Joint Press Conference between Mr Gareth Evans and Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi, Co-Chairs, International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 

Sunday 15 February 2009, Washington D.C., USA

YORIKO KAWAGUCHI: Thank you so much for waiting for such a long time. We have been having a heated discussion in the Commission and it took us quite a while to get out to you. Sorry about this. I don’t know if we gave you the handout about the Commission. The Commission is hosted by the two governments – Japan and Australia – and Gareth Evans and I, Yoriko Kawaguchi, are the two co-chairs. The Commission itself is a second track that is independent of the two governments. And we have about 15 Commissioners from all over the world, both from countries with nuclear weapons and without. We have Commissioners from developed countries and developing. So it is a good balanced group, 15 members, and then we also have a Board of Advisors.

We had our first meeting in Sydney in October. This is the second meeting. The purpose of being here in Washington at this time for the second meeting is that this is right after the new Administration in America started to work - to operate - and we wanted to take this opportunity to meet American leaders, tell them what we think, and also encourage the new Administration to move forward on non-proliferation and disarmament – nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

The reason for the existence of the Commission itself is that we have many encouraging signs. We have talked about non-proliferation and disarmament for a long time. The NPT Review meeting in 2005 was a disaster, and we will have another one in 2010 - which we would like to make a success. It is important that we make it a success.

In 2007 and 2008, there were two papers by Bill Perry and others. Bill Perry is one of the Commissioners of our Commission. And there were other such papers, and President Obama is taking a very forward looking approach on this subject.

So we think that this is a very important moment and we should take this opportunity to push this through. Also we have the worry about the nuclear proliferation threat of nuclear materials going to the hands of non-state organizations, and for use sometime in the future. People fear this.

Again, the use of nuclear energy is expanding – involving wider use of nuclear materials. So there is a need for enhanced safeguarding and having a good regime for both disarmament and non-proliferation. That is the reason why we are here.

We have been talking about the outlines of our report since we started our meeting yesterday. There are many, many issues to cover, and we will work this afternoon as well, until we have considered all the issues. The third meeting will be in Moscow in June where we will continue our work.

GARETH EVANS: Let me talk specifically on the discussions that we had as a Commission and as Co-Chairs on Friday with the senior members of the Administration, which involved discussions with the Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Howard Berman, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade Brad Sherman. So we had a very full range of meetings with a group of very, very senior people, about which, I think, I should say two things.

One, we took the opportunity to articulate our own preliminary views as a Commission on what the priorities for the new United States leadership action should be in this area. And of course, we took the opportunity to listen very carefully to what we were being told about the intentions and wishes of the Administration and for major new efforts to be made in this area. And everything we heard, I have to say, was extremely encouraging, and it’s extremely important in global terms because in this, as in frankly so many other areas, United States’ leadership is absolutely critical and United States’ leadership, equally frankly, has been somewhat missing over the last eight years.

Leadership hasn’t been missing on the basic non-proliferation agenda and it is important that continuity of effort be made in this respect. I’m talking here about the efforts to manage the situation with Iran and North Korea, improving verification and compliance, strengthening the NPT regime itself, introducing new disciplines outside the NPT, trying to bring into a non-proliferation framework those countries that are not members of the NPT – India, Pakistan, Israel – developing nuclear fuel bank options, strengthening the security of weapons and fissile material that are lying around in multiple insecure locations. All of those strategies that have been associated with the previous Administration are important, are supported by the Commission, and should be continued.

The trouble is that the effort and enthusiasm on those fronts is not going to be enough to win global support. There has to be much more visible commitment on the disarmament side of the equation by the existing nuclear weapon, nuclear-armed states, and pre-eminently, again, by the United States.

So we proposed specifically to the US leadership that there are five particular priorities in terms of new action or renewed action – let me put it that way because some of these things had been on the agenda in the past, but have been allowed to lapse – five important initiatives which should be taken. And in very brief order, these are – not necessarily in the order of priority, but in the order in which we put them – first, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ratification, if that can possibly be managed. We understand the political difficulties.

Secondly, revitalizing the negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut Off treaty, which is designed to impose a universal discipline against the production of new fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Thirdly, energizing, and hopefully bringing to a conclusion, bilateral negotiations with Russia on the continuation or replacement or extension of the existing START Treaty, involving further deep reductions in strategic weapons.

