print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > February 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 11, 2008

Remarks by the National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, to the Center for International Security and Cooperation
Center for International Security and Cooperation
Stanford University
Stanford, California

Delivered on February 8, 2008

MR. HADLEY: Thank you, Scott, very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you here this afternoon at the Center for International Security and Cooperation. The work you do is vital. You are helping to shape the national debate on the security challenges we face, and are showing how cooperation with other nations continues to be essential to meeting the future threats to peace. I thank you for that work.

This afternoon I would like to focus on one particular challenge to the security of the nation and of the world, indeed: the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials into the hands of nations or individuals who would do us harm. I want to describe the nature of the challenge as it presents itself in this new century, our strategy for meeting it, and how our nation is implementing this strategy both here at home and in partnership with friends and allies around the world.

The threat of a nuclear attack on the American homeland remains very real -- though the nature of the threat has changed dramatically over the last two decades. The Cold War is over. The nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union is no more because the Soviet Union is no more -- and the United States and Russia today have a very different relationship than the United States and the Soviet Union of the Cold War era.

Yet new nuclear threats have emerged. North Korea has developed and tested nuclear weapons -- and withdrawn from the Non-Proliferation Treaty that otherwise prohibited it from doing so. Iran continues to enrich uranium -- in defiance of the international community -- which could give it the capability to produce nuclear materials required for a nuclear weapon. And terrorists continue to seek to acquire nuclear weapons and nuclear materials so they can advance their ideological agenda of oppression and fear by threatening the slaughter of innocents in many nations, including our own.

Early in his term, President Bush recognized that this new strategic environment required a rethinking of U.S. nuclear proliferation policy -- and in three important ways. We need to reduce U.S. and former Soviet stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and better secure our nuclear materials around the world so they do not fall into the hands of rogue states or terrorists. We need to address the proliferation risk associated with the growing demand for peaceful nuclear energy around the world. And we need to address the threat posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in the hands of terrorists.

I'd like to discuss each of these challenges in turn, and talk a little bit about what we're doing about them.

First, to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation, we need to reduce the legacy nuclear stockpiles of the Cold War and better secure nuclear materials around the world.

President Bush took office determined to reduce the extent to which we have to rely on nuclear weapons to ensure the safety and security of our country. So he tasked the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and other U.S. department and agencies to do a thorough review of U.S. strategic doctrine, and to determine to what extent nuclear weapons are still required to meet the security threats of the 21st Century.

This work resulted in the Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, which the President adopted as the foundation of U.S. strategic doctrine. Briefly, the NPR concluded that nuclear weapons would remain necessary to deter aggressors from threatening the United States -- and U.S. allies that do not possess nuclear weapons -- and to reduce the risk of regional nuclear arms races.

Yet the Nuclear Posture Review also concluded that the United States could accomplish all of these objectives while reducing our nation's reliance on nuclear weapons. The NPR proposed a "New Triad," if you will, of strategic capabilities that expanded beyond our narrow focus on nuclear weapons to include greater reliance on effective conventional non-nuclear weapons, greater reliance on missile defenses, and a more limited but still sustainable nuclear weapons capability.

And based on the strategic logic of this New Triad, President Bush proposed to President Putin that both nations reduce their nuclear weapons inventories. Subsequent negotiations resulted in the Moscow Treaty of 2002, in which the United States and Russia agreed to draw down their respective operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,000 weapons by 2012. Our two nations are now implementing the Moscow Treaty. They are ahead of schedule. And today, the United States has fewer than 3,800 operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons, its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration, and at the early days of the nuclear standoff.

The United States and Russia have also made progress in reducing their stockpiles of fissile material -- that is, highly enriched uranium and plutonium -- the materials from which nuclear weapons can be made. President Bush has significantly expanded the amount of U.S. highly enriched uranium withdrawn from potential use in nuclear weapons from 174 metric tons to 374 metric tons, and the amount of plutonium withdrawn from 52 metric tons to 61 metric tons. This means that more than 22,000 nuclear weapons which could have been made using this material will not be made.

We are also helping Russia reduce its stockpile of fissile material. Working together, Russia and the United States will each convert 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for use in civilian nuclear power plants. The United States has also purchased more than 300 metric tons of Russian highly-enriched uranium, and blended it down for use as fuel in civilian nuclear reactors. Many of you know that about 20 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by nuclear power. Yet you may not know that half of that figure is generated using the highly-enriched uranium purchased from Russia. So about one in ten light bulbs in America is powered by nuclear material from weapons that used to be aimed at our country.

