The Cable

Clinton's overshadowed nonproliferation speech

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave what was touted as a "major speech" on nonproliferation issues today at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. And while Clinton has been somewhat overshadowed in today's headlines by the clutch diplomacy of Senator John Kerry in Afghanistan and Vice President Joseph Biden's meetings with European leaders, her speech on a range of strategic issues had several interesting morsels. Here are the key sections:

On North Korea:

Within the framework of the six-party talks, we are prepared to meet bilaterally with North Korea. But North Korea's return to the negotiating table is not enough.

Current sanctions will not be relaxed until Pyongyang takes verifiable, irreversible steps toward complete denuclearization. Its leaders should be under no illusion that the United States will ever have normal, sanctions-free relations with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

On Iran:

If Iran is serious about taking practical steps to address the international community's deep concerns about its nuclear program, we will continue to engage both multilaterally and bilaterally to discuss the full range of issues that have divided Iran and the United States for too long.

The door is open to a better future for Iran. But the process of engagement cannot be open-ended. We are not prepared to talk just for the sake of talking. As President Obama noted after the October 1st meeting in Geneva, we appear to have made a constructive beginning. But that needs to be followed up by constructive actions.

In particular, prompt action is needed on implementing the plan to use Iran's own low-enriched uranium to refuel the Tehran research reactor, which is used to produce medical isotopes.

On the International Atomic Energy Agency:

Enhancing the IAEA's capabilities to verify whether states are engaging in illicit nuclear activity is essential to strengthening the nonproliferation regime. The IAEA's additional protocol, which allows for more aggressive, short-notice inspections, should be made universal through concerted efforts to persuade key holdout states to join.

The IAEA should make full use of existing verification authorities, including special inspections. But it should also be given new authorities, including the ability to investigate suspected nuclear-weapons-related activities, even when no nuclear materials are present. And if we expect the IAEA to be a bulwark of the nonproliferation regime, we must give it the resources necessary to do the job.

On nuclear negotiations with Russia:

The United States is interested in a new START agreement because it will bolster our national security. We and Russia deploy far more nuclear weapons than we need or could ever potentially use without destroying our ways of life.

Clinging to nuclear weapons in excess of our security needs does not make the United States safer. And the nuclear status quo is neither desirable nor sustainable. It gives other countries the motivation or the excuse to pursue their own nuclear options.

We are under no illusions that this START agreement will persuade Iran and North Korea to end their illicit nuclear activities; but it will demonstrate that the United States is living up to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation to work toward nuclear disarmament. In doing so, it will help convince the rest of the international community to strengthen nonproliferation controls and tighten the screws on states that flout their nonproliferation commitments.

On the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty:

A test-ban treaty that has entered into force will allow the United States and others to challenge states engaged in suspicious testing activities, including the option of calling on-site inspections to be sure that no testing occurs anywhere.

CTBT ratification would also encourage the international community to move forward with other essential nonproliferation steps. And make no mistake. Other states rightly or wrongly view American ratification of the CTBT as a sign of our commitment to the nonproliferation consensus.

We are well aware that we have our work cut out for us. The CTBT was rejected 10 years ago, and it has not been brought up since then. So we do have a lot of outreach and very intensive consultations to engage in with the Senate. I think that -- having been honored to serve in the Senate, I think every senator has a right to ask whatever questions and raise whatever concerns he or she might have.

But the fact is, we've essentially had a moratorium on testing. It's been bipartisan through these four administrations over these last 20 years. And we recognize the legitimate questions that some in the Senate have posed about how we take steps to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of our nuclear stockpile without testing. We believe we have technical answers to that and that we will be discussing those in greater depth.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Cable

Private Pakistani delegation lands in Washington

A Pakistani delegation representing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is in Washington this week to deliver its report to D.C. academics, think tankers, and officials. The mission is to inform American policymakers on the Pakistani perspective on a range of issues prominent in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, including the impact of the Kerry-Lugar aid bill, nuclear stability, and the ongoing problems of terrorism and insurgency.

The delegation is composed of several senior Pakistani policymakers and former officials, including retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a former secretary for defense production, retired Maj. Gen. Mahmud Durrani, former national security advisor and the previous ambassador to the U.S. (shown at left in 2008 with Sen. John Kerry and Pakistani Foreign Minster Shah Mehmood Qureshi), Ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan, a former envoy to India and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a lawyer representing clients before the Supreme Court of Pakistan who appeared in the A.Q. Khan case, and Ejaz Haider, op-ed editor for Pakistan's Daily Times.

Pugwash, which won the Nobel Prize in 1995, has a mission to foster dialogue in the hopes of "reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems." Toward that end, here are some excerpts of the report on Pakistani views and attitudes they are presenting around town:

On the U.S.-Pakistan relationship:

There is widespread resentment in Pakistan toward the U.S.; Pakistanis are cognizant that the lack of trust is mutual. At the root of this resentment is the U.S. role in the Afghan Jihad... There is skepticism about the way in which [the] U.S. is conducting its campaign in Afghanistan... The perception is that U.S. heavy handedness has dictated Pakistan's policy and it has often not been in Pakistan's own interests. The problems of the insurgency in Pakistan are deemed to be distinct from the corresponding problems in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants to decide itself how to deal with the insurgency in its own territory and what its priorities should be.

The U.S.' view of itself as a domestic player in [Pakistan's] internal politics, especially its perceived influence on successive Pakistani governments is not welcomed. Excessive visibility to U.S. official presence in Pakistan is received equally negatively... There is a general perception that Pakistan's portrayal in the U.S. media and popular discourse is exceptionally negative... It is believed that U.S. officials understand Pakistan's concerns but often turn a blind eye to the negative publicity Islamabad receives as a means to maintain pressure on Pakistan.

On President Obama's Af-Pak strategy:

The Af-Pak terminology is disliked and has received strong criticism across Pakistan. The Pakistani intelligentsia is not pleased with a de-hyphenation of the Indo-Pak equation and the hyphenation of the Pak-Afghan calculus. The issue is not only one of national pride; there is a genuine concern among the strategic enclave that the permanence of the threat from India has not eroded.,, There is objectively no interest for Pakistan to be fully involved in what is happening outside its borders, namely in Afghanistan.

On the Pakistani government's relationship with extremists:

Compromises with the Taliban and the militants in general are possible, provided that the end result is improvement of living conditions for the civilians. A generalized military confrontation is not the solution according to most Pakistan experts... This points to the need for effective military operations, for a distinction to be drawn between different militant outfits, and to deal with different policy measures depending on the group in question. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not the same entity and Pakistani policy makers insist on a distinction here.

On the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons:

The reality of the matter is that all nuclear weapons (irrespective of the country possessing them) are intrinsically insecure. In comparative terms, why should Pakistani nuclear weapons be more insecure than others?... Pakistani nuclear weapons are India-specific, namely they are an answer to India's nuclear arsenal. Anything like the deployment of Indian Ballistic Missile Defense systems or expansion of the Indian nuclear weapons program will destabilize the situation... The nuclear issue has to be dealt with regionally, with India taking the lead.

A perception has developed that the U.S. may prepare contingency plans to take out the Pakistani nuclear weapons. The reluctance on the part of the U.S. to deny such plans is problematic.

 FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images