Fourthly, the commencement of serious wide-ranging strategic dialogues with both Russia on other interrelated issues, including missile defence, and China, which is a crucially important player if we are going to see a major step forward in the multilateral efforts to reduce weapons and achieve ultimate disarmament.

The fifth point that we made to the Administration was the great importance of there being visible changes in US nuclear doctrine, making clear that the sole purpose of US nuclear weapons should be to protect US and its allies from the use of nuclear weapons by others and that it should not be part of US doctrine to allow the use of nuclear weapons for other threats, not involving nuclear weapons. Of course, there need to be associated guarantees to allies that are presently enjoying extended deterrence, but we believe that this is a very, very important step forward, as are the others, in changing the psychological landscape internationally and reinvigorating the momentum for both disarmament and non-proliferation.

A final point that will be very much part of the Commission’s recommendations is that non-proliferation and disarmament are inextricably interconnected and that you simply can’t achieve non-proliferation objectives without getting absolutely serious about disarmament. We all know it is a long, long road in getting to zero, but there are many way stations short of zero that are eminently worth getting to and it’s very important that that momentum be generated.

Our role as an International Commission is to bring together all these threads, including all the issues relating to the likely renaissance in peaceful nuclear energy, to articulate and rearticulate and repackage what are in many cases quite familiar recommendations that have come from previous Commissions. We want to articulate this stuff in a way that has genuine political resonance and that will help to transform the international political debate.

As my co-chair, Yoriko, has very well said, there is a fantastic opportunity now to take this debate a big step forward with the new Administration, with the intellectual leadership that’s been shown by the member of our Commission Bill Perry and the other so-called gang of four – Sam Nunn, who I should say has been playing an active part in our discussions these last two days as one of our advisors, along with George Shultz and Dr. Henry Kissinger. That kind of realist, intellectual leadership has been an important stimulus to rethinking a lot of these issues. And with the new Administration, I think we have a chance internationally to take things a lot further forward and we hope that our Commission can play a productive role in energising that process on a wider international front.

So, I am happy to take your questions across the whole spectrum of issues. We can’t tell you too much about more specific recommendations the Commission is going to be making because that’s still work in progress at this stage.

MS KAWAGUCHI: And also let me add one other piece of information. The fourth meeting of the Commission this year will be in Hiroshima in October.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Can you just repeat that. I didn’t hear you clearly.

MS KAWAGUCHI: The fourth meeting – I said the next meeting is in Moscow– the fourth meeting will be in Hiroshima in Japan in October this year.

MR EVANS: It’s worth adding that in addition to these major meetings of the Commission itself, we’re also planning a series of regional meetings in Santiago in May covering Latin America, in Beijing covering Northeast Asia in late May, and in New Delhi and in Cairo in September before our meeting in Japan. So the intention of the Commission is to – or members of the Commission – is to travel worldwide and engage in intense consultation and advocacy on these issues right around the world.

Okay, questions?

QUESTION: Tony Walker from the Financial Review. Could you just give us a sense of your program or plan in terms of putting together your recommendations and when you think that you will have them ready for your presentation, and who you will present them to and how you hope that they will be acted upon?

MS KAWAGUCHI: The report will be hopefully finished by the end of this year. The last meeting in October in Hiroshima is where we will discuss and agree on the report. Even if there are disagreements, we will just still finish the report within this year because NPT Review meeting will be in May and we would like to help make that Review a success. We feel that our input in the form of our report will be very important in changing the minds of the government and changing the minds of the public on the future of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. So we would like to have the report ready well in advance of the NPT Review meeting. The audience will be, of course, the governments, the public, and the politicians. In that regard, we would like to make our report a very practical, action-oriented one, so that busy politicians – I happen to be one – but busy politicians can really feel the emotion, really the need to move forward. And Gareth Evans was former foreign minister -he was a politician also.

