by NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the High-level NATO Conference on Arms Control and Disarmament
Thank you so much Rachel and Tacan.
And good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start by taking you back to 1979. At that time I was doing my military service in Norway as a conscript. And I remember very clearly the exercises we conducted to protect ourselves against a nuclear attack. When I would hear the nuclear alarm, I was taught to put on my jacket, my hood and my gloves to cover my skin. And to ‘duck and cover’.
In case we survived the initial blast, we actually had a brush to clear the radioactive dust as quickly as possible from our clothes. So that’s the way we prepared for a nuclear attack in Norway in 1979. We exercised again and again. Because the anxiety of a nuclear war was very real at that time.
This was when the deployment of Soviet SS20 missiles was of profound concern for all of us. That is why, at the same time, NATO took the famous “dual-track” decision. To deploy new nuclear missiles in Europe in response to the Soviet threat. While at the same time reaching out for dialogue and arms control negotiations.
As we all know, the deployment of U.S. missiles was controversial. Protests shook the political landscape across the whole of Europe. But in the end, this dual-track decision prepared the ground for the INF treaty. And when the treaty was signed in 1987, we all felt safer. And we were safer. So arms control matters. It enhances our security.
But today, we see that the global arms control architecture that has served us so well is, -eroding.
We have seen this most recently with the demise of the INF Treaty. For years, Russia has deployed intermediate-range ground-launched missiles in Europe, violating the treaty. These missiles are mobile, easy to hide, and able to reach European cities with limited warning time. Russia ignored repeated calls over several years from NATO Allies to return to compliance. No treaty can keep us safe if it is just respected by one side.
Russia’s negative record on arms control goes beyond the INF Treaty. It suspended its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty back in 2007. A treaty which all NATO Allies continue to comply with. Russia also has a record of circumventing the OSCE Vienna Document, which provides for inspections of military activities and exercises, and reduces risk of unintentional conflict. In fact, Russia has never opened an exercise for mandatory OSCE Vienna Document observation. But this is a problem that goes beyond Russia. It is not just about Russia. It is also about other players fielding nuclear weapons and advanced missile systems. North Korea and Iran for example are blatantly ignoring or breaking the global rules. And spreading dangerous missile technology around the world.
Also, the shifting global balance of power, and the rise of China, has implications for the existing arms control regime. China now has the world’s second biggest defence budget. And it is increasing the size and the sophistication of its missile arsenal.
China already has hundreds of missiles with the range that would have been prohibited by the INF treaty. And recently, it put on display an advanced intercontinental nuclear missile able to reach the United States and Europe.
A new supersonic cruise missile. And an assortment of new drones and anti-ship missiles. This shows the world how far China has come. But let me underline: China is not violating any arms control treaty. But as a major military power, it has major responsibilities. And it is time for China to participate in arms control.
Emerging technologies are also changing the game. Arms control has traditionally been about counting warheads, controlling numbers and distances. This is still relevant. But there are new threats on the field. Cyber, hypersonic glide, drones, autonomous weapon platforms, artificial intelligence and biotech. They can all be weaponised. And in general, their military use is not constrained by international rules and regulations.
This also shows that the arms control architecture is under serious stress. From Russia. From new players. And from new technologies.
So if arms control is to remain effective it needs to adapt.
I see four areas where we could act together to reflect these new realities.
We need to preserve and implement the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
We need to adapt nuclear arms control regimes to new realities.
We need to modernise the Vienna Document.
And we need to consider how to develop new rules and standards for emerging technologies, including advanced missile technology.
So first, on the NPT. NATO’s goal is a world without nuclear weapons. And the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the only way to achieve this. The fundamental bargain of the NPT remains sound: that all states will work towards general and complete disarmament – so a world without nuclear weapons. All states will work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. And all states can access the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For 50 years, the NPT has limited the spread of nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Ban treaty is not a viable substitute. The Ban treaty has no mechanism to ensure the balanced reduction of weapons. No mechanism for verification. And it undermines the NPT.
So with regimes such as North Korea that continue to seek and develop these weapons, preserving and implementing the NPT is critical.
The Review Conference next April is a major opportunity for the international community to do exactly that. We must all seize this opportunity and give political energy to our commitment under the NPT. It is a matter for the security not only of NATO Allies, but of the whole world.
Second, we must adapt the nuclear arms control regime to new realities. The INF treaty eliminated a whole category of weapons capable of carrying nuclear warheads. As a direct consequence, almost 3,000 missiles were destroyed. When the first START Treaty entered into force in 1994, the US and Russia were limited to 6,000 strategic offensive arms each. Now, under New START, they are limited to no more than 1,550 each.
These Treaties have worked. They have built up trust, promoted transparency, and cut down the number of nuclear weapons. They have made our world a safer place. We have to keep what we have built and maintain the gains made through these treaties.
In a post-INF world, NATO will do this by responding in a defensive, measured and coordinated way to the new Russian missile threat. We have seen Russian calls for a moratorium on the deployment of nuclear-armed cruise missiles in Europe. This is not a credible proposal. It disregards the reality on the ground: Russia has already deployed its new missile system, in violation of the INF Treaty.
So unless and until Russia verifiably destroys the new system, the moratorium on deployments is not a real offer.
However, and at the same time, we aspire for a constructive relationship with Russia. That’s why we keep the door open for a meaningful dialogue. To build trust. And hopefully lay the groundwork for renewed progress on arms control.
We also need to look beyond bilateral agreements between Russia and the US. We must find ways to include other countries, such as China. I am firmly convinced that China, like the rest of the world, stands to benefit from increased transparency and predictability.
It might take time to get the parties to the table. And I’m not saying that it will be easy. But it is the right thing to do. Let’s not forget that it took a decade to negotiate the NPT, and seven years for the INF treaty. And many years to get the parties to the table.
So we need to work on this because transparency and predictability are the foundations for international security.
Third, we must modernise the Vienna Document. There is more military activity in Europe than we have seen for decades. So NATO Allies and our partners have agreed on proposals for the most comprehensive modernisation package of the Vienna Document since 1994. To reduce the risk of miscalculation and accidents on land, at sea and in the air. To give greater transparency to snap exercises, by allowing snap inspections. And to tighten verification procedures that have not been modernised and improved in the last 25 years.
These proposals have just been presented to all participating states of the OSCE in Vienna. And we count on all OSCE members to engage in a constructive manner. This package that we have presented, aims to restore confidence, build mutual predictability, reduce risks, and help prevent unintentional conflict in Europe.
Fourth, we need to consider how to develop new rules and standards and apply them to the spread of emerging technologies, including advanced missile technology. Emerging technologies present challenges and opportunities. Hypersonic missiles, autonomous weapon systems and offensive cyber capabilities are being developed specifically for a military use. And these technologies can have strategic effects. Of course, we cannot count algorithms as we do warheads. But we need transparency and predictability in this area as well. For example by developing norms on the military application of certain new technologies.
At the same time, we should also be harnessing some of these technologies to conduct arms control in more effective and less intrusive ways. And improve our verification capabilities. For example, much is already being done with commercial satellite imagery to keep track of North Korean missile tests.
We also need to develop new tools to limit the spread of advanced missile technology.
So, to be concrete: we are working on two sets of proposals.
First, on how Allies can better contribute to disarmament verification, including through the use of new technologies.
And second, on how arms control can help Allies contribute to addressing the proliferation of missiles, and the spread of new missile technologies, like hypersonic glide.
NATO has a long track record of promoting arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. At the first NATO Summit in 1957, leaders stated that they would “take all necessary action” to restrict armaments while ensuring Allies’ security. And ten years later, Allies agreed to the Harmel Report.
Which highlighted the two main functions of NATO. One is to deter aggression and defend alliance territory. The other is to seek dialogue. So arms control is in NATO’s DNA.
Through the decades, the united position and collective efforts of Allies helped secure unprecedented international commitments that have kept all our nations safe. We supported the development of many bilateral, regional, and global agreements.
Allies helped to negotiate the NPT Treaty at our old Headquarters down the street. The United States worked closely with its NATO Allies on SALT I and II, INF, START I and II, and the New START Treaty.
