Assessing the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review: Regional Threats Panel
March 2, 2018
REBECCA HERSMAN: All right. Well, once again, thank you very much to all of you for being here today. And just in case you are just joining us, I am Rebecca Hersman. I’m the director of the Project on Nuclear Issues here at CSIS, and we’re very pleased to welcome you to this conference on the Nuclear Posture Review and assessing its policy impacts and implications.
We had a great keynote discussion from Under Secretary Rood sort of laying out much of the administration’s case. We just had a discussion about declaratory policy and some of the new capabilities and kind of talking about pros and cons and issues on the table, and I think we have covered a lot of the deterrence theory pretty thoroughly. I’m not sure we came to conclusions, but I think we’ve covered a lot of the theoretical points.
So now we’re going to move to a discussion of, well, then what are the implications of the NPR for the regions where we’re most concerned, and what are the reactions in those regions to the NPR. So that is what we’re going to be talking about for the next bit of time.
As we do that, I just want to remind you that this session is being live streamed, and it is on the record. You, as I’ve said before, will have the chance to watch it twice if you so desire. You can always go back and review.
So, with that, let me just go ahead and introduce the speakers who are joining us for today’s panel.
First, I would like to introduce Frank Rose, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and newly at – similarly at the Brookings Institution.
FRANK ROSE: On Monday.
MS. HERSMAN: On Monday. (Laughter.) OK, so that is indeed new, but congratulations on that.
MR. ROSE: Thank you.
MS. HERSMAN: Frank served as the assistant secretary of State for Arms Control Verification and Compliance from 2014 to 2017. Prior to that, he served as the deputy assistant secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy, and he has held a number of positions in the House of Representatives and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and has had a long career.
To my far right, we welcome back Dr. Kori Schake, deputy director-general at the double-I, double-S (IISS), so this is our first chance to welcome you in your new capacity as well.
KORI SCHAKE: Thank you.
MS. HERSMAN: So congratulations to you.
Kori has held a number of policy position across government, academia, think tanks. She has worked with the military and civilian staffs at the Pentagon, at the White House, at the National Security Council, and at the State Department. She has authored a number of books, most notably her recent one called Safe Passage, which has received a great amount of attention.
They will be discussing the European side of the equation today. To my left, I have our Asia and Korea team, who will be looking at it from that perspective.
To my far left, we have Dr. Sue Mi Terry, who is a senior fellow here as part of the Korea chair here at CSIS. Before coming to CSIS she served as a senior analyst on Korean issues at the CIA. She served as the director for Korea, Japan and Oceanic Affairs at the National Security Council under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and she served as deputy national intelligence officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council.
And finally, we have Ankit Panda, who is a senior editor at The Diplomat. Ankit is an award-winning writer, analyst and researcher. He focuses on international security, geopolitics and economics. His work has appeared in a range of publications around the world, and he is a frequent participant in a range of Track Two dialogues involving Asia, Europe and North America.
So we have a terrific amount of expertise up here. I’ve asked them to first speak to Europe and then, secondly, to the North Korea-Asia perspective. They’ll talk each for about five minutes and kind of offer some of their thoughts to get it started in terms of implications for the region, reactions within the region. I’ll ask them a few questions, and then we’ll obviously open up to all of you.
So with that, I believe Frank –
MR. ROSE: Great.
MS. HERSMAN: – you drew the card to go first.
MR. ROSE: Great. Well, Rebecca, thanks so much for having me here today.
You know, in my brief remarks, I want to do three things: first, provide you my assessment of allied reactions – (audio break) – major challenge moving forward.
Truth in advertising: I can sometimes be critical of the current administration. However, in the context of the Nuclear Posture Review, I think the administration has done a good job engaging our allies and partners. And from what I understand, the 2018 NPR established a good consultation mechanism to enable allies to input in to the reviews. And furthermore, from what I have seen and heard, allies are generally happy with the review.
Though this is in the Asia Pacific region, the Japanese foreign minister said, quote, “Japan highly appreciates the latest NPR, which clearly articulates U.S. resolve to ensure the effectiveness of its deterrent commitments.”
There really hasn’t been too many public statements by senior officials in Europe on the NPR one way or the other. The only thing that I have been able to find is a negative comment from the German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel. However, I’m not sure if those comments fully reflect the German government’s view; in particular, the chancellor’s office and the Ministry of Defence.
I think when you actually read the NPR, it has very good language on extended deterrence, outlining the importance of extended deterrence, and secondly, it recommends a number of specific actions to enhance extended deterrence; for example, moving forward with the B-21 bomber and the Long Range Standoff cruise missile; introducing a new sea-launched cruise missile; enhancing the readiness and survivability of NATO’s dual-capable aircraft; and continuing to work with the allies on consultative mechanisms. Now, overall I think the NPR is good for extended deterrence broadly, but also in Europe.
The Russian reaction? Well, the Russian reaction was predictable. The rhetoric coming out of the Russian foreign ministry is just priceless. A couple of my favorite quotes include: the content of the new nuclear – new nuclear doctrine, the so-called Nuclear Posture Review released by the United States on February 2nd has provoked deep disappointment. The confrontational and anti-Russian nature of this document strikes the eye.
But what the Russian foreign ministry’s statement fails to mention is that Russia, through its violation of the INF Treaty, illegal occupation of Crimea, continued efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has really set the stage for the deterioration of the security environment. That said, I think it’s very important to continue to engage Russia in a dialogue, but the purpose of that dialogue should not be to negotiate a new arms reductions agreement, which is totally unrealistic given the current circumstances. Instead, that dialogue should be focused on the twin goals of reducing risk and sending very clear deterrent messages to Russia.
So let me conclude, though, with what I think is the big challenge with regards to the NPR and extended deterrence. While I think Trump administration senior officials that I’ve heard speak on the issue have been very measured and thoughtful in their public statements, I think there is concern with some of the statements coming out of the White House. I’m not going to cite the list. I think we all know. But make no mistake, these statements are having an impact, especially amongst European publics. And, as someone who was responsible for managing the nuclear relationships with a number of allies, I can tell you in several allies like Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, there is a very, very strong anti-nuclear feeling. And our allied governments have to work very, very closely to manage that public – those public relations, especially when it comes to issues like funding new dual-capable aircraft in support of NATO’s nuclear mission.
Furthermore, a lot of these nations are facing a lot of pressure from their publics on things like the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, and I assure you the Russians will do whatever they can to fan dissent within allied countries to make it more difficult. So it’s really important that we are mindful of this and help our allied governments manage it.
