Nationwide Press Membership
Thanks, Tom, for that essential set of introductory feedback and for the type phrases.
I additionally wish to thank Daryl for bringing us all collectively as we speak.
And most significantly—I wish to thank all of you for giving me the chance to simply say just a few phrases right here this morning.
60 years in the past subsequent month—in grainy, black and white video—President Kennedy addressed the nation.
He was sitting behind the identical Resolute desk that President Biden sits behind now practically day-after-day, and that I sit throughout from him practically day-after-day.
“My fellow residents,” he stated. “I converse to you tonight in a spirit of hope…Negotiations have been concluded in Moscow on a treaty to ban all nuclear exams…”
After years of continuous negotiations, or stop-and-start negotiations to be extra exact—
Years of dialogue—
Years of dedication and braveness—
Establishing the Nuclear Check Ban Treaty was an enormous second.
Not just for our personal nationwide safety. However for the safety and stability of the world.
And as this group is aware of nicely, it was one of many first steps that may assist slowly usher in an period of accountable arms management and nuclear deterrence measures.
An period the place nations may compartmentalize the problems of strategic stability, even when they couldn’t cooperate on a lot anything.
An period the place adversaries may disagree and debate throughout principally each area, however may at all times discover methods to work collectively to restrict nuclear dangers.
An period the place world leaders selected transparency even throughout occasions of rigidity—particularly throughout occasions of rigidity—as a result of what was at stake was too essential, too very important to our shared future.
That’s the basis of nuclear stability and safety that we’ve relied on for many years.
And it’s the muse that the Arms Management Affiliation has helped to uphold throughout generations.
However over the previous couple of years—that basis has begun to erode.
And as we speak, we now stand at what our President would name an “inflection level” in our nuclear stability and safety.
Some extent that calls for new methods for attaining the identical aim we’ve held for the reason that Chilly Battle: Scale back the danger of nuclear battle.
So as we speak, I’d like to put out what we’re endeavoring to do in pursuit of this.
I’ll begin with the cracks within the basis that we see—the brand new threats which might be difficult the post-Chilly Battle nuclear order.
After which I’ll stroll via how we’re attempting to adapt each our nuclear deterrence and our arms management methods to satisfy this second.
As we’ve all seen just lately, a few of the main cracks in our nuclear basis have come from Russia.
Final 12 months, Russian forces recklessly attacked and seized the Zaporizhzhya nuclear energy plant in Ukraine—the most important operational nuclear plant in Europe—with little concern for the potential catastrophic penalties of a nuclear incident.
Earlier this 12 months, President Putin unlawfully suspended Russia’s implementation of the New START Treaty that locations limits on essentially the most damaging weapons in our arsenals—the varieties that might destroy the world many occasions over.
Solely a month later, President Putin started to take steps to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
And, as all of us noticed only a few days in the past, Putin formally introduced that he’ll withdraw from the Treaty on Typical Forces in Europe—placing the ultimate nail within the coffin of an settlement that when served as a cornerstone of European safety, which Moscow started violating years in the past.
However even previous to Russia’s brutal assault in opposition to Ukraine, Putin has been destabilizing the nuclear basis our forebearers laid.
For years, he’s superior the event of harmful new nuclear capabilities, like radiation-spewing, nuclear-powered cruise missiles—all whereas modernizing and stockpiling outdated capabilities that aren’t regulated by arms management agreements—like theater-range missiles and torpedoes.
Russia’s actions have been dealing physique blows to the post-Chilly battle nuclear arms management framework.
Nevertheless it’s not simply Russia that now we have to look to, to think about the complete scope of the context we discover ourselves in as we speak with respect to nuclear safety and stability.
We’ve additionally seen a change in method from the Folks’s Republic of China.
By 2035, the PRC is on monitor to have as many as 1,500 nuclear warheads—one of many largest peacetime nuclear build-ups in historical past.
However in contrast to Russia—who’s threatening to stroll away from the negotiating desk, from the arms management agreements our international locations have relied upon for years—the PRC has to this point opted to not come to the desk for substantive dialogue on arms management.