NATO also provided the platform to negotiate, agree and implement the conventional arms control regimes —the OSCE Vienna Document, the CFE Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty.
And Allies continue to remain in full compliance with these regimes today.
These agreements have demonstrated that good implementation does create trust, mutual confidence and predictability.
So Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are tough times for arms control. But we have gone through tough times before. In the past, it took patience, determination and commitment to reach landmark agreements. NATO will and must play its part to ensure arms control remains an effective tool for our collective security – now and in the future.
NATO Allies remain firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
And by bringing together civilians and military officers, experts on nuclear and conventional, from Allied and partner countries, NATO provides a unique platform for discussions on the future of arms control.
Our aim is clear. To uphold and strengthen the global rules-based order. To avoid an arms race. And to prevent war.
Thank you so much.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, for your comments, which are always insightful. As I mentioned, I want to get into an audience Q and A. But before we do so, I’d like to take the prerogative as the moderator to ask a few questions of my own. So, I wanted to start with the story that you opened up your speech with. It was very personal, about your time doing military service in Norway and about the very real, very acute anxiety over the threat of nuclear war. So fast forward 40 years, and while many of the treaties that kerb the use of nuclear weapons remain, one of the . . . the most important ones, the INF Treaty ceased to exist three months ago. So I’d like to ask you, what long-term consequences do you think the breakdown of the INF Treaty will have for Europe, but also for, for NATO in particular? And personally, are you worried about a new arms race?
Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: First of all, I think we have to understand that the INF Treaty is just not one among many different arms control regimes or treaties. It is, for many Europeans, the most important one, because the whole development. First, the deployment of the Russian SS-20 and the NATO Cruise and Pershing missiles shaped a whole generation of young politicians in Europe. Their understanding of security and nuclear threats, the risk of war, was shaped by those deployments and those discussions in the 1970s and 80s. And I am part of that generation, and I see there are also some other people in the audience which are part of that generation. And then, of course, we were also shaped, not only by the threat and the concerns about the deployment of these new missiles, but we were also shaped by the big success of the INF Treaty.
Remember that, you know, some of those who protested against these missiles, they asked for a freeze and a reduction, and then suddenly it was no freeze, no reduction, but total elimination of all these weapons. It was better than we hoped for. And this has lasted for decades. So therefore, the INF Treaty has really served us well. It shows how arms control can really work. And it eliminated a whole category weapons, conventional and nuclear-capable. So that’s also a reason why we are so extremely disappointed when we now have seen this, the demise of this treaty caused by the Russian deployment. And we have to remember that this is not something we just discovered a year or two ago. This was an issue that was raised first by the Obama Administration several years ago, again and again and again in many high-level engagements with Russia, calling on them to come back to the Treaty. And it’s not only the United States, but it is also all other Allies agree, and many of them based on their own independent intelligence, that Russia has been and is in violation of the INF Treaty. So, the disappointment has to do with the importance of the Treaty, but also the history of the Treaty.
Well, it’s too early to say what the long-term consequences will be, because that depends on to what extent we are able to establish some new arms control regimes that will cover intermediate-range missiles. I don’t think we will have a copy of the old treaty, but of course, one of the issues I addressed in my speech is the need to strengthen and to modernise new nuclear arms control regimes. And that’s partly about, of course, covering intermediate-range missiles. But we’re also concerned about tactical or short-range missiles. And we are also concerned about all the new platforms: the hypersonic glide, the underwater drones, and all the other new platforms to deliver different kind of nuclear weapons. And to be honest, I think we should have a very pragmatic approach exactly to what kind of instruments we use. The important thing is that we maintain the achievements we made through the INF Treaty and that we also address the new challenge and the threats. And that has to include, in one way or another, the fact that we have new players on the field.
As I stated, China is not violating any treaty when they deploy intermediate-range missiles. But of course, it matters when China is deploying hundreds of missiles, which have the range that would have been prohibited by the INF Treaty, if they had been part of it. So that has effects. It’s a very clear example how the rise of China matters, because they actually now invest, deploy, develop missiles that would have been prohibited if they were part of the INF Treaty. So it’s far too early to say what will be the long-term consequences. We will work for, what should I say, avoiding a new arms race and to strengthen arms control regimes to cover the same missiles and systems that were covered by the INF Treaty.
