Monday, February 2, 2009

Nonpro Positions of WMD Coordinator Gary Samore

The Center's Executive Director, John Isaacs, produced a great report on the positions of Gary Samore, who was recently tapped by President Obama to be WMD Coordinator. The text of the report is below.

Gary Samore Joining the Obama Administration as WMD Coordinator: A Look at His Issue Positions

Gary Samore has been selected by President Barack Obama to coordinate government-wide efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction proliferation. As “Nonproliferation Czar,” Samore will be a member of the National Security Council staff. His portfolio will include everything from nuclear and conventional arms control to threat reduction to nuclear terrorism.

Samore previously was employed by the Council on Foreign Relations. His professional experience includes past tours on the NSC (1995-2001) as well as positions at the State Department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Rand Corporation, and Harvard.

Below is a brief summary of some of Samore’s recently expressed views on key nuclear nonproliferation issues.


On reaffirming the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament

“The first thing the Obama administration needs to do is a very forceful statement of policy that nuclear disarmament remains the ultimate U.S. objective, even though it's not going to be achieved anytime soon.”

- Panel discussion on U.S.-Japan relations, December 2008


On providing assistance to North Korea

Washington and Seoul should coordinate some energy and economic assistance projects to North Korea in return for North Korean disarmament steps.”

- Speech on inter-Korean relations, September 2008

On normalizing relations with North Korea and signing a peace treaty

“I think the first immediate step for President Obama when he comes in is through statements and speeches to reassure the Asian countries and to warn the North Koreans that the U.S. is not going to fully normalize relations with North Korea, sign a peace treaty with North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008

On staying committed to the long, painful process of negotiations with North Korea

“I don't think we need to run the risk of precipitating a crisis with North Korea by threatening them. I think the North Koreans are willing to play ball in exchange for food and heavy fuel oil and fertilizer and so forth but in a process that's going to be torturous…We can't ignore North Korea because they'll make mischief. We can't coerce them and force them to give up their nuclear weapons. And the only alternative, I think, is a long-term disarmament process which will involve very painful, slow, incremental progress.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008

On the long-term strategy for dealing with North Korea

“At some point, I think, the North Korean regime is likely to fade and collapse. So our game is to sort of manage this process until it eventually disappears.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008


On Iran’s nuclear weapon timeline

“In my view, Iran is probably still a few years away from having a credible break out option – in terms of being confident that it could produce sufficient quantities of weapons grade material to support a small nuclear arsenal before any action could be taken to prevent it, but this a matter of political judgment, not technical certainty.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2008

On the near-term objective for engaging Iran

“The immediate objective of engaging Iran is to restore the suspension of Iran’s enrichment program in exchange for a suspension of sanctions. This ‘double suspension’ would create space for much more complicated and lengthy international negotiations on the nuclear issue and bilateral U.S.-Iranian negotiations on other issues.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2008

On involving other countries in negotiations with Iran

“Before we enter into…talks with Iran, we will need to try to reach agreement with other countries – such as Russia, China, and the European powers - that the U.S. is offering reasonable terms and that the failure to reach an agreement is Iran’s fault, in order to justify subsequent steps, such as serious sanctions or - as a last resort – military force.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2007

On when to talk to Iran, and who we should be talking to

“I don't think we can afford to wait. I think Iran is moving ahead so quickly that we should at least try to find a way to engage Iran without helping Ahmadinejad take credit for bringing the Americans to the bargaining table. And I guess the way to do that is to try to make a direct approach to the Supreme Leader, who is, after all, the most important figure in terms of making decisions on foreign and defense policy. So I think, just tactically, it would make sense to try to have a representative of President Obama meet with a representative of the Supreme Leader and see if they could begin a dialogue.”

- Panel discussion on the Middle East, January 2009

On how a military strike against Iran would be perceived by the international community

“I would argue that the use of military force in that kind of scenario where Iran is detected trying to make a breakout, where they've expelled the inspectors or where we learn that they're producing weapons-grade uranium, I think that's relatively easy to justify to an international audience…That's not to say the use of military force is necessarily a wise thing to do, but it's much easier to justify under those circumstances.”

- Panel discussion on the Middle East, December 2008

On effectively communicating the threat of attack to Iran

“We also want the Iranians to believe that if they actually try to make nuclear weapons, or if they build secret facilities that we detect, they run the risk of being attacked.”

- Panel discussion on Iran, September 2008


J. said...

You've just convinced me that I don't want to work for him. Little too hawkish for my temperment. Did you happen to come across any links to any chem-bio arms control issues?

Jeff Lindemyer said...

I'm not sure if John came across any statements from Samore on bio-chem issues, but assume that he would have included them had they crossed his path.

Anonymous said...

All the newpaper articles, speeches, etc., provide helpful hints. However, how soon until the Obama Administration produces a National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction?