2:45 P.M., EDT
NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. I’m Alyson Grunder, the Director of the New York Foreign Press Center. It’s our pleasure to bring to you this afternoon Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller. Thank you very much for coming here.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: My pleasure. Hello, everybody. There are some familiar faces around this room, and very glad to see some old friends and colleagues from Moscow, so welcome to you. And I am very happy to have this opportunity to speak to you all today. I thought I’d start with just a few remarks about why I’m here in New York right now and then we’ll throw the floor open rather quickly to your questions.
The reason I am in New York today is that my Russian colleague and I just gave a briefing on the implementation of the New START Treaty. I very much like this cover to the briefing because it’s got the two symbols of the two ministries on it, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Department of State. So we just completed this briefing downstairs talking about the implementation of the New START Treaty. By the way, these briefing slides will be available for you. They’re going up on our website as soon as possible. We don’t have them up yet but they will be up there as soon as possible so you can get access to the full briefing if you’d like to look at it.
But let me start just making a few points about implementation of the New START Treaty. Implementation began on February 5th of this year when the New START Treaty entered into force. And so far, the implementation of the treaty is going very well indeed. We exchanged full data about our strategic nuclear forces in March of this year, and we’ve already had the first six-month update. In September of this year, we did a full update of all the data about the strategic nuclear arsenal of the Russian Federation and the strategic nuclear arsenal of the United States. We exchanged data about them. And I want to stress that the treaty is totally reciprocal, so all of the measures that apply to the Russian Federation also apply to the United States.
So data update has already occurred and furthermore, we have been keeping pace with each other on the conduct of onsite inspections. The Russians have conducted 11 onsite inspections and we have conducted 12 onsite inspections. That doesn’t mean anything because we’re kind of, as I said, pacing each other. The Russians conduct an inspection, we conduct one, and then it’s been going like that very, very intensively. You may recall that there are two types of inspections under the New START Treaty. There are so-called Type One inspections and those relate to weapons systems that are deployed. They’re at operational bases, they’re actually deployed – intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea launch ballistic missiles on submarines and bombers.
So we have had – both of us, we’ve had inspections at all three types of operational bases. And furthermore, we have so-called Type Two inspections. Type Two inspections are non-deployed weapons systems, so those are non-deployed under the treaty. The definition of non-deployed is when you take the warhead off the missile, it becomes non-deployed. Why? Why would – you say, “Why would something become non-deployed on a day-in/day-out basis?” Well, when a missile goes to a repair facility, for example, for repair or routine maintenance, its warhead might come off and then it becomes non-deployed under the treaty. So the second type of inspection is for so-called non-deployed systems, and both we and the Russians have visited repair facilities, maintenance facilities, test facilities. Those are all places where you can conduct a Type Two inspection or a non-deployed type of inspection.
So very, very good process in terms of onsite inspection. I think we learned a lot in the 15 years of implementation of the older START treaty, and so for that reason, we’ve gotten off to a very quick start, a very quick beginning with implementation of onsite inspection under the New START Treaty, and it’s really been going rather smoothly up to this point.
The last thing I would like to stress is the notification regime under the treaty. We are really keeping track of changes in the status of our strategic nuclear forces on a day-in/day-out basis through the process of notifications. Notifications, we’ve had 1,500 notifications under the treaty so far just since this last February. Every time a missile moves either in the course of routine deployments on a day-to-day basis or, as I said, maybe going into a maintenance facility or for repair, that movement gets notified. So it really does provide both of us – both Russia and the United States – a good day-to-day insight into the operations of our mutual strategic forces. So great for mutual confidence, great for mutual predictability. All in all, as I said, the New START Treaty implementation has been, I think, a great success.
The last thing I’d like to say about the treaty is that we do have a way to meet together regularly if there are compliance issues. It’s a complicated treaty, so sometimes questions do arise. Twice a year at least, we meet in the so-called Bilateral Consultative Commission, the BCC, and the second of these meetings – the first was back in the spring in April. The second of these meetings just started yesterday in Geneva. So for the next two weeks, our teams will be meeting in Geneva, as I said, going through routine issues and routine questions that have emerged so far in the implementation of the treaty.
