Proceedings of a Symposium
Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs for the Next Ten Years and Beyond
Proceedings of a Symposium—in Brief
The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program was created by the United States after the dissolution of the Soviet Union to provide financial assistance and technical expertise to secure or eliminate nuclear weapons delivery systems; warheads, chemical weapons materials, biological weapons facilities, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons technology and expertise from the vast Soviet military complex. In a 2009 report, Global Security Engagement: A New Model for Cooperative Threat Reduction,1 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommended adoption of a modified approach to thinking about CTR, including the expansion of CTR to other countries and specific modifications to CTR programs to better address the changing international security environment.
On September 18-19, 2017, the NAS Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) held a symposium to discuss the state of CTR and the future of CTR programs over the next 10 years and beyond. The workshop was supported by a grant from the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (PASCC) at the Naval Postgraduate School. More than 120 participants and speakers met to share experience gained implementing CTR and to explore CTR in light of new developments in science and technology, such as the convergence of chemistry and biology, the life-sciences revolution, and the needs and interests of the scientific communities in different countries. Participants also considered how government CTR programs should change and/or be reframed for the current and evolving global security and international political environment, as well as domestic requirements for impact and accountability. This document is a summary of the presentations and discussion at the meeting. Key points and a summary from the workshop co-chairs appear in the conclusion section at the end of this document. Many of the insightful, informative, and nuanced remarks in the workshop did not lend themselves to concise summary here, so the presentations and a recording of the event are available online.2
The symposium began with a session on the history of CTR and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination and the 2009 NAS Global Security Engagement report. The session was chaired by Libby Turpen, president of Octant Associates, who opened the meeting by noting the recent death of Senator Pete Domenici, an important early supporter of CTR. She explained that “CTR 2.0,” a term coined by the 2009 NAS report committee, was a way to describe reframing CTR for the changing international security
environment at that time, but that it is now time to reexamine and possibly refresh the findings and recommendations in that report. She noted that while the U.S. government, especially the biological science engagement programs at the Departments of Defense and State, have adopted many of the 2009 NAS report recommendations, CTR must continue to evolve to keep pace with new technology and the changing international security environment.
Turpen said that the threat to the United States from WMD proliferation still exists and that there is increasing unpredictability in the threat environment. New science and technology are rapidly changing the threat landscape. She noted that fortunately, CTR’s bipartisan support in Congress is unchanged; however, because combating WMD proliferation is an esoteric threat to a large segment of the world population, WMD threat reduction is not a top priority for most governments in the world, which hinders progress and long-term sustainment of global CTR efforts. She suggested that the United States maintain a full spectrum of CTR capabilities, including robust scientific and technical engagement for situational awareness and rapid response, and that it should improve government-wide accountability at all levels—from personal to program.
Turpen introduced Ambassador Ron Lehman, former director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and co-chair of the committee that authored the 2009 NAS report. He said that today the United States faces a steep learning curve to address new threats but faces an even steeper “forgetting curve,” in that the lessons of how to implement successful CTR programs are being lost, as programs conclude and the U.S.-Russian relationship changes. He focused on how to adapt CTR as WMD threats change and the international environment for doing WMD elimination changes. He first asked symposium participants to address how programs are labeled and described. Does the CTR concept need significant modification? In other words, should we consider a “CTR 2.X” or even a “CTR 3.0” concept? Or has CTR been overtaken by events? He then offered advice and outlined steps to improve CTR programs in the future:
- CTR programs must ensure that the cooperation is in the national interest of the partner country.
- CTR needs to address dual-use technology and the spread of global instability.
- CTR became the follow-on to the arms control treaties the United States and the Soviet Union had negotiated and signed during the Cold War. Like arms control, CTR detailed cooperative measures to be taken together to transparently address specific national security concerns. The 2009 NAS report stated that CTR should support the implementation of international treaties and other security instruments aimed at reducing threats. With the relationship between the United States and Russia now at a low point, more hands-on, cooperative measures, and embedded engagement might yield a better U.S.-Russia relationship.
- The 2009 NAS report focused on Department of Defense (DOD) CTR programs but emphasized the importance of the division of CTR labor across the government. An all-of-government approach to CTR is still important because some of the responsibility for implementing CTR and much of the expertise is found outside of the DOD.