MR EVANS: I should briefly add to that that the life of the Commission will extend well into next year, even after we produce this major report because we want to explore a number of other issues, including the role of civil nuclear industry as a contributor to non-proliferation. And also we want to try and pick up the pieces after the NPT Review Conference, see where we are, in particular on this wider agenda of bringing into a system of new global disciplines those countries that are presently outside the NPT – the three big elephants outside the room, as we sometimes describe them: India, Pakistan, and Israel, with its position of strategic ambiguity, but nonetheless a pretty significant elephant in this context.

These are issues that will be picked up in the report, but will need further work and further time.


QUESTION: Thank you very much – (inaudible). Let me first briefly – (inaudible) – you briefly touched on your five points of recommendations. That’s going to be the main part of your final recommendation to be submitted to the NPT Review Conference, right?

MR EVANS: No. Just for clarification, these are specific new initiatives we are urging the United States to take as part of the whole process of energising the international community and getting a large measure of agreement not just from the US or not just from the US and Russia, but all the present nuclear weapons states in the context of the NPT Review Conference. What we’ll be proposing – and I, again, can’t go into much more detail – but basically an action plan, which has a short-term dimension, a medium-term dimension, a long-term dimension, and there’s a whole bunch of things that we’ll be recommending to various key players in each of those contexts.

QUESTION: Among five points, could you kind of prioritise what’s the most important, what is the most urgent and could you also tell us what is the most promising agenda to be addressed by the US new Administration.

MR EVANS: I don’t particularly want to prioritise them because I think they’re all equally important. In terms of time factor, I guess getting started very, very quickly on the US-Russia bilateral negotiations is the most immediate priority and probably perceived that way by the US. But without putting words in any US interlocutor’s mouth, I think it’s fair to say that we are pushing at a reasonably open door on all those issues – that many of them have actually foreshadowed in things that various Administration spokesmen have already said.

The important thing will be to get energies harnessed and focused on this in an environment with so much else happening, so many other crushing priorities coming in on the Administration; it is very, very important to keep them focused on this but I’m very confident – we are both very confident – in terms of the reception we received that this stuff is being taken very seriously by the Obama Administration.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) – some of the Obama Administration officials, including the President himself, have – (inaudible) – that the new Administration is seeking the ratification of the CTBT, and you mentioned that it might have some political difficulties. What is your prospect – (inaudible) – so your prospect for the new Administration to finally get a ratification with the approval of Congress?

MS KAWAGUCHI: Let me say two things: one is that we talked to the people that Gareth mentioned, and I think almost all said that the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has a very high place in the Administration’s agenda. Exactly what they would do on each of the five points is still to be discussed internally, and the Administration has not announced exactly what action will be taken on each issue. But overall, the impression was encouraging and we are hopeful.

And also, about the five points – the first part of your question – these five points were summarised in the report outline in very short sentences or phrases, and in our report, of course, there will be nuances to this. Although we aim at a practical report, the language will not be as simple as that.

MR EVANS: I think just specifically on the CTBT issue, it’s not for us to be trying to speculate about how the numbers are going to be put together, but pretty clearly 67 is a high hurdle to get over and it will be very important for key Republicans like Senator Lugar and so on, who – Senator McCain – who were sceptical about this last time around, to be persuaded of the importance of the CTBT ratification going ahead.

The key issue in the US debate, I suspect, will be the confidence with which Senators and Congressmen feel that they can believe in the stockpile management issue, the technical issue, without testing what’s the reliability of the weapons going to be. And that’s going to be a debate to which, hopefully, our Commission’s report can contribute.

Another issue that is going to exercise people’s minds is if the US does actually ratify the CTBT, what will be the reaction of other key states that are still holding out against that – China in particular. If we as the Commission can offer some confidence on the basis of our research and efficacy that this will bear fruit, this hopefully will play back into the US domestic debate.

Generally speaking, I think there’s been a tendency to underestimate the extent to which these sorts of initiatives are of crucial importance in demonstrating the good faith of the major states, the major weapons states. And if there can be momentum of this kind generated, it will play very, very positively into the cooperative response of others on non-proliferation issues, which are so important in the current environment.

MS KAWAGUCHI: Just another point to add, that many people we talked to in the Administration said that it is very important for the US to make the NPT 2010 Review a success. And they were really wondering what we can contribute from our report for this purpose.

MR EVANS: Other questions?

QUESTION: I’m sorry. I don’t want to ask all the questions – (inaudible).