But I want to make one last point, and this is something that people forget, and that is this: the United States cannot effectively deter or defend itself against strategic threats from countries like North Korea, China and Russia without the support of our allies. And this is a real military reason. I remind people in the room that the United Kingdom and Denmark host very important early warning radars that provide warning of strategic attack against the United States. Those two radars are also vital to the missile defense of the United States – not the allies – missile defense of the United States. The Japanese government hosts two missile defense radars in Japan that support both regional missile defense but U.S. homeland missile defense. And finally, there are relay ground stations around the world that provide important warning information to the United States to protect the United States against strategic threats. So, therefore, it’s critical that we keep our allies on board with our nuclear policies.
Now let me just conclude by saying while the NPR is very good on extended deterrence – it says the right things and it actually does the right things – I think the long-term challenge is going to be balancing what the NPR says with some of the rhetoric that we’ve heard.
So let me stop there.
MS. HERSMAN: Thank you.
Kori, what are you seeing from your perspective?
MS. SCHAKE: So I think this is a Nuclear Posture Review that allies can like, that makes it easy for allies to get behind, and was crafted explicitly in that way, and I think that’s extraordinarily helpful, especially in a European context.
First the threat: Europeans have been anxious that the Trump administration isn’t taking the Russian threat seriously enough, that we didn’t react as strongly as they might have liked. Chairman Thornberry, I see, has excelled at emphasizing just how dangerous the Russians are in their meddling in our domestic debates and the invasion of Crimea.
The charge sheet against the Russians is long and is comprehensive. And we are reacting to, as the NPR points out, a dramatically deteriorating security environment that the Russians caused in Europe. And so, by placing responsibility squarely on the Russians, European allies are reassured by that. They are – this is actually comfortable and they’re happy about it, and that it’s that clear about cause and effect does help make the public case for this.
That said, I don’t think very many European defense ministries, certainly not very many European chanceries, want to have a big public conversation about nuclear deterrence. I think the hesitance with which Europeans have approached Russia’s violations of the INF Treaty suggest that they’re not confident they have enough public support to really lean forward and talk about what is existing NATO strategy, repeated in the Nuclear Posture Review, that ultimately our defense relies on nuclear deterrence. And that means ultimately our defense relies on maintaining and threatening to use nuclear weapons in defense of our territory, our people and our allies.
The second thing I noticed about the Nuclear Posture Review is I actually – we were talking earlier about how nerdy the previous panel was. I actually tallied the number of times allies or allied obligations are mentioned in this Nuclear Posture Review – 127; five in the secretary’s first two-page “Welcome to the Nuclear Posture Review” statement. They are clearly trying to reassure allies that we are not unilaterally – we are not innocent of their concerns. We are not moving in a direction that we’re not going to be able to move together in. And I think that, from an allied perspective, is the most important thing that comes out of the Nuclear Posture Review.
And a second element of allied reassurance that came through really strongly on the European count was the extent to which they had thought through the SLBM and SLC – the low-yield options in a way that wasn’t going to raise the question of stationing for allies. They did it on purpose. Europeans are really grateful they did it on purpose.
I myself, I’ve always wondered whether, if an SPD chancellor of Germany hadn’t endorsed the GLCM, the 1980s INF deployments, if even a conservative German Chancellor Kohl would have gone through with it. Nobody wants to have that conversation now, especially not when what they want is a tighter binding of us and the allies. They don’t want to have a big public conversation that’s going to bring that unglued.
The third thing I notice about it is how contingent the low-yield options are. They’re very clearly designed to incentivize the Russians back into compliance with the INF Treaty and the other treaties that they are in violation of. I thought that was quite a smart grace note. I’m a lot less concerned than Adam about what specific targets are we talking about and what stage of battle, because I thought the point made on the earlier panel that this only comes into effect if the Russians have started a war by invading NATO allies; it’s about war prevention. And I think that comes through really, really clearly, and that we are incentivizing Russia’s return.
European allies are fine with that. I don’t think the German chancellor would have much difficulty supporting anything in the Nuclear Posture Review.
MS. HERSMAN: All right, thank you.
OK. So switching gears a little bit, let’s look to a different region. I think Europe definitely and Russia certainly figured prominently, noticeably, and very up front in the Nuclear Posture Review in driving a lot of the decisions that were made there. But North Korea would definitely seem to be the crisis du jour in a more urgent/imminent sense.
So, Ankit, what’s your take? Where do we stand? And then we’ll go to Sue.
ANKIT PANDA: Sure. Thank you. So I’ll talk a bit about some of the things we witnessed in the lead-up to the NPR, and then what the NPR says and does about those developments with regard to the Korean Peninsula.
So something happened last year that strategic thinkers and nuclear strategists in the United States haven’t really had to think about since at least 1971, about 46 years; 1971 was the year that China first tested its DF5 intercontinental-range ballistic missile. That gave China the capability to deliver a thermonuclear payload to the entire continental United States, and China became the second adversary that the United States had that had that capability.
Last year, in 2017, a third adversary acquired that capability. North Korea tested the Hwasong-15 on November 29th, and that missile unambiguously allows it to range the entire United States, including the entire peninsula of Florida. It tested a high-yield nuclear device, what the U.S. intelligence community called an advance nuclear device – boosted fission, two-stage thermonuclear, we don’t know. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. What matters is that it could probably deliver a 250-kiloton warhead to any North American – or, sorry, American city.
The North Koreans have made quite a few strides last year. I’ll go through their nuclear forces really quickly. I find it helps to think about North Korea’s nuclear forces in terms of three target sets. So the first target set that I talked about has always been aspirational for them, which is the U.S. homeland. Last year they demonstrated that they had at least two systems capable of ranging parts and one ranging – capable of ranging all of the U.S. homeland.
The Hwasong-14 was the first system. They first tested that on July 4th, which, incidentally, was the same day that they broke their missile-testing moratorium in 2006. And then they tested the Hwasong-15. So both those missiles do have a capability to range the U.S. homeland. We have not seen them tested yet to a so-called minimum-energy trajectory, which shows that they’re essentially ready for credible use against targets. There are some technical limitations as to why they might not want to do that, and also some diplomatic ones.
So taking a step back now from that target set of U.S. homeland cities, the next target set that really matters for North Korea is Guam. That’s right. The tiny U.S. territory of Guam holds an outsized importance in North Korea’s targeting and thinking about how they need to deter what they see as persistent attempts by the United States to coerce them through nuclear means.
So Guam, obviously we have Andersen Air Force Base, the forward presence – Pacific Command’s bomber presence. North Korea has credibly, I think, demonstrated that they are capable of delivering a payload to Guam. Their September 14th, 2017 ballistic-missile test of the Hwasong-12, which is an intermediate-range ballistic missile based off that same engine set that we saw in the ICBMs – single-stage missile, liquid-fueled – they demonstrated that they could fly that to a range further than Guam when they flew it over Japan.