- Over-bureaucratization and internal U.S. government turf wars can degrade the ability to implement CTR programs with other countries.
- It is important to measure impact while not impeding progress with unnecessary or meaningless outcome metrics. Metrics should be designed, especially if they are quantitative, to reflect the value of the activities to CTR’s core international security and nonproliferation missions.
- There is a need to address the problem of leadership and sponsorship and to think more creatively about how to sustain momentum for long-term CTR engagement with other countries.
- The 2009 NAS report noted how bad the outcomes could have been if CTR had not been created when it was. The threat reduction community should clearly document how CTR engagement provides security as a way to demonstrate the importance of CTR to the U.S. government and to the international community.
William Moon, from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, discussed CTR programs to diminish the threat from nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Moon said that although Russian weapons are more secure because of CTR, the long-term security of Russian weapons and material is still a concern. He could not say how secure they will be in the future because formal CTR in Russia has ended. He spoke about the value CTR programs provide beyond WMD elimination. CTR was an important communications channel between the United States and Russia; programs continued even during periods of poor U.S.-Russian relations. CTR also established a professional “contractor culture” in Russia that is still functioning today. He said that rebuilding the U.S.-Russian relationship could be done first through multilateral forums such as the technical level working group of the P5 countries (UN Security Council’s five permanent members; United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia). Later the United States could work with Russia bilaterally on nuclear security—a long-standing concern—by building on the foundation of the many years of joint CTR work.
David Franz, former commander, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and co-chair of the 2009 NAS study committee, discussed using international engagement programs to reduce the threat from biological weapons and biotechnology by building international networks of experts and creating and sustaining healthy cultures in laboratories. While it is difficult to measure the immediate value of health- and science-based cooperative projects between governments and scientists, the human relationships that result can have important security implications. Building global networks of technical experts who trust one another enough to collaborate and exchange safety and security best practices improves laboratory culture and fosters open discussion that can eventually lead to more transparency between governments. Programs like these may not seem to be directly security related, but can help governments be alert to the ever-changing world of natural and intentional threats we face.
Mallory Stewart, former deputy assistant secretary of state, discussed reducing the threat from chemical weapons, and the use of CTR programs to diminish the chemical threat. She emphasized that it is more important than ever to focus on the cooperative part of CTR. Early on, many understood that CTR was really about building relationships. The U.S. government was able to leverage the longstanding relationships created through CTR programs with Russia and other countries, and the expertise and flexible resources within CTR and other U.S. government programs, to remove chemical weapons and stocks from Syria in order to demilitarize and dispose of the material. She noted that we harnessed the capabilities we already had, and the experience working cooperatively with other countries through CTR, to design a program and create a multilateral coalition to do the work quickly. In the future, to prevent bad actors from trying to circumvent the structures established to control chemicals, CTR programs should work with the chemical industry to implement cooperative approaches to address gaps in security and better explain the economic advantages of responsible behavior.
During the discussion session, a panelist suggested that CTR program managers look at how the military describes and “sells” defense cooperation to other countries and try to use that language to promote CTR. The panelist also said that CTR should be more explicit about what threats are being reduced and how the work is being done cooperatively. Regarding labels, another panelist noted that the name CTR explicitly notes that the point is to reduce “threats,” which sometimes creates a problem for cooperative efforts because the partner country thinks that CTR deems the partner a threat. This potential risk was underscored in the 2009 NAS report and has been addressed to some degree by implementers in recent years.
During the second session on the changing international security landscape, Steve Fetter, from the University of Maryland discussed how the rapid development and largely commercial-
driven nature of new technology should change how the United States combats new and old threats. Although the United States is leading in many areas of technology (artificial intelligence/machine learning, drones, synthetic biology, etc.), we must engage with other countries to stay competitive going forward, and the government must do a better job anticipating future technology developments to avoid surprise. He said that those on the cutting edge of technology are in the best position to understand how to use new technology to mitigate risk from traditional WMD threats and new threats. He suggested that the United States continue to bring commercial technology experts into U.S. government agencies to enhance staff knowledge about new technology and incorporate it into the work of the government, and he mentioned several programs that facilitate this.3 Simultaneously, he said, government agencies should create programs so their technical staff can temporarily leave government service for 6-12 months and work in an industry laboratory or a university.
