Eliminating Nuclear Threats 

25 January 2010

IPI (International Peace Institute) Speaker Series

Featuring Gareth Evans, Co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

Welcoming remarks, Terje Rød Larsen, President of IPI

Moderator, Edward C. Luck, Senior Vice President for Research and Programs of IPI

Transcript edited by IPI

TERJE RØD-LARSEN: Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the International Peace Institute. I am Terje Rød Larsen, President of IPI. The topic of our talk today is eliminating nuclear threats. This is the ambitious and crucial goal set by the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament. I am indeed delighted to welcome my old friend, and I daresay the one and only Gareth Evans, I'd say living legend in international affairs. He is the co-chair of the International Commission, and he will present today the report of the Commission to us.

Gareth, thank you very much for being with us, it is always a great honor to welcome you at IPI. A little more than, I think, one year ago, you spoke at IPI on responsibility to protect, ending mass atrocity crimes once and for all. This is an issue, of course, which is of great importance to the United Nations, and for which you have had a pioneering role. You are with us today to discuss nuclear weapons, an equally important issue, to say the least. I know the issue has always been at the center of your priorities and your actions, as Australia's Foreign Minister, and also as a member of numerous international panels and commissions, starting with the Canberra Commission in 1996.

Gareth, since I just mentioned your longstanding personal commitment to combat mass atrocities, as well as nuclear threats, let me seize the opportunity to congratulate you on the award that you will receive next spring at the Roosevelt Institute, namely the Freedom from Fear Award. The award was announced a few days ago, and is a tribute to your action to promote RtoP as well as to address nuclear challenges. Please join me in congratulating Gareth. Let us give him a big hand.


Gareth, the floor is yours.

GARETH EVANS: Well, thank you Terje for that gracious, as always, and generous introduction as reminded on these occasions Adelaide Stevenson used to say "Flattery is fine, as long as you don't inhale."

Well, here we are to talk about something completely different. And I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking another day, another panel of the global greats and the good and another big fat report. So what? Been there, done that, Blix, all the rest of it – what's new?

Well I think there are a few new things about this Eliminating Nuclear Threats Report, and this Commission, which are worth spelling out as amounting to some genuine value added.

The first, of course, is the timeliness of the report. Unlike Canberra Commission and Blix and Tokyo Forum and quite a few other things, we are riding something of a wave at the moment rather than just resisting the tide and trying desperately to get a hearing for this argument with the four horsemen, originally Kissinger, Schultz, Nunn, Perry 2007, breaking open the sort of intellectual debate about disarmament, really, for the first major time. And then, of course, President Obama followed by President Medvedev's response to that. We do, I think have a sense of momentum out there, which is eminently worth grasping and worth hanging a report around.

Secondly, I think it's important to emphasize the representative character of the report, the Commission, the processes on which it was based. Although, when you hear "Australia, Japan" as the sponsors of it, it sounds a bit like sort of a regional exercise. It's in fact genuinely global in the composition of the Commission, as you'll see from the list of members, it does reflect that, as does the very worldwide consultative process that we went through, and the worldwide team of experts that we had feeding ideas and data into it.

Third thing that I think adds value to this report is its comprehensiveness. It is very big and fat, but that's because it deals with all three of the pillars of this issue: the disarmament issue; nonproliferation and peaceful uses, in a pretty comprehensive way, and in a way which wasn't really done with previous reports, which tended to focus on one or two of those themes without the other. This is an attempt to bring the data, bring the analysis, bring the arguments together in a rather comprehensive way so that the report will operate, hopefully, as something of a handbook, and not just for the aficionados, the wonks, but also for the many, many people who have an interest or an involvement through their missions and so on, on this issue, but haven't really had a chance to get into the detail of it. Hopefully, this report will be a very useful way into that.

A fourth thing about it is that unlike, perhaps, some of the other reports, including ones that I've been associated with, this is a very pragmatic, very realistic, very hardheaded kind of a document which, while having a very clear vision as to what we want to achieve – a world without nuclear weapons – is also very, very clear about the many practical constraints and obstacles which will stand in the way. So what you'll get in the report – it's not so clear just from reading the synopsis, which looks a bit like the traditional laundry list of wishes for what would be an ideal set of outcomes, but when you see the report itself, I think the analysis that goes into it and the way the argument is constructed, you'll see that very strong note of realism – a bit too realistic for some of our NGO constituency, I feel, who would have liked us to have been a little bit more rainbow chasing in the way in which we articulated these issues. But we've done our best because we know that the primary audience for this report is diplomats and policy makers in governments, and they're not going to be impressed by just another list of ‘shoulds' or list of ‘wouldn't it be good ifs.' We have to do a bit better than that.

The final thing about the report is that while the bulk of it is a very detailed analysis of the categories or risk and threat that are out there, namely from existing weapons, from possible new weapon states, from terrorist actors, and from civil nuclear energy, if there is a rapid development of it, and in particular, if that is accompanied by many new states, or some new states acquiring new enrichment and reprocessing facilities. It's not only a list or an assessment of those risks, it's not only a very detailed analysis of the appropriate policy responses to each of those risks in turn, but what we've done in the last section of the report is really try to bring it all together in terms of a set of practical agendas, short-, medium- and long-term, for policy makers so that people will have a sense of what the priorities are, what the sequencing of issues and attention should be, and what's important to get done by when. So there is a very deliberate attempt to sort of map the path forward on all of this in a way that I don't think has been done before.

In summarizing the substance of the report, let me focus on those three agendas for action -- short-term, medium-term and long-term -- just to very briefly give you a sense of the universe of issues that is covered. The short term is the next three years, to 2012, not entirely coincidentally tenure of the current American presidency, tenure of the current Russian presidency, but also a timeframe that's longer than just the NPT review conference in a few month's time, but still short enough to give us a sense – still long enough, rather, to give us a framework within which we can get some important benchmark objectives, hopefully moving substantially forward.

So, between now and 2012, what are we arguing should happen? And what do we assess as possible, can happen in that period? Break it up into three tranches of activity: first, issues that involve the building blocks for both nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and there's three big building blocks that we really, really need to sort out within that short-term timeframe. One, of course, is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, getting it finally ratified and brought into force, an illusive target so far as the US Senate is concerned, and I'm afraid becoming more illusive by the minute with current domestic political developments, but nonetheless very, very important if we can pull it off.

Secondly, the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, also a little bit illusive given the current dynamics, continuing dynamics in Geneva, but a hugely important building block to get agreement to stop the further production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes, and to get a negotiated treaty hopefully concluded within that timeframe.

And thirdly, the whole range of nuclear security issues – loose nukes and all the rest of that – will be the subject of the Obama summit in April. An important agenda, not so much involving new policy initiatives, but the effective implementation of things that have already been agreed, and that, again, are crucial for both the achievement of nonproliferation and disarmament objectives.

Second tranche of issues in the short term relate to nonproliferation itself, and here are two big objectives: one, to get a successful conclusion to the NPT review conference in May, which I'll come back to in a few moments; and secondly, of course, to try and get a resolution within this next timeframe, period, next three years and hopefully sooner than that, of the breakout or potential breakout situations in North Korea and Iran, has to be very high on all our agendas.

And the third tranche of issues to target in the short term relates, of course, to disarmament, and here the crucial needs are, apart from what I want to say about the NPT Review Conference, and I'll come back to that, three things, I think, in particular, here about disarmament: one, to get a successful conclusion of the US-Russia bilateral negotiation, now almost wrapped up but still drifting on, which will significantly reduce the number of strategic deployed weapons. But not just to do that – very importantly, in this three-year time frame, to get a new round of deep reductions negotiations started and, indeed, substantially concluded.

When Russia and the United States have between them 22,000 of the 23,000 nuclear weapons in existence, clearly, we're not going to very seriously advance the disarmament agenda unless we get substantial continuing movement from those guys on that front.

A second disarmament objective within the next three years is to at least get something started so far as the broader multilateral disarmament process is concerned. This was heavily emphasized in the SG's five-point statement or plan back in October 2008. It's a little bit quixotic to think that we can actually get serious negotiations commenced in that timeframe, but at least the preliminaries of strategic dialog, discussion, planning, and maybe, just maybe, some formal discussion in the context, perhaps, of the CD in Geneva. That requires perhaps yet another triumph of hope over expectations to think that, but nonetheless, to get something moving in that context, which will at least have the issues out there on the table.