The reentry vehicle did not successfully make it down, as far as I understand. There was a bit of tumbling. It probably survived to about one kilometer. But, for all intents and purposes, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the commander of Strategic Command have said that they are operating as if North Korea now has the capability to target U.S. territory – if not Guam, then perhaps the U.S. homeland as well.
And finally, the third target set on the Korean Peninsula is where North Korea has, in some way or another, been able to deter the U.S.-South Korea alliance conventionally for a while, possibly also with biological and chemical weapons, but now with nuclear weapons as well.
We probably are dealing with now a North Korea that has standardized at least two warhead designs. One of those is a simple fission device, probably 30 to 40 kilotons. That’s the device that they tested at their fifth test. It’s supposedly standardized for deployment, with most of their short-range, medium-range and intermediate-range systems. And then we have the larger thermonuclear warhead, which is intended for delivery to the U.S. homeland.
On the Korean Peninsula, however, there were a few developments that went fairly unnoticed last year because of the ICBMs, which understandably grabbed most of the headlines. So North Korea has been converting a lot of its older Scuds that they have essentially had in their inventory since the early ’80s, late 1970s. They’ve been iterating on those, exploring the use of maneuverable reentry vehicles, that might allow them to use their short-range missiles with a nuclear configuration for soft counterforce use on the Korean Peninsula, to make warfighting for the United States and South Korea mighty difficult. And I think we’ve seen that reflected in the alliance, because last year the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise for the first time simulated warfighting in a nuclearized environment.
But very briefly, before I get to the NPR, I do want to talk about what North Korea’s strategy is with all of these systems. So North Korea has an explicit first-use strategy to deter the United States from beginning an invasion or a decapitation attack against Kim Jong-un. The first-strike approach is backed up with the ICBMs. If the United States were to ever attack North Korea, after North Korea had first initiated an attack, they say that if they detect any attempt at preemption, if they detect the U.S. moving assets, withdrawing dependents from the Korean Peninsula, that they would potentially take that as a sign of an impending invasion, use nuclear weapons. And then, to deter the United States from sustaining an invasion, they would use the ICBMs to hold the U.S. homeland at risk. And that also introduces the threat of decoupling, which I think I’ll leave for Sue to talk about a little bit.
So that’s their strategy, shortly put. And I do want to say a bit about command and control in North Korea. As far as we understand, it’s highly monolithic, highly assertive. We don’t know much about positive or negative controls for North Korean nuclear weapons. In a crisis, there are incentives for North Korea that would ensure that they devolve or pre-delegate use authority to units in the field, which makes the possibility of nuclear use on the Korean peninsula unpleasantly high. Now, the Nuclear Posture Review takes note of this.
So, you know, I do want to say a bit about China, but the Nuclear Posture Review mentions North Korea 49 times. It mentions China 47 times. I think there is a clear recognition that this new threat that emerged last year, the third adversary capable of delivering a thermonuclear weapon to the U.S. homeland, is reflected in the nuclear posture review. I think it’s positive that the Nuclear Posture Review affirms a longstanding U.S. commitment to use nuclear weapons first to defend its allies on the peninsula. That has been a bedrock of U.S. deterrence towards North Korea. And the North Korean recognize that. And I think they’ve built their strategic thinking and their capabilities in recognition of that.
Very quickly, on China, I do want to mention this, because we were talking about Asia. So I think it’s interesting that the Nuclear Posture Review introduces this lingering suspicion that, again, you know, isn’t new in the United States, that China’s effectively – China’s long-standing policy of no first use is something of a canard, cannot be relied on. China’s had this in place since 1964. Authoritative Chinese writings, People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force writings, and before that Second Artillery Corps, have consistently emphasized no first use. In 2013, China released a National Defense Strategy that didn’t mention no first use, and people had a little bit of a conniption about that. And then they late reintroduced it in 2015. And we’ve seen more recent statements.
But there is this lingering suspicion that China’s breakneck development of theater ballistic missile systems, including the DF-17, the first deployable hypersonic glide vehicle payload on a ballistic missile, uses the modified DF-16 booster. The intelligence community assesses that we’ll probably – that it’ll probably see deployment by 2020. So in combination, I think, you know, this idea that China might use nuclear weapons first does not appear to be supported. Again, I think it’s sort of similar to some of the discussions we’ve heard about escalate to deescalate.
Again, this might change. I think, you know, what we see with Chinese capabilities, especially Chinese command and control, I think makes their no first use posture quite credible. Warheads and delivery systems, as far as we know, remain de-mated in China. The warhead units cannot talk to the ballistic missile units. So the only way to put them together is if the chairman of the central military commission, Xi Jinping, gives the order. Of course, Xi Jinping is – appears to be on a trajectory to be declared emperor for life right now, so who knows what’s possible with Chinese nuclear posture in the coming days. But I think that aspect of the Nuclear Posture Review I found interesting.
And then finally one more note I’ll just say. I think China’s going to be reading the U.S. Missile Defense Review with a lot more interest than it has read the Nuclear Posture Review. I think missile defense is what keeps Chinese strategic thinkers up at night. The Chinese have ensured retaliation posture. They sleep well at night when they know that their homelands can get through to the U.S. homeland. And missile defenses worry them. They don’t believe that our missile defenses are limited. We don’t believe that their no first use posture is a no first use posture. So I’ll leave it there.
MS. HERSMAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.
So, Sue, over to you. And I think that – you know, help us understand what’s happening in the region, and especially in terms of our ROK allies. How are they seeing things?
SUE MI TERRY: Well, OK. Sure. I’ll talk about the South Korea piece a little bit. You were – like, you did amazing job just laying out the nuclear missile kind of stuff on North Korea, in a rapid pace too. Amazing.
The – so I would just shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the concerns I have. I think that might be useful. But I want to start out by saying I think the Nuclear Posture Review correctly points out that North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability, first and foremost, puts a threat – a proliferation threat – a dire, imminent proliferation threat. This is something that we’ve been working on, I think. So I’m glad that you pointed that out. And that threat obviously is more than nuclear. It’s biological and chemical weapons proliferation as well. I’m sure most of you guys read that New York Times piece just yesterday or the day before yesterday, talking about the U.N. report linking North Korea’s assistant to Assad’s chemical weapons program.
