More on theStrategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)
Secretary Clinton delivers remarks entitled “No Greater Danger: Protecting our Nation and Allies from Nuclear Terrorism and Nuclear Proliferation” at the University of Louisville as part of the McConnell Center's Spring Lecture Series. Secretary Clinton said:
"I want to speak about why nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and nuclear security matter to each of us, and how the initiatives and the acronyms that make up our bipartisan work on these issues are coming together to make our nation safer.
"There is a reason that presidents and foreign policy leaders in both parties are determined to address this danger. A nuclear attack anywhere could destroy the foundations of global order. While the United States and old Soviet Union are no longer locked in a nuclear standoff, nuclear proliferation is a leading source of insecurity in our world today.
"And the United States benefits when the world is stable: our troops can spend more time at home, our companies can make better long-term investments, our allies are free to work with us to address long-term challenges like poverty and disease. But nuclear proliferation, including the nuclear programs being pursued by North Korea and Iran, are in exact opposition to those goals. Proliferation endangers our forces, our allies, and our broader global interests. And to the extent it pushes other countries to develop nuclear weapons in response, it can threaten the entire international order."
The Secretary continued, "There are three main elements of our strategy to safeguard our country and allies against nuclear attack. First, we begin with our support for the basic framework of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The global nuclear nonproliferation regime is based on a three-sided bargain: countries without nuclear weapons agree not to acquire them; countries with nuclear weapons work toward disarmament; and every nation is afforded the right to access peaceful nuclear energy under appropriate safeguards."
Secretary Clinton then outlined the second major element of U.S. strategy: a global effort to secure vulnerable material and enhance nuclear security. She said:
"When the United States first started working to secure nuclear materials overseas -- principally in the former Soviet Union -- our teams of experts found highly radioactive materials stored in open fields without any security. They discovered fissile materials -- the ingredients for nuclear bombs -- warehoused in facilities without electricity, telephones, or armed guards. The International Atomic Energy Agency has released the details of 15 cases of smuggling involving weapons-grade nuclear materials since 1993. But we have no idea how many other smuggling operations have gone undetected. Nuclear terrorism has been called the world's most preventable catastrophe. But to prevent it, the world needs to act.
"And the importance of this issue demands American leadership. So next Tuesday, the President will convene a meeting in Washington as part of an unprecedented summit intent on keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. To put it in context, this summit hosted by the United States is the largest conference since the one that came together around the founding of the United Nations in 1945.
"Many of the countries who will be there have already taken concrete steps to strengthen nuclear security. And we expect announcements of further progress on this issue during our talks. But we will also hear from other countries that are helping us keep a very close watch on anyone we think could be part of a network that could lead to the sale of or transfer of nuclear material to al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations. We are trying to make this Summit the beginning of sustained international effort to lock down the world's vulnerable nuclear materials within four years and reduce the possibility that these materials will find their way into the hands of terrorists."
The Secretary continued:
"Finally, the third component of our strategy must be to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent ourselves. For generations, our nuclear forces have helped prevent proliferation by providing our non-nuclear allies in NATO, the Pacific, and elsewhere with reassurance and security. An ally or a partner that has confidence that the United States and our arsenal will be there to defend them in the event of an attack is a country that is less likely to develop its own nuclear deterrent. And we are committed to continuing that stabilizing role for us as long as nuclear weapons exist.
"Our latest budget request asks for significant resources to modernize our nuclear complex and maintain our nuclear arsenal. Our budget devotes $7 billion for maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile and complex. This commitment is $600 million more than Congress approved last year. And over the next five years we intend to boost funding for these important activities by more than $5 billion dollars. We are committed to reducing the role and number of our nuclear weapons. But at the same time, we are investing to ensure that the weapons we retain in our stockpile are safe, secure, and effective.
"The fact that we are maintaining this arsenal does not mean that we intend to use it. We are determined to see that nuclear weapons are never used again. But the new START treaty will enable us to retain a strong, flexible deterrent. And our military will continue to deploy every leg of what's called our nuclear triad -- land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles, and bombers.
"The treaty will enable us to maintain this arsenal, and also provide strong verification provisions. We think it will enable us to develop greater understanding maybe even allow trust between Russian and American forces, while eliminating potential opportunities for mistakes and miscalculation.
"Now, one aspect of our deterrent that we specifically did not limit in this treaty is missile defense. The agreement has no restrictions on our ability to develop and deploy our planned missile defense systems or long-range conventional strike weapons now or in the future. The Pentagon's recent Quadrennial Defense Review and Ballistic Missile Defense Review both emphasize that improving our missile defense and conventional capabilities will help strengthen our deterrence. And in the future, we feel that regional missile defense will be an important source of protection for allies as well. Used wisely, missile defense could further reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons.
"So these three elements of our strategy -- strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime, combating the threat of nuclear terrorism, and maintaining a safe nuclear deterrent -- are not new. And they're not controversial. Leaders in both parties have been pursuing these goals together for years."
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.