Full transcript of Ellen Tauscher’s keynote address and conversation at the 2011 Atlantic Council Missile Defense Conference.
Annual Conference on Trans-Atlantic Missile Defense Phase II and the Lead-Up to the NATO Chicago Summit
Keynote Address: Trans-Atlantic Missile Defense: A Global Perspective
Welcome and Moderator:
President and CEO,
The Atlantic Council
Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary,
Arms Control and International Security,
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2011
Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.
Federal News Service
FREDERICK KEMPE: It’s my great pleasure to welcome you all back. And it’s particularly my pleasure to introduce our second keynote speaker and distinguished guest, the Honorable Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and one of my favorite people and also a great friend of the Atlantic Council.
As we said before, this has become a bit of a General O’Reilly-and-Secretary Tauscher show. And in 2007 when Secretary Tauscher was representing California’s 10th Congressional District, which she had done for 13 years and where she was chairing the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, she said the following – and she delivered a very tough critique then of the Bush administration’s “third site” missile defense architecture.
And at that conference she said, quote, I believe it is the fundamental interest of the United States to obtain NATO support for the proposal. Both for political and operational reasons, we need to send a clear political signal once and for all that the days of old Europe and new Europe are over and done with.
Secretary Tauscher, you’ve been very consistent since that period of time, and this is exactly what the Obama administration succeeded in achieving at last year’s Lisbon summit, where all the allies declared missile defense to be a core mission of the alliance, thanks in large part to your leadership and hard work.
As I said, before assuming this position in June 2009, you did represent California’s 10th District. You also know something about getting things done from the private sector, one of the first women to hold a seat on a New York Stock Exchange and later serving as an officer of the American Stock Exchange.
You are now one of the Obama administration’s leading figures on international security, played a major role in the – advancing the administration’s numerous accomplishments and policy on arms control, nonproliferation and international security; contributed to the negotiations on the START treaty, drafting of the Nuclear Posture Review. And of course your leadership has profoundly shaped the administration’s approach to the challenge posed by the proliferation of sophisticated missile technologies and weapons of mass destruction. As I said, your leadership was evident in Lisbon on – regarding NATO’s important decisions there and, I’m sure, will be equally important in Chicago next year.
Importantly, you’re also the administration’s lead negotiator with the Russian Federation on cooperation with Russia on missile defense. In fact if I’m not mistaken, Secretary Tauscher, you were in Moscow from October 11th to 14th for discussions with your Russian counterpart in an attempt to make progress on one of the most challenging but promising items on the missile defense agenda. And we certainly look forward to a progress report from that trip.
So thank you very much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to join us today. And we very much value your regular participation in this conference, and I’m sure next year you can come back and announce the Russian-NATO cooperation in missile defense.
So Madam Secretary, I turn over to you.
ELLEN TAUSCHER: Thank you, Fred. Thank you so much, Fred. Thanks very much, Fred.
It’s so great to be here. It’s always great to be here with my friend, Pat O’Reilly, who – we have worked together in different roles for a long time.
And Pat, I so very much appreciate your leadership and your candor, and the relationship that we have as friends is very important to me, too.
And Fred, I want to thank you.
And it’s terrific to be back here at the Atlantic Council. I really appreciate your hard work and leadership and I’m happy to be here to share some insights on the progress we’ve made on missile defense in Europe.
I did just come back from Moscow. It was partly cloudy and getting colder every day. That’s what you were looking for, right? The weather report? (Laughter.)
MR. KEMPE: Is that a metaphor?
MS. TAUSCHER: It’s a metaphor. (Laughter.)
Pat and I of course travel consistently together. His support has been essential to our efforts to protect our homeland and of getting our NATO allies moving forward with us on the growing threat from ballistic missile proliferation.
I was last here in October of 2009. I missed last year for some health reasons but I hope that I can come back as often as you would like because I think it’s very important for us to have these conversations.
When I was here in October of 2009, President Obama had just announced his decision to shift the deployment of the 10 ground-based interceptors in Europe to a system using land- and sea-based SM-3 interceptors to provide protection of the United States homeland and our European NATO allies.
During the remarks back then, I explained why the Obama administration’s approach to providing more protection sooner against the current threat and using proven systems would be not only at a lower cost than the previous proposal but would provide us more protection sooner. Moreover, the Obama administration’s approach has the advantage of protecting all of our European allies against the existing threat. That focus on now distinguishes our approach from the previously proposed system, which was focused on a long-range missile threat that had been slower to develop than previously anticipated.
At the same time, there were very many questions that day, I remember, about the impact of that change: a lot questions about the reactions of our allies, questions about whether NATO would spend limited resources on a European missile defense system, questions about how Russia would react. There were even some press reports that declared that the Obama administration had decided to shelve missile defense in Europe.
Now two years later, we have tremendous progress. We already have begun implementing Phase I of what is known as the European Phase Adapted Approach, or EPAA, and we have put in place the arrangements necessary to implement the three follow-on phases.
Let me run through some of the achievements of the last two years. First, in November of 2010 NATO made the landmark decision to develop a missile defense capability to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territories and forces against the increasing threats posed by ballistic missiles.
The alliance also agreed to use NATO common funding to enhance the capabilities of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system to give it the ability to provide command and control for an expanded system. Finally, allies in Lisbon welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. national contribution to NATO’s missile defense capability.