The posture – nuclear posture review also talks about the capability about North Korea being months away from completing their program, meaning capability – achieving the capability to attack mainland United States with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. Now, I think that’s an aggressive timeline, but it’s, I think, U.S. IC – it’s the intelligence community’s assessment as the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, I think, recently talked about North Korea being months away. But in terms of actual implications to the North Korean crisis, I see two notable things from the nuclear posture review.
And the first notable detail is, I’m sure, what you guys discussed first session on the sea-launched cruise missile to be developed in the next few years, and as a personal deterrent against the Kim Jong-un regime. And why it’s not explicitly linked to the North Korean crisis and it had Russia in mind, because U.S. could then place nuclear weapons on destroyers or submarines in the Sea of Japan, giving U.S. military access to lower yield nuclear warheads on the – and on the order of those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, without having to base them in South Korea. And it provides benefits and so on.
And I understand that the prompt response and secondary benefit of increased credibility and extended deterrence for our allies to dissuade Japan and South Korea feeling the need to develop their own nuclear weapons themselves. But I just want to sort of talk about the risk, just because from – I just want to talk about the North Korean perspective. Because my biggest concern when it comes to North Korea right now is potential for a spiral in escalation due to miscommunication. So what I’m really concerned about is first strike incentives, particularly on North Korea.
And I want to talk a little bit more about that, because second notable detail that I notice from the Nuclear Posture Review is, you know, when the review talks about these extreme circumstances. I’m sure it came up, about whether it’s broadened to extreme circumstances or not, when they clarified it, because they gave out these examples of extreme circumstances when the U.S. will use our nuclear weapons. But of course, the risk and the downside of that, again, is from North Korean perspective, if Kim Jong-un believes that we are about to attack North Korea, I mean, that has been my main concern, because I’ve had my interactions with North Koreans.
I’ve, for example, met with North Koreans last summer. And when we’re talking about nuclear weapons, it came up when they said, you know, North Korea is not going to use nuclear weapons, but – but, as you mentioned, if they believe an attack is coming their way, if there’s a regime change or regime decapitation, or any kind of attack that’s going to happen on North Korea, North Koreans themselves have told me, you know, we didn’t pursue nuclear weapons at this great cost, going through all this isolation, sanctions and everything else, just to perish without using them. And I believe them. It’s a little bit of a scary thought, but I came away – (laughs) – absolutely believing that.
So I am concerned about that, particularly because – and I’m not a technical person – but because of this debate about whether this low-yield sea-launch capability creates a discrimination problem, right? I’m concerned that miscalculation by North Korea could be high. And another concern that I have is, you know, Nuclear Posture Review is sort of an aspirational thing that you – I think we talked about this earlier. It’s kind of gross, but nuclear crisis occurring right now with North Korea. So how are – so I feel like there’s a little bit of a disconnect there. This is not five years down the road. This is this year.
And whether North Korea’s 90 percent done, 95 percent done, they are – and whether they’re months away from completing their program or not, it’s something that I believe is going to unfold this year – I mean, soon – just because they are very close to completing the program. And from U.S. policymakers’ perspective, this is something that we have to handle. So this is not some future issue, but it’s an issue right now. And you want to talk about a little decoupling, the problem is I think the administration’s perspective on North Korea is, what is their intent? Can we ultimately, at the end of the day, after sanctions and everything, after we pursue this pressure policy, what are we going to – what ware we ultimately prepared to do?
Are we going to live with nuclear North Korea or are we not going to live with nuclear North Korea? And I think there are those that are arguing right now in the administration that we cannot live with nuclear North Korea, for a whole host of reasons. And you talked about decoupling. One of the reasons is because we believe that North – those who – those people who believe that we cannot live with nuclear North Korea believes that nuclear – North Korea has more offensive intent to acquiring nuclear weapons. It’s not only for regime survival.
It’s not only as a – as a nuclear deterrent against the United States, but because they have a greater design of trying to decouple U.S.-South Korea alliance, trying to kick the U.S. forces off the Korean peninsula, perhaps try to achieve unification on its own terms over the long term. Because of this offensive intent, the – you know, there are those who are making this argument that we have to handle this problem. And this is why you hear administration talking about if the first phase of sanctions does not work, we have to move into the second phase, and what is that second phase?
So, again, I mean, I think this, all in all, looks good. I mean, but my concern is this is sort of a future product, and the crisis is occurring right now, so.
MS. HERSMAN: Thank you. Thank you for that.
All right. Well, there is clearly a lot on the table.
MS. SCHAKE: Can I make one point on the Korea strategy decision?
MS. HERSMAN: Please, go ahead.
MS. SCHAKE: Seems to me that the administration’s choice to emphasize the risk of intent creates a serious crisis destabilization problem because I’d be interested, Sue and Ankit, in your judgement about whether if we were genuinely going to pursue a preventative strike policy against North Korea, I’d love to know your assessment of whether the South Koreans would support it, because my guess is then –
MS. TERRY: Zero percent possibility.
MS. SCHAKE: – my guess is that at the height of the crisis our closest ally would defect. And that’s the comparison to the Europe challenge – right? – the Berlin crisis?
MS. HERSMAN: Yeah, yeah.
MS. SCHAKE: The Germans wouldn’t – weren’t willing to carry out our strategy and we had to recalibrate. And I think we are likely because of the policy the White House adopted on it, to be very much at risk if a crisis should get started, that we can’t carry the Japanese and the South Koreans with us on the policy we’re going to pursue.
MS. TERRY: I hundred percent agree.
MS. HERSMAN: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. You’re nodding.
MS. TERRY: No, I mean, there’s a zero percent possibility that the Moon Jae-in government will support any kind of preventive strike against North Korea.
MS. HERSMAN: So I want to ask a couple of questions of both sides. I’ve got a couple of ideas. But I think this has teed up, so I’m going to – I’m actually going to turn to you all for some – really my questions are about almost exactly on this issue. First question I have – and I’m actually going to ask them both, because I think you might want to think about them together – the fundamental question is, can we – should we – establish a more stable deterrence relationship with North Korea. Is it viable? Is it possible? And even if it is possible, is it a good idea? And not necessarily the same question – I’m not saying it’s desirable. I’m not suggesting, you know, we wouldn’t all prefer other alternatives. But is it achievable and is it a good idea?
Here’s my second question. It really has to do with this first strike incentive problem and the concern that we might find ourselves in a – one of these high-high situations – in other words, high for strike incentives potentially on both sides of a conflict. And what’s interesting is what makes that situation feel particularly scary – I think is the right word – they’re in a breakout phase. They’re running for the finish line. So time is short. And unlike what we’re going to be describing over here, if we don’t have decades of experience managing this dialogue and we have zero mechanisms to communicate effectively in a crisis – maybe that’s a loaded question, as in maybe I think I know what I think. But what can we do? So what can we do to be more stable and have a deterrence relationship that has a chance of reducing the risk of nuclear conflict? And related to that in the near term, how can we manage our way out of what appears to be a nearly imminent nuclear crisis?