Other joint efforts with Russia to better secure and safeguard nuclear weapons and nuclear materials are delivering results as well. Through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, we are working with Russia to make possible secure transportation of nuclear warheads removed from delivery systems, to improve security at nuclear weapon storage and dismantlement facilities, and to eliminate retired delivery systems like missiles and bombers.

And through the Bratislava Initiative, our two nations are working together to upgrade security at Russian nuclear weapons storage sites and nuclear material storage facilities. The United States Department of Energy has completed work at 85 percent of the sites identified under this initiative, and is on schedule to complete work at all the identified sites by December of this year.

The United States is also partnering with other nations, including former Soviet republics, to better secure nuclear materials around the globe. Under the President's Global Threat Reduction Initiative, the United States has helped convert 51 nuclear reactors in 29 countries from highly enriched uranium -- which could be used in nuclear weapons -- to low-enriched uranium, which cannot. We have also secured more than 600 vulnerable sites around the world that together contain enough material to make about 9,000 radiological or so called "dirty bombs." These are bombs that don't cause a nuclear explosion but scatter harmful radioactive material.

We have further expanded the work of threat reduction through what's called the G8 Global Partnership. This initiative was created after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has helped to dismantle Russian nuclear submarines, destroy chemical weapons, and foster international cooperation in nuclear security. In 2002, the President convinced other members of the G8 group of countries -- including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada -- to pledge $10 billion to match U.S. funding for this effort over the next 10 years. And we are working to extend these commitments beyond 2012.

The second challenge we need to address are the proliferation risks associated with the growing demand for peaceful nuclear energy around the world.

Nuclear energy is safe and clean. Nuclear energy offers both developed and developing nations the electric power they need to grow their economies without releasing gaseous emissions harmful to the environment. Nuclear energy is a major component of the President's energy strategy here at home, and a key technology for addressing the challenge of global climate change.

Yet nuclear energy can carry with it the risk of nuclear proliferation. The same technology used to enrich uranium for use in civilian nuclear power reactors, and to recover plutonium from spent nuclear power reactor fuel, can be used to produce the fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty allows access to peaceful nuclear energy for all nations that abide by its terms -- but nations cheat. They use the cover of a peaceful nuclear program to develop enrichment and reprocessing capability, and then use that capability to produce the material needed for nuclear weapons. North Korea has separated plutonium from spent fuel from its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, and then used that plutonium to make nuclear weapons.

And cheating is what we fear Iran will do. The Iranian regime claims to be pursuing only a peaceful nuclear energy program. Yet for over a decade they hid from the world key elements of that program. And Iran is not fully cooperating with the investigation into their past nuclear activities now being conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or the IAEA, as it's called. And the regime continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the United Nations Security Council.

The long-term solution to the cheating risk is to make available an assured fuel supply for peaceful nuclear energy. An assured fuel supply will allow nations to use peaceful nuclear energy without the significant economic investment necessary to build an enrichment and reprocessing capability, and with all the attendant proliferation risks that that capability entails. So the task is to give countries an assured fuel supply, and therefore insist that as part of their proliferation/non-proliferation undertakings, they foreswear enrichment and reprocessing.

To make available an assured fuel supply, President Bush President Bush endorsed creation of a nuclear fuel supply mechanism in 2004. We have been working continually with partners and with the IAEA to bring that kind of assured fuel supply into being.

Another approach to this problem was launched in 2006, with the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. The goal of this initiative is to develop next generation technologies that will reprocess spent nuclear fuel without creating the separated plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons. This initiative would enable the expansion of peaceful civilian nuclear energy without increasing the risk the spent nuclear fuel could be converted into weapons-grade material. Many nations have joined the United States in pursuing this vision, including Australia, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and France.

Last July, the United States and Russia agreed to build on this partnership through a joint Nuclear Energy and Non-Proliferation Initiative. This effort complements the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership by helping states who want peaceful nuclear power programs to build modern, safe, and more proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors. It also assures them a reliable supply of fuel for these reactors without needing to acquire nuclear enrichment or reprocessing capability.

Finally, to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation, we need to address the threat of nuclear terrorism. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush directed his national security team to develop a comprehensive strategy to meet the threat of terrorists acquiring and using the world's most dangerous weapons. The strategy drew upon the collective wisdom of both the counter proliferation community, which was focused on the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue nation states, and the counterterrorism community, which is focused on individual terrorists and terrorist networks.