In March of this year, United States Ship Monterey became the first U.S. ballistic defense asset deployed to Europe for the defense of NATO. This step in implementation of Phase I of the EPAA protects Southern Europe against existing threats. The USS Monterey is the first ship of a continuous deployment to Europe as part of the EPAA. As part of that commitment, the USS Monterey will be replaced shortly by the USS The Sullivans.
Then in September, just a few days shy of the two-year anniversary of the EPAA announcement, we rolled out three missile defense agreements that put the final pieces in place of the EPAA. I will discuss these developments in a phased order rather than a chronological order.
On September 14th we announced that as part of Phase I of the EPAA that Turkey has agreed to host the AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar. This is a vital contribution by Turkey to NATO missile defense. Deploying the AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey will significantly increase the size of the area that can be defended by the deployed Aegis systems. We plan to have that radar in place by the end of this year.
On September 13th, Secretary Clinton and Romanian Foreign Minister Baconschi signed a ballistic missile defense agreement for Phase II. Once ratified by the Romanian Parliament, this agreement will allow the United States to build a land-based SM-3 interceptor site at Deveselu Air Force Base in Romania. This will be the first operational deployment of a land-based SM-3 system. Once operational in the 2015 time frame, the site will provide additional missile defense protection for Southern Europe.
On September 15th, our ballistic missile defense agreement with Poland entered into force for Phase III. This is the first such agreement that entered – that reached entry into force. We greatly appreciate all of the effort and support we have received from Poland.
Following the September 2009 announcement of EPAA, we were able to work quickly with our Polish allies to modify the Bush administration’s BMD agreement to allow the deployment of the land-based SM-3 site instead of the GBIs. As a result of the strong NATO support for EPAA, we were able to sign this agreement in July of 2010. We are working with our Polish colleagues on next steps in order for the deployment to proceed in the 2018 time frame. When Phase III is fully implemented, the system will provide coverage to all of our European NATO allies.
Most recently, Spain has agreed earlier this month to serve as the home port for four Aegis ships to support future deployments to Europe. This contribution by Spain supports the contribution made by NATO to missile defense. Home-porting these ships in Europe will allow the United States to respond more rapidly to a crisis in the region by reducing transit times. Another advantage is that the overall wear and tear on these vessels that comes from crossing the Atlantic will be reduced.
Throughout this process, NATO allies have responded with a tremendous amount of cooperation and support. Together we have worked hard to make NATO’s landmark Lisbon decision to protect all NATO European members’ territories, populations and forces with missile defense a reality.
It has been a great privilege for me to have worked so closely with all of our allies over the last couple of years to reach this point, especially my colleagues in Poland, Romania, Spain and Turkey. We are also grateful for the other national contributions by our NATO allies to missile defense, including the recent announcement by the Netherlands that it will spend close to 250 million euros to modify the radars on its frigates to detect and track ballistic missiles at long ranges.
Over the coming months, we will continue these efforts with our NATO allies. As we said from the start, we want our missile defense deployments to be part of a NATO missile defense effort where the system will be a United States contribution. NATO is working hard on developing the necessary command-and-control arrangements for this system. It’s NATO’s goal and our desire that enough of this work may be completed by the May 2012 summit in Chicago to declare an initial NATO defense missile capability.
Finally, let me reiterate that the Obama administration is fully committed to implementing all phases of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to counter the threat of ballistic missiles from outside of Europe. As President Obama stated in his December 2010 letter to the Senate – and I quote – “My administration plans to deploy all four phases of the EPAA. While advances” in “technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of the later phases of the EPAA” – one region this – “one reason this approach is called ‘adaptive’ – I will take every action available to me to support the deployment of all four phases.”
In addition to full implementation of the EPAA, we are committed to deployment of the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California to provide the United States with a defense against limited ICBM strikes from countries like North Korea and Iran. At the same time, we must continue our efforts to develop missile defense cooperation with Russia. I was in Russia last week meeting with my Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
This is a historic opportunity for the United States, NATO and Russia. We are continuing to work to establish a political framework that would open the way for practical cooperation on missile defense, including a center that would coordinate radar data and another center that would coordinate operations.
The missile defense system we are establishing in Europe is not directed at Russia. We have said that publicly and privately at many levels. We are prepared to put it in writing. As full partners in missile defense, we would partner to counter threats originating outside of Europe, not each other. Our European missile defense system is not and will not be directed at Russia, and Russia would continue to be able to confirm that the system is directed against launches originating outside of Europe and not from Russia.
The EPAA does not possess the technical capability to undermine Russia’s strategic nuclear forces nor do we seek to create a system that could. The mission of our missile defenses in Europe is to counter launches from the Middle East, which would be few in number and at an early stage of technology.
To perform this – these missions, engineering choices have been made. The system is and will continue be capable of counting smaller numbers of launches of modest sophistication from the south. It has no capability to counter Russian strategic forces, given their location, numbers and advanced technology. This is true of Phases III and IV, as it is true of Phases I and II. We welcome the opportunity to continue and expand the sharing of technical information on the EPAA with Russian experts on an interagency basis to demonstrate what it can and what it cannot do.