Elizabeth Cameron, from NTI, discussed reducing future biological risk by improving global health security. She noted that the government health and security communities are working closer together than ever but we are living in a world where the biological risks continue to evolve. CTR is vital, and biological threat reduction, especially, remains essential. The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a whole-of-government approach to combating the threat from both naturally occurring and intentionally created disease, has had great success building an international community of biosecurity and global health experts dedicated to strengthening public health and disease surveillance. Cameron supports forming a high-level group within the United Nations to look at strengthening global and international norms and suggested making adherence to norms a prerequisite to participation in large international scientific collaborations. Other ways to address biological threats include creating a global core of researchers interested in biosecurity, implementing standard dual-use oversight requirements for all pandemic influenza centers, funding innovative biosecurity related technology development, and improving biosecurity education internationally.
James Le Duc, from the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL), discussed his efforts to improve relationships between scientists who work in high-containment biological laboratories (facilities that handle extremely dangerous pathogens [EDPs], so called Biological Safety Level [BSL] 3 and 4 laboratories). In recent years, there has been an enormous proliferation of these labs around the world.4 It is important to have a strategy to engage with the leadership of these facilities and share best practices, especially for BSL-4 labs—labs that take the greatest biocontainment precautions because they work with EDPs for which no treatment is available. Le Duc’s laboratory frequently hosts delegations from countries interested in building their own BSL-4 lab. In seeking a BSL-4 laboratory, some of them discount the fact that these types of labs are highly complex, expensive to build, and difficult to maintain and sustain over the long term. Developing true scientific partnerships between established labs also helps improve biosafety and biosecurity. He said that CTR programs should: (1) recognize and embrace the strengths of scientists in other countries; (2) help foster long-term relationships between individual scientists and institutions, especially with those working with EDPs in BSL-4 labs; (3) encourage joint research and development between scientists from partnering organizations; (4) create mechanisms to allow joint funding of projects by all countries involved; (5) facilitate personnel exchanges between collaborating labs; and (6) create and sustain strong biosafety and biosecurity training capabilities.
Vikram Singh, from the Center for American Progress, spoke about current and future foreign policy challenges in an increasingly multipolar world and how CTR programs can help improve the long-term national security of the U.S. He said that a lot of new technology can potentially be used as a weapon and that as this technology spreads, cooperation to reduce threats will be more
3 The U.S. Government has a “digital service” program where information technology professionals serve tours in government agencies to increase government capabilities. See the GAO Technology Transformation Services and its Presidential Innovation Fellows program.
4 See National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council. 2012. Biosecurity Challenges of the Global Expansion of High-Containment Biological Laboratories: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13315.
important than ever. He presented three paradoxes facing the United States today: (1) cooperation is more important than ever, between nations, corporations, etc., but it is more difficult and risky; (2) adversaries are our competitors and our partners; (3) active leadership from the U.S. is critical, but U.S. leadership appears to be diminishing because of competing priorities and declining resources. The U.S. needs to build back its ability to work with allies as well as potential adversaries. Singh said that CTR should focus on national security, but should also work to create, nurture, and improve relationships of trust among scientists in areas where science has implications for national security.
Derek “Dirk” Maurer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Phillip Dolliff, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Programs, spoke about their visions for the future of CTR from their respective departments. Maurer stated that CTR continues to be an effective and flexible tool for addressing WMD threats to the nation. He talked about DOD CTR’s transition from implementing programs in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to addressing chemical threats in Syria, the ability of CTR to address current threats such as North Korea, and concerns about new technologies like synthetic biology and additive manufacturing. He highlighted DOD CTR’s ongoing efforts to disrupt pathways to proliferation, including enforcement of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, improvement of the maritime domain awareness of regional partners like South Korea, use of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and addressing biological threats by securing EDPs and improving disease surveillance. CTR has more work to do to address these threats, as illustrated by the Ebola outbreak and the ongoing North Korean crisis. This mission-space is shared across the government, which helps DOD to take a more cooperative approach. He sees three focus areas for the next 10 years: (1) Emphasize the “cooperative” part of threat reduction to improve collaboration between countries and groups; (2) Enhance WMD detection through government-industry collaboration; and (3) Maintain robust capabilities to do classical CTR, such as nuclear material security and WMD elimination. Some existing WMD programs remain grave threats, so CTR should be ready to respond when the opportunity arises. He also mentioned that United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the new DOD lead for the counter-WMD mission area and that DOD is endeavoring to synchronize CTR to other global security assistance efforts like border security.
Dolliff spoke about the historical successes of CTR programs, but focused on the Department of State’s (DOS’s) work to develop a third generation of CTR programs that are more flexible and responsive. From CTR efforts in the FSU and the establishment of the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program, to their work in Iraq and Libya and the Biosecurity Engagement Program and Partnership for Nuclear Security, DOS CTR is threat driven, and focused on maximizing impacts. Dolliff emphasized the importance of working with the intelligence community and the national laboratories as well as a variety of non-government partners and organizations. He said that a third generation or “CTR 3.0” model should be “expeditionary,” referring to the ability to operate in failed states or with local partners, and “fast,” for example by using the DOS standing Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund, as was done to support the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons efforts to stop Syria’s chemical weapons use. He said that CTR should be particularly concerned about biological security, adding that the GHSA, discussed by Dr. Cameron, is the key initiative to help the U.S. advance health security around the world. He stated that the high level priorities for DOS CTR are: (1) Roll back ISIS’s chemical weapons program and work to prevent and disrupt terrorists from developing WMD; (2) Make it difficult for states like North Korea to advance their WMD ambitions by blocking proliferation pathways; and (3) Continue to build international institutions and support GHSA to advance measures to reduce biological risks.
During the discussion, both Maurer and Dolliff said that DOD and DOS CTR strategies and programs are well aligned to reduce threats to the United States, but that they can still work better together. Violent extremism—especially in the Middle East—the threat of epidemics, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents drive priorities, although threats may be completely
different in the future. DOD and DOS leaders understand that they cannot work effectively alone, so cooperation and coordination are absolutely necessary. DOD and DOS CTR do joint planning at the project level but the programs’ tools and methods of planning are not the same. To maximize impact and because CTR resources are limited, they said, it will be especially important to do more joint strategic planning across the government.
William Tobey, Harvard University and former National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, outlined the current threat environment and how CTR might be better employed to address new threats. Introducing Tobey, Andrew Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, noted that no speaker from SOCOM could attend because of a concurrent DOD meeting, but as Maurer said, they now own the military mission to synchronize CTR and need to be part of the discussion.
Tobey briefly outlined the nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, materials, technologies, and knowledge proliferation, and cooperative efforts to detect, secure, and dispose of dangerous WMD materials; but he primarily discussed nuclear terrorism. He divided this threat into three categories: the threat from a terrorist: (1) using nuclear explosives; (2) sabotaging a nuclear facility; or (3) using nuclear materials to create a “dirty bomb.” The threat that terrorists could conduct a nuclear attack remains, as terrorist groups have sought the capability on several occasions. Recent nuclear security incidents, like the discovery that an ISIS-linked employee was working at a nuclear plant in Belgium, illustrate the importance of improving the security culture5 at nuclear facilities.
Tobey also touched on the threats from state-level nuclear proliferation, the terrorist use of biological weapons, the threat from state-level biological programs, and state and non-state actors using chemical weapons. Like Dr. Fetter, he explained that a key challenge for the United States and for CTR will be to address the threat from new technologies. Novel production methods and new materials increase the potential sources of threats, heighten their severity, and make detection and verification more difficult. Rapid technological advances can also be a source of surprise—he listed additive manufacturing, process-intensive chemical production, genome editing, and cyber systems as important dual-use areas of concern for the future—but a key problem is our inability to anticipate what could become a problem
During the discussion an audience member asked how violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the possible end of U.S.-Russian arms control will affect CTR. Tobey said that the NPT is durable; it suits the security needs of the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Toby said arms control agreements should be maintained and built upon where possible but until accusations of violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are resolved, there will be no further arms control treaties between the United States and Russia. In the meantime, it is important not to lose the wealth of experience that the United States and Russia have developed over 30 years of arms control and CTR. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is involved every day with the implementation and verification of the New START nuclear arms control treaty, which is going well.