MR EVANS: Sorry. We’ll come back to you if there’s time. Okay? Yes?

QUESTION: In terms of practical agenda – sorry, Geoff Elliott of The Australian newspaper – (inaudible) practical recommendations. What, for instance, might the report tend to say about Pakistan – the issue there, for instance, A.Q. Khan and his release, and the proliferation that has taken place through his operations in the black market. And what would you have to say about that, for instance, and what would your recommendations be? Is that going to be addressed?

MR EVANS: As I told you last night, Mr Elliott, I’m not going to anticipate the details, specific analysis or recommendations in the report now. It’s just premature to do so because we haven’t decided. But obviously the black market operations of A.Q. Khan, and Pakistan standing pretty obviously behind it, was one of the major, major problems of the last decade and has created an environment of much greater risk and much greater uncertainty than was the case a decade ago. And pretty obviously, we can’t, as an international community, allow anything like that ever to happen again. And I think our report will be very strong on that and hopefully containing some practical recommendations to help ensure that that will be the case.

QUESTION: But can you give us any sense what that might be?

MR EVANS: No, I can’t at this stage, and that’s life. This is only the second meeting of the Commission. Come back to us in six months’ time.

MS KAWAGUCHI: Yes. Someone in the back.


QUESTION: Anne Davies from the Sydney Morning Herald. Will your report actually specify target numbers for reduction of warheads by the two major countries with nuclear weapons? And secondly, can you talk about your third recommendation, which I think is to involve China in a broader discussion?

MR EVANS: The issue of actual numbers is really very, very tricky. An awful lot of definitional issues come into play and as between delivery systems and warheads, there’s the whole issue of sub-strategic or tactical or battlefield weapons.

And we are wrestling with this at the moment, and I can’t be specific, frankly, at the moment other than to say that obviously, we’re going to be very strongly in favour of a major, major effort in numerical reductions across the whole spectrum on the way to zero. We’re not going to get to zero any time soon, but it’s a realistic objective within finite time periods which can probably be specified to get down to some very low numbers, indeed, of weapons generally. And I don’t want to be specific about what low numbers might actually be achievable – I mean, hopefully in the low hundreds, hopefully less than that, but we can’t at this stage be specific.

MS KAWAGUCHI: About the China one?

MR EVANS: And as to the China issue, what we are really proposing there is that – would you like to say something on that?


MR EVANS: Sure. About a wider strategic dialogue and what we’d like to choose.

MS KAWAGUCHI: China – what we said to the US government is that it is important to involve China at a very early stage, in confidence building, and this includes transparency and strategic confidence building generally, CTBT ratification, limiting the expansion of nuclear capability and methods of achieving multilateral nuclear force reductions. We feel that it is very important that disarmament is not a discussion between the US and Russia. China, and for that matter other countries, will be, should be, involved at an early stage. That is our thinking.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Kaori Arioka from NHK Broadcasting Corporation – (inaudible). I have two questions, and the first is, as for negotiating with the Obama Administration, would you get a little bit more specific about what they’ve said, what each of them said – (inaudible). And secondly, you had an opportunity to – (inaudible) – yesterday, and could you tell us if it had an impact or effect on your – (inaudible)?

MR EVANS: On the first question, I’m afraid I can’t say anything more than what I’ve said. That would be inappropriate because they were confidential discussions. I simply repeat that all the Commissioners, and certainly Yoriko and I, were very positively impressed by the degree of engagement, the degree of commitment, the degree of understanding of the significance of these issues and certainly led us to believe that there will be very serious commitment by the US to follow through on these issues.

I can’t be more specific than that, but it was across the board, and it was really very impressive, and frankly more than I expected. This is an Administration – and I think it starts from the very top – that is very serious about these issues and that regards this as right up there as a global problem alongside the economic meltdown, alongside climate change, alongside the particular regional problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan. This is really, really a big issue for this Administration.

Sorry, the second question was?

MS KAWAGUCHI: Survivors.

MR EVANS: Oh, survivors. Let me say, and Yoriko can follow up on this, it was a very, very moving, devastating testimony that I think we heard from the hibakusha survivors yesterday. It was very difficult. Even though they’ve been telling their stories for many years now, those stories were so harrowing, so personal, so intense in the emotional stress that is obviously involved, that it made a very big impression on the Commission.