We cannot provide legally binding commitments nor can we agree to limitations on missile defenses, which must necessarily keep pace with the evolution of the threat. Through cooperation we can demonstrate the inherent characteristics of the system and its inability to undermine Russian deterrent forces or strategic stability. Only through cooperation, by working side-by-side and using their own eyes and ears, will Russians gain assurances on our capabilities and our intentions. Absent cooperation on missile defense, there could be more mistrust and opportunities for miscalculation. Such a path would not serve the interests of the United States or of strategic stability or of Russia, and distract us from the 21st century threats that we both face.
One such threat concerns the proliferation of ballistic missiles. We are cooperation – cooperating with Russia, our NATO allies and countries around the world to stem ballistic missile proliferation. As we all know, the least enviable time to defend against ballistic missiles is after they have been launched. Chief among our missile nonproliferation tools is the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR.
Working with the other 33 MTCR partners, we have created the global standard for controlling the transfer of equipment, software, technology that could contribute to missile developments. In fact because of the imposition of U.N. Security Council resolutions on both Iran and North Korea, all countries are now required, regardless of end use, to prevent the transfer of items listed in the MTCR annex to Iran and North Korea.
We are also working to support the efforts of The Hague code of conduct against ballistic missile defense proliferation – ballistic missile proliferation, which includes over 130 subscribing states and consists of a set of general principles, commitments and confidence-building measures to bolster efforts to curb ballistic missile proliferation. In addition we are joining with our partners to interdict shipments of WMD and missile-related items, including through the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, which focuses on improving a country’s ability to stop shipments of proliferation concern.
Beyond missile defense and preventing missile defense – missile proliferation, the Obama administration has achieved a number of significant accomplishments that put us on a path toward the president’s vision of seeking a more secure and safer world without nuclear weapons. The New START treaty with Russia, which lowers limits on deployed strategic nuclear weapons possessed by both countries, has been in force for eight months now, and implementation is going smoothly. We have completed the Nuclear Posture Review, which took specific and concrete steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.
At the State Department we have conducted a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Defense Review, known as the QDDR, which examined how we can use our civilian power to better advance our national security issues. We have also strengthened efforts to secure nuclear materials and other weapons of mass destruction, enhanced our international efforts to prevent the proliferation of WMD and placed tougher sanctions on proliferators. The list of these essential national security efforts is much, much longer than I could ever possibly sum up here.
Summing up all the benefits to our national security provided by the State Department is truly remarkable when you realize that it is all accomplished with 1 percent of the federal budget. That 1 percent includes every penny spent on foreign assistance, security assistance and operation of our embassies and consulates abroad. That’s a tremendous bargain for the American taxpayer.
Unfortunately, many of them think that up to 25 percent of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid. That misunderstanding helps create a climate where some in Congress think the State Department budget is a place where they can find savings without any cost to our national security. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the diplomacy and development work conducted by the State Department that helps prevent wars, contain conflicts, counter extremism, secure borders and reduce global weapons threats, including ballistic missiles.
As my remarks demonstrate, the work we do at the State Department with the Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency advances our efforts in Europe and around the world to protect our allies, our citizens and our forces from the dangers posed by ballistic missile defense – missile proliferation.
Let me again thank Fred for inviting me to speak today. I want to congratulate you very much on your book, “Berlin 1961.” Fred’s book is a reminder of an era and tensions in Europe that we do not want to replicate, which is why the United States and NATO want to cooperate with Russia on missile defenses against common threats. We do not want a return to the divisive policies and military competition from the past. Cooperation is in all our interests.
So I want to thank you very much for your time. I’m happy to answer any easy questions you might have – (laughter) – and I really appreciate all of your attendance here at the Atlantic Council.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Secretary Tauscher, for that plug for my book. (Let me ?) add that clearly, any senior administration official who is willing to come on this platform and plug my book is always welcome. (Laughter.)
Thank you, actually – is that all right – for what I think was an important statement to Russia and also an important statement regarding the budget. Let me ask one question about each, and then I’ll turn to the audience.
On Russia, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about – you said you’re willing to put it in writing but no legal commitment. Can you give us a little bit about what you think the state of play is right now after all the convincing you’ve – you and others have pursued? And is it your impression that the motivation behind Russian policy or response is more to the technical elements that they’re still not convinced about, or is it they just don’t like the idea of a U.S. force structure in Central or Eastern Europe, or is it something else? In other words, what could actually unlock an agreement?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, keep in mind that missile defense capabilities of the United States as proposed by many different administrations have been a constant irritant between the former Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation for decades. So this is not something that can be fixed immediately.
I would say that it’s a mix of a small amount of technical questions that include the fact that our prowess is considered to be unquestioned in the world sometimes, that we can actually do anything. And I wish we could. Pat can do a lot of good things, but it’s not like we can do anything.
I think it’s partly cultural. I think it’s cultural because we have, you know, two bureaucracies and two systems that find the default position of basically I-build-a-10-foot-fence-and-you-build-an-11-foot-ladder, the way of operating and doing business that has been successful for them for a very long time. And people don’t necessarily like change or that much change.
And I think a lot of it is political. It’s political here; it’s political there. I would say that none of these issues are insurmountable, but they are tricky and they are complicated, and certainly political environments that add turbulence to the conversation and uncertainty to the conversation only add to the question of, how do we move forward. But we have – we’ve worked very diligently with our Russian counterparts. We are working hard.