It has declined to share the dimensions and scope of its nuclear forces, or to offer launch notifications.
And it has not proven a lot curiosity in discussions relating to the adjustments it’s making to its nuclear forces.
Merely put, now we have not but seen a willingness from the PRC to compartmentalize strategic stability from broader points within the relationship. And that compartmentalization, as I famous earlier than, has been the bedrock of nuclear safety—certainly strategic stability—for many years.
Lastly—we’re seeing growing nuclear threats from the DPRK and Iran.
Within the final 12 months alone, Kim Jung Un declared that he aimed to have quote, “the world’s strongest,” nuclear arsenal—saying plans to ramp up the event of all the pieces from tactical nukes, to ICBMs, to unmanned underwater nuclear weapons.
He introduced a sweeping new “Nuclear Forces Coverage Regulation” that may allow Pyongyang to make use of nuclear weapons first in opposition to non-nuclear states—in direct violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT.
And, he has examined extra ballistic missiles than every other interval within the DPRK’s historical past.
On Iran—after the earlier Administration’s departure from a deal that put strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear improvement, and prevented it from acquiring a nuclear weapon—Iran’s nuclear program was left unconstrained.
Because of this, Iran is now working extra superior centrifuges. It has enriched extra uranium, together with at ranges nearer to weapons grade. And it has finished so with much less worldwide monitoring of its program, than when it was beneath the strict constraints of the Joint Complete Plan of Motion.
Taken collectively, the cracks in our post-Chilly Battle nuclear basis are substantial and they’re deep.
And as we speak, we’re getting into a brand new period—one which calls for new methods and options to attain the objectives we’ve at all times had:
Stop an arms race.
Scale back the danger of misperception and escalation.
And most significantly, guarantee the security and safety of our folks—and folks world wide—from nuclear threats.
Similar objectives, new technique.
That’s the core of our method to strategic stability—one that may be boiled down to 2 most important traces of effort.
First, replace our deterrence capabilities and plans. And second, advance new arms management and threat discount measures.
These are two sides of the identical proverbial nuclear coin.
Responsibly enhancing our deterrent capabilities permits us to barter arms management from a place of energy and confidence—and new arms management helps restrict and form our adversaries’ selections on nuclear capabilities.
And so as we speak, I’d prefer to spend just a little time discussing every of those sides of the nuclear coin.
I’ll begin with the deterrence facet of the coin—the place we’re taking a two-pronged method.
First—we’re modernizing our nuclear program right here at residence.
In apply, which means changing every leg of our nuclear Triad—land-based ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines, and nuclear-capable bombers.
It means updating our nuclear command, management, and communications structure by changing growing old capabilities with subsequent technology programs.
And it means investing in our nuclear complicated and protection trade to assist be certain that now we have a responsive nuclear enterprise and a resilient base for long-term competitors.
And I wish to be clear right here—the US doesn’t want to extend our nuclear forces to outnumber the mixed complete of our rivals to be able to efficiently deter them.
We’ve been there. We’ve discovered that lesson.
Nor does the US must deploy ever-more harmful nuclear weapons to take care of deterrence.
Slightly, efficient deterrence implies that now we have a “higher” method—not a “extra” method.
It means guaranteeing that now we have the capability and capabilities obligatory to discourage—and if obligatory, defeat—main aggression in opposition to our nation, our allies, and our companions.
So to reinforce that effectiveness, we’re investing in cutting-edge non-nuclear capabilities that may assist maintain our army benefit for many years to come back.
Capabilities like conventionally-armed hypersonic missiles that may attain heavily-defended, high-value targets—in distinction to the nuclear-capable missiles of comparable form that Russia and China are creating.
And capabilities like new house and our on-line world instruments that may assist the US retain its benefit throughout each area.
Collectively, these modernization efforts will guarantee our deterrent capabilities stay safe and robust as we head into the 2030s—when the US might want to deter two near-peer nuclear powers for the primary time in its historical past.
However we are able to’t go at it alone—which leads me to the second prong of our deterrence technique: investing in and strengthening our alliances overseas.