Who wants to go first?
MR. PANDA: I can start.
MS. HERSMAN: All right.
MR. PANDA: So this is trial number three, like I said, with an adversary that has these capabilities. The first two times we managed to establish stable deterrent relationships. That persists to this day – part of the reason we haven’t – none of us have any experience fighting nuclear wars. I think, you know, we hear this, that, you know, the idea of Kim Jong-un, what does he want out of his nuclear weapons. Does he covet territory? Does he covet the unification of the peninsula on his own terms, either in the short term or the long term? Only he knows how healthy he is, how long he’ll live, what does he want to accomplish by the time he grows old in North Korea. Does he want to be the member of the Kim family to unite the country, and does he see nuclear weapons as his way to do that?
The questions that we asked, for example, when Mao acquired nuclear weapons were remarkably similar to the questions that we’re talking about now, these debates that we have about what does Kim Jong-un want. We have plenty of reasons to point – you know, point at Mao Zedong as being a(n) irascible, undeterrable individual that – we hear similar arguments being made today about Kim Jong-un. But at the end of the day, we were able to establish a stable relationship with China.
And part of that – you know, there was this idea of mutual vulnerability, that, you know, we haven’t admitted to the Chinese yet. We haven’t necessarily even admitted that to the Russians yet, if you look at the Nuclear Posture Review at least. For the North Koreans, I think what would help stabilize things, they’re very clear. So you’ve probably heard this when you’ve spoken to them. You know, they now talk about this idea of seeking a balance of power with the United States. They’re seeking the benefits of the nuclear revolution first and foremost, which is that they’re seeking security for the regime. That is, I think, the proximal goal.
And I think there are interesting debates to be had about North Korea’s coercive intentions with nuclear weapons. For example, I think last year in August, when they threatened to bracket Guam with four intermediate-range ballistic missiles unless the United States, you know, stopped its B-1 flights to the Korean Peninsula, I mean, that’s a classic example of a nuclear state using some kind of a compelling threat, right? We will do this unless you stop doing this. And obviously the United States didn’t succumb to that threat, and there’s questions about how credible that North Korean threat was. There was a lot of misstatement that North Korea had walked that threat back, when, in fact, it remains on the table to this day. It’s – all they said was Kim Jong-un would give the order if he felt the need to do that.
So all of that is to say, I mean, there are things that we can do with North Korea to make this a less dangerous situation, to reduce their incentives, first of all, for a first strike. But right now, you’re right. We’re in this breakout period, you know, maybe 18 months or two years from July 4th when you saw that first ICBM is how long it’s going to take for both sides to figure out some kind of modus vivendi around this new nuclear situation. But that’s not to say that things aren’t quite to interest right now.
MS. TERRY: I think I do believe – I’m one of those people – I do believe that North Korea has more coercive intent. It does make sense. Why wouldn’t North Korea, if they can do it, get the U.S. force – kick off the U.S. forces off the Korean Peninsula? It’s practical. If you can decouple your South Korea alliance, that’s great.
But we don’t need to let that happen. So the idea that we need to take preventive – make a preventive strike, we can’t just not – let North Korea make us leave. I mean, you know, so I don’t understand why that’s linked. I don’t understand why North – or acknowledging North Korea’s more aggressive intent is linked to therefore we have to take preventive action.
Containment deterrence did work with North Korea since the Korean War. I mean, they did sink Cheonan. They did – I mean, there are – but all in all, I think I would argue that containment and deterrence did work. And just the idea of taking a preventive strike, it’s like to massively – I think all of us would agree would have catastrophic consequences. Forget about even nuclear weapons. Just conventional artillery alone, I mean, 14,000 conventional artillery pieces within 60 seconds of Seoul. So it’s – that doesn’t – just because you acknowledge aggressive intent, I just don’t see that necessary – that we therefore have to take preventive action.
I do think our only solution – I don’t see North Korea giving up nuclear weapons. I do think the sanctions pressure is the right way to go. And I think combined with that, we have to come up with a more robust deterrence and containment strategy, including missile defense, greater alliance coordination, a trilateral U.S.-South Korea and U.S. coordination, and continue this effort. And I don’t buy this timeline that we have months to figure this out. I think we can calm ourselves and continue on this path, and North Korea – I don’t – Kim Jong-un is not suicidal. This guy is about regime survival and regime preservation, and we can just take a breather and go on with the deterrence containment strategy and have a longer-term view on things.
MS. HERSMAN: Can I just press you both on the question of controllability, this issue of there are some things we could do to improve our crisis management posture. Are there risks associated with that? Because we really have no crisis communication mechanism with them.
MS. TERRY: Yeah, yeah.
MS. HERSMAN: Could you just touch on that?
MS. TERRY: Well, I do believe we do need to – I mean, I’m not necessarily a pro- let’s negotiate with North Korea right now, particularly when they’re not willing to give up nuclear weapons. But I do think establishing some sort of hotline is important. I mean, even at the height of the Cold War I think we had that kind of communication with Soviet Union to just deescalate and be able to just deconflict and just make sure that we’re not miscommunicating. And we don’t have that really, and we have very low level with – you know, with the New York channel. But now that Ambassador (Cha ?) has left, we don’t even have replacement for him. We don’t have ambassador to South Korea. We don’t really have any kind of level of communication with North Korea. So I do think establishing that is priority number one, yeah.
MR. PANDA: Also, I mean, we heard a bit about ambiguity versus clarity. I think clarity is absolutely necessary right now. And this – I mean, this is the challenge that we’re about to face with the alliance, is that this is going to be the first mass mobilization, Foal Eagle exercise that the United States and South Korea will be conducting since North Korea introduced a thermonuclear ICBM to the peninsula. So how do you go about that without necessarily, you know, raising North Korea’s – I mean, the North Koreans are about – you know, I guarantee a month from now if you read, you know, Rodong Sinmun, you know, their state media that they’ll be, you know, foaming at the mouths about these exercises and issuing nuclear threats. You know, they’ll say that, you know, we’ll turn Washington, D.C. into a sea of fire. They may release propaganda videos. So how do you go about that without, you know, leading to some kind of deadly miscalculation?
I think the right thing for the United States to do is just to speak quite clearly. I mean, this old language that the Obama administration used, the Bush administration used, that we will use – that we will use nuclear weapons first to defend our allies but also if North Korea were to ever use nuclear weapons that there would be no question that the regime could survive – that that is the end of the North Korean regime.