Moderator: Thank you. So I wanted to pull on that thread a little bit more in regards to China. You mentioned in your speech that, you know, China will benefit from increased transparency and predictability and it is time to include them in conversations for . . . for new arms control treaties. I’m wondering if you think that China would agree with that statement, that it’s in their interest? And how do we actually approach China so that they do come to the . . . to the table and discuss the future of arms control with the United States, with Russia, with other players.
Jens Stoltenberg: So, today, China does not agree, meaning that they don’t agree that they should be part of this dialogue, conversation on arms control. But we have to continue to raise that issue with them. Because, the more important China becomes, the bigger their military capabilities are, the more important it is that they are part of future arms control. They are a major and growing power and therefore also have a major responsibility for future arms control.
An arms race is bad. Partly because it is dangerous, but also because it is incredibly expensive. So it is in the interest of all our nations, but of course, especially those who have nuclear weapons, to engage in arms control. The alternative is many more weapons. More weapons increases the risks, for instance, accidents, miscalculations. And even if it doesn’t lead to miscalculations, conflict and war, it is extremely expensive. So that’s reason why arms control is a very rational way to address our security concerns.
Moderator: So, one final question for me before going to the audience. Obviously, we can’t have a discussion about arms control without talking about Russia. And you were talking about how important a meaningful dialogue is. And . . . and to me, and I think probably to many people, it seems like there is absolutely no trust on both sides upon which to build that dialogue. So how do you build trust if . . . if there’s no foundation upon which to build it? And what do you see as a realistic way forward between NATO and Russia on the topic of arms control?
Jens Stoltenberg: This is not easy, but it is possible and it is possible also because we’ve done it before. And we’ve done it during the height of the Cold War. So if we’re able to make agreements with the Soviet Union, partly based on trust, but also very much based on verification. Trust is good, but verification is even better. Or something like that. So then we need both. And the difference now is, compared to the first arms control regimes, in the 60s and the 70s, is that we actually have a long track record of successful arms control. So we can get some inspiration and some motivation from the big achievements we have made.
So if you look at what we have achieved, I think that’s a great inspiration to then also address the gaps and the problems we are faced with in the future. And if they were able to do this in the 70s and the 80s, then we should be able also to do it today, and that’s the reason why I continue to be a strong supporter of arms control. And also why conferences like this is important, because this is a way to put arms control on the agenda and also to partly preserve what we have. But also then look into how can we modernise, adapt. So we are addressing all the new threats and challenges related to new technology, but also new players in the field.
Moderator: Okay, thank you. So with that, I would like to go to the audience for questions, but just a couple . . . a couple of ground rules. If we could keep the topics to what we’re discussing here today, that would be wonderful. And if you keep the questions brief and make sure they actually do indeed end with a question, that would be wonderful. So thank you, if anyone has questions. Go ahead and raise your hands, okay? Yes, sir.
Question: I’m Andrej Benedejcic, Special Envoy of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. But I’m also a former Slovenian Ambassador to the OSCE and to NATO. And Secretary General, in this connection I would really like to applaud you for what we have done in the past several years. I witnessed personally in Vienna the effect of the appointment of your representative for the OSCE, … [inaudible], who is also here with us. And last year also witnessed the establishment of the NATO Office to the OSCE, and the effect that has had on the coordination among the NATO Allies in Vienna, which otherwise is already the strongest one outside of Brussels. So in that sense, you have really been true to the NATO DNA, as you say, which is based also on the Harmel Doctrine, which includes not only deterrence and defence, but also dialogue.