That has been President Biden’s overriding precedence—certainly in some ways, his strategic North Star—since his very first day as President of the US.
And, as we’ve labored to additional deepen our alliances, we’ve at all times remembered that one in every of our biggest nonproliferation accomplishments of the nuclear age has been U.S. prolonged deterrence—which has reassured so lots of our companions that they don’t must develop nuclear weapons of their very own.
For instance, in April, the President reaffirmed our ironclad mutual protection treaty with the Republic of Korea—together with our prolonged deterrence dedication.
And along with President Yoon, he signed the Washington Declaration—a step that created extra mechanisms for cooperation between our two international locations—together with throughout a possible nuclear disaster—and confirmed a recommitment to our shared nonproliferation goals.
Along with our NATO Allies, we’ve been laser centered on modernizing the Alliance’s nuclear capabilities—from guaranteeing broad participation within the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent mission, to certifying our F-35 plane to have the ability to ship fashionable nuclear gravity bombs.
All of those new steps—from revitalizing our nuclear program right here at residence, to reinvigorating our alliances overseas, and all the components that fall into these two classes—are obligatory in their very own proper.
However taken collectively, they’ll assist obtain the identical strategic stability objectives we’ve at all times had.
They’ll present our adversaries and rivals that in an arms race with the US—that any arms race with the US—is counterproductive at finest, and damaging at worst.
And, they’ll assist the US negotiate arms management agreements from that place of energy and confidence that I described.
These arms management agreements are the opposite facet of the “nuclear coin”—which is what I’d like to show to subsequent.
Almost 20 years in the past—when then-Senator Biden addressed the Arms Management Affiliation—and Tom talked about President Biden’s very long-standing dedication to non-proliferation goals and his lengthy expertise in being a pacesetter on this house—he stated quote, “we should invent new approaches and foster new worldwide cooperation to satisfy altering threats.”
These phrases solely ring extra true as we speak.
And beneath the President’s management, we’re advancing three new approaches to strengthen arms management and reduce nuclear dangers on this altering nuclear age.
First—now we have acknowledged our willingness to interact in bilateral arms management discussions with Russia and with China with out preconditions.
And earlier than I leap into this—let me simply step again and say that “with out preconditions” doesn’t imply “with out accountability.”
We’ll nonetheless maintain nuclear powers accountable for reckless conduct. And we’ll nonetheless maintain our adversaries and rivals chargeable for upholding nuclear agreements.
For instance—the US will proceed to inform Russia upfront of ballistic missile launches and main strategic workouts, in keeping with pre-existing nuclear agreements.
However yesterday, we adopted lawful, proportionate, and reversible countermeasures in response to Russia’s violations of New START—together with suspending our day-to-day notifications to Russia which might be required beneath the Treaty.
These steps will assist assure that Russia doesn’t obtain advantages from a treaty they refuse to abide by, and that the precept of reciprocity—a key tenet of strategic arms management—is upheld.
It would additionally display to Russia the advantages of returning to full compliance—together with as soon as once more receiving detailed data relating to our nuclear forces—a dialog we proceed to press for instantly with Russian officers.
However, whereas claiming to droop New START, Russia has additionally publicly dedicated to stick to the Treaty’s central limits—indicating a possible willingness to proceed limiting strategic nuclear forces via 2026.
It’s in neither of our international locations’ pursuits to embark on an open-ended competitors in strategic nuclear forces—and we’re ready to stay to the central limits so long as Russia does.
And fairly than ready to resolve all of our bilateral variations—the US is able to have interaction Russia now to handle nuclear dangers and develop a post-2026 arms management framework. We’re ready to enter into these discussions.
Now—the kind of limits the US can conform to after the Treaty expires will after all be impacted by the dimensions and scale of China’s nuclear buildup.
That’s why we’re additionally prepared to interact China with out preconditions—serving to be certain that competitors is managed, and that competitors doesn’t veer into battle.
It’s our hope that among the many matters on the desk for diplomatic dialogue, Beijing will likely be prepared to incorporate substantive engagement on strategic nuclear points—which might profit the safety of each of our international locations, and the safety of the complete world.