So the NPR actually does reaffirm that and reaffirms that the United States is ready to hit a range of targets in North Korea. But I think that kind of language, as long as the North Koreans take that as a – as a credible posture for the United States, I think that’s likely and the way that that gets damaged is when we hear sort of confusing signals that, you know, if North Korea makes threats that there will be fire and fury.
I think that – I mean – I mean, look, for us here, I mean, we sort of know how to tell policy apart from sort of off-the-cuff presidential remarks or, potentially, tweets. For the North Koreans, I think that that’s a lot less clear. They’re used to seeing American presidents speak in a certain way and I think they take those very seriously.
So that would be my – you know, the bottom line is establish absolutely clarity from the president of the United States downwards on what our North Korea policy is and, specifically, when it comes to employing nuclear threats because the North Koreans do see the United States – you know, they do see us as nuclear coercers on their own. That’s how we’re viewed in Pyongyang, and for us to do that effectively to deter them there has to be absolute clarity.
MS. HERSMAN: All right. Thank you.
Let me turn to you all with a couple of questions as well and I’ll – they’re less related, my two questions, but I think you can kind of chew on them together. The first – no surprise – I have to ask you to talk about President Putin’s speech and the announcement of the four capabilities. But in particular, I guess I’d like your take on, you know, is this continuity or change. You know, how much continuity and change is going on on the Russia side of the equation?
Do you see this – do you think there’s anything to this being somewhat reactive to things we’ve done? Do you think it was just opportunistic to kind of take the opportunity after the NPR? You know, help us contextualize, from your perspectives, what that means. So that's very much kind of my first question.
My second question you both touched on but I think it’s important to dig into it a little bit, and that goes into what does it take to really keep our European allies on board. And, Kori, maybe a little bit more for you. I mean, it sounds like you’re hearing pretty positive messages about the NPR and its sort of – its support for the alliance.
I think I’ve heard, and a couple of others have heard, a few more warnings signs and some of those have to do with maybe the lightness of touch in the NPR on other priorities like arms control and nonproliferation and nuclear security, and the sense that those things are actually very important to those allies for helping to maintain the balance with their publics and others to kind of have – for them it’s like a yin-yang thing where they really – in my experience, they kind of need both to kind of maintain the consensus and so they’re a little worried.
So that’s sort of, like, the bad news part. The good news part, though, is I think they all feel, for the most part – what I’m hearing – it could have been so much worse. You know, there was no call for additional testing – we, you know, kind of did more of the right things in terms of not stepping away from INF. So it’s a little bit of a – little bit of a mixed bag. So maybe if you touch on that one first and then we’ll get to what do we think about what Putin had to say.
MS. SCHAKE: So I agree with the nobody should have expected to be anywhere near this good and especially where arms control is concerned, right – that they lay out the charge sheet of Russian violations. They make clear the United States is in compliance with all of our obligations.
It makes clear that it keeps the negative security guarantee. It lists in great detail the different agreements and where we stand on them. So and I didn’t see any changes in there from anything in the Obama nuclear posture review.
Elaine, please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the continuity – Europeans ought to take that as an enormous victory and the only challenge that will come, I think, is the same challenge that came with the national security strategy. It’s so sensible. It’s so reasonable. Is there any likelihood the president will actually be governed by this? And I think that’s the right question to ask in the Trump administration.
But one more –
MR. ROSE: And – yes.
MS. SCHAKE: – just one more thing, Frank, which is that it takes arms control seriously as an integral part of the nuclear undertaking and, frankly, I don’t think Europeans can ask for anything better than that, and that if the administration had gone too far, as all of you know because you guys always deal with allies as well, right – like, you never hit the Goldilocks spot. They’re never – if you’re too much on arms control they think you’re not taking their defense seriously, especially given Russian behavior and these exercises in nuclear use. So I actually think the Trump administration did a terrific job in taking allied concerns seriously and taking arms control seriously. The one place I think could be trouble – and Frank, you would know better than I – the one thing I think could be trouble is the nonproliferation treaty.
MS. HERSMAN: Yeah. That’s what I’m worried about.
MS. SCHAKE: I could see this getting tangled up.
MS. HERSMAN: Why don’t we stick on that and then we’ll come back to the Putin question because I –
MR. ROSE: Yeah. No, I think Kori did a very nice job. I mean, that’s my general assessment as well. No new administration, given this security environment, was going to begin negotiating new arms control agreements. However, as Kori notes, it is pretty good on arms control. It maintains our negative security assurance. It keeps us in the New START treaty. One of the things I was very concerned about early on is that this administration might exit the New START treaty but it keeps us in, and it continues to fund the comprehensive treaty – Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the international monitoring system and the International Data Centre, all associated with the CTBT.
Now, this administration is not going to move towards ratification of the CTBT but, quite frankly –
MS. SCHAKE: And it says that. In the posture review it says that.
MR. ROSE: Yeah. But, quite frankly, I wouldn’t expect a Republican administration to do that. But the bottom line is they’ve kept the funding. And I really take your point about how you have to look at arms control and deterrence as complementary. I think one of the reasons why arms control is in the state that it is is over the last 25 years or so we have let these two very, very important concepts diverge.
Arms control, in my view, needs to be about promoting stability, preventing miscalculation. We’ve been too focused on the reduction. So I think there is definitely a role for arms control, going forward. But if we are going to restore bipartisan consensus in the United States, we are going to have to make the argument – and proponents of arms control need to do this – that this is not necessarily about reductions.
Reductions that are in a way – done in a way that enhances deterrence and stability I think is good. But that should not be our driver. Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft had a very good piece a couple of years ago – and I think, Frank, you may have helped them – but it really talks about the importance of linking arms control objectives with our overarching security objectives.
MS. HERSMAN: Thank you.
OK. So help us know what to think about –
MR. ROSE: You want to start?
MS. SCHAKE: I think we may be flattering ourselves by suggesting that the – that the Putin sturm und drang speech was actually a reaction to the nuclear posture review. My guess is it’s probably a reaction to the coming presidential election – that he’s running on a strength and security and Russia’s back kind of platform.
So, if anything, the specific comments about a nuclear cruise missile that, you know, can, what, 50,000 miles and it’s nuclear power, all that spiffiness – that actually didn’t strike me as particularly out of – out of character, out of line. This is a continuation of a corroding weakening Russia playing a bad hand extraordinarily adroitly.