So bottom line, implementation of the New START Treaty has been a good success so far. We like it because we – both we and the Russians like it because it shows what we call a spirit of Geneva. We started out with a very, very good negotiating relationship between the two sides. The negotiations were tough, but nevertheless we ended up, I think, with a lot of mutual respect between the two teams. So, that spirit of Geneva has gone forward now into the implementation of the treaty itself.
And it really speaks, in my view, of the accomplishments of the broader U.S.-Russian relationship. Over the last couple of years, people ask a lot of questions about that reset button – what does that reset button mean, has it had any broad success, is it just something that’s kind of ephemeral and is going to go away again? Well, I’d like to emphasize to you that in my view, the New START Treaty is only a small part of what has been a successful reset over the last couple of years.
Again, you know me. My specialty is on the nuclear side. On the nuclear side, in addition to New START, we’ve had a lot going on that is in the nuclear policy arena that’s been hanging out there for a long time, and we haven’t been able to bring it to closure. For example, an agreement for nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia – it’s called the 123 Agreement – this is something that the United States and Russia have wanted for over a decade. And last winter, it was finally brought into force. What does it mean? It means that the United States and Russia can now cooperate on civilian-nuclear energy projects in a much more easy and straightforward way. So the 123 Agreement was a big step forward.
What’s another example? Well, finally, this summer, Secretary Clinton, my boss, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov brought into force the so-called plutonium disposition agreement. Again, it’s been hanging out there for well over a decade. Couldn’t get it to closure, but we have brought into force this plutonium disposition agreement disposing of enough plutonium to build 17,000 nuclear weapons. So again, it’s a great story in terms of our efforts to move toward – to elimination of nuclear weapons overall and nuclear capability.
So those are just three examples from my own area. It’s not all about the New START Treaty. There are other things that are going on even on nuclear policy. But I would argue there are some areas that show a great success and a change in our overall way of cooperating in a wider sense. And people say, “Well, nuclear stuff, that’s the Cold War, that’s – basically, we’ve been doing that for a long time. What’s new about the reset?” And I would say there are many examples of what is new about the reset.
The one I like the best is the way we have agreed for the materiel for U.S. operations in Afghanistan to be transited through Russia in the so-called Northern Distribution Network. This is an area where it has worked very well from the perspective of the United States and our NATO allies because it saves us a lot of money to be able to transit materiel for the operations in Afghanistan through Russia. And for Russia, I think it shows, really, some good cooperation with NATO in the context of the NATO-Russia relationship overall. But furthermore, again, I think it is to our mutual advantage in the way it has unfolded. So just a few examples, again, of the success of the broader reset from my perspective.
Now I’m going to throw the floor open to questions. I’ve talked long enough. As I understand, we have about an additional 20 minutes for questions, so I look forward to what you have to ask about.
MODERATOR: When you ask a question, could you please state your name and your media?
QUESTION: Stephane Bussard, Le Temps newspaper in Geneva.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Oh, yes, hello.
QUESTION: Hello. We met, actually, in Geneva. I have a little question about the whole issue of offensive and defensive weapons. That was a big issue during the negotiations in Geneva. And obviously, now the issue of the missile shield came out again and things like that. How do you look on that now in light of the implementation of the New START Treaty?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Right. Well, indeed, my boss Ellen Tauscher has been very active working on missile defense cooperation with the Russian Federation. She’s been negotiating with her counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, and actually just returned not so long ago from a trip to Moscow.
I will say what Ellen said in Moscow and what I have said repeatedly since the New START Treaty negotiations were underway in Geneva, and that is that the missile defense system that the United States and its NATO allies are working on, this so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach, is not directed against Russia, and indeed is a system that I think is one we would very much like to see Russia engaged in, in terms of cooperation, because for one thing, Russia says it is concerned that this system could be directed at undermining Russia’s strategic offensive deterrent. We believe that through cooperation is the best way to actually build confidence and build understanding of what the European Phased Adaptive Approach is all about. And so we are really emphasizing that cooperation, again, will be in our mutual interest. It will be in the interest not only of the United States and its NATO partners, but also in the interest of the Russian Federation.
I was noting today that President Medvedev has been speaking about this even in the last 24 hours, and understand, of course, that Russia continues to have many questions, but I was heartened to hear that the Russian president was saying that we’re still in the information-gathering phase and that there is room for further discussion, so we welcome that very, very much.
