Joint Press Conference by Co-Chairs, Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, and Commissioner Dr Alexei Arbatov, International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 

22 June 2009, Moscow, Russia


Good afternoon, thank you for coming. This press-conference comes right after the third meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. I would like to introduce Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi, who was Japan’s Environmental Minister and then Foreign Minister. And Mr Gareth Evans, who was Australia’s Resources and Energy Minister and then Foreign Minister. He also has been the President of the International Crisis Group. And Dr Alexei Arbatov, who is the Russian Member of the Commission, and former Member of the Russian Duma and Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defence Committee.

Well, thank you very much for this opportunity to talk to you about our meeting. We’ve just finished our third meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. We had a very productive meeting today. But let me first talk about who we are and what we are doing.

This Commission was established last year when Australian Prime Minister Mr Rudd initiated the move and he asked our Prime Minister Mr Fukuda to form this International Commission to talk about non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons. We have had three meetings so far. The first was in Sydney, the second in Washington, right after the start of the Obama Administration. This Commission is very timely because there had been concerns about proliferation of nuclear materials and weapons, especially after 9/11. And also we have concerns over climate change and also security – energy security, which means that we will have more nuclear power generation, which in turn, if not properly managed, could mean more proliferation. And also we have just too many nuclear weapons, which we should be reducing. There have been articles from many internationally important persons like Kissinger and colleagues, and subsequently others such as the former Australian Prime Minister. And now the Obama Administration has come into existence – and he has talked about making it to zero – and this was echoed by Russian President and Prime Minister as well. So, against this background we have been talking, working very hard so that we could in steps move to zero nuclear weapons, and also to have a good framework for non-proliferation. At the same time we note that peaceful uses of nuclear energy will expand - this is another pillar of our work. And perhaps we might be able to say the fourth pillar would be the activities of terrorists using nuclear materials. So, that is what we are thinking in the background of our Commission, and I will ask Gareth to continue on what we have been doing.

Thank you very much for joining us. The background is exactly as Yoriko Kawaguchi has described it. Up until the latter part of last year the international community had really been sleepwalking for most of the last decade on non-proliferation and disarmament in the course of which we were going backwards as an international community on these issues - after the quite dramatic changes and improvements that had occurred in the early post cold-war years. The Commission now is producing its report working in an environment where that atmosphere is quite fundamentally changed for all the reasons that my Co-Chair has said. And we feel I think for the first time – for a long time – that we are riding a wave. A lot of the leadership on this issue is obviously going to have to come from the United States and Russia. They between them hold something like 95% of the world’s close to 27 thousand warheads that are still in existence. And obviously the critical governmental momentum has to come in the first instance from them. But there are many, many other players around the world who play a critically important role in ensuring that we do continue this process – continue this movement and apply it in a number of other areas. And that’s the utility, I think, of this Commission. We are very representative, we are a global operation and we are going to come up with recommendations which are very practical, very hard-headed, very realistic so far as governments and decision makers are concerned, as well as being simultaneously very idealistic - because we are very passionately committed as a Commission to ultimately achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

It’s too early to share with you any detail of what our recommendations are going to be because we are still in the process of formulating and finalizing them. And nothing will be published until close to the end of the year. But what I can say very broadly is this: that our work is geared towards an action plan, identifying short-term objectives, priorities, actions that are needed, then the medium-term, then the longer-term. In the short-term the immediate objective is to have a very good and positive result from next year’s Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. But if you define the short-term as perhaps not just the next year, but the next three or four years, through to about 2012 – there are a lot of things that really need to be achieved within that relatively short timeframe. They include successful conclusion of major arms reductions bilaterally between the United States and Russia. They include the beginnings of a process of multilateralising disarmament to include other countries. They certainly include resolution in a satisfactory way of the current outstanding problems with North Korea and Iran. They certainly include, if it’s humanly possible to achieve in that timeframe, bringing into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And, certainly, includes making major progress on the Fissile Material Production Treaty or Cutoff Treaty that is about to commence being negotiated in Geneva. So there is a whole group of short-term targets that we think are very important to highlight, and we’ll be making detailed recommendations about all of them.

The medium-term we are characterising as the period through to around about 2025. That sounds a long way away, but given the pace at which these major arms control, disarmament measures have been implemented over past years, past decades, it’s probably a realistic timeframe. And what we are talking about achieving by then is not only any unfinished business on strengthening the NPT regime and doing all the other things that I mentioned, but also making some very major progress on nuclear disarmament. We are in the process of defining with some precision what we think is going to be achievable by 2025 and all the steps that are going to be necessary, year by year, to get there. What we are basically talking about is a world in which there are very few nuclear weapons, very few deployed, very few in condition of readiness - a world in other words, which will be very much safer than the one that we have at the moment. And that’s a significant objective - to get to that kind of world within that timeframe, where we are not talking about 27 thousand warheads and all the associated delivery systems, but no more in total than, perhaps, hundreds of warheads in the entire world. We’ve got to see on further analysis what’s achievable, but that’s the kind of objective we are moving towards.

