U.S.-Russian security relations extend beyond the crucial New START Treaty, as both countries see the need for engaging in broader security cooperation. Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation, addressed the changing nature of U.S.-Russian security relations at the Carnegie Moscow Center. Carnegie’s Dmitri Trenin moderated.

Broader Strategic Stability Issues

A broader security strategy is important for the stability of both countries, Gottemoeller asserted. She pointed to the short joint statement that came out of the recent summit, which laid out the next steps in bilateral cooperation in building strategic stability.

  • Future Arms Control Tasks: The New START Treaty represents a transition from the previous treaty regime developed during the Cold War, to the new era. “Our hope,” said Gottemoeller, “is for deeper, even more meaningful nuclear arms reductions in the future.” On signing the Treaty, President Obama noted that it is just one step on a longer journey and will set the stage for further cuts. Going forward, once New START is ratified and enters into force, “we hope,” stated Gottemoeller, “to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, including non-deployed weapons.”
  • Cooperation with Russia: When it comes to missile defense, “we have much to learn from each other, and the United States,” underscored Gottemoeller, “is ready to begin a new chapter in its relationship with Russia – both by sharing resources and experience in assessing the threats both sides face, and by developing joint cooperation, bilaterally and with NATO, that can contribute to our common defense against growing ballistic missile dangers.” The missile defense work done previously under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council was very valuable, and the American side, stated Gottemoeller, urges reinvigoration of joint projects in this area. 

Verification Issues and Arms Control Treaties

Two major goals the Obama Administration is pursuing are bringing into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and negotiating a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). 

  • CTBT: As pointed out in the U.S. Administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report, ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear arms, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament, a theme also reflected in the recently concluded Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. Ratifying the CTBT will not be an easy task, but Gottemoeller underscored that the Administration will work closely with the Senate, the public and key stakeholders to achieve this goal.
  • FMCT: Gottemoeller stressed that “we also need to achieve greater controls over the materials needed to produce nuclear weapons. If the international community is serious about drawing down, we must constrain the ability to build up.” Bringing a verifiable FMCT into force is essential, both as a step in this process and, more broadly, to establish the conditions necessary for the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons. The United States was pleased last year when, after a decade of inactivity, the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) adopted a work program that included a mandate for FMCT negotiations. To date, however, procedural objections by a small number of governments have prevented actual negotiations from taking place. “We believe that the best way forward is for CD governments to address their respective security concerns during formal FMCT negotiations, and we are working hard to keep the CD focused on that goal,” stated Gottemoeller.
  • Conventional Forces: “As Secretary Clinton noted in her speech on European security in Paris on January 29, 2010,” emphasized Gottemoeller, “the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) needs our attention.” In late 2007, Russia suspended implementation of the CFE Treaty, while the United States and its allies – as well as all other Treaty signatories – continue to do so, said Gottemoeller. The high value of the CFE regime with its structure of limitations, information exchange, and verification, and its foundation of basic principles, like host nation consent to the stationing of foreign forces, is unquestionable. In order to prevent the transparency and stability that the CFE regime has provided from eroding further, “we are reviving discussions on the way forward with our allies, Russia, and other signatories,” stated Gottemoeller. According to her, the goal is a modern security framework for strengthening security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area that updates our approach to conventional arms control, and reinforces Helsinki-based principles.
  • Open Skies: Gottemoeller mentioned that she recently chaired the 2010 Open Skies Review Conference in Vienna where the U.S. side reaffirmed its commitment toward continued robust implementation of the Treaty. “We believe it is essential that it remain a vital instrument in our Euro-Atlantic conventional arms control toolbox,” said Gottemoeller. The Obama Administration has recently launched an interagency study to examine options for digital sensors, future Open Skies aircraft, more shared flights, expanding members to countries that are part of the OSCE but are not yet party to Open Skies, and applying Open Skies toward emerging challenges and threats. Gottemoeller emphasized that the results of continued observation flights will contribute toward our security and stability as a group of nations. “This is the ultimate goal of the Treaty, and one we will continue to pursue vigorously,” she said.

Gottemoeller pointed out that some of the groundwork for the New START Treaty was laid at the Carnegie Moscow Center towards the end of her tenure as director at the Center, where she turned to experts from both sides of the political aisle.