QUESTION: Kirill Belyaninov, Kommersant newspaper. If I can just quick follow up on this question? (Inaudible) in Moscow said that United States finally willing to give written guarantees to Russia that the missile system won’t be aimed or undermine Russian strategic defense, but some people in Russia are saying that this is not enough and the Russian authorities asking now for legal guarantees on this matter. Is the United States willing to go further on the subject now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, Americans are very practical-minded people and we’ve always had a very practical-minded approach to this. I just wanted to make a comment about what I think about as false dichotomies. Some people in Russia have said things like, “Well, we want a marriage here. We don’t just want a proposal of marriage.” That kind of comment has been out there, but I wanted us all to be aware of false dichotomies because in some societies, it’s the betrothal that is when you actually get into the real deal in terms of understanding what the contractual arrangements will be, what the dowry is going to be, what the overall resources that will be applied to the marriage will be. So I think in many cases, it’s the proposal stage or the dowry stage and the betrothal that is more important than the wedding itself.
So I’m just saying that in terms of thinking about this, it’s really important that Russia be able to understand that. Well, there’s an American expression, our money is where our mouth is, that it is the cooperation that will help Russia to understand that our money is where our mouth is, that we really do have a system here that is directed against threats coming toward Europe, emanating from regions to the south, and it has nothing to do with the Russian strategic offensive deterrent. So that is our view, and it will continue to be our view, I think, that it is that practical aspect of cooperation that should really make the best case to Russia about the nature of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.
We have someone on the podium there from Washington, so please go ahead and identify yourself.
QUESTION: Hi, Rose. It’s Desmond [Butler] with the AP. Can you hear me?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes.
QUESTION: Have there been any developments on CFE?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I have been working, actually, pretty extensively on CFE over the last several months. The CFE Treaty is the so-called Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. This treaty has had a review conference at the end of September, September 29th, in Vienna. And I was involved in that effort, so the overall implementation of that treaty continues to go forward. And we have been and will continue to be concerned about the fact that the Russian Federation has ceased to implement the treaty in December of 2007. And so we have been looking for ways to work that problem. In fact, it’s not only this Administration, President Obama’s Administration, but the previous administration over the last several years, since the end of 2007, have been looking for ways to work with Russia to bring Russia back into implementation of the treaty.
So we have been continuing to work on that. The United States is committed to conventional arms control in Europe, and we are seriously committed to finding a way forward at this point. So many of my efforts in recent weeks and months have been focused on conventional forces in Europe and where we go from here, looking toward the future of conventional arms control in the European context.
Okay. Next question, please.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Gina Di Meo from ANSA, the Italian wire. I need to ask you a question about Libya. Now that Qadhafi is gone, so is there any risk that maybe the extremists and – could take control of the weapons there, (inaudible) given for granted that Libya is a very divided country? And what about Iran now, the role of Iran?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Let me stress for everyone that as far as weapons of mass destruction that were in the hands of the Libyan regime, a very important accomplishment of recent years – and in fact also, it was the Bush Administration that was very involved in working with the Libyan administration on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Libya. So essentially, things that we were very worried about five, ten years ago have since been eliminated from Libya, and it’s a very good thing, too. So the nuclear weapons program, for example, has been totally eliminated from Libya.
Now, there have been many, many questions in recent weeks about the chemical weapons of Libya and what’s going on with the chemical weapons. I want to emphasize that Libya actually has destroyed its chemical munitions, per se. Now there is some chemical agent still in storage in Libya, and that has been the focus of, first of all, continuous surveillance to assure that it has remained in its storage facilities and has not been tampered with. So the United States has been working with NATO and with the authorities in Libya to assure that it has remained under surveillance, under guard and lock and key, and that continues to be the case.
The United States is now working with the Libyan authorities and the so-called OPCW – this is the Organization for the Chemical Weapons Convention that is based in the Hague – and is working very closely with them to get inspectors back into Libya as soon as possible and to assure – once again, take an inventory and assure that everything is there with regard to the chemical agent.
But it is, I think, also important to note that at this point, now that the conflict in Libya is coming to an end, that this will help us, I think, to move more quickly to get those inspectors back in and to really accomplish that important task. So I think that we are in a rather good place with regard to weapons of mass destruction in Libya. They will have to continue to take some steps, particularly with regard to chemical weapons, but I do think that we’re in a pretty good place.