MR. ROSE: Yeah. I would just only add one point onto what Kori had to say. I mean, despite the fact that we have reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our defense policy, it’s been the exact opposite with Russia, and the analogy I like to use, if you look at Russia’s overarching strategic situation over the long term, it’s not a very good position. They are losing population. They don’t have a modern 21st century economy. They have no real allies besides Assad, but he’s not the most reliable ally. (Laughter.) Their conventional capabilities have gotten better, but they’re not on part with the United States. And then, on their southeastern flank, they have this big and expanding China. Now, I understand Russia and China have a strategic partnership, but let’s remember, that strategic partnership is about one thing – balancing American power.
So when you take this overarching strategic situation into consideration, what do the Russians have long term to maintain their security? And that is nuclear weapons. I remember at the nonproliferation treaty review conference back in 2015 I was meeting with one of my Russian colleagues. And he looked at me and he said: Frank, I fear a world without nuclear weapons. And I think he was only being half- facetious.
MS. HERSMAN: All right. So I like the idea of the reassurance. But it sounds like of the four capabilities that were announced and the whiz-bang gadgets that were described, you’re sort of – we can take it in stride?
MR. ROSE: My view is this: As long as we move forward with the modernization of our strategic nuclear deterrent, we should be able to deter any threat from Russia.
MS. SCHAKE: I completely concur with Frank.
MS. HERSMAN: Well, on that note, I’m going to open up to questions.
MR. PANDA: Can I just offer a quick –
MS. HERSMAN: A quick one, because we’ve got to get some of the audience in. Do you want to work it in?
MR. PANDA: Sure. I mean, just to offer a slightly contrarian point. I mean, a lot of these systems, what struck me about the capabilities, at least, we saw with these four systems is that each one of them, I think, brought something to the table that suggested that the Russians were worried about U.S. missile defense capabilities.
MS. HERSMAN: That’s a great point, Ankit.
MR. ROSE: I don’t disagree with that. You know, I’ve spent the majority of my career talking to the Russians on missile defense. I’ve heard every conspiracy theory. They believe it. And I very much hope that in its Missile Defense Review the administration makes it very, very clear that our missile defenses are not about Russia. From what I’ve seen to date, on the White House website, in the National Security Strategy, that is the focus of the U.S. missile defense program is to deal with threats from North Korea and potentially Iran. But there’s been some talk out there about potentially redirecting our missile defenses against Russia.
I don’t think that is a wise idea, for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, if the Russians believe that we are really moving forward with missile defenses directed against them, you can be assured they will do whatever is necessary to maintain an assured strike capability against the United States. These guys don’t do many things well, but they do know how to build advanced missiles and advanced countermeasures. So, again, that’s my recommendation to the new team. Whether they take that recommendation, we’ll have to see.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. Very good. Well, we’ve got a little bit of time to take in some questions. I’ll be heading over here. I’ll take this one on the right. I’ve got a few of you clustered over here. But the gentleman in the front row for starters, I saw that hand first. And then we’ll have one over here. We have the far side. I will ask that you please state your name and your affiliation, keep your point extremely brief, and I’ll ask those of us on the panel to not all want to answer every question as well.
OK. To you, sir, please.
Q: Thank you. Thank you. I’m Asato Sinshata (ph) from Happy Science in Japan.
According to some survey conducted by one of the biggest survey companies in Japan, nearly 40 percent of American people support the idea of accepting the nuclear weapons in North Korea. And in return, they support the idea of accepting the nuclearization of Japan and North Korea for deterrence. So what is – what is your perspective on this idea? Thank you.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. And what I might do is take a couple and we’ll see. So let’s try over here.
Q: Hello. My name is Vashlav Kosiv (ph). I’m from Russian embassy.
And a lot was said today about my country. And with a lot I may disagree. But what is the most important is that our military doctrine says – and, by the way, the president, Mr. Putin –
MS. HERSMAN: This is going to be a question, right?
Q: No, it will be very, very – not short – but very –
MS. HERSMAN: No, no, very short, because I will turn to another question. So please form to a quick question or else I’m going to turn to someone else.
Q: Yeah. Yeah. As the president underlines that it’s once again that there are only two simple scenarios when we may need nuclear arsenals. And those scenarios are 100 percent defensive. And once again, the president says is that we are not threatening anyone. And we have been told hypothetical scenarios. And with regard to Mr. Rose’s comments about Russia’s reaction to the NPR, indeed, the American document is very concerning and disappointing, especially in the part of justifying a lower threshold of use of nuclear weapons by making groundless accusation of Russia. And I would like to remind that we do not deploy – we do not have deployed tactical weapons and we do not use our militias people to use them. While United States has already tactical weapons in Europe, contrary to the NPT. Thank you very much for your attention.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. I’m actually going to – since I don’t think that will engender much response, I’m going to turn over here.
MS. SCHAKE: Other than the fact that that’s not true. (Laughter.)
MS. HERSMAN: Well, we can respond, but I want to get an actual question. (Laughter.)
Q: Hi. I’m Gilbert Brown, a nuclear engineering professor. So this is not my main subject in nuclear.
But I wonder if North Korea in particular, and in the review, non-state actors become a different kind of risk.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. All right. So I think –
Q: You know, we’re used to the mad approach to big guys with big weapons, but –
MS. HERSMAN: So that’s something that hasn’t come up, but in the last review a lot more attention to nuclear terrorism, non-state actors, somewhat else emphasized here, so we can touch on that as well in terms of both areas.
Why don’t we – in terms of the first question, why don’t I head over here and we’ll give it a quick response.
MS. TERRY: I guess the question is you said 40 percent of Americans supported North Korea being nuclear, but also South Korea and Japan going nuclear. Is that right?
MS. TERRY: Yes. So obviously even the last two years, there are – even in South Korea there are some voices that talked about bringing tactical nuclear weapons back. So one of the negative consequences of North Korea being nuclear and accepting that would be potential regional proliferation. But I think this is where extended deterrence comes in. If South Korea and Japan 100 percent believe in nuclear extended deterrence, that we have their back, I think we can mitigate that.
MS. SCHAKE: The one other point I would take from that poll, which I always think polls of American public attitudes on sophisticated international security issues aren’t particularly reliable – (laughter) – not only because 40 percent of Americans can’t put Canada on a map, but also because – I do a lot of survey research on civil-military issues. And it comes through very strongly that we are a public easily persuaded to go to war, easily persuaded to defend friends and allies that we like. And so what people say from a cold start is very often not what they will say if the president invests the time and the political capital to make the case for why we should do something.