On the morning of the second day, Seth Carus, National Defense University, chaired a session on a wide range of government CTR programs. Each official on the panel discussed his or her agency’s implementation of CTR style programs, other related efforts underway, and the funding and oversight mechanisms that govern the programs. The first speaker, Jay Finch from DOD, noted that until recently DOD CTR programs have been used to contain or eliminate capabilities. Now CTR is being used more aggressively to prevent proliferation by monitoring illicit trade routes and interdicting shipments for example, by closing trade routes to North Korea. DOD is also calling on experienced CTR managers to do contingency planning to address WMD elimination in North Korea. It is clear, however, that CTR is not currently resourced to dismantle and eliminate North Korea’s vast
5 The International Atomic Energy Agency defines Nuclear Security Culture as the “assembly of characteristics, attitudes, and behaviour of individuals, organizations and institutions which serves as means to support and enhance nuclear security.” See: https://www.iaea.org/topics/safety-and-security-culture.
WMD programs if it were tasked to do so. This would be an industrial sized international elimination mission that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but CTR contains the tools to do the job if the opportunity arises.
Alexander Stolar, from the Department of State, described the role of DOS CTR and its joint work on CTR projects across the government. He elaborated on what Dolliff and others at DOS call a third generation of CTR. DOS maintains a broad array of CTR programs in many countries that he described as expeditionary, fast, flexible, and threat driven and has developed a suite of CTR tools that draw on DOS’s unique strengths to address the threat from WMD around the world.
He stressed the importance of using strategic trade and export controls and building partner-country capacity to enforce UNSC resolutions to contain the financial and material flows to North Korea that support the regime’s WMD programs. Stolar described his office’s role in advancing the GHSA as strengthening biological risk management practices worldwide. He said an important part of DOS CTR is supporting the work of other implementers by providing the diplomatic support needed to advance programs abroad. For example, DOS facilitated the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) work to establish a biological hazard emergency operations center in Jordan and helped secure legal protections that enabled DOD to destroy chemical weapons in Libya.
Hillary Carter, from the National Security Council staff, focused on how the United States uses CTR to counter biological threats from naturally occurring pathogens, the accidental release of pathogens from a laboratory or the intentional use of a biological weapon, by working to detect disease, prevent pandemics and improve biological safety and security around the world. Combating pathogens is literally a constantly evolving problem, so CTR programs must be flexible and able to evolve too. She discussed the growth of GHSA (started in 2014, now has 60-member countries) and noted the Trump Administration’s continued support, adding that a new biodefense strategy is being developed and will likely be released in 2018. She said that DOS and DOD CTR programs have distinct but complementary strengths and should continue to work together.
Elly Melamed, from the National Nuclear Security Administration, directs a program focused on global nuclear and radiological material security efforts. She said that NNSA’s work in Russia is mostly over; today NNSA partners with more than 100 countries. She described the history of NNSA efforts from the Materials Protection, Control & Accounting program in Russia and the countries of the FSU to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative and the Second Line of Defense program. She explained that as U.S. CTR implementers have begun to work outside of the FSU, they have often encountered a bandwidth problem when working with new partners; other countries simply have fewer personnel working on these issues.
Melamed suggested that the United States pay more attention to and engage with multilateral organizations, like the IAEA and Interpol. She discussed current work on sustaining deployed monitoring equipment and risk-based cyber security, as well as two new NNSA efforts: the global cesium security initiative designed to remove, secure or reduce the use of cesium radiation sources; and the nuclear smuggling detection and deterrence program, which has lately been focused on detecting nuclear material on small ships and at airports close to countries of concern.
Inger Damon, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described her work in CDC’s high consequence pathogen division, and CDC’s role in providing technical expertise, laboratory capacity, epidemiology, clinical diagnostics, disease prevention, and communications support for the GHSA program and CTR programs. She said that CDC’s disease surveillance and detection work, and efforts to address communicable diseases with other countries (e.g., Uganda, India, Georgia, DRC, and Ethiopia) are important programs that build cooperation between the United States and other countries, and are key parts of the biological threat reduction toolkit.
Lowell Schwartz, from the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) said that the findings and recommendations from the 2009 NAS report hold up very well. He talked about SFRC’s role in funding and overseeing CTR and said that today CTR programs have expanded to include more countries but have not stopped focusing on their core missions. The
key to sustaining CTR is working with the partner country towards a common goal, which keeps the partner country committed to the work over the long term. He said that it is important to try to reengage with Russia, but noted that engagement with Russia is tricky to fund: it is hard to convince Congress that the United States can work cooperatively with Russia while also chastising the Russians for their behavior. It is important to delink these problems, but that will be difficult. Building on past CTR success may be a way to do this.
During the discussion, a participant suggested that the United States take on the specific task to reduce the number of labs storing anthrax samples, noting that it could be done quickly if the U.S. government prioritizes consolidation at the international level. Panelists all noted that Congress still thinks that CTR programs are very important. However, in the current budget environment CTR funding probably will not increase, so programs will have to work creatively to address new challenges. The standard threat reduction funding model, with Congress providing baseline funding and then increasing budgets when a new threat emerges, will not change.
John Holmes, former deputy executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, chaired a session on using new tools to address the CTR mission. Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, former assistant secretary for Global Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about the role of global health and health diplomacy to improve biosecurity, biodefense, and threat reduction. Kolker said that most countries depend on their national health system to identify, track, and stop disease outbreaks, whether natural, accidental, or intentional in origin. He described the GHSA as an effort to strengthen those public health systems in other countries, noting that stronger systems are better able to detect and combat biological threats before they reach the United States. GHSA, using funding from other parts of the government, coordinated United States efforts to help the countries that seemed likely to be most vulnerable. A fundamental tension that has to be balanced when conducting biological CTR is the desire of security programs to centralize and secure pathogens and of public health programs to have access to samples for comparison and development of countermeasures. He was also concerned about new developments in biotechnology; there is a remote but nonzero threat that advances in biotechnology could lead to ways to overcome countermeasures, which needs more attention. Finally, Kolker said that it is important to fully fund CTR efforts so the programs are prepared to address threats when they emerge and to ensure support from other countries. If the United States does not financially support CTR programs, then matching commitments from other countries will unravel.
Andrew Natsios, executive professor at Texas A&M University and former administrator of USAID, spoke about what CTR can learn from the international disaster response community. Different kinds of organizations need to work together to achieve success. He said that international nongovernment organizations (NGOs), which are major donors and implementers for disaster response, can play a bigger role in CTR. He described what has worked and what has not. Natsios said that a UN system overhaul is needed to deal with pandemics, and that wealthy countries should be investing in health infrastructure in poor countries. Health systems in middle-income countries have improved, but systems in the approximately 50 most fragile failed states have not. Short-term training, he said, has been found to be ineffective as compared with long-term commitments to transform health systems. This can be done, for example, by sponsoring foreign students to obtain Ph.D.s in U.S. universities so they have the tools to return to their home countries and make improvements. He said that the natural disaster response system is not prepared to address large chemical and nuclear disasters, as demonstrated in the response to the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. Finally, Natsios noted that building successful institutions, whether for aid or security, is not easy to measure; CTR projects often have a short implementation time frame, when actual timelines for achieving results may be 10-15 years. He argued that we should stop trying to apply outcome metrics to some programs. For example, what metric do we use for writing an effective national constitution? Preventing the use of WMD requires continuous upkeep, and the benefit of specific programs may be difficult to identify or measure immediately, but that does not mean it is not important.
Lisa Costa, from PlanetRisk, Inc. spoke about the importance of using Publicly Available Information (PAI) to inform CTR and arms control programs. In the past, she said most of the information used to inform policy makers about the nuclear and other WMD programs of foreign governments was classified and augmented with a small amount of PAI. Now with more and more information available publicly we need to rethink how to evaluate the threat landscape. Due to inexpensive overhead imagery, social media data, and other information accessible via the Internet, far more relevant information is public and available. Of the five V’s of PAI—value, volume, variety, velocity, and veracity—variety is what makes PAI important and informative, and although veracity remains a challenge, it is not insurmountable. PAI should inform CTR programs, and CTR should especially focus on how to process the vast amount of PAI so policy makers can make better decisions with less reliance on vetted, classified intelligence data. Costa said that private companies are working with the government to build tools to better process the huge amount of PAI already available.
William Newcomb, Johns Hopkins University, former member of the United Nations Security Council North Korea Panel of Experts, spoke about using sanctions to counter North Korean proliferation and integrating international law enforcement into CTR programs. To be effective, nonproliferation programs should engage with the Departments of Treasury and Justice. He said that we need to encourage other countries to report smuggling to the UN Panel of Experts to counter Russian and Chinese pressure to not report sanctions violations. Sanctions can be effective but must be well tailored to get to the threat and reduce unintended impact. Focus therefore should be on targeted sanctions, he said. Comprehensive sanctions have unintended consequences, like costs imposed on vulnerable populations and increases in corruption. North Korea, using licit trade as a cover for illicit trade, ships illegal goods via containerized cargo transshipped through China or another country, even to the United States. The key, he said, is to target the procurer and the Chinese middle men moving the items into North Korea so that prosecutors can unravel or disrupt the network.
