Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Next Treaties

The Department of Defense made Bradley H. Roberts, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense and Admiral John E. Roberti, Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff, available to bloggers on a phone conference this afternoon.

My question was on the next issues to be pursued in treaty negotiations now that New START has been agreed. With no hesitation, the answer was that bilateral talks will continue with the Russians, and the topics will include continuing to reduce the deployed strategic warhead numbers, as well as nonstrategic weapons (also referred to as tactical) and nondeployed warheads. They added that this will require advances in verification. Russia will want ballistic missile defense addressed.

I discussed some of those issues associated with verification of individual warheads, which is what will be required for nonstrategic and nondeployed warheads. This is going to be a big deal, and it's encouraging that there is willingness to address it sooner rather than later.

Another small note on something that has bothered me: There has been talk of replacing nuclear warheads with conventional explosive warheads so that we are not confined to a nuclear response. That had included installing conventional payloads on nuclear-style missiles. The danger there, of course, was that a country seeing what they thought was a nuclear missile incoming would not do a lot of phonecalling to find out exactly what it was carrying and would respond in a nuclear way. We were told that that particular idea is being reconsidered. That's good news. It also sounded like much of this plan is still under development.

President Obama's statement on the release of the NPR.

Update: Podcast is here. Via Armchair Generalist.


J. said...

Heard you sign on at the podcast. Unfortunately, I was tied up in a meeting today and couldn't call in. So I'm catching up, going to have to scan all the blogs to find out what happened... big section on the defense.gov page too.

Cheryl Rofer said...

I think they're going to post the audio file of the whole thing. I'll post a link if I get it.

I also see that some, but not all, of the answer given to my question is in the Executive Summary. Ah well, my excuse is that things were somewhat chaotic here this morning, so I didn't get that far in my reading.

But it's still significant that they are willing to press on to the more difficult matters as soon as possible.