Statement by the President of The Luxembourg Forum Dr. Moshe Kantor on June 4, 2019 – Rome. «Is a Nuclear Holocaust Unavoidable?»
Dear colleagues, friends, guests,
Please forgive my absence this morning from this exceptionally important conference of the Luxembourg forum.
This event is indeed important, given the crises currently affecting our area of activity and because the majority of the forum’s supervisory board members are personally involved in addressing these crises, along with the heads of six of the leading international organisations engaged in studying nuclear arms control and reduction, sustainable strategic and regional stability and measures to combat nuclear terrorism.
I wish a warm welcome to the four new members of the supervisory board: Sergio Duarte, Bruce Blair, Ernest Moniz and William Potter.
along with the Luxembourg forum, the heads of five very prominent international organisations are also taking part in this conference: the nuclear threat initiative, the Pugwash conferences on science and world affairs, the global zero international movement, the Russian international affairs council and the James Martin center for non-proliferation studies.
Today, erosion of the principles of strategic stability and the need to find a way to stop it have reached a point where relevant organisations have set up think tanks and are proposing various possible solutions to the nuclear arms control crisis.
The causes of this crisis are well known. They include the imminent collapse of the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, the uncertain prospects for extending the new start treaty, the unresolved work to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, which has already announced that it will resume uranium enrichment, and other causes related to disagreements between the united states, the European union and Russia.
The US leadership is advancing the idea that it would be helpful to expand the nuclear arms reduction treaties’ framework by bringing others, above all china, into the negotiations. The progress in this direction is really questionable.
We have examined several scenarios for the possible consequences of the inf treaty’s collapse, from relatively mild – deployment of non-nuclear cruise missiles only in the NATO countries and in Russia – to full-scale deployment of nuclear-armed cruise and ballistic missiles.
I believe that steps are possible to delay the start of any of these scenarios, in particular involving the deployment of nuclear weapons.
President trump has proposed replacing the inf treaty with a new, multilateral agreement.
This was something president Putin had spoken about on a number of earlier occasions.
Leaders receive such proposals from advisers with little understanding of the content of these kinds of treaties, and especially of the detailed verification systems, which would be practically impossible to implement in multilateral format.
Furthermore, expecting that china or other nuclear states would agree to give up their intermediate-range missiles is completely unrealistic.
But ignorance can sometimes be put to good use because these kinds of talks can last for years, and historical experience shows that the parties respect the planned limitations so long as the talks continue.
At best, this negotiating process could produce some kind of agreement on transparency and not increasing nuclear weapon stockpiles.
As we understand it, talks are underway on extending the new start treaty by another five years.
We are cautiously optimistic for a positive outcome. The united states would benefit in terms of continuing to have exhaustive information on Russia’s strategic offensive weapons, and Russia would benefit in terms of maintaining the strategic offensive weapons’ balance with the US and saving money.
If the treaty is extended, we can hope that agreement will be reached on preserving the principles of strategic stability and that this will result in the drafting of a follow-up start treaty.
True, if a follow-up treaty is drafted, president trump would like to include china in it too, but this looks highly improbable.
It would make sense to focus first on drafting a new treaty between the US and Russia and only then to examine possibilities for involving china in one form or another.
I know that all of these issues have already been the subject of preliminary discussions at the conference today.
I must mention also the continued threat of nuclear terrorism.
The growing terrorist threat at the start of the twenty-first century drew the attention of both government and non-government experts to the risk that nuclear materials and even nuclear arms could fall into the hands of terrorists.
A whole range of measures has been taken at the national, multilateral and global levels to prevent the threat of nuclear terrorism. But despite the quite high level of international cooperation achieved in this area, the threat remains as high as ever.
Earlier, I repeated the words of former US Deputy Defense Secretary Graham Allisson, who said that we should be talking not about whether terrorists will be able to carry out a catastrophic nuclear terrorist attack, but about when they will do so.
The likely scenarios by which terrorists could acquire and use nuclear materials have been studied in depth.
We have discussed them on many occasions at our conferences and have proposed various solutions to make prevention measures more effective.
They include establishing a global international system to control movements of radioactive materials using universal hardware and software systems that can detect illicit movements of these materials. As far as we know, the US and Russia already have prototypes for such control systems but they would need to be integrated on the basis of common principles. I believe that we should continue to remind the major powers of this area.
We could also discuss deeper integration of counter-terrorism agencies and services.
We could, for example, establish an international coordination centre or headquarters in Europe, where representatives, the relevant ministries and intelligence services of the major powers could work together on a permanent basis.
this would take coordination to a new level and ensure operational decisions and the use of rapid response forces.
Implementing our proposals also pursues the goal of ensuring the success of the 2020 review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
At a time when the principles of strategic stability face continued erosion, adopting these proposals would pave the way to a new stage in efforts to prevent the collapse of nuclear arms control.
I do believe that the intellectual potential that our conference brings together is capable of achieving a breakthrough to prevent a nuclear catastrophe from happening.
And some last ideas to conclude:
1. We should tirelessly propose to our leaders to be ready forasymmetric proposals acceptance for the sake of nuclear and terror peace. Symmetry doesn’t exist in nature.
2. We should tirelessly promote the unacceptance of nuclear Holocaust trivialization and banalisation, to which we are all genetically predisposed.
3. We should strongly and practically support Bill Perry’s initiative for wide international campaign in media including social media, on Instagram, twitter and etc. to stop these banalization and trivilisation and to have a huge number of successors: politicians will follow.
4.We should strongly recommend to the US, Russia and China to dismantle Kissinger’s triangle principle at least in nuclear field, so that they could collaborate to counter the threat of nuclear catastrophe included the one triggered by a local terror attack.
Thank you for your attention.