As to the future, I think we will continue – the U.S. Administration will continue to work very closely with the authorities in Libya and work to do everything we can to ensure that they are moving forward toward a stable and secure overall national government. It’s going to be, of course, a long effort, but I think it is one which the United States is very willing to partner with the Libyan authorities to bring to fruition.
QUESTION: Yeah. But we have the example of Afghanistan and Iraq and (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: We can only remain engaged and do our best to help to work with the Libyan authorities to stabilize the situation and to build it out in a positive way.
QUESTION: And any push from Iran, doing everything --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I don't have any information about that.
Other questions? Yes, please.
QUESTION: Ivan Zakharchenko from Novosti news agency of Russia. How do you think the elections next year can influence the relationship between Russia and USA and the START treaty, the potential START treaty?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Russian election, U.S. election, or both elections?
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. U.S. – okay, both. In this case, American elections.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: I think it’s very important to emphasize that as far as Strategic Arms Reduction is concerned, and Strategic Arms Limitation, this has been an area of strong bipartisan support throughout the history, since the early 1970s, of our efforts to reduce, limit, and eliminate nuclear arms. So it is, I think, very important that during the course of the New START Treaty ratification, that bipartisan commitment was reiterated and reemphasized in the United States. And believe me, I took part in every aspect of the debate over New START ratification. I was present, day in and day out, as the treaty was being debated on Capitol Hill, and I can tell you quite firmly that there was a strong, I would say, bipartisan interest in the treaty in the end and strong bipartisan support.
So now the treaty has entered into force and it’s being implemented in such a successful way, it’s my view that that has, indeed, again, reemphasized the bipartisan support during the ratification process. And so I expect that the treaty will continue forward with smooth implementation throughout its 10-year lifespan.
A question over here.
QUESTION: Joe Geni, Yomiuri Daily News. Could you perhaps give an update on where the U.S. thinks the Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone conference next year – where you think it’s going now that there’s been a facilitator and a host named, and what you’re sort of hoping to come out of that and whether you’re optimistic?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: This is with regard to the so-called Middle East 2012 Conference, and frankly, I’ve been on the road. I was in Central Asia and the Caucasus the last week, so I have just heard myself that now the facilitator has been named and the venue for the conference in Finland – is that right?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes. Okay. Thank you. Forgive me. I just – I’m catching up on this myself. But frankly, I think it’s a very good step, because it enables us now to move forward with the planning for the conference, and the whole community here at the UN involved in the NPT process – this came out of the NPT Review Conference in May of 2010, and there’s been a real interest in getting these two things decided – the facilitator and the venue – so that now we can focus in on the detailed, substantive planning. So I think this really starts the ball rolling in that regard, and looking forward to the conference taking place in 2012.
QUESTION: Just a last question. It’s about New START Treaty. During the negotiations, there were also hopes that later on maybe there would be also negotiation on another issue about the tactical weapons. Do you have hopes that a negotiation might start someday in the future about tactical weapons?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Someday in the future? Of course. (Laughter.) Let me stress President Obama made no secret of his interest in returning to the negotiating table. He said that the day that he signed the New START Treaty on April 8th of 2010, that he would like to proceed with further reduction negotiations involving further reductions in deployed strategic nuclear weapons, in non-deployed strategic nuclear weapons, and the third category, in nonstrategic nuclear weapons, or so-called tactical nuclear weapons.
So President Obama has been very clear that he considers START part of a step-by-step process to further reductions in nuclear weapons. But by the way, that is a bilateral notion, because in the preamble of the New START Treaty, it says that we should proceed with START as, A, one of the foundation stones, but the New START Treaty as part of a step-by-step process to further reductions.
So we are working to prepare for that. I’d like to emphasize at the present time that we have quite a bit of homework to do, because you will recognize when we’re talking about nonstrategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons, that involves weapons that are deployed in Europe now, and we have, in the context of NATO, the so-called Deterrence and Defense Posture Review going on – DDPR, the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review. So while that posture review is going on, we’re not yet ready for the negotiating table, and we have, I think, some work to do to get ready for the negotiating table. We also have our own national assessment going on pursuant to our so-called Nuclear Posture Review. We have our own national assessment going on that is preparing us for further reductions.