Both presidents – when they’ve met in different environments – have instructed our experts and officials to work together to find out if there’s a possibility for missile defense cooperation. I would say that there’s energy on both sides. But we’re doing this in a very serious way, and we’re doing it in a way that’s sustainable so that this is not a political decision only. It’s going to have politics involved, but you have to have a sense that there’s – this is a win-win for both sides.
I would – I would posit that this is a significant game changer. If we actually can have cooperation on missile defense – as I tell people all the time, if you’re looking to cooperate in Europe among European powers, both our NATO allies and Russia, on national security and international security, if you look around for the things that you can do where you’re going to get in on the ground floor and where things are pretty new and where they’re innovative, I challenge you to find something besides missile defense. So it is the game, and because of that, there’s a lot at stake and there’s a lot at risk.
So I’m not – I’m not a Pollyanna. I am a retired politician. I don’t do the dark arts anymore but I do understand them. So I would say that, you know, as time goes on it gets harder, because the aperture to join the system will close eventually. It’s not an infinite opportunity. And I think everybody knows what’s at risk if we don’t do it. We don’t want to return to the 1980s. We want to remove mistrust so that we can remove miscalculation, and we want to move from a world of mutually assured destruction to a world of mutually assured stability, and this could be the way to do it.
So I think that we’re all taking it seriously and we’re working hard to try to find a way that cooperation works for both of us.
MR. KEMPE: That’s a powerful message: significant game changer for the relations overall, aperture could close, seize the opportunity. Just from the tone that you can feel, can something get done ahead of the Chicago summit or for the Chicago summit? And if not, what impact does that have on the summits as a success or, more precisely, EPAA? Does it have any impact on the deployment of that?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, I would say that, you know, each country is going to work versus its own sense of national security and international security priorities and against its own clock. We don’t have the same political clock, for example. The Russian presidency election will be decided a full six months before ours, seven months before ours, so there is a lot of political chop in the – in the channel.
But I would say that, as I said, we’re taking this both very seriously. We understand the opportunities. There’s a tremendous amount of interagency activity on it. I cannot tell you whether we can or will get something done before May of 2012 for the Chicago summit, but I will tell you that I think that when we do get this done – and I believe we will – it will – it will be an enormous opportunity to do a lot of good things.
MR. KEMPE: Impact of the supercommittee budget recommendations, et cetera, et cetera, potentially on EPAA – you talked also about the ground-based interceptor. If you’re looking about the Phased Adaptive Approach, European Phased Adaptive Approach, and the ground-based interceptor – you’ve been in Congress. One of them looks more like it protects Europeans; one of them looks more like it protects Americans. When the cuts start coming down, how might it affect one or the other, and which would you be more inclined to protect from budget cuts?
MS. TAUSCHER: We always protect the United States first, but the United States has tremendous reach. and of course one of the reasons why we were – when I was in the Congress and I was agitating for NATOizing what was then the 10 ground-based interceptors and the effort to put a system in Europe under the Bush administration – was because we have so many assets and we do have Article 5, which is a significant commitment by the United States.
So we protect the United States first, but we don’t believe that this is – needs to be or should be an either/or opportunity, because the system is assets that are used in both atmospheres. So it’s important that we – the president’s made clear what he wants in his budget, and now it’s the Congress’s turn to do their work. Both the authorizing committees and the – of which I was a member – and the appropriations committees will do their will, and there’ll be negotiations.
And it’s important to know that the Missile Defense Agency has done a terrific job. It is a lean, mean fighting machine, and it – it’s not like there’s a whole lot of things there that you can just gratuitously cut. So it’s going to be – it’s a tough environment. It’s a very tough environment.
But whether you’re protecting Americans here at home or protecting Americans that are forward deployed in the United States (sic), Americans are Americans, and the president has made clear he’s going to protect them. And of course we’ve made a significant, ongoing and enduring commitment to our NATO allies and – through Article 5 and through the EPAA.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. I see that our friend the Romanian ambassador wanted to ask a question.
I do apologize you don’t have a seat, Mr. Ambassador, but we’ll rectify that the next time.
Q: Well, thank you so much for giving me the floor. I’m standing very well here at the Atlantic Council, so don’t worry about this.
I’d like to thank Secretary Tauscher for the presentation, the messages.
And allow me to tell you, Madam Secretary, that you are positively envied by our Romanian politicians, given the – given your ever-bigger popularity in Romania.
MS. TAUSCHER: (Chuckles.)
AMBASSADOR VIERITA: In other words, I’d like to thank you so much and to express my gratitude for your efforts and leadership.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
AMBASSADOR VIERITA: And I’d like to do the same, General O’Reilly.
And I’d also like to thank you for stressing the commitment and the contribution that Romania is ready to make to the EPAA.
Speaking of contribution, I’m – allow me to ask – to ask you the easiest question I can think of. (Scattered laughter.) It is – it is the contribution that we together may think of, given the NATO summit, which is not very far away. And my question is, if you – if you could think of the least achievement that we should reach in Chicago and, compared to the least, which is the biggest, the greatest achievement that we can have there – thank you so much.
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, first let me thank you. I was in Romania just 10 days ago. I was – I was so happy to see my friend, the senate president, Mr. Geoana, and Madam Speaker. You have a woman speaker, who is absolutely gorgeous and terrific and smart. And I was happy to see that the ratification process is moving quickly and perhaps could be done by early next year, if not at the end of this year.
You know, I don’t – I don’t do NATO politics – or policies but let me project that I think that the summit is a good time for taking stock for how far we’ve gone.