And the third thing, very importantly so far as disarmament is concerned, is to start to get some movement now in this early period on the question of nuclear doctrine, the role of nuclear weapons and what their perceived utility or salience actually is. Now, President Obama opened up this issue in his Prague speech when he said we have to reduce the role of nuclear weapons. It's a really, really central issue and we're all waiting with bated breath to see now what will come out of the nuclear posture review in the United States in this respect.

It's not just, of course, the United States, that needs to move on this front. It's a broad agenda covering many other countries, and that's going to take a long time before we get to where we want to be, which is everybody signed up to a no-first-use commitment so far as these weapons are concerned. But to get out of the US some functionally equivalent declaratory statement that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter others using nuclear weapons against the US or its allies would be a huge step forward, represent a very substantial movement from the Bush doctrine, preexisting doctrine of strategic ambiguity so far as nukes are concerned, where nuclear weapons are available for all sorts of threat contingencies, and would feed tremendously usefully into the NPT review process.

We could also hope in the short term, in this context of nuclear doctrine, for some better negative security assurances from the nuclear weapon states, and I hope that's one of the issues that will come up and come out of the NPT Review Conference, which I'll say more right now. Just on NSAs, though, clearly we need to do a lot better than was done back in 1995 when the nuclear weapon states and the sort of orgy of self-congratulation bestowed these negative security assurances upon us, but with so many qualifications, caveats and conditions, for all practical purposes they were meaningless. If they really want to make a commitment that they're not going to use nukes against non-nuclear arm states, they'll have to articulate that a little bit more clearly and expressly than was the case back in the mid-‘90s, and we have quite a bit to say on that issue.

But coming now more specifically to the agenda for the NPT Review Conference, which will be on many of your minds, what's to be said about that? What are we saying in this report should be the priority issues? Well, of course, as you know, there are literally hundreds of resolutions and discussion papers and God knows what circulating. It's a vast swirl of activity and with everybody grinding many different axes and pushing many different barrows, there are a number of things that it will be important to get done at the Review Conference, including a decent statement on the peaceful uses issue, which is very important, in particular, to the developing country constituency, that pillar of the NPT. It will be important to get a statement, hopefully, on the nuclear security issue coming out of the Obama summit in April which endorses whatever is achieved there.

But, that said, the Commission takes the view that the three big things that really need to happen at the NPT Review Conference, not so much that stuff, but these: One, a big package of agreement on strengthening the nonproliferation treaty regime. I won't go into the detail of this, 'cause most of this is familiar to you and it's the sort of stuff that is spelled out in a great deal of detail in the Security Council resolution 1887, just a few, couple of months ago, and the issues there are pretty much wholly endorsed by the Commission. What we're talking about are improved safeguards and verification, in particular, additional protocol take up, what we're talking about, improved compliance in enforcement measures, in particular; some pretty tough provisions governing withdrawal from the NPT so that we don't have this phenomenon of countries sheltering under the NPT and then walking away from it with capacity that they're going to use for non-peaceful purposes. And it involves a number of things to do with strengthening the role, capacity, and budget of the IAEA. It's all that stuff, and it's all very important.

But just as important is the second big objective for the NPT in which we'll have to come together, I think, if we are to get a successful outcome, including agreement on key nonproliferation issues, and that is a big statement on disarmament, disarmament commitments. It's a central theme of this whole report that disarmament and nonproliferation are joined at the hip, that there really is an inextricable interconnection between the two despite the age-old disposition of the nuclear weapon states to pretend that somehow they're on separate planets and they don't really have to do very much to satisfy their Article Six obligation under the NPT.

The Commission takes a very different view, as do most of the countries across the road here, that disarmament is very, very important. And what we need out of the NPT Review Conference is a statement which brings up to date and rearticulates and adds to the famous 13 practical steps document of 2000, which was a major step forward in bringing the nuclear weapon states into serious, at least rhetorical commitments, but which of course, disappeared without a trace, like everything else, in 2005 Review Conference, and where there is still a real need to put those pieces back together again.

One of the contributions that I hope this Commission has made is to actually draft a 20-point statement -- what a new 13-steps theme might actually look like, shorn of some of the now irrelevant stuff, of which there's not very much, keeping the negotiated text so far as possible, but reordering it, reshaping it, and adding a number of explicit new commitments to it.

We've drafted all that. It's now sort of in circulation and beginning to be debated by a number of member states and I hope it will prove a useful contribution to the NPT process.

And a third big thing that needs to be achieved at the NPT Review Conference, if it is to be accounted a success, is to get some kind of movement on the vexed issue of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone for the Middle East.

Those of you who have been following all this will know this agreement to move that issue forward was a pretty important precondition of NAM support for the indefinite extension of the NPT back in 1995, and there have been many countries concerned ever since to get some movement on that, which hasn't really happened.

The Commission might prove to have made a small contribution to this cause with one of the important consultative meetings that we held in Cairo a few months ago where we did manage to bring together around a table all the key Middle East players, including not only the Arab League states but Israel and Iran, and without saying too much about it, or without over egging the cake, I think it would be fair to say that we came away, and I think most of the participants in that meeting came way, thinking that maybe, just maybe, if the UN Secretary General were to convene a meeting of key regional parties within the next year or so, with the express purpose of considering in detail the preconditions, prerequisites for such a nuclear weapons or weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone, than it might just be possible to get people coming to that conference and getting some serious outcomes from it.

I don't want to overstate the potential for this, but if something like this can come together, I think it would be very helpful in moving forward that issue in the way that so many people want. Of course, maybe to some of you, that doesn't sound very ambitious at all, but realistically, again, getting any serious negotiations started on a nuclear-free zone of this kind or WMD-free zone, would be a pretty heroic aspiration given the present Middle East environment; but if we can move it forward, at least to that extent, that would be useful.

So, look, there are many, many other themes running through the report. We've got lots to say, for example, of a nuclear weapons convention, about which some of you may wish to question me. That's one of the issues in the SG's statement, proposal back in October 8th.

But let me just conclude and open it up for questions by just briefly capturing for you what are the major themes that are running through this entire report. The first theme is simply that it's sheer dumb luck that we managed to have survived since the end of the Second World War without a major nuclear catastrophe. It's got nothing to do with good policy, good management – it's sheer dumb luck. We're beginning to learn, we know now, much more than we used to about the number of times we came close to catastrophe during the Cold War period. Some of those instances are retold in the text here.

We know that the command and control systems that are out there for some of the newer nuclear arms states don't have the degree of sophistication that was the case with the Cold War super powers, and they came close enough to disaster. We know that the potential for cyber attack and misinformation is much greater now than it was previously because of the sophistication of the technology that's now available.

And, just generally, we absolutely can't afford to be complacent about that risk, nor can we be complacent about the other risks of nonproliferation associated with terrorism although we try to sort of clarify just what is and what's not real about some of the claims that are being made in those areas, and the issue of civil nuclear energy.

The basic theme in all of this is that the status quo is not an option. We cannot afford to be complacent. We can't believe that because this issue has largely been off international agenda -- because we made some progress ten years ago in significantly reducing numbers -- that it's pretty much okay to stay where we are now, and this is not a high priority. On the contrary, it's an extremely high priority for the international community. It is, after all, along with climate change, the only policy issue where what's at stake is the potential survival of the entire planet, and frankly, the prospects of destruction are much more immediate should things go wrong in the case of nukes than is the case with climate.

So the very last basic theme that runs through all of this is that – sorry, I didn't – it just reminds me that I didn't say anything about the medium and the long term to put that in context. So let me bring that, finally, together. I've talked about the short-term agenda, the medium-term agenda is by 2025 to actually achieve a massive reduction in the number of nuclear weapons down from the present 23,000 to something less than 2,000, which would represent a 90% reduction -- not as ambitious as perhaps some people, again, would like, but pretty heroic nonetheless when you consider what we've got to go through to get there.

Also, by 2025, if not much sooner, the achievement of agreement across the board by the nuclear arms states to no first use, and also by 2025, agreement to accompany such doctrinal commitment, the practical deployment of weapons in such a way that it would give credibility to the no-first-use commitment, and by that I mean a minimum number of weapons actually deployed, most of them dismantled, and all of them long-decision time when it comes to actually firing them. That's to 2025.

In the long term, beyond 2025, agenda, is, of course, to move from that minimization point, as we describe it, to absolute zero. We did not feel able, credibly, to identify a particular target date for achieving zero because of the number of constraints, conditions that are going to have to be dealt with to achieve that, not only geopolitical ones and fragile and volatile neighborhoods, but also of course psychological ones, also practical ones going to verification, practical issues going to enforcement, so that countries can be genuinely confident, they can get to zero.

But the basic theme, and this is where I wanted to finish, by saying through the report, the absolute theme is we're not going to achieve the policy objectives that we need to in this whole area without being absolutely serious about getting to zero as the final step of the process, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Some people have written about this, the gang of four and so on, talk about the critical thing being to get to the base camp or the vantage point and after that it's a journey up to the mountaintop and the mountaintop is left rather shrouded in mist. What we say in this report is that mountaintop must be a very clear beacon in the sunlight, and we have to, while acknowledging the difficulty in getting there, we have to understand that it's possible to get there and to see what's necessary to do just that. But don't lets ever just think that this is something that can be pushed aside, pushed aside and talked about in terms of ultimate goals without being serious about it.

So that's the very last thing I wanted to say, that through the report runs this theme which was really very well captured by the Canberra Commission back in 1996 and which has recurred constantly in the subsequent reports including the Blix Commission, and it's summarized in just three sentences and I'll conclude the opening remarks on this note. And the three sentences are these: So long as any country has nuclear weapons, others will want them. So long as any country has nuclear weapons, they are bound, one day, to be used, by accident or miscalculation if not by design. And any such use, any such use, would be catastrophic for life on this planet as we know it. That was the theme of Canberra, that's the theme of this report, and I just hope to God it's taken seriously by decision makers in the period ahead in which for the first time, for a long time, gives us a glimmer of optimism that we might actually be making some progress towards those objectives. Thank you.


EDWARD LUCK: That was terrific Gareth. I don't know anyone who combines intellect and passion quite as well as you do. In fact, I liked all of the talk except for those two references to my cousin, Sheer Dumb Luck. But other than that, I thought it was terrific, and the fact that you do it without any notes at all is quite impressive. Of course, I was exhausted by the time you got through the short term, thinking of all this, so the medium and long term is just too ambitious for me, but a terrific agenda.

We have a little over an hour, plenty of time for conversation. We probably can do three or four rounds of three or four questions each, and we'll start right here, please, and if you could identify yourself, for each speaker, we'd appreciate that.

AMIT KUMAR: I'm Amit Kumar from the UN, from the Al Qaeda Taliban monitoring team. I just had basically two questions. First of all, has the panel or the group that you headed, has it been able to identify the risks emanating from WMD transport, for example, the impracticability of hundred percent cargo inspections, which is always a big thing in the US actually? And also, did it look at the efficacy and the risk mitigation from the Nunn-Lugar Act, which entailed the removal of stockpiles of weapons from the former states of the Soviet Union? Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: Then our friend Hossam from the Egyptian Mission, just behind you, please.

HOSSAM ELDEEN M. ALY: Thank you very much. My name is Hossam Aly. I'm the Counselor for the First Committee of the Egyptian Mission. I wish to thank Mr. Gareth Evans very much for his thorough presentation and for the effort done by the Commission.

I have just a couple of questions, just clarifications, perhaps, that would be helpful in understanding the effort of the Commission in putting it together in perspective. I sense some kind of actually contradiction between your call to end the role of nuclear weapons and revised doctrines, on the one hand, and on the other hand, your call for no first use by nuclear weapons states. Actually, no first use would definitely acknowledge …

GARETH EVANS: I'm not hearing you properly.

HOSSAM ELDEEN M. ALY: I was just interested in seeing like, don't you see a contradiction in calling, on the one hand, for ending the role of nuclear weapons and deterrents, and on the other, inviting the nuclear weapons states to actually acknowledge no first use, which means that they would keep their weapons forever but they would not use them. Don't you see this as a half measure that is actually contradictory to ending the role of the weapons?

Also, I want to perhaps ask you, on the 20 points the Commission put together, I notice very much that it merged the objective of nuclear disarmament within the NPT regime, on the one hand, with actually the promotion of universality in a manner that led, perhaps, to undermining a bit the key principles within the treaty itself, in order to bring closer the non-parties, but not in an effective manner.

Having said that, one last element here that I didn't hear you cover in your presentation: how did the Commission see a way to address the possible impact of the exemption given by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to India? I assume this will create tremendous problems in promoting something like the Additional Protocol or enforcing further safeguards beyond the level they are in today. So these are just elements I wanted to bring forward. Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: Thanks very much. Beforehand Gareth asked whether this audience might have actually perused the report first. I said "With this audience, I think they probably memorized it, many of them." Who else would like to comment this round? Then these two questions first.

GARETH EVANS: Okay. All good questions. First of all, about the nuclear security issues, yes, the report does express anxiety about the present security arrangements when it comes to inspecting cargo containers and things like that, and we do say that it's a – not a high risk, but it's certainly a non-negligible risk that terrorists so inclined could introduce through shipping containers or some other method of that kind, including land-based, cross-border movement of trucks and so on, to the extent of actually driving into the center of a major city and exploding a major nuclear device. I mean, sometimes the ease with which that can be done, technically, is overstated. It's a long shot, but it's a non-negligible long shot and the implications are obviously catastrophic.

And when you're talking about dirty bombs, radionuclide explosions, associating radionuclides with conventional explosives, I mean the destructive capability of that is nothing like full scale nuclear explosion, but the psychological impact would be pretty huge and the destruction would be significant.

Here, again, we ought not to kid ourselves that our capacity for detecting even highly radioactive material is absolute. A lot of this stuff can be shielded coming through airports and so on, and you know, there's plenty of reason for concern about that. Similarly, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has been phenomenally successful and important, not only in Russia but in a number of other countries as well, where US effort has been devoted to securing the locking up of weapons and material.

But there is still a lot of unfinished business about that and one of the purposes of the Obama summit is to really focus attention on the unfinished business in this respect, and get serious commitments by every state to do that.

I think it's worth noting that people often ask, why is President Obama so passionate about the nuclear issue? I mean, what's this Harvard lawyer, Chicago street guy, you know, why has he got so keen about all this? One of the reasons – although I think he had an intellectual interest predating this – one of the reasons is the very close relationship he formed with Dick Lugar in the Senate when he came in, at a personal level, and he very, very strongly believes in this stuff, and with the Lugar agenda center front, so it's important, I think, to know that these guys are serious about that, and for us to support them.

Now, three serious questions from our Egyptian colleague, all of them on a familiar theme of why are you settling for half measures of one kind or another when everybody knows that only absolute measures can ever actually get us anywhere? Well, maybe. Part of the realist approach that we've adopted in this report is to say we do have very serious long-term objectives and objectives that we want to realize as soon as humanly possible, but we're only going to get there step by step. And I think the NFU, the no first use business, is a classic example of a step-by-step process.

If you are asking countries to sign up to no first use, as an in perpetuity way of dealing with a nuclear problem, obviously that would be manifestly unsatisfactory because it is premised on the continued existence of nuclear weapons that you're not using first. But, as a change from the present situation, where certainly Pakistan and Israel are not committed to no first use; where Russia is dragging its feet very, very substantially on that issue, although having previously been committed in an earlier incarnation, Soviet Union; where the Chinese are probably serious about it, but are getting increasingly edgy about US conventional capability and starting to be concerned about the implications of that for their own nuclear policy.

In this sort of environment, it's really very, very important if we are going to generate momentum for the disarmament objective, to start getting some runs on the board in terms of what this is all about, and a central thing that this must all be about is reducing the perceived role relevant salience of nuclear weapons, and certainly, so far as NATO allies are concerned, certainly so far as northeast-Asian US allies are concerned, the whole question of extended nuclear deterrence with the implication that you might be the first to use nuclear weapons in the context of a non-nuclear threat contingency as well as a nuclear one, to get a no first use, or the functional equivalent of a no first use in a statement in play, in that context, is a very, very serious move forward indeed.

Indeed, my Japanese colleagues on this Commission were very conscious that this was a serious move forward and it took a lot of internal debate before the Commission signed up to that. So the notion that this is some sort of trivial thing or not worth having, or somehow inappropriate because it's inconsistent with a longer-term objective, I think is, with absolute respect, a rather shortsighted view, and that you ought to hang onto that as an important step forward.

Similarly, negative security assurances – you might say, what's the point of negative security assurances to non-nuclear states [INDISCERNIBLE] with nukes, because you're leaving open the option of attacking someone else with nukes and, therefore, it's not an absolute, you know, commitment to a nuclear weapon free world. Nonetheless, serious negative security assurances would be a major, major step forward, and I hope we can see the point of that.

Similar sorts of considerations, although a little bit different – onto your second question on what do you do about the aspiration of universality for the NPT when you've got these other three elephants outside the NPT room – India, Pakistan Israel? Well, what our report does, says, and I think we're a bit different from previous reports in this respect, we're no longer in denial about the reality of the three elephants. And we actually say, in so many words, that look, while all of us would love to see universality, while all of us would love to see those three states coming into the NPT as non-weapon states, we know perfectly well, all of us, that they're not going to come in except as weapon states, and we know perfectly well that the membership is not going to have a bar of them coming in as weapon states, so we're stuck.

Now, are we advancing the cause of anything by just preaching that mantra of universality and saying no more than that about how to deal with this problem? In this Commission we didn't think we are advancing the cause of nuclear disarmament by doing that, and what we're looking for is ways of bringing those three countries outside the NPT into conformity with NPT related disciplines, disciplines about disarmament, disciplines about nonproliferation, and saying that if you can find ways of getting people signed up to those disciplines, then of course all the other things like CTBT and FMCT, which are not dependent on NPT membership, then you are making progress.

But it's a bit of a mindset issue here in which we say look, it's just terribly important to deal with these countries as the realities that they are and try to find ways forward. So when we're talking, for example, about multilateral disarmament processes starting, we're not drawing distinctions between the NPT weapon states and the three nuclear arm states outside the NPT, putting North Korea in a slightly separate category for the moment. We're treating them equally and saying we've got to have processes which recognize the reality, they've got weapons, they're not inclined to give them up, and we've got a long, long course ahead of us of negotiation to move that forward.

One of the problems I mention in parenthesis with the Nuclear Weapons Convention draft that is in circulation is that it draws quite a significant distinction between the weapon states and the other nuclear arm states in this respect, which is all very well in terms of strict theological adherence to universality principles of the kind that you're articulating, but frankly, ain't very helpful when it comes to moving the game forward in terms of getting actual commitment to real world reductions.

That takes us to your third question, and these were three very good questions because they raise all these issues quite sharply. What do we say about the India nuclear deal? Well we say, basically, two things: the good news, and there is a little bit of good news in this, is that it does demonstrate that it's possible to have some parallel process along side the NPT which can, nonetheless, bring non-NPT nuclear arms states into conformity with at least some NPT type disciplines, and to the extent that this deal did involve India agreeing to expose some of, well, it's civil facilities to inspection and so on, à la the NPT, that's progress and we ought to recognize the possibility of doing that with the others as well.

The bad news, of course, it was a very bad deal. The actual conditions that were agreed were simply not remotely stringent enough to justify removing the constraint on civil cooperation, supply or uranium and everything else. In particular, our Indian colleagues, and I don't blame them, they got the best deal they possibly could, it's the others that accepted something less than they should have. Obviously, the Indians did not agree as part of this, to limiting in any way their production of fissile material for weapons purposes. They didn't agree even to permanent cessation of testing, Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, a signature or anything else. I mean, in practice, I think the deal would fall apart if the Indians did test, but nonetheless, on paper that's a very bad look and it's a very bad precedent for the future and we say so, we say so in this Commission report, loud and clear.

What do you do for the future? You approach these deals if they're on offer, consistent with what I said about the desirability of bringing these guys into the disciplines. You approach it in a way which sets criteria, criteria both looking back as to what the performance of these countries has been in the past – in the case of India, they would have passed that test with flying colors because India has not been, in any sense, a proliferator. They've been very well behaved in that respect. But also, commitments for the future, and here, as I've just said, on those criteria, this deal was very sadly lacking.

But I think if you constructed it that way it would be acceptable in principle. It's not acceptable for some people who say you can't even touch a deal of any kind where the country is not part of the NPT. Well that's fine, but it's not going to get us very far in terms of achieving the larger objectives.

So I've had many conversations with your colleagues from Egypt and elsewhere in the NAM about these issues and I do hope that you won't be too absolutist in the way in which you approach this in the NPT because we really do want to get some movement forward and I think there is a chance for movement on all these issues if we approach it in an open-minded, constructive spirit.

EDWARD LUCK: Great. I saw John Hirsch here. I don't know who else wants to be next? John?

JOHN HIRSCH: First of all, Gareth, thank you very much for a tremendous overview and commitment. I certainly agree with you on the importance of all these commitments and declarations to make a difference, but I want to kind of draw you out a little bit on what you or the Commission expects from the major nuclear powers as it relates to these regional issues. In other words, how much of the actual action you would like the United States or Russia or the others to take depends on resolving the Iranian issue or resolving the Israel issue – do the political issues, in other words, and their resolution, somehow precede the actual very significant reduction of nuclear weapons by the major nuclear weapon states, or not?

EDWARD LUCK: Jeff Laurenti here.

JEFFREY LAURENTI: Jeff Laurenti with the Century Foundation. Gareth, a quarter century ago, quite unexpectedly, there seemed to be almost convergence on a nuclear abolition deal at Reykjavik with the most unlikely of partners, but that came apart over the issue of anti-missile weaponry. And even the negotiations now proceeding between Washington and Moscow on major nuclear reductions are coming a crop of that. How significant a factor do you see this dimension being at either potentially undercutting the otherwise hopeful signs of forward movement? In what ways can it be massaged? Is this fundamentally the last deal breaker that has to be overcome?

EDWARD LUCK: Ambassador Towpik, please.

ANDRZEJ TOWPIK: Thank you, Professor Gareth Evans, for this report and for your whole work. And my question is also related, whether in your report, which you described as pragmatic and realistic, do you – you don't assume that we can have any new nuclear power and I understand this is out of the consideration – yes? And second question is a little bit minor question, and related with the forthcoming NPT Review Conference. Have you given any thought to the issue of so-called institutionalization of the NPT regime creating some permanent body instead of review conferences every five years? Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: Thanks. Why don't you take those.

GARETH EVANS: Okay, first of all, John Hirsch on regional issues and whether the resolution of those issues should be regarded as a precondition, either in principal or practically, to major efforts on reduction – the Commission certainly does not think so. We do say that realistically, if you're going to move from that minimization point to actual abolition, frankly, those regional issues, volatility, fragility, South Asia, Middle East, are going to have to be hell of a lot closer to stable, maintainable solution than they are at the moment, in the real world, before we go get Pakistan and Israel even prepared to contemplate giving up nuclear weapons.

But in terms of getting from here to a very, very significant reduction environment – no. Just to spell out a little bit more what our reduction targets are, we're talking about 2,000 weapons over all. That would involve a reduction of the US stockpile from 9,000 to around 500. It would involve a reduction of the Russian stockpile from around 13,000 to, again, around 500, and we're not drawing any distinction any longer between tactical and strategic or deployed and non-deployed – a nuke is a nuke is a nuke, and what we're talking about, actual nukes in existence, warheads in existence, and everything else should be destroyed – 500, 500.

And for the others, everyone else combined, we're saying a maximum of 1,000, which might not sound terribly ambitious because in some views that's pretty much where all those countries – China, France, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel – actually are at the moment, total of around 1,000. But if we can hold the line on non-increase, beyond what they had now over this whole period, that would be a significant achievement and it's probably, we thought, just a little bit too ambitious to contemplate these countries actually reducing their arsenals in an environment where the big guys still got numbers ahead of the rest on the scale that they do.

But, in short, that's the answer. I mean none of this means that we should relax, in any way, our efforts to resolve those regional problems. And as I indicated, the Iran problem must be center front on all our antennae for the period ahead because, to answer Ambassador Towpik's problem, I mean having any new nuclear weapon state come into existence is not something that could be contemplated with any equanimity at all. This would be very, very serious, and the notion that we could live with sort of new players and just rely on good old fashioned containment and deterrence and so on, to deal with the situation, is not the way that we want to go, and the Commission's report is quite strong on that.

As to – just further on Ambassador Towpik's question – institutionalization of the NPT through some sort of secretariat – actually, we probably should have addressed that issue but didn't. I can't remember us saying anything useful about that. We said so much about everything else that it's a bit of an omission, but – and I know there is a constituency which thinks that. Our main focus was on the IAEA as strengthening that, and giving it a role in relation to disarmament as well as nonproliferation, so that it is the effective agency for the implementation of the treaty, really, across the spectrum. I think that's where our primary focus was.

But I have to say, personally, it's always seemed to me to be quite sensible to have a standing secretariat on these issues in a way that hasn't been the case so far.

As to Jeff Laurenti's question about missile defense, yeah, the Commission report has a lot to say about that, because we are extremely conscious that this is likely to be a showstopper in terms – not of the current round of US-Russia negotiations – it's been foreshadowed, but it's not in play, but it is a potential show stopper for any further round of serious deep reductions when it's been certainly flagged by the Russians as something they want to have at risk.

It's also a matter of deep concern, increasing concern, to the Chinese, and about the role, the salience of missile defense, and they're saying that that is altering some of these fundamental balances and making it very tough for them to be as serious as they would like to be about nuclear disarmament.

Basically, what the Commission is saying is that it's time to rethink the whole ABM treaty position. We say there should be a distinction drawn between strategic ballistic missile defense and theater, or technical, operational, close in. It may be that that distinction will be harder to sustain in the future as the theater stuff gets ever more sophisticated, but it is, nonetheless, a familiar distinction and, I think, a manageable one, and whereas it's not conceivable to get any buy in for the indefinitely foreseeable future, on getting people to wind up their local theater missile defense systems, I think there's a growing realization among many strategic analysts and serious policy people in all the major countries, that there is just something inherently destabilizing about strategic ballistic missile defense.

And, although in a world without nuclear weapons it would be a highly desirable add-on to have BMD defense system in place to insure against breakout or misuse of capability, almost any time between now and then, you're looking at something which is inherently destabilizing because, of course, it – so long as there's not absolute symmetry in the way in which these systems develop, you do get states very concerned that they'll be at a strategic disadvantage, that they won't have the same survivability because of the defensive capability of the other side – all the old, familiar Cold War calculations come roaring back into play. And we are seeing that, and we're going to have to address it. This is very serious.

One other way of addressing the issue is just through cooperative strategies of BMD by the major powers – Russia, US – and, of course, there's talk about that already in the context of Iran and threats from southern borders and so on, and that may well be a way forward. It's something that some of the old cold warriors find pretty disconcerting, the notion that you're actually cooperating with your old enemies on this front, but then a lot of those people find a lot of this stuff disconcerting and we oughtn't to be spooked by that.

EDWARD LUCK: Good. Who'd like to – please – I'm sorry, let me try to get people who haven't had questions yet. Chris Wing here?

DR. CHRISTINE B. WING: … Center for International Cooperation at New York University. Thanks very much for the work of the Commission and for your presentation of it.

I had one very particular question, which is, what kind of assumptions did you make about the growth of nuclear power in the analysis of the report?

And then, secondly, I assume you're briefing this everywhere, including in capitals, and I'm curious if you have anything that you can say in sort of a general way about what kinds of reactions you're getting to the Commission's work, both positive and negative. Thanks.

EDWARD LUCK: Our colleague from Pakistan here.

RAZA BASHIR TARAR: Thank you, sir. Raza Tarar from the Pakistan Mission. An oft-recurring sort of theme is that weapons should be done away with because of the destructive potential they have.

GARETH EVANS: Say again?

RAZA BASHIR TARAR: Nuclear weapons should be dispensed with because of the destruction they can cause and, you know, existential threat for mankind and we hear a lot of that. In that context, would nuclear weapons become more acceptable, theoretically, if they are like miniature-ized or the destruction becomes less –what would be your position on that?

EDWARD LUCK: Thank you. And then half way up the aisle here, please.

MOHAMMED BELAOURA: I'm Mohammed from the Mission of Algeria, I, too, would like to thank you a lot for the presentation and thank the Commission for the book. I have had the opportunity to go through some of the elements of the book. It seems – from what I heard from the presentation, at one time you said that – you referred to the 13 steps of the 2000 Review Conference and said the Commission has set up kind of 20 steps, and this is likely to be in line with what the next Review Conference would have as outcome, as we hoped all. The question is, what makes you think or would make us think that the – what the, did not give the 13 steps the possibility to be implemented – would this time, these 20 steps, if we think that the conference would adopt, or any other measure or other condition, whether it is on the disarmament issue, original disarmament issue, the Middle East – what makes next Review Conference outcome be adopted? What is the new element, what is the new atmosphere?

A very, very short other question, related to – would like to come back to the institutionalization of the NPT. Do you think that one of the issues that the – and making the NPT not to progress as much, as more as substantively as we would like, is the absence of a kind of IAEA for disarmament, to say it in brief? Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: Great. Thanks very much. Why don't we take these and I'll start the next round with François.

GARETH EVANS: [INDISCERNIBLE]… growth in nuclear energy, what assumptions. Basically, we thought given what we know about lead times and upfront costs and current availability, finance and environmental constraints, all the rest of it, probably, even on the most optimistic industry assessments, we're not going to see much more than a doubling of civil nuclear energy capability. That's taking into account reactors that go out of commission during that period, between now and about 2030, so that's really what we're talking about, which would still only represent on current projections, nukes, nuclear power representing about 15% of the world's energy take up , about where it is at the moment.

So, I mean a lot of the talk about a nuclear renaissance and, you know, huge expansion of activity in this area is, I think, a little bit over drawn. But that said, that's still another 400 or so installations around the place, and if we have associated with that a significant breakout in terms of the number of new states that are producing their own front end and back end fuel cycle capability, enrichment reprocessing, we have a problem, let's face it, and we've got to do something systematic about that. And a lot of the issues that we address in the context of peaceful nuclear energy are things like proliferation-resistant technology, implementation of that over time in a way that will reduce reliance on these front and back end vulnerabilities.

And also, of course, the whole question of multilateralization of the fuel cycle which is limping a bit a the moment, the argument for guaranteed fuel supplies or fuel banks or multilaterally managed facilities and so on. And we analyze all those options in a lot of detail in the report and are very supportive of them, but it's a long way to go before the get realized, not least because some of the existing players are not too anxious about multilateralizing their own facilities, so we're getting a bit of the old double standards thing in another guise and that hasn't exactly gone unnoticed in Vienna and elsewhere. But anyway, that's the story on that.

You asked about the reaction the report is getting. Well, it was only released before Christmas, before the end of the year, back in early December, and people are still sort of absorbing it, coming to grips with it. I'm just at the beginning of a sort of a 23-country roll out of this over the next four months, but I think it's fair to say, without delusions, that authors of these things have, that the report is being taken pretty seriously, that we haven't had anyone mounting a sort of a root and branch assault on it as riddled with errors or riddled with just naïve romantic wish lists and so on. I think – well, there's been a little bit of disappointment from some in the NGO community who've said, you know, you haven't talked about zero, haven't nominated a date certain – what a cop out.

The basic reaction has been that this is a very useful document and that it possibly will have a longer useful life than a few of its predecessors, which end to be looked at and back on the shelf. We've all been there, done that, and I didn't want to be party to producing a report of that kind.

So, we'll see. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but we've been very concerned to get it into the hands very early on of every one of the key players in the NPT process and to get some of those drafting things out there and understood.

Moving onto our Pakistani colleague's interesting suggesting that maybe one way of diffusing this whole thing would be to miniaturize nuclear weapons – I don't know. I mean the standard nuclear weapon that's out there, strategic nuclear weapon, is somewhere between 153 and 300 kilotons at the moment. That represents a significant reduction from some of the great big monsters that were out there at the height of the Cold War, but you're still talking about something that, at a minimum, is ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, and if you think of miniaturizing down to a tenth of what the normal weapon is out there, then just stand on a tall building, as I did in Hiroshima a couple of months ago, and think about the horror of the destruction that was caused by that and, you know, what are we talking about?

If you're talking about really miniature, bunker buster type things, well, question is, is there any conceivable added military value with that kind of weapon as compared with what conventional armories can do now? I really do think that dancing around this issue is not helpful to the debate, and what we have to acknowledge is that whatever size the cut in, these weapons are inherently indiscriminate, inherently inhumane, inherently, horribly destructive in a way that is simply not the case for other class of weapons, even the ugly ones like biological, and we really have to be pretty absolutist in our approach to dealing with them.

I don't want to minimize in any way the perceived security concerns of some countries about the utility of nuclear weapons as a disincentive to attack and so on, but the report spends quite a bit of time dealing with those sorts of arguments and, basically, we suggest that a lot of them are over drawn, misconceived, and the solutions to these problems are not having a nuclear deterrent, but other ways of addressing the problems in question. Hope that's not too naïve but read it for yourself.

Now we had a question about the 13 steps, or any contemporary updated version of that, and what made us think that this stuff would be any more useful than any of this stuff in the past has been, in terms of getting something actually done – well, of course, there's always a gap between aspirations and achievement and the gap between getting statements agreed and getting something to happen. But if it's not a sufficient condition for progress, it's certainly, I think, a necessary condition that we do get an articulation of these things.

And just getting a change of mindset on the part of all the nuclear arm states, that they really have to get serious about disarmament if they want to get others to get serious about the nonproliferation agenda, would be a big change, and that's why it is important to push very hard on this in the context of the NPT review concept.

Yes, a lot of this stuff is premised on belief about the perfectibility of mankind and the possibilities of progress, but I think we have to remain optimists about the chances of progress I this respect. Things do move in fits and starts and we had a quite remarkable movement, you know, with Reagan, let's face it, and in the early post-Cold War years in moving in the right direction. We had remarkable new commitment now with President Obama, and I think the important thing is to take advantage of that.

I think, intellectually, the argument for disarmament has been put on a completely different basis, perhaps first a little bit by the Canberra Commission ten years ago, but certainly, much more powerfully, let it be acknowledged, by the Kissinger, Schultz, Nunn, Perry stuff, for those old cold warriors all lined up saying look, whatever might have been the case in the Cold War years, in the years ahead, these things are more, far more danger than they are a potential utility in preserving peace and security; and just changing the intellectual foundations in that way, and then changing the raw political foundations in terms of the international consensus, and the kinds of pressures that are out there, really is terrifically important.

There's only one, after all, of the – maybe two with Pakistan, I'm not sure, you can speak for yourself – but there's really only France, at the moment, among the nuclear arm states, that simply won't sign up to the objective of a nuclear weapon free world. Maybe some representatives from the French Mission here, who want to defend the faith, but I mean really, quite obdurate about saying the world has been a better place for the existence of nuclear weapons and, yes, we're doing our bit by limiting the numbers and we're doing our bit by spending a lot of dollars, as indeed they are, on winding up their Pierrelatte and Marcoule reprocessing and production facilities, but you know, obstacles of this really fundamental, sort of ideological kind are still to overcome.

So that's why it's important to maximize the pressure and maximize the agreement, not only to get past this sense of congenital nuclear apartheid, double standards, hypocrisy, which has plagued us for so long, but also just to become a kind of self-fulfilling momentum, to get the momentum moving in this direction rather than being stuck in the groove that it has been for the last decade, so I think this is tremendously important, getting agreement on a statement of this kind.

EDWARD LUCK: Great. The next on my list is our colleague François Carrel, who is working with Chris Wing on a study group we've had leading up to the NPT Review Conference, I guess about 25 states, which has been discussing many of these issues.

FRANÇOIS CARREL-BILLIARD: Thank you Ed. Thank you very much for the report and thank you very much for the presentation. I would like to come back to the issue of Iran, which you mentioned previously. My sense is the report says two things: one is you clearly believe that there is a possibility for a negotiated solution to the Iranian crisis; and you say also another thing which is that if this doesn't succeed, and if Iran crosses what you call the weaponization line, and it would be interesting to know what to define as the weaponization line, then we risk a surge of proliferation in the region and probably elsewhere.

So how do you see things evolving? What is, for you, the most likely scenario? And what do you think the NPT Review Conference could do in a productive way on this issue? Should the conference address it? Should it not? Should it address related issues, like the questions you mentioned also in your presentation? What is your sense of all this? Thanks a lot.

EDWARD LUCK: Thank you. The two here in the middle.

XAVIER CHATEL: I speak with my French accent. Thank you very much for the comments that you made on Pakistan and France. I would just like to make a …

EDWARD LUCK: He's trying to create a new alliance.

XAVIER CHATEL: I am a diplomat, you know. I would just like to make a simple point, which is, basically, disarmament is a physical thing, so – and take a look at the 13 steps. They have been mentioned several times in this discussion, and then take a look at the latest French statements and measures, and you're going to find some striking similarities, and you will find quite a record which has yet to be emulated by other nuclear weapon states, nuclear arm states, ranging from doing away with ground-to-ground ballistic missile components, reducing by a third – I see you nodding – it seems you've heard this already, but it bears hearing a second time.

You know, reducing by a third the whole deterrent, signing the CTBT, being the first nuclear weapons state to do it, dismantling all the nuclear weapon testing facilities, dismantling equally all the fissile material production sites – so try to find another nuclear weapon state or another nuclear arm state that has anything on the way of such a record. And so I think that this, you know, disarmament is physical.

EDWARD LUCK: Please, Secretary [INDISCERNIBLE] for a second time, please.

AMIT KUMAR: I just wanted to ask you, has the panel looked at certain measures to preempt or prevent the reemergence or resurgence of networks like the AQ Khan network, in the future?

GARETH EVANS: Well, first of all, in relation to our French colleague, let me say, look, François Heisbourg was a member of my Commission and he left no stone unturned in making sure we understood fully every commitment France had ever made, and every bit of physical delivery that France is presently engaged in, and you're absolutely right. France has committed itself to something like $8 billion, I think, for the winding up of the Pierrelatte and Marcoule facilities, and that's huge, that's a very big commitment, rivaled only by that of the US to cooperative threat reduction stuff in Russia and elsewhere, and similarly, in terms of limiting the ceiling of your weapons to 300 and all the rest of the other stuff.

It may be also that in resolutely refusing to say the world would be a better place without any nuclear weapons at all, it may be that you're just being a bit more honest than some of the other nuclear weapon, nuclear arm states, and maybe some credit should be given, you know, for the frankness that goes into it.

But, frankly, honesty is not necessarily the best policy in terms of this issue, and if we want, if we want to generate serious momentum on disarmament across the board, and get others not only reducing their weapons but going beyond that, it really is very, very important to get the message out that this is the ultimate objective, this is all where we want to be.

Because it's not only a matter of bringing the other nuclear arm states into conformity with a degree of decency in this respect, it is also a matter of getting the other objective satisfied, of nonproliferation. And, frankly, so long as there's just an unwillingness to sign up to absolutely zero, albeit as an ultimate objective, albeit as many, many conditions having to be satisfied, so long as there's an unwillingness to do that, you have to appreciate the extent to which this gets up the noses of everybody else.

I mean, nuclear arm states may have existential security problems for which they think they need to have nuclear weapons, but there's lots of other countries that have existential security problems, which they would rather like, or think they'd rather like to have nuclear weapons as well. How in the hell do we say? It's very, very simple. How in the hell do we say, "You can't, we can. We've got them and we're going to keep them, you can't have them to begin with." It's just an impossible argument to sustain.

Therein lies the problem, and the trouble is, this is not just a sort of an intellectual position that France adopts. I mean you do actually fight tooth and nail to limit the kind of commitments that are made over, lead to disarmament in the big public statements --- 1887, Security Council resolution – my understanding is that, you know, there was difficulty in reaching agreement in the P5 on further and better provisions about disarmament, which are not entirely unrelated to the discussion that we're just having. The problem is, 1887 was terrific in what it said about nuclear security, what it said about nonproliferation for 29 operative paragraphs, and you know, one of them was about disarmament. The other 28 were about all the other stuff. And the language in which that substantive commitment was made, and the operative paragraphs, was the anodyne language of the past, not the new kind of language of commitment to a zero world.

So there is a basic sort of political problem, and it's an ongoing discussion we're having, and I don't want to make your life difficult as a diplomat, because you've got a job to do. But frankly, it's a discussion I'm certainly having with my French colleagues and counterparts and will continue to have in a robust fashion for the indefinitely foreseeable future.

In terms of Iran – what do we say about Iran? Well, there's an awful lot to say about Iran, and let's keep it short. I have been following this issue for quite some time wearing my previous Crisis Group hat, and so on. I've been to Tehran, I've had many, many discussions with Iranian senior officials, although not so many in recent times. And it's a very depressing case because talking about squandered opportunities, going back to 2003 and beyond -- I mean, I think this has been a solvable problem for a long time. It's getting harder to solve now as we speak because of the internal dislocations, politically, that are occurring, with all sorts of bizarre results.

I mean, as most of you probably are aware, there was a willingness on the part of President Ahmadinejad and some of the senior people around him to actually accept the deal that's been on offer for, or was on offer before the end of last year, about taking the presently enriched uranium and getting it up to research reactor standards and sending it back, and dealing and defusing the issue in that way.

But it was the so-called good guys in the Iranian political firmament, admittedly with a bit of help from the Revolutionary Guards, Ahmadinejad's side as well, that didn't like the deal. But it was the good guys that said this is a sellout of Iranian national interests. So it's a very confused and difficult situation.

But the basic dynamics, I think, have been for a while as follows, and are likely to remain this way. I think we're being quite quixotic if we think through almost any form of pressure we're going to get Iran to wind back to zero its enrichment capability. I just don't think, for a whole variety of reasons -- pride and other reasons -- they're willing to even contemplate doing that. Getting them to freeze at its present levels or thereabouts or to only very gradually increase that enrichment capability over time is, I think, an achievable objective because it doesn't deny it on their right to do these things, quote, unquote, under the NPT.

I think what Iran is probably about at the moment, and all the other stuff that's in issue about compliance with reporting and so on, does demonstrate that there's a bit of a desire to move all the way up to breakout capability, not just with enrichment and probably with weapon design as well. I'd like to think otherwise, but it's getting harder and harder to deny that that's probably the case.

That said, I think there's a huge gap that still has to be jumped thereafter, between getting up to that level of capability and virtual breakout, to actual breakout and actual weaponization, and that's what I mean by weaponization is actually the construction of weapons. I don't mean not having the technology or the know how, I don't mean not having the nuclear material, and I think, you know, all of that is still short of putting it together and actually building a weapon. It might not be very short in terms of time frames, but it's conceptually a very big gulf indeed.

And I do believe, for a whole variety of reasons, that it's perfectly possible to hold Iran at that point. I mean, in short, those reasons have to do with a perception of the risks the country will be running from attack by Israel, exponentially greater risks in the Iranian perception, if they do actually weaponize, as distinct from just get up to that capability. It's a risky enough business with Israel, but it's even much more risky if they have the actual capability.

There's a perception of that kind. There's a perception of running out of rope so far as Russia and China are concerned. We've given them a lot of rope so far, as we all know, in the Security Council and elsewhere. It's a perception about the degree of difficulty in holding the line against really, really powerful sanctions – economic sanctions, financial system sanctions and so on, in an environment where they do actually weaponize. Those sanctions are beginning to bite and to hurt quite a bit, but in the scheme of things, Iran's been able to resist them and probably will, but if you do actual weaponization, I think the international reaction to that will be so serious and the strength that would then be behind UN mandated sanctions and so on, would be enough to give the Iranians pause.

And then, of course, the other consideration that is in their mind is the one the other question was about, was about breakout in the region and what would happen with other countries. And here I think the Iranians do perceive that their – any hegemonic advantage they may gain from actually having nuclear weapons would be eroded, maybe fairly rapidly, by others in the region, not being prepared to tolerate them as the sole possessors of nuclear weapons – with Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Turkey being the obvious candidates for that.

People say, and you know, and in our report we don't jump onto the surge bandwagon with massive sort of rhetoric. We do say there are a number of considerations, we spell them out on page 36 onwards of the report, why their might be constraints on such a surge occurring, including the technological one, but we also make the point that back in, whenever it was, 1960, the US Defense Science Board Study assessed Israel's potential for acquiring nuclear weapons as nil, but within five years have moved up the chart to modest, then high to potential for serial production, i.e., full nuclear arm status.

So if a country gets really, really serious about going down the full court plus development strategy, they can do it in a very short time. There'd be all sorts of political and other constraints, but that's true, and the Iranians are conscious of that.

So all of these things do, I think, come into play, and mean that we should still keep very much the door open for a negotiated solution. I think the Commission felt that any preemptive military strike would be counterproductive, catastrophically so and probably ineffective in the long run anyway, and the negotiator solution was the only way to go a solution in which on the table are the lot – there's incentives, diplomatic relations, reduction of sanctions and so on; there are disincentives including threat of potentially military action, which can't be denied; and there is, of course, the need to accompany any agreed solution here with a very serious monitoring and verification regime; certainly Additional Protocol and maybe Additional Protocol plus.

I personally think -- although it's very, very tough in the present environment -- that such a deal is not beyond reach, and should certainly still be strived for, and that Americans have opened themselves up to pursuing such a course, although haven't said very much publicly – I don't think they should be too dispirited about the way things have evolved, but keep that door open because we've had the sad, sad experience that when the door is closed, as it was in 2003, when the Iranians were prepared to live with more than 80 centrifuges, just a notional, notional, notional capacity in this area, and to basically close down everything else -- that wasn't good enough for the absolutists around the place, and a negotiated deal fell apart.

They're a lot further down the track now, but still a lot short of cascades of 50-, 60-, 70,000 centrifuges, and if we can hold the line where we are now and some negotiated outcome, that would be a very big advantage indeed. So it's a long and complicated answer, but that's a long and complicated problem, Iran, and it's going to need a lot of systematic attention to get it right.

And I do hope that in the meanwhile that Iran recognizes, in the context of NPT negotiations – I don't know if there's any representatives here – but there are a lot of people of goodwill that recognize that there are arguments on both sides of this particular case and that Iran does play a cooperative, positive and non-spoiling role in the outcome of the meeting, and just gets the best possible outcomes for all of us, and thus puts meat and bones on what it's long said to be its own doctrinal objective, which is a world without nuclear weapons, and we shouldn't approach that doctrinal position with total skepticism. There's enough in the past to justify that, and I think a negotiated deal is importantly still worth pursuing.

Sorry, was that all?

EDWARD LUCK: Great. I see a couple more hands, and then I might actually pose a couple of questions, and then we should probably end. So, first here, and then here. Or either way.

GARETH EVANS: So I was asked about restoration of Al Qaeda I think. What did you say?


GARETH EVANS: [INDISCERNIBLE]. Look, those issues are going to be center front in the security summit and Obama. There's a lot of stuff out there already, agreed resolutions, agreed institutional arrangements, transparency, scrutiny stuff. It's very – I don't think there's any brand new institutional measures or treaty stuff that we ought to be too worried about, because most of it's there. What's needed is implementation. But again, I think, in the context of the Obama summit, that's when this stuff is going to be addressed, as it should be. And we say a bit of that in this report, but not a lot.

DANIEL SHEPHERD: Daniel Shepherd from the UK Mission. I think I should take it as a compliment that you haven't singled out the UK in everything else you've said about any other nuclear weapons state.

EDWARD LUCK: You may feel a little left out also.

DANIEL SHEPERD: But I felt I had to say, in the context of treating us all in general, that two years before Obama's speech in Prague we had our own Foreign Secretary make very similar sort of commitments to global zero at the Carnegie Foundation, and we're sort of glad the zeitgeist has caught up with us a bit on that point. We are serious about global zero. Since the end of the Cold War, we've reduced our explosive fire power by about 75%, down to about 160 warheads, operational warheads, at any one time, only one delivery system for them, committed, that will put our arsenal into multilateral talks at an appropriate time.

And we're also, as my French colleague said, involved in some of these practical steps that will actually make disarmament real, such as verification science, cooperating with non-P-5 members such as Norway, in getting that sort of thing right, which will be essential.

The other point I quickly wanted to make was just to defend the honor of resolution 1887, something close to my heart since I spent many a long, long hour negotiating it. But I don't think it's very fair to characterize it as one paragraph on disarmament and 28 on nonproliferation and a sort of P5 stitch up and you have to have it this way. I think it was actually the most forward position the Security Council has ever gone on disarmament. I couldn't give you a paragraph count now, but we've got stuff on FMCT, we've got stuff on CTBT, that the Council have never gone before, gone so far forward on before; on nuclear-weapons-free zones, which in practical terms are really more about disarmament than proliferation; on a range of other issues – I can't remember off the top of my head, but it was definitely a lot more than one paragraph, I think you could call disarmament, and it was a, I thought, a very balanced resolution that we hoped, and still do hope, will actually set up the NPT RevCon in a better way than it would have done had it not been passed. Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: And if it was one paragraph, it was a beautifully crafted paragraph. Please …

MALE SPEAKER: Thank you very much. This is kind of a slight variation from the earlier question raised by Professor Wing. As I was listening to your answers, although we still have a review conference a couple of months ahead, I don't think there was very clear reaction or new commitments expressed by nuclear weapon states, and I don't really feel like they were any big changes in their perception or on the role of the nuclear weapons or the sort of [INDISCERNIBLE] they have, at least not to the – at least I don't really feel any level of change that was envisioned or proposed by gang of four in 2007.