The President's strategy calls for a comprehensive, robust, layered defense against nuclear terrorism. The defense calls for: Expanded intelligence efforts, so we can get a better picture of the capabilities and intentions of terrorist groups seeking nuclear or radiological weapons and the information we need to disrupt those efforts; focused interdiction, to deny terrorists access to the nuclear material, expertise, or other capabilities they seek by disrupting their efforts to acquire them; a declaratory policy to put the terrorists on notice of how we will respond if attacked and to deter those who might be tempted to transfer or facilitate the transfer of nuclear weapons to terrorists; expanded efforts to prevent nuclear material or nuclear weapons from being moved into U.S. territory; strengthened nuclear forensics capabilities, so if the worst should happen, and a nuclear attack should occur on U.S. soil, we would be able to identify those responsible quickly and accurately; robust, effective response and recovery plans, so that again, if the worst should happen, we would be able to respond quickly to minimize casualties and help impacted communities rebuild.

The President has created new institutions to help implement this strategy. He's established the National Counterterrorism Center, which brings together in one place the intelligence community's capabilities to collect and analyze terrorist threat information -- including information about nuclear terrorism. He signed the law creating the National Counterproliferation Center, which provides strategic direction to the efforts of the intelligence community to fight the entire range of proliferation challenges, including nuclear proliferation.

Together, these institutions support the Director of National Intelligence in his effort to provide the clearest possible intelligence picture of terrorist capabilities and intentions including with respect to weapons of mass destruction. And finally, the President has also created the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which is working to improve our capability to detect and respond to unauthorized importation, transport or storage of nuclear and radiological material.

The President has also created strong international partnerships to address the threat of nuclear terrorism. In 2003, he launched the Proliferation Security Initiative to stem the flow of illicit materials used for weapons of mass destruction programs. More than 85 nations are now partners in this effort to coordinate their individual national capabilities to detect and interdict illicit materials - whether moving by land, sea, or air.

In 2004, the United States cosponsored and helped secure the approval of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540. This resolution requires states to enact and enforce effective export controls for dangerous weapons and materials, and to prosecute those who transfer weapons of mass destruction or sensitive technologies to terrorists.

And in 2006, the United States and Russia launched the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, which is helping to build international capacity to prevent, defend against, and respond to nuclear terrorism. Through this initiative, more than 60 nations have joined the United States and Russia to exchange information, share best practices, and develop new solutions to the challenge of nuclear terrorism. Many nations have assumed leadership roles through this initiative.

Last month, for example, China hosted a Global Initiative event to work through the challenges of preparing for and responding to an incident involving nuclear or radiological material. And just this week, experts met in Morocco to discuss the challenges of thwarting and defending against nuclear terrorism in the Maghreb.

As part of this strategy to combat nuclear terrorism, the President has approved a new declaratory policy to help deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our friends, and allies. Some people argue that the terrorists are undeterrable. But deterrence can still play a role if deterrence doctrine and policy is reframed in the context of the actual nuclear threat we face today.

First, a robust, layered defense can discourage or dissuade attempts to deploy weapons of mass destruction against us, by denying our enemies the benefits they seek in deploying these weapons in the first place. Second, many terrorists value the perception of popular or theological legitimacy for their actions. By encouraging debate about the moral legitimacy of using weapons of mass destruction, we can try to affect the strategic calculus of the terrorists.

And finally, deterrence policy targeted at those states, organizations, or individuals who might enable or facilitate terrorists in obtaining or using weapons of mass destruction, can help prevent the terrorists from ever gaining these weapons in the first place.

As many of you know, the United States has made clear for many years that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our people, our forces and our friends and allies. Additionally, the United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.

Our nation has taken strong action to address the threat of nuclear proliferation. Through negotiation we have reduced both the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles. Through innovative partnerships, the United States is addressing the growing global demand for peaceful nuclear energy in a way that reduces nuclear risk. And through a variety of initiatives both at home and abroad, our nation is more secure from the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Several distinguished public servants, including former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn, have usefully come forward with a set of steps to help realize the dream of a nuclear-free world. These leaders hosted a conference last October to discuss their ideas here at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

The United States is already working on many of these ideas along with Russia and other international partners. The United States is discussing the extension of key provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 -- particularly those related to predictability and transparency, provisions that would otherwise expire in December 2009. We have established multiple, rigorous procedural safeguards to ensure against the accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear missiles. We've moved away from plans for the massive retaliatory nuclear strikes on short notice that were the relics of Cold War thinking. We have aggressively developed ballistic missile defenses in cooperation with our allies. And we strongly support strengthening the way the IAEA monitors compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation international agreements.

Yet making further progress toward the elimination of nuclear risk in the strategic environment of the 21st century will require further progress in the three areas I have described. We must continue to improve security for nuclear materials around the world. We must continue to expand the use of peaceful nuclear energy without increasing the risk of proliferation. And we must continue to implement an aggressive, comprehensive strategy to prevent nuclear terrorism. As we build confidence that the world will need no longer fear nuclear weapons deployed by tyrants or terrorists, we will move closer to our ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear risk.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)