I remember when we announced the change from the previous Bush administration’s decision, and there was so much confusion as to what exactly we were doing. And less than two years later we have all the agreements done and we basically have all the deployments fixed and set. And that took a tremendous amount of interagency effort, and not only from people like Barry Pavel when he was in the government, but certainly General O’Reilly and the White House and everyone else.
I think that what we should expect as a minimum in Chicago is great pizza – (laughter) – and a – and a celebration of NATO in very tough economic times and of times of questions about budgets and who’s spending what and all that – understanding in Lisbon, first and foremost, that a change of mission to include populations and territories was the right thing to do; the stepping up of Romania and Poland and Turkey and Spain and the Netherlands and the entire alliance to take the ALTBMD system and bolt it onto our national contribution is a fabulous one.
And I think it should be a celebration of the fact that this defensive deterrence system is the model for other regions in the world, and I hope that everybody will be there to celebrate that.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you.
Please. Add some questions.
Q: Hi. (Name inaudible) – from Turkish Press, Turkish – (word inaudible) – Daily. I thank for your insightful remarks, Madam Undersecretary. My quick couple questions that have been taking a lot of time in Turkish media and discussions – the first is whether the system is going to protect the whole region, whole borders of Turkey because of the location of the interceptors in Balkans. Many argue that the part of – the eastern part of Turkey will not be covered.
And second question is whether – the foreign minister, Turkish foreign minister, just a couple days ago stated that his decision, agreement – (inaudible) – reconsider it, reassess within two years. I just want to ask, is it permanent decision or agreement this needs to be reconsidered.
And the last question is Israel – even though it’s not NATO member, it’s an ally. My question is how this NATO ally is going to benefit from the missile system.
MS. TAUSCHER: We have an agreement, as you know, with Turkey to deploy the radar. We hope to have it actually deployed by the end of the year. We very much thank the Turkish government and Turkish people, one of our staunchest NATO allies, for taking this capability. All of Turkey, all of our NATO allies will be protected.
And that’s one of the reasons why the president – in the Ballistic Missile Defense Review that was conducted in the first few months of his administration in 2009 – moved to the SM-3 system both on land and on Aegis ships because of the mobility and the ability to provide coverage, both in the Phased Adaptive Approach, by having 2011, with now the Monterey and then The Sullivans on station, the TPY-2 cueing radar, and then in 2015 in Romania and 2018 in Poland and then 2020 a much potentially more capable part of the system that could help defend the United States, which would be – satisfy the third site issue. So all of Turkey will be covered. All of NATO allies will be covered.
And as far as this being a decision that is under review, all sovereign nations have agreements under review. We believe that our relationship with Turkey is very, very strong. And once again, we thank Turkey and the Turkish people for taking this asset, once again showing Turkey’s commitment to the NATO alliance, which is a very strong commitment.
As far as Israel’s concerned, you know that we have a cooperative relationship with Israel and that the system as it is constructed has a component of fusing of sensor data that comes from any place in the environment that can help make decisions. Because as you know, all the decisions on missile defense are made previously. You don’t find out about a launch and put your coffee cup down and turn to your colleague and say, well, what do you think.
It’s over by then.
So all of this is prerehearsed and predecided, and all the op plans are pretty much in the can for different kinds of scenarios. So we do fuse data from different sensors from around the world. So we so have an agreement with Israel. We work cooperatively with them, both on David’s Sling and Iron Dome and a number of other cooperative missile defense systems. But as you know, they’re not part of NATO.
Q: (Off mic.)
MS. TAUSCHER: The entire system benefits from information that is fused into the system.
MR. KEMPE: Harlan Ullman.
MS. TAUSCHER: Hello.
Q: Hi. I’m Harlan Ullman, one of the strategic advisers. Good to see you. Thank you for your comments.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes. Good to see you too. Thank you.
Q: Two questions. First, beside the pizza in Chicago, it seems to me that the summit could present a really striking opportunity for NATO to take some very big steps. But it strikes us that the administration has very modest expectations, and I wondered what sort of opportunity you might consider, besides missile defense, could be availed of at NATO at the summit.
And secondly, as you know, the Russian neuralgia about missile defense in part is explained by them, that their tactical – (word inaudible) – systems they consider strategic, given the conventional force imbalance. And I understand the numbers arrangement, but how do you take that argument with – take that argument on?
MS. TAUSCHER: Let me take them in reverse order. The Russians have been very clear that their concerns are about their strategic nuclear forces and whether a European system – either by where it’s deployed or by the numbers or by its capabilities – would undercut that system. I’m happy to say that not only is the truth on our side, but our consistency is on our side.
Nothing about the system that we have proposed undercuts the Russian strategic deterrent, for many reasons, including this – the fact that they could immediately overwhelm us. I don’t – I’m not a physicist. I hang around with them a lot, but I’m not. But there’s a lot about missile defense that’s obvious. It’s about geography, geometry and physics.
And the truth is the system that we have proposed, while robust enough to manage the threats that we perceive developing in the Middle East, either currently or in the future, certainly would only chase the tail of a Russian ICBM or SLBM. And that’s the truth. And I think that only – perhaps only with their eyes and ears will the Russian – will the Russians embrace that, but I think that that is our position and has been consistently.
Your first part of the question was, again?