So my question is, I agree that nuclear disarmament is a process that has to be proceeded step by step, I think it's the right way to do it, but concerning this – I mean the importance of task, I think the real first step that we have, or nuclear weapon states have or nuclear arm states have to make, is the change in their strategic calculus and their perception on the role of nuclear weapons. And I believe that your Commission will keep your work even after the Review Conference and issue some other new reports some time later this year, but do you have any specific plans to follow up on the issue of like promoting the change in perceptions of the role of nuclear weapons or especially trying to change the strategic calculus on nuclear weapons or nuclear arm states have? Thank you.

EDWARD LUCK: If I could just close with one additional question. I do have some questions about zero, but we won't get into that. That would be a long discussion. But on the politics of all of this, because even your initial first stage is quite broad, quite a few priorities and as we know, this is a field that doesn't move with the remarkable speed and energy. And what about public support? I mean you made a passing reference to, I guess, the Massachusetts election and political climates maybe turning a little bit – but one doesn't get the sense that there's huge public concern. Maybe there ought to be. I think you make a very good point on that. But how do you mobilize political support? And what combination of measures would be enough sort of to declare success with the review conference? Because there's a lot of linkages here, and most of them, unfortunately, tend to be negative linkages, you know, if you don't get progress here, you don't get progress there.

So, what sort of a package would be your bottom line as conceivable, doable and politically attractive for the Review Conference?

GARETH EVANS: Well, first of all, to our UK colleague, I mean absolutely fair enough the points you make about British commitment to this process, and I think that's appropriately acknowledged in the Commission report.

As to the resolution 1887, I'm a little bit chastened by what you say, but not very much, because although you do address issues which go to building blocks for both disarmament and nonproliferation as I described them myself, CTBT and FMCT; and although it was terrifically important to have the Security Council debating this at a head of government level and to have clearly articulated support for all those crucial ingredients, and even though, also, it's the case that in the declaratory paragraphs, the introductory paragraphs, there are a few more references to disarmament, they're nonetheless about creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons without actually saying we'd like a world without nuclear weapons.

And, obviously, there were compromises, compromises, compromises all the way through on this. I know there were because I've talked to the people involved and I just find that unfortunate because as much as I love the other stuff, I had a horrible sense from day one that this wasn't going to play in the wider international community with the force that it should that justified the effort, the energy, the intellect and the quite serious forward movement that went into that report. And, you know, that's the problem with this, and you do become hostage to fortune.

I mean I've had some pretty fierce conversations with NAM-type colleagues around the place about not making, you know, the best the enemy of the good, and how can you possibly, if you're serious about nuclear disarmament, serious about a world without nuclear weapons, you know, go into an NPT or any other conference holding hostage good things which you support, simply, you know, to other good things which, you know, you also support, which are perhaps not as easily able to be achieved. I mean to just tear the whole ship apart on that basis, as happened in 2005, is not helpful.

But at the same time, I mean, politics is politics and international relations, international relations, and the nuclear arm states, the weapon states, have to realize that there's a real dynamic out there which is going to demand more of them. Now, UK, I think, can be a leader in this respect, and I've certainly been urging your boss, Mr. Miliband, and your even bigger boss, Mr. Brown – who doesn't need much urging – to go down this path, but please, please keep it up.

Role of nuclear weapons … who asked that question? And what more could be done, feeds into a little bit to his question, too, to maintain the momentum such as we want it to be on the role of reducing the salience of nuclear weapons. I mean this whole question about de-legitimizing nuclear weapons, getting the arguments out there about whatever possible utility they might have had in the Cold War years, nowadays, all the risks run the other way, and retention really is a dangerous – just getting those arguments out there, and getting a broader constituency for this reduced salience is a terrifically important task.

I think the critical issue is US leadership on this, whatever the rest of us do won't amount to nearly as much as that single significant move in this direction by the US in the current nuclear posture review. If that happens, I think it just gives a tremendously significant signal that the US is going to move down this path of non-reliance on nukes, at least for other security contingencies, and that does create the conditions for a much saner approach to this.

In terms of what kind of machinery or institutional process or ongoing steps that could be taken, I mean one of the ideas in the Commission report, which may or may not prove to have legs, which is spelled out at the end, is for the creation of a kind of international monitoring mechanism to actually keep very close tabs on who's doing what in terms of commitments and follow through and giving an annual sort of report card which is meticulous evaluation of what's happening and not happening, and help, as a result, to concentrate attention on moving this forward. And we are suggesting we might contemplate the establishment of some kind of global center for international, for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, a little bit modeled on the kind of thing that's out there. Some of you know about the Global Center on the Responsibility to Protect, namely a relatively small group of professionals drawn worldwide, but with a virtual network feeding into and working with all the myriad of national institutes, institutions, research think tanks and so on around the world, and doing these evaluations. And then a group of the global great and the good sort of sitting above this and giving their imprimatur to the kind of findings that such an organization might make.

Now, whether this will ultimately make any difference in the scheme of things we can argue about, but at least it's just one idea for keeping the attention going, relying on intergovernmental organizations of any kind to do a serious, hard-nosed monitoring job in articulating who's been good guys and who's been less than good guys is not something that's ever going to happen. And the trouble with all the existing outfits that are doing this sort of monitoring stuff, each one of them has some kind of national badge or identity at the moment. There's no really genuine international group that could perform this role.

So that's just one idea for keeping the momentum going. But we think it will be quite a long time on the doctrine issue before we do get people sort of all lined up across the board on this. China is there at the moment with no first use and we've had a bit of this discussion earlier on. Others are dragging their feet quite considerably on it, but it has to be at least a medium-term objective, a 2025 objective, linked with the actual numbers to get that doctrinal commitment in place.

Ed Luck's question about what's necessary to generate public support on all of this is a really tough question. I mean a lot of the bottom has gone out of the civil society movement for nuclear disarmament, arms control. A lot of very good groups are trying very hard to generate that momentum. But they're having a tough time in getting air space and getting public attention. It is seen as a bit of a quixotic adventure, not part of the protest mainstream anymore. But it's very, very important for that civil society momentum to be sustained, and I can only hope that as this whole process does gather some momentum at the intergovernmental level, we will get reinforcing sense of hope and optimism among the younger generation and get something moving again which will help to keep governments honest.

In terms of the actual package that's desirable, achievable for the NPT review conference, the minimal package that would really give us ongoing momentum, I really do think it's a mixture of those three things that I said before: serious, serious agreement on strengthening the NPT regime measures, at least so far as Additional Protocol and tougher withdrawal sanctions or constraints are concerned, and strengthening of the IAEA. I think that's all important. I think a big statement on disarmament is very important, and I hope that the UK, in particular, has got its negotiating feet moving on that issue because it's going to be tough, but we're going to need you guys to play a leadership role in that respect along with others.

And on the Middle East issue, I mean as much as I would not want that to be a dominating kind of an issue, I think we have to acknowledge the realities that for a great slab of the NAM constituency it is, and we're going to have to come up with something which gets that right.

There are a whole bunch of other things – the nuclear security issues that our colleague up there has been emphasizing; other peaceful uses issue; support for developing countries to actually make their nuclear aspirations a reality, that will be important, too, in generating their support. But in terms of the big picture items, I do think you need something big on nonproliferation and disarmament if we're going to maintain the momentum that has been established, and that's the obligation of a lot of people here as well as across the road, to make happen.

EDWARD LUCK: Terrific. Thank all of you for coming. We'll be interested, Gareth, after your 23-country tour, what you have to tell us, and I would point out, you came in a very dark, stormy atmosphere and all of the sudden the sun is out, so obviously you've made quite a difference. So thank you very much for being with us, and thank you, everybody.

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