Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow

  • After Hanoi: The Road Ahead for the United States and North Korea

    As Washington and Pyongyang pick up the pieces following the abruptly concluded summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last month, the two sides have an opportunity to reassess their positions. Some former officials believe that there is, in fact, reason to be hopeful.

    Kim “needs a different kind of future for [North Korea] and his regime, and he’s prepared to take some risks to do it,” said Kathleen Stephens, a former US ambassador to South Korea.


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  • One Year Since the Skripals Were Poisoned, Russia Has Not Given Up its Confrontational Policy Toward the West

    On March 4, 2018, a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, were found critically ill on a park bench in Salisbury, England. It was later determined that they had been poisoned by Novichok, a deadly nerve agent. The attack was linked to the Russian state.


    One year later, “Russia shows no sign of rethinking its confrontational policy toward the West,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and  Security who served as the US ambassador to Russia from 2001 to 2005.


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  • Hanoi Summit: Two Cheers for Donald Trump

    It’s disappointing that a deal was not reached in Hanoi, but it’s good that US President Donald J. Trump walked away rather than signing a one-sided agreement.  Agreeing to a total lifting of UN sanctions in return for only limited steps on denuclearization—closure of the Yongbyon facility— would have done nothing to reduce the North Koreans’ nuclear weapons and infrastructure, making the task of real denuclearization even harder.

    Dismantlement of the Yongbyon facility, the main production site for the North’s plutonium and enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, would be an important achievement, but it would not shut off the North’s fissile material production completely.  The North has other facilities, some clandestine, in addition to Yongbyon, as Trump pointed out.  Moreover, dismantling Yongbyon would have left untouched the North’s existing stockpile of fissile material, warheads, ballistic missiles, and their associated production facilities—all of

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  • US Withdrawal from Nuclear Arms Control Treaty Could Give Russia 'Free Rein'

    In congressional testimony, Atlantic Council’s Alexander Vershbow says US allies concerned ‘we  may have given a gift to President Putin’

    Although the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a Cold War era nuclear arms control treaty with Russia was “legally justified,” the decision could “give Russia free rein to rapidly deploy ground-launched versions of its newest cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons,” Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, warned Congress on February 26.

    Vershbow, who is a former NATO deputy secretary general, testified to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that Washington’s “allies are concerned that, politically, we may have given a gift to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, who has long sought to escape the INF Treaty’s limitations.”


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  • Ambassador Vershbow Testifies Before House Committee on Armed Services on INF Withdrawal and the Future of Arms Control

    US and Russian Withdrawal from the INF Treaty: Implications for the Future of Arms Control and Strategic Stability
    Statement by Ambassador Alexander Vershbow
     Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
    before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
     February 26, 2019

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  • Vershbow joins Bloomberg to discuss upcoming Trump-Kim Summit


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  • The Second Trump-Kim Summit: What Will Success Look Like?

    US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will hold their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 and 28.


    The two leaders last met in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Following that meeting—the first engagement between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea—Trump declared that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.” However, there is little evidence that Kim is preparing to eliminate his nuclear weapons.


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  • Mike Pence Stands Up For NATO, But is That Enough?

    US Vice President Mike Pence, addressing US and Polish armed forces in Warsaw on February 13, emphasized the importance of NATO, reaffirmed the US commitment to the principle of collective defense, and encouraged allies to meet the Alliance’s defense-spending goal. It is an open question, however, whether his boss, US President Donald J. Trump, shares his conviction.

    “While Vice President Pence’s words were eloquent and reassuring, allies have learned that there is a disconnect between the administration’s policy and the president’s own feelings about NATO and other US alliances,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a former deputy secretary general of NATO.


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  • Permanent Deterrence

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    North Central Europe has become the central point of confrontation between the West and a revisionist Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement and undermine the rules-based order that has kept Europe secure since the end of World War II. Moscow’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories, its military build-up in Russia’s Western Military District and Kaliningrad, and its “hybrid” warfare against Western societies have heightened instability in the region have made collective defense and deterrence

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  • Trump-Kim Summit: The Vietnam Edition

    US President Donald J. Trump made a bit of news in his State of the Union address on February 5 when he announced that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on February 27 and 28.

    The choice of Vietnam is a significant one.

    “Vietnam was chosen at least in part because it is a country that has friendly relations with North Korea,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a former US ambassador to South Korea.


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