Q: Opportunities to be seized at the NATO summit – (inaudible) –
MS. TAUSCHER: The NATO summit. As I said, I don’t do that work every day. I do a tertiary part of it.
You know, I do think that there are a lot of people working hard on that, and I think that clearly any time the president is involved, we might say that we have modest expectations, but I would say that the president is always very seized with getting things done.
And I would say that our commitment to NATO is second to none, and I would say that there are many things that are going on where we’re working cooperatively. Obviously, NATO’s role in the Middle East during the Arab spring; obviously in Afghanistan, there’s a lot going on. So I know that in the State Department we spend a lot of time talking about it. I don’t do that specifically, but I would say that, you know, the president has a big commitment to this. And the fact that it’s in Chicago says something.
MR. KEMPE: It says a lot.
Q: Good pizza.
MS. TAUSCHER: Good pizza.
MR. KEMPE: Please. And let me take both of those questions, since you’re standing beside each other and it will be easy for you to also –
Q: Hi. Tony Carpaccio, with Bloomberg News.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes. Good to see you. Hi, Tony.
Q: Hi. You’re looking great.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thanks.
Q: What would you be prepared to sign? What exactly? Just a commitment that these missiles – that this system would not be able to counter Russia, or what? And is this something they pressed for, or that the U.S. has volunteered, a – some kind of pledge or an agreement?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, you know, I’m not talking about signing anything. I’m talking about making it clear – as we would in many other statements that we make to each other – that we need a political framework. We need a political framework that not only makes it clear that the United States and Russia and NATO are looking to optimize the opportunity to cooperate on European missile defense.
We know what the threat is. I think that we have worked together on joint threat assessment. We understand what each capability is. We’ve made very clear that NATO would protect NATO; that Russia would protect Russia; that we have identified threats that we consider to be common threats; and that by leveraging each other’s capabilities – like most times when you do that with a partner – you end up getting more benefit by doing that. There are assets that the Russians have, including sensors and radars; and there is geography that benefits us, considering where we believe the threat is emanating from.
So I think that there’s a lot about this, but this is about getting two former adversaries who work enormously cooperatively now on many different things but not everything, to find a paradigm change that is significantly a game changer in the posture of how they view each other.
We know we don’t target the Russians and they don’t target us. We know that we have moved away from mutually assured destruction, but where – what exactly is this state that we’re in? What is it called? What does it do? What are the benefits of it? We know we don’t want to begin the 10-foot-fence-11-foot-ladder business again. We know we can’t afford it; we don’t expect they can either. We also know that that distracts us from the current threats that actually you need to mobilize and do things differently.
And we know that we live in a much more interconnected world where we are much more interdependent over time. And can we move toward integration? And that is a question about security. We know that it’s less expensive to work cooperatively and networked. We know that you can get better information if you actually have people protect you. And in the case of missile defense, if Barry Pavel decided he wanted to shoot at me, the truth is I could not defend myself as well as Fred could defend me.
MR. KEMPE: Hey, don’t count on it. (Laughter.)
MS. TAUSCHER: Or, frankly – or frankly, as Steve (Flanagan could ?) – so —
Q: (Off mic) – you’d be prepared to put it in writing? That’s what I was asking.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes.
Q: What would you be prepared to put in writing?
MR. KEMPE: Well – and also what would you be prepared to put in writing? Have the Russians asked for it? And if they haven’t asked specifically for that, have they asked for something? Have they said, if you do this – yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, the Russians have consistently asked for something that’s legally binding, which we cannot do and we will not do. But you know, we have said that we will make it very, very clear – and we have made it clear. We’ve said it a lot. We’ve said it in different fora and we’ve said it over and over again, and I think we’ve said the same thing over and over again.
We can put it in writing in the form of some kind of potentially – agreement between perhaps Secretary Clinton, Secretary Lavrov, something like that.
MR. KEMPE: Steve?
Q: Thank you, Ellen. First, I want to share I’m only armed with a microphone. But – Steve Flanagan from CSIS.
MS. TAUSCHER: I know.
Q: I wanted to return to your comments about command-and-control and the state of political consensus within the alliance. And pardon my voice. I’m a little scratchy today.
But you noted the need for near-automaticity in launch of – a once-detected launch of a ballistic missile is achieved. Have you seen in your discussions with your NATO interlocutors there at the political level that there is a comfort with that notion of automaticity and even predelegation of command to certain military authorities in the event of a launch, and that that could be part of – will that be part of the agreement at Chicago on this initial command-and-control system? Because of course that has been a great neuralgia in the past in alliance history. Any sense of automaticity and no chance for political intervention in military decisions now?
MS. TAUSCHER: Yeah, I think you’re right, Steve. I think that both the work that was done prior to Lisbon and the work subsequent to Lisbon and as you see allies moving voluntarily forward, not only the countries that we engaged in for the different phases of EPAA – Turkey, Romania and Poland – but Spain taking the deployment of the four Aegis ships, the Netherlands talking about modifying their frigates to take on the BMD capabilities – you know, just generally – obviously, we work cooperatively with France and the U.K.
Our NATO allies have stepped up on this. I think that they appreciate the United States’ contribution of the system. They understand what it means to be able to defend and deter and not have Southern Europe, for example, to be held at risk by either state-based actors or nonstate-based actors that find themselves with a small capability; and that once again, it is an assertion of an American commitment to both NATO and Article 5. So I think that that is an opportunity for us to work together to have much more of a concrete declaration at the NATO summit in 2012.
