Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow

  • With One Small Step, Trump Makes History in North Korea

    Trump, Kim agree to restart nuclear negotiations

    On June 30, Donald J. Trump became the first US president to set foot in North Korea. Trump made history when stepped across a low concrete marker accompanied by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and walked a few steps into the North. The two leaders agreed to have their negotiators resume an effort to reach what has so far been an elusive nuclear deal.

    “The United States, under the Trump administration, has disrupted the longstanding, but failing, US policies of past administrations by seeking to build trust from the top down,” said Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair, and director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

    “This was helpful for reducing the near-term threat, but so far it is unclear whether it will help to achieve the denuclearization that we seek,” said Pavel. “How much trust building will be required before North Korea begins

    ...

    Read More
  • Trump Expected to Announce US Troop Increase in Poland

    But Poland unlikely to get 'Fort Trump,' says the Atlantic Council's Alexander Vershbow

    US troop presence in Poland is likely to be at the top of the agenda when US President Donald J. Trump and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, meet at the White House on June 12.

    Pointing to Russian military activity in its neighborhood, the Duda administration has made the case for a permanent US troop presence in Poland at a base Polish officials have suggested they would christen “Fort Trump.” The Polish government has even offered to pay $2 billion to support this base.


    Read More
  • A Close Call: US and Russian Ships Avoid Collision

    The near collision of US and Russian warships in the Philippine Sea on June 7 is just the latest close call between the two nations’ militaries that have increasingly found themselves in tense encounters around the globe. While a crisis was averted, the next time may be different.

    Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair and director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, said with close calls like the one on June 7 “the risks of escalation are very significant.”


    Read More
  • Remembering Sen. Richard Lugar: ‘An American Jewel’

    One of Washington’s most important foreign policy voices, US Sen. Richard Lugar “was an American jewel,” Atlantic Council Eurasia Center Director John Herbst recalled. Lugar, who spent more than thirty years representing Indiana in the United States Senate, passed away on April 28 at the age of eighty-seven.


    Read More
  • Here’s What You Should Be Reading About NATO on its Seventieth Birthday

    NATO is being celebrated in Washington this week. The Alliance, which turned seventy on April 4, is marking its anniversary in the very town it was born.

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made history by becoming the first leader of the Alliance to address a joint meeting of the US Congress on April 3. He was treated like a rock star on Capitol Hill where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle showed their support for the Alliance. “The secretary general of NATO had so many standing ovations, I thought it was an aerobics class,” joked Atlantic Council President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Kempe. 


    Read More
  • Vershbow Quoted in POLITICO on NATO's Future


    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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.


    Read More
  • 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

    ...

    Read More
  • 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.”


    Read More