At the same time, here I come to my question: I notice, also in Vienna, that sometimes this understanding is not really shared or understood by all of the Allies. It seems as if, though, there is some sort of a lack of institutional memory. In this sense, I’m really grateful to William Alberque for coming to Vienna often, for helping us to remember. But nonetheless, you know yourself that the OSCE is faced with a problem and that is finding chairmanships for the next years. I personally think that it would make sense, also from the perspective of the Harmel Doctrine, actually for Allies to step up to the challenge and to ensure that the OSCE does serve as the spearhead of a dialogue. My question, therefore, is: what can NATO Brussels do for this understanding of the Harmel Doctrine to be even more widely understood within the Alliance? Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg: Having conferences like this. That’s actually one very important way to reach out to a broader audience and to communicate with the media the message of the Harmel Report. And I mentioned that in my speech, you mentioned it, and I think also Tacan mentioned it in his introductions. And especially when times are difficult, when tensions are high, when we have seen some setbacks, it’s even more important that we focus on dialogue, arms control and how to improve the relationship between NATO and Russia. And of course, OSCE is a very important platform for doing exactly that.
And therefore, I welcome the proposal which has been put on the table to modernise the Vienna document and also what we do to make sure that we, for instance, preserve the Open Skies Treaty. I would only add one thing, it’s that: I often refer to the Harmel Report, but we just have to make sure that arms control is not something which is only, in a way, some kind of Cold War old stuff. It is extremely modern. It’s something that was important in the 60s, but perhaps even more important now, because we have even more dangerous weapons now than we had in the 60s. So arms control is not some kind of a nice history to talk about, but it’s very much about the future of this Alliance and our shared security.
Moderator: Thank you. Sir, in the back there.
Juri Rescheto [Deutsche Welle]: Thanks a lot. Juri Rescheto, I’m a correspondent the Deutsche Welle in Brussels. So you’ve already talked about this, but can you say this, that, do you think that now arms control with Russia is still possible? If we are . . . you’ve talked about demise of the INF. You’ve talked about the treaty of the conventional armed forces in Europe and Russia’s actions connected to it. So, if this arms control is still possible and if it . . . if you think that it is possible, then how? Because remember that you said there is a good track record of making agreements with the Soviet Union, but we remember that INF came into being only thanks to the pressure put by the American missiles in Europe. Thanks a lot.
Jens Stoltenberg: As I said, I think it’s possible. And that’s not only something I say, but . . . but yes, we have seen the demise of the INF Treaty and we have seen that other parts of our arms control architecture is under pressure. But we have to remember that we still have important agreements. The New START agreement is still there. We all know that it needs extension, and questions are being asked, but at least it is there now.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty is there. We all recognise that there are some challenges related to North Korea, Iran and so on. But it is, the NPT has served us well. It has limited the number of nuclear states for many decades. And the NPT is the most important tool to address, for instance, the challenges we face with the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons to new states.
So I think there are some serious concerns and we have seen some serious setbacks, but we should not talk as if everything has broken down. There are still important elements in place. We need to strengthen, maintain them, at the same time as we address the gaps, the new challenges, and then try to fix that. And I mentioned four points. Also, to strengthen the NPT, to modernise and to strengthen the nuclear arms control regime, conventional and other Vienna documents, and then, in one way or another, find ways, norms, to address new and emerging technologies.
Moderator: Other questions, from the audience? Yes, sir.
Question: Thank you, Secretary General and I . . . I’m from China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, … [inaudible]. I’ve participated in the WMD conference, and I spoke quite a lot about the trilateral negotiations. So I will not repeat, I will be very simple, question: I think Secretary General has the answer to the question on behalf of China, quite clearly, that China has no interest … [inaudible] the trilateral negotiations right now. The simple question is that I heard Secretary General mention that the bilateral negotiate— . . . agreements should go beyond . . . we should go beyond bilateral agreements and . . . to include new players, including China. So my question is that, apart from, in addition to China, who else do you have in mind to be included in future arms control negotiations? And I also want to add that we . . . I totally agree with Secretary General that arms race is in no one’s interest, and China has no interest to have arms race. Thank you, Mr Secretary General.
Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much. First of all, it’s not for me to speak on behalf of China. So, but I just said what what I know, that you have so far not, what should I say, answered ‘yes’ to the question of being part of a global nuclear arms control regime. And, of course, China has been a nuclear power for many years. But the change and the difference now - and it also makes China different from other nuclear states, except for the United States and Russia - is that you are now starting to become a major power. You are really starting to become a big military power. And with major power comes major responsibilities. You have the second largest defence budget. You recently paraded some of your new weapons: long-range weapons, strategic missiles able to reach the whole of the United States, Europe, new hypersonic weapons, and a lot of other, very advanced, weapon systems. So, that’s a national Chinese decision. But then, the bigger and stronger you become, you have the second largest defence budget in the world. You are deploying a new missile system, significant naval capabilities, modernising your ground forces. So the bigger, the more modern, the more advanced your military becomes, the more important it is that you are, in one or another, part of a conversation, dialogue about arms control. Because what you do really matters.
Then, of course, what I can do is to try to support, encourage. NATO has also sometimes been the platform for dialogue and so on. That has been mainly with, you know, in Russia, Europe, involving countries which are closer to us. But many of these agreements have not been signed by NATO, not even the majority of NATO Allies. Many of them been bilateral. The US-Soviet Union, or US-Russia, the New START was US-Russia. So I don’t envisage, in a way, NATO being a formal part of those negotiations. But what the United States has proposed - trilateral agreements -Russia, China and the United States. And that’s the three biggest powers in the world. And that’s also the reason why these three powers play and have a special role and responsibility for arms control.
Then, just to add, then there are other regimes. For instance, the Non-Proliferation Treaty covers all nuclear powers. But, but when it comes to these more strategic challenges, I think the US approach to have the three is a good approach.
Question: Luc Rivet from Sputnik and RT – the Russians. Just to say that, staying on the subject of disarmament, Germany has announced that they would propose NATO to be present in north-eastern Syria. Of course, it’s conventional weapons there. The Russians are there, too. Would it be possible to mend fences between NATO and Russia working together in peacekeeping in Syria?
Jens Stoltenberg: Well, we will have a NATO Ministerial Meeting starting tomorrow, and I know that the situation in northeast Syria will be, of course, discussed there. And we are all deeply concerned about what we have seen, because we have seen more violence, more fighting and more human suffering. But at the same time, I think it is encouraging, and at least that we have seen some steps in the right direction over the last days, starting with the joint statement between the United States and Turkey. And following that joint statement, we have seen a significant reduction in violence and some new, what should I say, steps in the right direction. So building on that, I think it is extremely important that we support all efforts to find a political, peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria.
We have seen a war, we have seen atrocities, we have seen human suffering over many years. So it’s an urgent need to find a political solution. Therefore, we strongly support the UN-led efforts to find a political solution. And we are encouraged, at least, by the steps we have seen recently in the right direction, knowing that they still have a long way to go, many difficulties.
Then, the German Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, she has put forward some ideas. I welcome that NATO Allies put forward proposals on how to make progress when it comes to finding a political, negotiated solution. I spoke with her yesterday and I expect her to go into more details when she meets Defence Ministers at the NATO meeting tomorrow. I think it would be wrong if I go into the details of her thinking about that, because I think I will leave that to her.
Moderator: Thank you. What other questions from audience do we have? Yes, sir. Go ahead. Sir, microphone.
Question: Robert van de Roer, diplomatic commentator from the Netherlands. Secretary General, you are fairly optimistic about cooperating with Russia, referring to the existing architecture on arms control. But a lot has . . . a lot has been said and written about the real intention of the Putin regime, namely dividing Europe, dividing NATO, dividing the West. What would be, from Putin’s perspective, be the interest to cooperate with NATO?
Jens Stoltenberg: I’ve always been very careful about speculating about the motives and the intentions. What we can relate to is what they actually do. And what we have seen is that they have violated an important treaty, the INF Treaty, and that has created big setbacks in our efforts to have effective arms control, the demise of the INF Treaty. But I remain faithful, or I remain convinced that, in the long run, it is possible to get arms control. I cannot tell you whether we will succeed in one year, in two years, in three years, in five years, or in ten years. But I am convinced that we will succeed. And, at least, I’m absolutely convinced that it’s possible to succeed. And I base that on at least two or three things. First, I base it on a kind of rational approach. It is in the interest of all of us to have arms control. Because the alternative is extremely expensive and dangerous. Arms control creates a world which is safer, with a much lower cost for all of us. So, at the end of the day, I think that there will be some kind of rationale in decision-making in all countries. So that’s the first reason.