But yes, I think that there is a general agreement that this is – this is the fundamental part of the system, that this is what we have to achieve in order to protect ourselves. And I think that that’s gone very far from where it was even just a few years ago.
MR. KEMPE: Please.
MS. TAUSCHER: Hi.
Q: Hi. Mike Rollins, from RUSI.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes.
Q: The EPAA is the U.S. contribution to the defense, missile defense of Europe. Without the EPAA, there would be no missile defense in Europe. It is to all intents and purposes 90 percent of the missile defense for Europe.
Would you like to see the European nations – such as the U.K. and France and Germany, et cetera – put in more of their own dollar, euro, whatever it is into missile defense for their own protection?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, I’m on the record as a former member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and chairman of Strategic Forces for saying that I wish that my European allies were spending more like 2 percent of their national GDP budgets on national security. So, of course.
But I think that there are many ways to contribute, and I think that, you know, we didn’t flinch when we realized that in order to have this capability that it was a U.S. contribution. We now have six or seven other allies, as I’ve mentioned just in the last question, that are stepping up and using their own national capabilities, either in contributing sites or contributing – or changing their own capabilities, like the frigates that we see the Netherlands doing.
So I think that there’s a lot of activity over there but I think everybody agrees that we would like to have our NATO allies spend more on defense. We also understand the very, very tough economic conditions and we also understand that this is something that everyone is struggling with.
MR. KEMPE: We have time for a couple more questions, one or two more questions. Please.
Q: Madam Secretary, thank you.
MS. TAUSCHER: My pleasure.
Q: Dick Bedford, from ACT; that’s the NATO here in the U.S – very nice two hours listening to you and General O’Reilly in tandem, best two hours I’ve spent on missile defense.
Well, my question goes to in your comments you talked about a possibility of a coordination center and – with the Russians – and that leads to a lot of the discussion that we’ve had today about cooperation. But then you got my interest when you said, an operations center, something like that might —
MS. TAUSCHER: Right. Data fusion center and an operations center.
Q: Data fusion center being one, which I understand – the operations center one is a little bit more problematic for me. And I was just wondering if you could expound on that, and specifically what you would do in that operations center; and then, two, the geographic location.
MS. TAUSCHER: Brussels. SHAPE. (Laughter.) I would assume it would be in Brussels at SHAPE. I would do – well, what I would do there is irrelevant. (Laughs.) A fusion center – and these are not separated, other than the fact that they are two different capabilities, so we didn’t want it to make it sound like there was one building where a lot of things were happening. It’s easier to talk about two places, two capabilities.
The fusion center is important because that’s where you would have – if we had ultimate cooperation at 29, not just at 28, where you would have Romanian, Polish, British, French, American, Russian military sitting at monitors and watching things and doing exercises. And then the operations center would also be part of the planning center, because the operations center actually is more of a mechanical reaction than it is a human reaction. So it really would be where you would do the exercises and the – and the gaming and all of the preplanning. And then you’d wait and hopefully nothing would ever happen.
Q: And the Washington response to that to date has been – what’s their response to that proposal?
MS. TAUSCHER: They’re interested in exactly what we would be doing at a technical level. You can imagine that there’s a room full of energy of, who would sit where and who – what would you get to see and when would you get to see it and is it filtered and is there an air DAP and do I see what the guy next to me sees and is – you know, am I at the kid table or the adult table and –
MR. KEMPE: Let me take the last two questions here. I’m sorry; I saw two and I think I have to shut it off now. Dan Fried and Boyko Noev, and then we’ll close.
MS. TAUSCHER: Hi, Dan.
Q: Madam Secretary, hi. A comment, rather than a question: I just wanted to congratulate you on the progress you’ve made.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
Q: Fred Kempe mentioned in his introduction that you were a critic of the Bush administration’s missile defense policy. Well, as a recipient of the criticism in that administration –
MS. TAUSCHER: But I love you, Dan, and you know that. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, Fred was right, but you were – you had a consistent strategic vision for missile defense you’ve carried over, and you moved the Bush administration in a direction many of us at the time wanted to go. We ended up in a better place for your pressure, and hopefully left – the Bush administration left the Obama administration a platform on which to build. You’ve done a lot.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you.
Q: And if bipartisanship weren’t out of fashion, I would say that it was – this missile defense has been so far a successful bipartisan policy, although it’s said that things in Washington have never been worse. Think where we were – think the state of discourse in this town in the ‘80s about missile defense and think of it now. It’s a real success story, and I just wanted to acknowledge that – (inaudible) –
MS. TAUSCHER: I think that’s right. Thank you. Well, thank you, Dan, and you were – it was wonderful to get to know you and work with you when I was chairman of strategic forces and you were working with – let’s see, who was it. Edelman.
MS. TAUSCHER: Yeah, Ambassador Edelman. And it was great to work with you.
You know, we just had a slightly different point of view. But we’re for missile defense, and I think that – I remember we had a vote during the Clinton administration. I think it was 1999, and there were a few of us Democrats that voted for missile defense, that we will deploy missile defenses at the moment, you know, capabilities and all that stuff. And I was very happy that I voted for that. And no good deed goes unpunished.
MR. KEMPE: (Laughs.) Boyko Noev, the former defense minister of Bulgaria and on our strategic advisors group?