Andrew Weber introduced the final speaker, Ambassador Laura Holgate, Harvard University and former U.S. Representative to the Vienna Office of the UN and IAEA. She spoke about CTR and the 2009 NAS report and the evolution of CTR during the next 10 years and beyond. She said that CTR’s role in the destruction of WMDs and WMD facilities is probably over, but there are two caveats: First, implementers should take steps to prepare to apply CTR to North Korea, which based on past examples, is likely to be an abrupt and tenuous opening and result in efforts that do not go as planned. The second, harder-to-imagine scenario, is the large-scale nuclear disarmament of a nuclear weapons state. Future WMD problems will come from two areas: large existing stocks of material and nuclear warheads and emerging threats from new technology. Neither will be easy. It will take decades to verifiably eliminate WMD and WMD knowledge cannot be eliminated. Reducing the threats from new and emerging technologies is a new challenge but it can be managed in ways that limit inherent risks without overly limiting the inherent upsides.
Holgate introduced the notion of “Cooperative Risk Management” or CRM, as a new way to think about the concept of CTR. She described CRM as looking like what we have been doing, but allowing for the decline of U.S. led CTR and the rise of more players in the threat reduction space. For CTR to succeed in the future, programs will need to better incorporate multilateral institutions, forums, and legal and political instruments. Leaders will need to do a better job generating international political will and creating incentives for nations to improve their own behaviors, as well as generating “demand pull” for bilateral or broader cooperative projects. Corporate responsibility can be bolstered by the creation of incentives for good behavior or “virtuous circles,” in which natural profit-seeking tendencies are aligned with positive national and international security outcomes. New sources of funding, including from the private sector, will be required. Holgate argued that cultures of individual responsibility will need to be inculcated through educational institutions, professional societies, and communities of practice, and collective commitments will need to be accompanied by new levels of transparency.
The absence of risk has historically been very difficult to quantify, much less take credit for.
In the future, measuring success of risk reduction and management efforts will be even harder. Holgate recommended that we celebrate success and look at outcomes, such as capacity building, rather than measure inputs, such as level of funding. In conclusion, she said cooperative tools that were developed as part of CTR are still powerful and useful. The goal for the next 10 years should be to update and expand these cooperative approaches to maintain current capabilities and address new threats. It will take “courage and persistence” to fulfill the promises of CTR as threats and technology change.
During the discussion an audience member said that implementing CTR in North Korea, if we have the opportunity, will be comparatively easy: We know what is there and where it is more or less,6 and we can prepare for when weapons and material have to be removed and destroyed. The commentator suggested we prepare by making sure the CTR tool kit is deep, robust and ready. Another speaker noted that CTR gets more complex when you have to address threats from new technology with old CTR tools, so we should consider how CTR can adapt to better address the problems posed by new technology.
At the end of the symposium, the planning committee co-chairs David Franz and Libby Turpen presented their summary of the plenary and breakout sessions, highlighting what they considered to be key points made by individual participants. They said:
- Today, cooperation between and among governments and nongovernmental agencies and the private sector are critical parts of reducing threats to the United States. The “cooperative” part of CTR makes the concept unique and especially valuable in an increasingly interconnected world.
- It is important for CTR programs to communicate how engagement improves the security of the United States, showing explicitly, through detailed examples, how their work is done and what threats are being reduced. CTR can do a better job to “sell” its programs to policy makers by designing and using simple (outcome) metrics, but only where appropriate.
- The United States and Russia have years of experience working together on arms control and CTR programs, and these efforts have created longstanding positive relationships that could be used to renew technical cooperation and improve transparency and trust between the United States and Russia.
- CTR programs will continue to focus on reducing threats but can also support efforts that build relationships and scientific partnerships, the foundation of sustainable CTR. Scientific partnerships often lay the foundation for larger cooperation efforts and can eventually lead to more transparency between governments, creating sustainable long term security.