MR. ROSE: Just responding to our colleague from the Russian embassy – (laughter) – what I would say is direct – Russia is directly responsible for the security situation we find ourselves in. Their threats to use nuclear weapons against U.S. allies. Their violation of the INF Treaty. Their illegal occupation of Ukraine. And their direct meddling in the U.S. presidential election. However – (laughter) – all that said, I think we need to maintain dialogue with the Russians on strategic issues. Not necessarily to negotiate new arms control agreements, but to, one, look for mutual ways to reduce risk. And it would help if Russia stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons on other nations. And secondly, to send very strong deterrent messages so Russia truly understands what we are trying to do and understand that we will respond to threats against the United States and our allies.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. Thank you. There was a question –
MR. PANDA: Non-state actors?
MS. SCHAKE: Yeah, non-state actors.
MR. PANDA: Yeah, just real quickly on the non-state actors issue. So North Korea, for what it’s worth, senior North Korean officials have specifically made assurances that they would never transfer a nuclear device to a non-state group. Granted, we have seen that North Korea’s – (laughter) – willing to do business with anyone and everyone for the right price. So I’m not going to say that I don’t think about that. It is a concern. We don’t have any credible evidence that they have – you know, there have been any failed kind of deals, there have been any transfers. We don’t know anything about that.
The place where I worry about that the most continues to be Pakistan. Last year, they started putting their nukes on submarines, and that brings together kind of mating issues. We’ve seen the Pakistani navy attacked by al-Qaida militants in 2014. And a recent book that came out actually, by Steve Cole, makes the argument that that frigate that was attacked in 2014 had a nuclear warhead on board. I’m not sure about that, but, you know, details like that worry me. And Pakistan is the primary situation where I see a non-state group potentially getting its hands on nuclear materials or weapons.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. Very good. I think I have time to take two quick questions. Let me see. I’m trying to see a hand. OK, I’ve got one right here.
Q: Thank you. My name is Maggie Feldman-Piltch. I’m from Unicorn Strategies.
And my question is, given that this was a better NPR than we all kind of had expected, what is one thing you would have liked to see that wasn’t in it? And what is one thing we could have done without?
MS. HERSMAN: OK. All right.
MS. SCHAKE: Fantastic question.
MS. HERSMAN: And then – OK, I’ll take one from this side over here.
Q: Hello. Alicia Dressman, independent consultant. This question is for Kori.
I want to know what indicators you use to determine European – when I say this, this is a little bit – obviously Germany isn’t all of Europe, but I’m really talking about Germany in this case – to measure their support of the NPR and its objectives. Give you just some perspective very quickly here, when we propose in a House resolution the deployment of INF missiles and looking into opening up an R&D program for that, and I was looking at the German press to see if any reaction there. I didn’t see it, right? So it doesn’t seems like there’s a lot of very active interaction with U.S. policy in German press all of the time. How then there do you determine if they’re responding positively or negatively to, say, what would come out in the NPR? Thank you.
MS. SCHAKE: All right. An excellent question. A methodological question. The answer is, talking to Germans, seeing whether they have been consulted about the policy, whether they think it’s going to be problematic for the government, whether they think there will be parliamentary reaction to it. So that was my research, based on that.
And, Maggie Caroline (sp) your fantastic question, my friend. I think the one thing I wish wasn’t in it was so much concern that North Korea crossing the nuclear threshold requires some new kind of action from us, because I think we’ve actually had the right asymmetric threat, and that it has served to deter the North Koreans for a very long time, which is that any attack on the United States or its allies will result in a military response that the North Korean leadership will not survive. I think we have been focused much too much on preventing their acquisition, rather than diminishing the political value to them of their acquisition by saying: This doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change anything about our commitment to the South Koreans. It doesn’t change anything about our commitment to Japan. It doesn’t change anything about our willingness to fight North Korea.
MS. HERSMAN: OK. Well, I think we’ve got a bit on Maggie Caroline’s (sp) question. It’s a great way to kind of wrap up the panel. So what was your answer.
MR. ROSE: I would say the declaratory policy. The Obama administration did not get everything right in their 2010 NPR. But one of the things I thought they got right was declaratory policy. I think – oh. (Comes on mic.) One of the things I do think they got right was the declaratory policy. I think by adding those additional caveats in the declaratory policy, the administration opened itself up to criticism that they really didn’t have to do – need to do. And I think as a result, they’re going to be spending a lot more time trying to explain that. So that’s the one thing where I would have preferred them to just stick with the Obama administration policy, because I think we essentially got it right.
MS. HERSMAN: OK.
MR. PANDA: Great. So –
MS. HERSMAN: You can feel free to say one of – the one good thing too. She did ask both sides of the question. (Laughter.)
MR. PANDA: Oh, that’s – yeah.
MR. ROSE: I think it looks pretty good, to be honest with you.
MR. PANDA: That’s true. I guess I agree with Kori on the North Korea point. I think, you know, the long-term strategic challenge in Asia remains China. And on that note, I guess what I would have liked to see – and, you know, this is kind of setting aside the fact that this is an NPR coming out of a Republican administration, but I think generally the idea of acknowledging mutual vulnerability – I think that matters quite a bit for China, and it matters quite a bit for stability with China, especially with Russia. That’s a different question, just given the strategic relationship. But I think acknowledging a degree of mutual vulnerability to Chinese weapons, acknowledging that missile defense, again, like China, like Russia, is for limited threats – which the NPR does say it’s for limited threats. But the upcoming MDR, there’s some questions there. So I think that’s what I would have liked to see.
I think what’s a good thing is that we got the deterrence language on North Korea right, basically. And that’s – that actually matters quite a bit in a Nuclear Posture Review, specifically released in early 2018, after we come out of this period of destabilizing language flying both ways. So that was good.
MS. TERRY: I liked the sort of listing of what makes North Korea really a threat, including the proliferation threat, and explaining that. I do agree on the declaratory thing, just because I don’t like that. I think we could have done without it, just because I think it feeds to Kim Jong-un’s paranoia and that he may, again, mistake some action from us as something that we’re going in for a full-on conflict, and that will lead to escalation. So I think we could have done without it. They are deterred, you know, so I don’t think – that was an unnecessary step.
MS. HERSMAN: All right. Very good. Well, I think, you know, the first panel sort of threw it down and said, balanced range of perspective, smart views, and truly wonky. (Laughter.) And you guys stepped up and absolutely delivered on all counts as well. So please, before we join in thanking the panelists, I just want to remind you we will take a very brief break. Not even to go outside, but just to switch things up, because we have Chairman Thornberry who’s going to be speaking to you in moments. And so we’ll do that. And, of course, we have a reception afterward that has kindly – I want to appreciate Northrop Grumman and the support they’ve given to us. So please feel free to join us at the end. You’ll have more time to ask questions with that. Join me in thanking our panelists. (Applause.)