That said, even if we’re not ready right now for the negotiating table, we are ready for discussions. And I think it’s very important to get started as soon as possible on discussing some important questions. We’re talking about proceeding with some really different issues in negotiations between the United States and Russia. Historically, from – I mentioned we started back in the early 1970s with strategic arms limitation – all of these negotiations so far have been focused on deployed nuclear weapons, weapons that are on their delivery vehicles, missiles. People say, “Well, why is that? Why didn’t you focus on non-deployed, things that are in storage facilities or tactical nukes, smaller weapons?” Well, we had a lot of deployed nuclear weapons. That’s number one.
Number two, they were also easier to see. A lot of the verification and monitoring that we do is done with our so-called national technical means, our big satellites. You can see a missile from outer space. You can’t see a weapon in a storage facility from outer space, so that’s a much more taxing and complicated task for negotiations. But President Obama has now called for us to look at non-deployed weapons, weapons in storage facilities, and to also look at tactical nuclear weapons or non-strategic nuclear weapons – again, much smaller kinds of systems. Technical challenges will be great. These will be verification challenges. We have to figure out some new verification procedures and mechanisms. That’s why I say there is much to discuss. We have definitions we need to discuss, terminology we need to discuss, ideas and concepts we need to discuss, technical as well as security policy.
So I am very much hopeful that we will be able to get back to discussions sooner rather than later. And I do understand that there is interest in doing so on the Russian side as well. So it’s a very, I think, fruitful possibility in terms of getting back to discussions of where we go from here.
Other questions? Yes, please.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject, please?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Sure.
QUESTION: On Korea.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Sure.
QUESTION: A few years ago, American diplomats suggested that North Korea, to solve its nuclear problem, will follow the Libyan scenario. Can you still recommend this to North Koreans too after Qadhafi is dead and what happened in Libya?
And the second question: Maybe something on the negotiations between the United States and North Korea next week in Geneva?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: The United States is continuing this process with North Korea that was begun earlier this year. The idea is to sit down with them and to take stock to see exactly where they are, whether they are sincere in their efforts. We’ve always been very clear that a return to the so-called Six-Party Talks would require them to be making bilateral progress with the South Koreans on the issues that are of concern to the South Koreans. So we will be going back to Geneva for a second round of discussions to again see what kind of progress has been made, what their views are, and, as I said, to take stock of what might be possible. So this is a continuing effort.
I think it is notable that we do have a new negotiator, Ambassador Glyn Davies, who will be taking over from Ambassador Stephen Bosworth. I liked the emphasis that was placed on this as a change of personnel, not a change of process. So it’s steady as she goes with regard to process, and we really do want to understand where North Korea is at the moment, but it is a serious and, I think, stable step forward.
Now with regard to exactly what might be in the offing, we have been consistent throughout that we expect North Korea to return to the commitments that it made to denuclearization. And that’s one of the very important steps that we would like to see evidence of before we’re ready to return to the Six-Party Talks, that it remains committed to the denuclearization commitments that it assumed over the past decade. And so that’s one of the areas that we will be looking for evidence of what their current views are on this matter, because it is very important to us.
But I think all of these denuclearization processes, they cannot be identical. There are different kinds of facilities and capabilities that have been acquired. That’s why I cannot say ever that I would see an exact identity between what happened in Libya and what would need to go on in North Korea.
Yes. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Suzanna Petrin from Switzerland. I read that Mr. Obama intends to modernize nuclear weaponry for billions of dollars now. Doesn’t that undermine your efforts?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: President Obama said at the time he made his famous speech in Prague in April of 2009, he launched at that time the Prague Initiative when he talked about moving the United States steadily in the direction of denuclearization, to deemphasize nuclear weapons in our national strategy, and to move steadily toward, as the President said, the safety and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
But he also said at the same time that as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world – and not only in U.S. hands but around the world in different countries – that the United States must maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal.
So the investments that you are talking about are associated with that effort to maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal, not talking about modernization of our nuclear warheads. We’re talking about, really, as we call it, stockpile stewardship, maintaining and ensuring that the weapons are safe as well as secure.