Subsequent—the US is prepared to interact in new multilateral arms management efforts, together with via the 5 everlasting members of the UN Safety Council, the P5: America, Russia, China, the UK, and France.
We’re beneath no illusions that reaching threat discount and arms management measures in that setting will likely be simple.
However we do consider it’s attainable.
And as you all know, 4 of the 5 nuclear powers are—with some exceptions that I simply talked about—already de facto dedicated to some transparency and restraint of their nuclear insurance policies and postures.
The U.S., the UK, and France have additionally all demonstrated their commitments repeatedly to accountable conduct.
And—a few of the P5 have nuclear agreements with one another. For instance, the U.S. and Russia have a ballistic missile launch notification settlement with one another, which I discussed earlier than. So do Russia and China.
However these current agreements are restricted and piecemeal.
We will do extra.
The P5 offers a chance handle nuclear threat and arms race pressures via a mixture of dialogue, transparency, and agreements.
For instance, formalizing a missile launch notification regime throughout the P5 is a simple measure that’s merely frequent sense.
It’s a small step that may assist cut back the danger of misperception and miscalculation in occasions of disaster.
And one that might probably construct momentum towards additional measures to handle nuclear dangers and arms racing—
From sustaining a “human-in-the-loop” for command, management, and employment of nuclear weapons—
To establishing disaster communications channels among the many P5 capitals—
To committing to transparency on nuclear coverage, doctrine, and budgeting—
To establishing guardrails for managing the interaction between non-nuclear strategic capabilities and nuclear deterrence—
These are all areas the place we may take additional steps in a multilateral context, working among the many P5.
This results in my third and ultimate level—the US will step as much as assist set the norms and shore up the values of the brand new nuclear period.
We’re already making some progress, together with throughout each main multilateral physique that seeks to restrict nuclear and WMD dangers.
The Nonproliferation Treaty Evaluation Convention.
The Convention on Disarmament.
The Chemical Weapons Conference.
The Organic Weapons Conference.
Throughout all of those boards—we’re main results-based discussions.
And we’re guaranteeing that our frameworks are match for the threats we face as we speak and tomorrow.
For instance—the fielding of weapons primarily based on rising applied sciences will create new, interconnected, and unpredictable escalation pathways.
So, we’re working to ascertain new guardrails—particularly in house and our on-line world.
And naturally, with the arrival of Synthetic Intelligence, this whole image solely turns into extra complicated and difficult and requires the brand new sorts of approaches that I’ve been describing all through the speech.
The method that we’re taking a look at takes into consideration applied sciences and instruments that might complicate a possible nuclear battle—like hypersonic weapons, like AI-enabled programs.
And because the President typically says—we’re ensuring that we’re main not simply by the instance of our energy, however by the facility of our instance.
That’s why we’ve dedicated to not conduct damaging, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing—and we’re encouraging our Allies, companions, and rivals to do the identical.
And it’s why we’ve put forth proposals for accountable conduct in house and rules for using AI within the army area—each of which we’re actively selling in worldwide fora.
Let me shut with this.
60 years in the past—President Kennedy spoke to our nation within the “spirit of hope.” That’s how he put it—the spirit of hope.
Hope that we may safely handle strategic competitors.
That we’d someday construct a world freed from nuclear weapons.
That we may forge a way forward for larger peace, larger stability, and larger safety.
Not only for People—however for everybody.
At the moment—as we face new threats and as we face these cracks in our post-Chilly Battle nuclear basis—I not solely consider that we are able to discover this hope once more.
I consider that we should.
As a result of in relation to nuclear dangers, what’s at stake—for our folks, and for our world—is simply too essential, too consequential for our shared futures to not.
We’re beneath no illusions concerning the job at hand—of the exhausting work, and certain the lengthy work wanted to assist lay a brand new, stronger basis for this period.
However via new deterrence and arms management measures—one match for this age—we are able to flip this second of peril right into a second of chance.
And I look ahead to working with all of you to do exactly that—and I’m trying ahead to the dialog this morning.
Thanks very a lot for the time.