In the longer term, the task is getting from that minimization point down to zero – that is, achieving the dream of a world without any nuclear weapons at all. Getting to that point, that final objective, is going to be quite tough. I think everybody knows that. It will require every one of the existing nuclear arms states to give away every one of their nuclear weapons, to dismantle them, to destroy them. That is going to be very difficult, is going to require very, very comprehensive agreed verification measures to ensure there’s no break-out. It’s going to require some quite fundamental changes in the way the business of international geopolitics is conducted - with less neighbourhood tensions that we have at the moment, and less of these larger storms that periodically erupt in the international environment. That’s going to be quite tough, but we believe as a Commission that we can be quite clear-headed about identifying in detail the conditions that will need to be satisfied. And we believe that we can help keep that dream very much alive.

So, it’s a short-term, medium-term, and long-term set of objectives and action plan that we’ll identify to cover that whole spectrum of issues - as my Co-Chair has said, all the inter-related issues of disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses.

What are we going to be saying about civil nuclear industry following our long consultations with industry from around the world today? We’ll be saying things about safety, security and safeguards. We’ll be saying things about multilateral institutions and processes for guaranteeing the supply of material to countries that may be newly coming into the international energy production business – nuclear energy production. We’ll be saying something about the scope and possibilities of proliferation-resistant technology. All these industry-related issues will be very much part of the Commission’s agenda. So, you can see it’s a very large and very complex and a very ambitious task.

But we feel as a Commission that although there are some difficult issues we still have to resolve, we have to get on now with the business of actually writing the report. We feel that we’ll have a pretty decent story to tell you all when we finally publish this at the end of the year. And then embark on the associated process of advocacy, which is necessary to ensure that it is not just another report which goes onto the shelves, but one that does actually influence government behavior.

So, over to you for questions.

Alexei Arbatov joins us as a fellow member of the Commission. He is here to respond specifically to any questions you might have about Russian perspectives or positions. Would you want to say anything by way of introduction?

I just wanted to add that the Co-Chairs of the Commission are organising very good work of the whole big group and providing superb leadership. In each country where there is a major Commission meeting or regional conference they meet the very top foreign policy leaders and get direct input from the leaders - and also directly explain the goals, the logic and thinking of the Commission. Today there was a very good meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, a very lively exchange, and very long one. And I think that this practice is very conducive to the Commission being an operational instrument to implement the goals which were set for its work.

QUESTION: Agatara – Indonesian Weekly.
My name is Zakharov. Is it possible to say some words about the report that will be made? Maybe, this report will include some concrete measures. Maybe you can go into details on the future report, and what was done in Moscow to this end? Thank you very much.

I’m sorry, we can‘t tell you right now the very detailed recommendations we’re going to make. This is work in progress. I’ve told you the categories of recommendations we are going to make. And what I can say about next year’s NPT Review Conference is that we will certainly be recommending measures to strengthen safeguards and verification; we will certainly be recommending measures to strengthen the compliance and enforcement provisions of that treaty; we will certainly be making recommendations which will give institutional strength to the IAEA. But beyond that, I can’t give you any more details. On disarmament, you’ve heard of where we are trying to get to by 2025, where we want to get to thereafter. We are very supportive of the US-Russia negotiations. We are conscious of the complexity of those negotiations and all the issues that are on the table. And we are not naïve about the difficulty of any of this. But we believe it is doable. We believe the mood is there now in the international community as my Co-Chair said. But beyond that we can’t be any more specific, I’m sorry. I know that many people share your impatience because this is really important. And we do want to come up with a good result, good report by the end of this year. And I am sure you will comment at that time.

QUESTION: Scott Bevan from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
A question for Dr Arbatov, if I could. So, I understand you’ve just returned from Washington as part of the bilateral negotiations. What sort of breakthroughs can we expect to be announced in early July by the Russian and US Presidents on the issue of nuclear arms reduction?

Well, the intention is to have a joint declaration, which would be of a character of framework agreement that would set main principles of the new START agreement to follow the START I Treaty that expires in December. Probably, it will give the size of the reduction of strategic weapons and some basic principles. And then it will give guidance to negotiators to reach an agreement by December. That is what is expected.

QUESTION: Japanese TV NHK, Ishikava..
About the meeting with the Minister Lavrov today: what special theme did you discuss with the Foreign Minister of Russia?