People do ask – and they asked me quite a lot during the New START Treaty ratification about this – about this investment, because for the very reason you said. For some people, it seems like a contradiction, but I actually don’t think it’s a contradiction at all. And indeed, one of the important activities that’s going on is to shrink the overall footprint of our nuclear weapons infrastructure. The United States first acquired nuclear weapons during World War II. Many of the facilities that were built to support our nuclear arsenal, they really have their history back in that World War II period. They’re huge, sprawling facilities.
So the idea now is to shut down and, by the way, clean up large facilities and construct a limited number of facilities that make for a smaller footprint overall, a much smaller nuclear weapons complex. That’s a good investment, in our – in my view, in the future of reducing our nuclear arsenal because it is expensive to shut down old facilities and to build smaller new ones, but it’s a good investment because it means that we will essentially be supporting a smaller arsenal over time.
Yes, please. Last question. Last question.
QUESTION: My name is Masood Haider. I represent daily Dawn of Pakistan.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yes, very famous newspaper.
QUESTION: Oh, thank you very much. I just wanted to find out from you, in all this discussion about nuclear disarmament and about all kinds of efforts being made by United States and other countries to denuclearize the world to make it safer, why is Israel’s nuclear weapons program off the discussion or has never become part of the overall discussion? So that we know – I mean, as we know, that there is in Israel’s hands about 200 nuclear weapons. Nobody talks about it. Why?
QUESTION: Well, let me talk for just a minute about a subject that I wanted to discuss a little bit today and I haven’t had time to yet. That is the P-5 initiative pursuant to the NPT Review Conference action plan to work together again on many of these tasks to do with our commitment under Article 6 of the NPT to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. So the P-5 has begun to get together now to work on this effort. The P-5 are the nuclear weapons states under the NPT, so that’s the U.S., Russia, UK, France, and China, so the five of us working together on fulfilling our Article 6 commitments to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.
That activity has led to some very pragmatic output. We had a meeting in Paris in the end of June of this year. We’ve established working groups to begin to work on issues, for example, of nuclear weapons and nuclear policy and doctrine, and work through trying to define and develop the terminology so that we can communicate together more smoothly on these things. So it sounds like some baby steps, but I think they’re actually very significant steps, because for the first time, the P-5 is getting together and really discussing some very important, substantive issues with regard to nuclear disarmament.
You say, “What does that have to do with other nuclear weapons states?” I would only say that we have taken very seriously the aspect of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, and we are working on it very closely here at the First Committee of the United Nations, and working to bring all relevant parties to the table, and to work very, very closely with all relevant parties, whether nonnuclear weapons states, nuclear weapons states, or states that possess nuclear weapons, but not in the context of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
So I think that we are thinking through and working through some very important issues at the present time, and we’ll certainly continue to do so.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Yep.
QUESTION: With regard to the FMCT and the First Committee, there’s several proposals that are sort of being bandied about in the First Committee to get the CD unblocked, either the idea of going outside it and to having it taken up in the General Assembly or some of the sort of proposals to get it moving, like the one in the draft resolution by Mexico, Austria, and Norway. Can you perhaps comment on the U.S. position with regards to those and some of the possible ways to get the CD moving again?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, we’ve made no secret of the fact that our patience won’t last forever with regard to the Conference on Disarmament and the way it has been stuck in impasse now for a long, long time. Secretary Clinton, when she was at the CD in February, talked about this, and also Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor, talked about it when he spoke to the Carnegie Endowment’s Nonproliferation Conference in March.
So we have said very clearly, at a very high level, that our patience cannot last forever. That said, we have been very intent on trying to get moving with regard to the Fissile Material Cutoff negotiations, per se, and we have been placing all our emphasis on that – to get those negotiations started in the Conference on Disarmament. We don’t feel that fiddling at the margins with the matter of procedure or where exactly the negotiations will rest at this moment is the right place to be putting our attention, so we have really been trying to keep our eye on the prize of getting Fissile Material Cutoff negotiations started in the CD. And I think that that’s where the United States will continue in the coming days to place our emphasis. Again, fiddling at the margins on procedural matters and institutional mechanisms, that’s not the place we need to be focusing our attention right now.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GOTTEMOELLER: Well, we are out of time. We are finished today, so thank you very, very much. Thank you all. Really appreciate it.
# # #