It’s very, very important that when you sit down and address these issues, you don’t just focus on the intellectual and abstract problems. We have to constantly remember that the reason we are so concerned about nuclear weapons is because they are the most horribly destructive weapons of all in terms of the sheer human misery and waste, despoliation that they cause. And that was a message that came through very clearly from the survivors. It made a deep impression on the Commissioners and we are very grateful to Yoriko and the Japanese side for making possible our experience of that testimony.

MS KAWAGUCHI: I have really nothing to add to what Gareth Evans just said. I just feel that when we talk disarmament and non-proliferation – this is my personal sense, but I feel that it is – the importance of the thought of what things would happen if nuclear weapons were to be used. And I think we have to know the horror of nuclear weapons from the bottom of our heart, and unless you have that, you just talk about disarmament or non-proliferation as some substance. So I am glad that the survivors were kind enough – they are old, I mean, elderly, not 50 anymore – to come all the way to Washington and present their views.

MR EVANS: I think we’ll have to wind it up, but just –

QUESTION: Can I ask one question? You mentioned the renaissance of nuclear power clearly driven apparently by concerns about climate change. How important will that aspect be of your deliberations? And will you be making recommendations for a revamping of the Nuclear Suppliers Group perhaps to strengthen measures against the leakage of nuclear technology for other purposes?

MR EVANS: They are issues that we will be addressing. I don’t know yet what specific recommendations there are going to be. What we do want to do is very much engage the civil nuclear industry in our discussions. And in Moscow, we are specifically inviting the leaders of that industry worldwide to join us in a discussion. I suspect this will be an extended and ongoing process.

The primary focus will be on issues like proliferation resistant technology and ways in which the civil nuclear industry has responsibilities to the international community not only in terms of the traditional issues of safety and environmental impact, but in terms of security and ensuring non-diversion to non-state actors and so on. This is the concern in the context of a major new expansion of civil nuclear energy – that the vulnerabilities, the risks that are out there will just, by definition, be multiplied unless we work very hard to put protective measures in place.

MS KAWAGUCHI: Yes. Climate change definitely is one cause, one of the elements behind this increased demand for nuclear energy. We will have to make the use – civil use safe and proliferation proof, and we will be discussing what we can do so that nuclear energy will be used for peaceful purposes. Certainly. The content of that we can’t yet – (inaudible).

MR EVANS: The very last question, and a quick one.

QUESTION: You mentioned that every single – (inaudible) – US officials have supported the idea to make the next – (inaudible) – conference successful. And Hillary Clinton told Congress in her testimony in January that the US might launch – support a similar package of so-called 13 steps which will set out between –

MS KAWAGUCHI: Similar package of what?

MR EVANS: To the 13 steps.

QUESTION: Thirteen steps, as a replacement of the existing one. Did anybody, any US official mention that when you met the other day?

MS KAWAGUCHI: Let me say that we did not get a response for each of the five points separately. What we said is that the overall impression was very encouraging. The nuance of their positiveness obviously varied from point to point. And the US, given the economic situation, they are busy focusing on that issue. I don’t think it is fair for us to say exactly what they have on their plan or what’s not.

MR EVANS: I think what one can say is that there is a clear interest in this Commission packaging up some ideas that can go forward into the NPT conference that would bring together some of these themes of disarmament and non-proliferation. One of the things in that context that the Commission is considering as part of its recommendations will be for a re-crafting of basically the 13 points in updated fashion as perhaps something that would be called a new international nuclear consensus, which would be a re-articulation of these very important basic principles which were agreed in 2000 but then completely lapsed in 2005 in that dreadful move away from serious commitment to these things.

I think there is a serious willingness not just on the part of the US but on the UK and a number of others to rethink their position. And I’m quite confident that this is one of the possible paths to shaping up the debate in the NPT review conference. But it’s early days yet, and we can’t be more specific than that. But it was featured in our conversation. Yes.

Okay, thank you very much. I appreciate you all coming and I look forward to talking some more when we’ve got some more to say.

MS KAWAGUCHI: Thank you.

MR EVANS: Thank you.

[ End ]

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