Revitalizing Arms Control Through Multilateral Engagement

Posted by Rich Davis
December 23, 2011
Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller Discusses Missile Defense in Romania

In what is to be her last visit to Europe in 2011, Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, visited Brussels, London, Sofia, Bucharest, and Chisinau. She engaged in a Verification Dialogue with the European Union in Brussels, and in a speech delivered at Wilton Park in England, she outlined the efforts the United States has made toward commencing Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty negotiations. She also held constructive conversations reaffirming our commitment to revitalizing conventional arms control in Europe with her counterparts in Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova.

When working together on many issues of mutual interest, including pursuing beneficial agreements on top priorities like nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, we can provide a better foundation for further cooperation and dialogue across a broad range of issues. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller was joined by Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman in Brussels, where they participated in the U.S.-EU Verification Dialogue and discussed the way ahead in arms control and nonproliferation challenges.

On December 13, she attended a conference on "Challenges to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime" at Wilton Park in England. There, she emphasized our hope that concerted efforts by the P5 (the nuclear powers recognized by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) and others to get the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) back on track in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) will yield good results. The sooner, the better, since the longer the CD remains paralyzed, the louder and more persistent the calls to abandon it will become. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller made clear, “We are under no illusions that negotiating an FMCT will be easy, given the difficulties of even starting the process. But a verifiable ban on the production of fissile material is in the interest of every man, woman and child on this planet. That is why it is worth the effort.”

Our visits to Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova focused on the current state of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and the need to modernize and improve conventional arms control in Europe.

We discussed recently announced decisions by many States Parties to cease implementing certain CFE obligations vis-a-vis Russia in response to Russia's unilateral cessation of implementation starting in December 2007 and the subsequent, continuing impasse with Moscow on a way forward. The United States and other States Parties that have taken this step will continue to implement all Treaty obligations with respect to all other States Parties other than Russia.

Multilateral arms control regimes cannot -- and should not be expected to -- solve all the bilateral issues that may be in play between the parties involved. But conventional arms control regimes, like the CFE, must take account of existing security relationships and concerns, and should provide a level of transparency about those relationships, allowing for confidence-building.

We made clear that the United States remains prepared to return to negotiations with Russia our Allies and other States Parties to strengthen and modernize conventional arms control if Russia is prepared to address the key principles that must be part of a negotiation, including host-nation consent for the presence of foreign forces and transparency during the term of the negotiations.

On a foggy day in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Assistant Secretary met with Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitar Tsanchev, Deputy Defense Minister Valentin Radev, and Deputy Defense Minister Avgustina Tsvetkova on the future of conventional arms control, nuclear disarmament, and nuclear non-proliferation. The talks were very clear and constructive. Although the fog lingered over our next stop in Bucharest, Romania, we got to see some of the city. During our meetings with senior Romanian government officials, I can report we held good, substantive talks on conventional arms control. We concluded the last leg of our trip at Chisinau, Moldova. During our visit at the ministries, we met with Minister of Defense Valeriu Marinuta, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugen Carpov, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Lurie Leanca, and held a very serious discussion about Transnistria and conventional arms control, including Moldova's key role at the recent CFE Treaty Review Conference in Vienna, Austria.

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