MS. TAUSCHER: Yes. Yes.
Q: Well, thank you, Secretary Tauscher, again. I join Dan in the compliments of your contribution (efforts ?). We thanked Pat O’Reilly for his contribution, a consistent approach. And I remember the first conference, and then the point that missile defense could be the single most important issue in NATO, keeping alliance intact and the alliance with vision.
I have no question; I have a recommendation. I think that – and it’s about strategic communication. So I think that, at least from European perspective, what we are reading in the press, the media environment – and I see that it’s not only in Europe, but here as well. The importance of missile defense is not well known to our publics, one.
MS. TAUSCHER: (Inaudible.)
Q: And it’s an important issue to deal with here in Washington. It’s about – to study the programs and cuts and – et cetera, and it’s the same in Europe. So that’s one point.
And the other point of strategic communication is what we hear is that it seems that the Russian argument of something being wrong is heard much stronger than the U.S. argument of what Pat O’Reilly spoke about, the technical side, the political side, of the willingness of the United States and the allies to be open with the Russians, to offer cooperation.
What we hear from our Russian friends however, unfortunately, is that something’s wrong. And the general public in Europe does not understand what is wrong, and they believe that if the Russians are saying something is wrong, that it’s wrong. So it’s, again, strategic communication.
I think that what the Atlantic Council is doing here in Washington – but I hope that they will do something – will do something in Europe as well. We have to win the hearts and minds of the public before the Chicago summit.
MS. TAUSCHER: I think my friend is absolutely right, and I think that we’re doing more. In anticipation of my coming here today, I did make it known in Moscow that I was going to be here, and you know, I wanted to be sure that I was able to deliver a message, a strong enough message here today.
But I think, you know, the optics pitch and tone of our message is something that we have to get out to the publics and the parliaments perhaps a little bit more aggressively, and I hope we will do that.
Can I take a point of personal privilege? I don’t want to be the only feminine voice talking. I think my friend behind Barry wanted to ask a question.
MR. KEMPE: Oh, please. Yeah, I was – I was trying to respect your time. Sorry.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you. I know that.
Q: Thank you very much. I’m Susan Cornwell, with Reuters. And I just wanted to ask you – when you were talking about the Russians, you said the aperture will close eventually. And I wondered, when is that? How long?
MR. KEMPE: Let me add something to that, then, since you’ve asked that. When does the aperture close? I think that’s a very important question for the Russians. But conversely, you’re talking about this is a game changer for the relationship. Can it start with missile defense here, or does it have to start really with a larger decision at the top to change relations with the U.S.?
MS. TAUSCHER: Well, like any situation, each side brings its own priorities and its own timing and its own sense of urgency. I will say this: I will not consider the aperture closed – I don’t have the same opinion about the aperture closing than I think the Russians might. I’m very seized with understanding what their concerns might be.
You can imagine that you want to get in on the ground floor, you want – we all have metaphors that we use when we discuss getting on the train, coming into the tent. I mean, we’re constantly doing all these things. At times we’re not sure whether we’re in the tent or on the train, where the train’s going – (laughter) – where we’re in the caboose or in the engine, you know, who’s driving. But let me just say this: We each will know when it’s right to do. And we – I hope that we don’t find ourselves in a circumstance where time has passed, and that’s why I think we’re very energetic – and I know the Russians are, too – about understanding what this means.
As I said, I predict it will get done. I don’t know when. I think it’ll get done at the right time. Will it be sooner than later? I don’t know, but I think that this is such an important opportunity for us to really turn the page and to move away from the stasis of not mutually assured destruction but not mutually assured stability yet.
And you know, I think – I just want to say that President Obama and Secretary Clinton and the entire administration’s efforts to reset have been enormously beneficial. I consider Russia to be the unique – a unique partner for the United States in many, many different things. But at the same time, these are their decisions, and they’re going to do them in their own time.
And so for us, it is – it is the opportunity to make sure that we’re making ourselves very clear consistently and that we’re doing it in a way that is approachable; and at the same time that we’re making clear that there aren’t going to be any guarantees here that will limit our abilities to protect ourselves and our allies; and that at the same times (sic) we understand perhaps that we have to wait for the Russians, with their own eyes and ears, to make up their mind and their own political clock to tell them it’s the time to do it.
MR. KEMPE: Secretary Tauscher, on behalf of the audience, I want to thank you but I want to do it in a different sort of way. You’ve lifted our vision of missile defense not only talking about the nuts and bolts, the importance of it; but also the importance of it in the U.S.-Russian relationship. And we’re all a little bit concerned right now about that relationship, and in the Atlantic Council we’re quite devoted to the whole dream of a Europe whole and free. And that can’t – that has to be done with Russia, ultimately, and so we’re devoted to do that.
So I thank you for setting that as a game changer for the relationship. It’s a very interesting question about the aperture and what happens at what point. I hope we have more discussions, deeper discussions here at the Atlantic Council, also with our Russian colleagues, about this issue and also the warning that you can slide back to a worse time. And of course we have to worry about that as well, so I want to thank you for this very important statement.
But I also – you mentioned earlier that you couldn’t make it last year, for health reasons, but we’re delighted to see you in such fine fettle. Thank you so much.
MS. TAUSCHER: Thank you. Thank you, Fred. Thank you for – (applause) – (audio break) –