- Labels are important. Sometimes cooperative efforts stall because the CTR partner country thinks that the United States has deemed the partner a threat. “Global Security Engagement” or “Cooperative Risk Management” as opposed to Cooperative Threat Reduction might be a better way to describe some programs with certain countries.
- The United States can enhance the impact of CTR by creating government-industry collaborations, including flexible arrangements to more easily partner with industry and create incentives for companies to support national and international security goals.
- The United States can do a better job to engage and partner with multilateral organizations like the UN and the WHO to strengthen global and international norms against the acquisition and use of WMD.
6 Others would dispute these claims.
- It is important for the United States to maintain robust capabilities to undertake classical CTR like WMD elimination, as U.S. CTR programs and expertise would be the basis for eliminating WMD abroad if the opportunity arises. In the future, CTR capabilities can also be used to address threats from new dual-use technologies like additive manufacturing, process-intensive chemical production, genome editing and synthetic biology, drones, and cyber systems.
The co-chairs said that, in general, the conclusions of the 2009 NAS report helped CTR evolve in reach and scope. However, what will happen over the next 10 years and beyond is not predictable either geopolitically, technologically, or financially. Today, CTR remains the foundation of the U.S.’s ability to reduce the threat from WMD abroad by maintaining and providing technical capabilities to eliminate WMD programs. The relationships CTR programs create help reduce the risk and consequences of surprises and alert the government to vulnerabilities. Franz and Turpen were pleased to learn that several speakers believe CTR still enjoys broad support in Congress.
Franz said that it is useful to think about the programs implemented under CTR on a spectrum. From “harder” to “softer,” the spectrum goes from programs that discover, consolidate, and destroy dangerous materials/capabilities, to cooperation on safe storage of dangerous pathogens, building safer and sustainable labs, and improving laboratory leadership, to encouraging responsible life science research, and cooperating to improve disease surveillance and public health. Programs that are “softer” are more about building relationships and creating trust between technical counterparts than about immediately addressing WMD threats. However, long-lived cooperative relationships built around doing and discussing science are among the most important applications of CTR because they are what harder CTR programs are built on.
Franz and Turpen noted the importance of creating sustainable partnerships. Doing threat reduction right requires considering and working within the culture of the partner country, creating suitable structures with incentives and champions, and building person-to-person connections outside of the United States to address threats from countries where you cannot get access, like North Korea. Domestically, threat reduction requires interagency coordination and working better with NGOs and companies that have a global reach. A coordinated effort in which all the U.S. agencies know what the others are doing and are able to work together is the best approach.
How do we measure progress and success? This is an ongoing struggle, especially for the “softer” CTR engagement efforts. Turpen and Franz mentioned several suggestions from workshop participants. For example, to improve outcomes, it will be important for partners to agree early on what they can and cannot do together and then set achievable goals and avoid overly mechanistic measures of success. It will also be important to prioritize efforts based on strategic risks and threats and not equate dollar value with impact. Commitments by partner countries are valuable first steps, but many partner countries need help with implementation. Attempts to asses CTR’s impact should reflect the value of building trusted relationships, they said, maybe by measuring capacity building. Finally, to demonstrate the value of CTR, several participants suggested that the U.S. government and scholars better publicize examples of past CTR successes,7 in part to help maintain U.S. support and attract new partners.
DISCLAIMER: This Proceedings of a Symposium—in Brief was prepared by Benjamin Rusek as a factual summary of what occurred at the meeting. The statements made are those of the rapporteur or individual meeting participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all meeting participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
REVIEWERS: To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Symposium—in Brief was reviewed by Kavita Berger, Gryphon Scientific; Susan Koch, Independent Counsultant; and Tracy Wilson, OTH Analysis LLC. Marilyn Baker, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, served as the review coordinator.
SPONSORS: This symposium was sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School’s Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD, with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency under assistance Grant/Agreement no. N00244-16-1-0036 awarded by the NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego. The views expressed here are those of the author alone and do not represent the official policies of the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Department of Defense. The organizers would also like to thank the Arms Control Association for sponsoring a reception after the symposium.
For additional information regarding the workshop, visit http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/cisac/pga_181908.
Suggested citation: National Academy of Sciences. 2018. Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs for the Next Ten Years and Beyond: Proceedings of a Symposium—in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25209.
Policy and Global Affairs
Copyright 2018 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.