We talked about so many things, of course, following up on the speech by the President, the Russian President in Amsterdam recently and about what Alexei just talked about. Our interest was how much progress has been made, and will be made in the bilateral discussions. And after all, when we went to Washington last February, we asked the United States to move ahead, to come up with the follow-up treaty to START and also work on confidence building with Russia. And we are very pleased. I sensed a strong enthusiasm in the words of Foreign Minister Lavrov.

We also talked about many other recent developments - global political developments. The discussion lasted for about one hour and was very, very fruitful.

I should just add that it followed an initial discussion that I had with Foreign Minister Lavrov last September, in which he expressed great enthusiasm on the part of the Russian Government for the work of the Commission. That was reflected again in the excellent meeting that we had today.

QUESTION: Japanese News Agency, Kyoto News.
What kind of reactions did you hear in today’s meeting with the representatives of the nuclear industry? Thank you very much.

This was the first time that we met industry. And we asked many questions as to the industry’s role in non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses. They were very open, very frank. And they have been doing so many things for the cause. And I also felt that they are very enthusiastic to continue the dialogue. They realised the importance of their role in this. And I do hope that this will take us to the next step so that we could continue to talk to them. But basically what they have said today will be reflected in the report that we will produce at the end of this year.

Perhaps, I can just say that industry and commercial imperatives are not always identical with government and public policy imperatives. But the interest of the Commission is trying to explore how you close that gap, recognising the reality that there are businesses out there in a very competitive international environment. And what we were exploring is how much can be done by cooperation, by partnership, by voluntary agreements; and how much needs to be in the area of government regulation. So, these are really quite tough issues. It wasn’t just an abstract conversation. We got right in to issues about safeguards and security, right in to issues about multilateral assurances and the utility of those, and the impact of that on the industry; and , right in to discussion about proliferation resistant technology and the extent to which industry could be expected to work on that itself without other incentives apart from the normal commercial market incentives. So it was a very interesting discussion. Again, neither of us want to go into detail about any conclusions - it was a preliminary discussion but a very fruitful one, and we felt very encouraged by it for all the reasons that Yoriko said.

QUESTION: Svetlana Korkina.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle that Russia and the United States are facing currently in their arms reduction talks?

There are two principal obstacles. One is the Ballistic Missile Defense Program of the United States, which makes Russian plans for reductions quite uncertain. Of course, it’s not only one base in Europe, which is a matter of concern, but this base is the beginning of expansion of Ballistic Missile Defense, which eventually may undercut Russian security. Americans are now reviewing, revising their Ballistic Missile Defense Program but it’s not clear what will remain and how it will change. And when you are negotiating the Arms Control Treaty you have to plan for many years ahead. And so Russia, certainly, asks for some certainty, in particular with respect to Ballistic Missile Defense and recognition on the part of the United States of the fact that was the basis for arms control reductions for many decades - that there is an interaction between offensive and defensive systems and that offensive systems’ reductions require also limitations or agreements on defensive systems.

And the second obstacle, which is now becoming more important, is that the United States are planning to convert part of their strategic forces for precision-guided conventional weapons, which may have a destabilizing effect on strategic balance because these precision-guided weapons may put in danger part of Russian strategic forces and increase the threat of a disarming strike. So, these are two principal obstacles, which will have to be resolved, at least, on a partial basis because both sides are now negotiating a treaty to supplement or to come in place of START I, which, probably, will not be of very long duration - but has to open the door for further negotiations for much deeper reductions.

A question to Dr Arbatov. Dr Arbatov, could you tell us, please, how can we hope that non-proliferation issues are not going to expand beyond North Korea?

I would rather delegate the response to that question to our bosses who are the Co-Chairs of the Commission. I only want to say that our assumption is that non-proliferation problems will not end with Iran and Korea, but may become even bigger in the future because of the expected renaissance of nuclear energy in the world. However, acceptable and constructive solutions to the Iranian and North Korean problems will be very important for the prospects of non-proliferation. If there is success it will be easier to deal with future problems. If it is a failure there is no way we can deal with future problems at all.

There are many dimensions to achieving successful non-proliferation. But one of the crucial ones is for the existing nuclear weapon states, nuclear armed states to demonstrate the seriousness about disarmament. It’s very easy, as a lot of the nuclear weapons states have done over the years, to say that it is just rhetoric, and not to be taken seriously - just a debating point for the UN. The truth of the matter is that developing countries, non-nuclear weapon states feel very strongly that there should not be hypocrisy, double standards, one rule for the protection of certain people and another rule for themselves. So, it’s very, very important for the non-proliferation side of the agenda that we do make substantial progress on the disarmament side and really demonstrate seriousness of purpose by the existing nuclear weapon states.
And, in addition to that, I think the core issue is that we will have peace on Earth. That’s the most important element of non-proliferation and disarmament.

So, with that - thank you very much for your coming here and thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Co-Chair Kawaguchi, thank you Alexei.

[ Ends ]

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