The second reason is that we have made it before. If you believe that Leonid Brezhnev could have had a kind of rational approach to something, I think also that the current regime in Russia can have rational approach. So, I believe that it is in the interest.
And thirdly, I’ve been working with Russia for many years, through my years as a Norwegian politician, started as a State Secretary for Environment in 1990. I started to work in a joint Russian, actually, Soviet was it then, a Soviet-Norway Environmental Commission. And we worked on issues like, you know, destroying nuclear waste from submarines, pollution in the Murmansk area, Kola Peninsula, protecting fishing stocks and many other things. And we reached a lot of practical arrangements with them during the Cold War. So this is possible. It’s not because you have to agree with Russia on everything. It’s not because you have to think that their intentions always are the best. But, you just have to think that it is in their interest to have a safer world and to reach these agreements.
NATO’s approach to Russia is based on what we call a dual-track. We are strong. Defence, deterrence and dialogue. So if Russia will confront us, well, we are ready to respond to that. But if they will cooperate with us, we are ready to sit down. And then, it’s in one way up to Russia what they want. We are the strongest Alliance in history. We will maintain a credible deterrence and defence, but we will always be ready to sit down and improve our relationship with our neighbour. Russia is there to stay. Russia is our neighbour. And we will continue to work for arms control with Russia.
Moderator: Right, we have time for one more very quick question, if anyone has it. Yes, sir. Oh, okay, you have . . .
Question: Thank you. Sir, NATO is not a player in arms control. You alluded, some questions ago, already in your response, it is the individual nations, it is the OSCE. We have in NATO a centre for arms control and WMD and non-proliferation. And, so, if you are now presenting such a stunning idea, sir, you must have a vision how to engage in particular China and also Russia and maybe one of the important member states who seems to be reluctant to make progress in the current administration – I allude to the US, I’m sorry. And, since I share with you also the experience, when I had to cover under a plastic … [inaudible] five years earlier than you, in order to counter NBC threats. And, so, you must have a vision how to engage these partners. Have you a timetable? Have you an idea how to proceed in order to realise, to materialise your idea? Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg: Well, NATO is not a signatory to the different agreements, but NATO has played a very important role in reaching them and making them possible, because we have been a platform for coordinating NATO Allies’ positions on different agreements and positions to negotiate some of the texts and sometimes, actually, a platform to also reach agreement. And I mentioned some of the historical examples. We helped to negotiate the NPT Treaty at our old headquarters, down the street. We worked closely with the United States, back when the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks - the SALT I and the SALT II. The INF Treaty was actually the mandate that the US used in negotiation positions were discussed, consulted with NATO Allies all the time, because it was very closely linked to the NATO decision to deploy the Cruise and Pershing missiles in 1979. And also the New START was something that the US consulted closely with NATO Allies. And then we have the OSCE-agreed documents, the Vienna Document, Open Skies, the CFE. Then NATO Allies are signatories. And of course, we have been key in making that happen. So NATO has an important role to play. By convening this conference, we try to, in a way, strengthen that role as a platform for bringing actors together to create conditions for progress on arms control.
And we’re also speaking to China, as individual Allies and as an Alliance. We see great opportunities related to the rise of China, but there are also some challenges and some of them are connected to arms control. And again, I think that it’s always dangerous to look too much back. But if there’s anything we learned from, at least I learned, was that you never know when it changes. If someone had told me 1986, that we had an agreement banning all intermediate-range weapons, I would have said, ‘absolutely impossible.’ And I guess, in an audience like this, with a lot of experts and so on, ‘That will never happen.’ And they were totally wrong. So you can sometimes be very surprised when the world is changing.
So that was the case with the INF Treaty. But you can think about things like the fall of the Berlin Wall, most experts were not able to predict that, then it happened. So, yes, I agree that there are some challenges, it doesn’t look very bright exactly now. But that’s not an argument against working for arms control, it’s actually an argument for working even harder. And then, suddenly, something may happen that will make this much easier. And therefore, we need to continue our efforts to create a safer and better world with less weapons. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Secretary General.