear stockpile, the symbolic value, the possible credible military use of it? is it still considered a credible military tool if in some hypothetical crisis or is it -- what is the u.s. stockpile in the eyes of the u.s. government today? >> let me start by saying, i think that the united states
fe feels, with some accuracy, that we really are the country that has to try to not control the world but at least make it possible peace and security for everybody. we are the essential country, the unique situation. a part of that means military authority. the nuclear weapons are a part of that military authority. and it gives us at least -- not necessarily the bargaining power, but understood leadership situation in which if things go badly in europe, the middle east, with russia, with china, with anybody else, we can be counted upon. to get into a debate as to whether we ought to get rid of more nuclear weapons, it's possible. i have mentioned in the new treaty we once again reduced the
number of warheads that we have as well as other parts of that. there have been suggestions that we could enter with the russians again into a nuclear reduction situation. that would not really jeopardize what i have said initially about our role in the world. but at the same time, there isn't for that matter any desire on the part of the russians right now to talk about it at all. as you know, president putin will not even be showing up at this point. in the senate of the united states, there's no desire whatsoever for arms talks. so regardless of philosophically how we might look at it, as a practical matter we're going to have what we have for a while. >> one last comment. >> i think this relates to the viability of the international non-proliferation regime we have today. you mentioned in your interest di -- remarks, we have 190 or so
parties to the non-proliferation treaty, which is the most widely subscribed to treaty in the world. aside from dprk, if you count them, and the five npt acknowledged nuclear weapon states, you have well over 180 countries that are non-nuclear weapon states parties to the treaty who believe that the npt was a bargain. they take seriously that bargain today. it's very difficult -- i think -- gave an analogy of the chain smoker telling other people not to smoke. it's very difficult for us to preach the virtues of nuclear disarmament with our current nuclear arsenal. the other point -- i think we would be remiss at a major educational institution not only on this panel but i haven't
heard the word education mentioned once. >> i knew you would say it. >> conclude my remarks by emphasizing i think a point that gardiner race gardiner raised. we face ignorance and compla senty. that applies to the body poli c politic. it applies to elected and internationally. i think to counter that, we have to invest far more than we have in disarmament and non-proliferation education. i don't suggest everybody has to embrace my mission. but it's striking to me how many major universities in the united states, which has more courses and instructors teaching in this room than any other country, that is so difficult for young
people, undergraduates and graduates alike to pursue a formal program of training in this realm. while i don't sleep very well at night, particularly given the field that i focus on, the one thing that gives me hope is interacting with the young people who have the energy and the idealism. i think we need more of them. i think we have to provide them with opportunities. and i think there's an opportunity at this marvellous new school at indiana university to also invest in disarmament and non-proliferation education. >> i can't resist saying that in the fall, i will be teaching a seminar called force and diplomacy in the nuclear age which will focus on the problem of nuclear weapons. i would love to have everyone here. thank you very, very much. i appreciate the panel. i appreciate your coming to this conference. [ applause ]
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