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Chairman Menendez Opening Remarks at Nomination Hearing for Rose Gottemoeller, Frank Rose, and Adam Scheinman

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the below statement at today’s nomination hearing for Rose Gottemoeller, Frank Rose, and Adam Scheinman. 


As prepared for delivery:

“Today we have with us three experienced nonproliferation officials nominated for key international security posts. Each of these nominees is a qualified professional more than capable to assume their new role.

Should they be confirmed, they will be in the vanguard of America’s diplomatic negotiations on non-proliferation and compliance issues, and we welcome them to the Committee.

We have with us today Rose Gottemoeller, nominated to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Frank Rose to be Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, and Adam Scheinman to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation with the Rank of Ambassador.

Each has a full and clear background in nonproliferation, compliance, and verification and each is fully aware of the new threats we face -- the state and non-state actors who represent those threats, and the importance and impact of every decision they will make. They will be facing both ongoing and new issues when it comes to negotiations with Russia, chemical weapons in Syria, and the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran.

These nominees will be implementing and verifying the New START treaty which provides transparency and stability in our strategic relations with Russia. They also will be exploring the potential for further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. We know further reductions are possible because a comprehensive review of our nuclear posture has determined we can  ensure the security of America and our allies and maintain a strong and credible strategic nuclear deterrent while reducing our forces by as much as a third.

Clearly, the obvious question – and I would like to hear our panelists’ answers – is: To what extent do the Russians also support further negotiations and continued verifiable reductions?

In Syria, we’re facing the issue of ridding the regime of its chemical weapons arsenal and the details of the proposed framework for the elimination of those weapons, the verification of Syria’s compliance with provisions to destroy chemical weapons production, mixing, and filling equipment by November, and the verifiable and enforceable destruction of all of Syria’s arsenal by the middle of 2014. And I am curious to hear about the challenges we face in implementing this framework and what role each of you will play in carrying out its provisions.

In Iran, our policy is clear. We will not allow the development of nuclear weapons capability. As the President noted in his speech at the UN, the election of President Rouhani has opened up the possibility of a diplomatic approach to resolving the issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.  Despite the positive words coming out of Tehran, we know -- since the election --Iran has continued to add capabilities to its nuclear program including 2,000 centrifuges with 300 of these more advanced second generation ones.

While I support constructive engagement with Iran our policies must be based upon Iranian actions and not merely words. That is why I want to hear from our panelists how our sanctions-policies, which helped bring Iran to the negotiating table, can be further strengthened in response to Iran’s continuing march toward a nuclear capability. I’m also looking forward to hearing what requirements our panelists see as necessary for concluding an agreement with Iran.  At a minimum, shouldn’t we expect Iran to suspend its enrichment as required by UN Security Council resolutions, close the Fordow Plant, reveal the location of all of its nuclear facilities, and allow international inspections anywhere in Iran,  in order to verify that these facilities can only be used for peaceful purposes?     

In terms of North Korea, the U.S. has stated we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state – which would potentially unleash an arms race in the region and threaten our security and the security of our allies. I would like to hear from each of you what you believe we can do to prevent it, what we can do to ensure that the North Koreans return to the table, and what we must do to ensure that the North is not sharing information and becoming a dangerous source of proliferation of nuclear weapons technology.

Having said that, I know there are differences on this committee when it comes to these issues, and to these nominees. I know there are deeply held positions on both sides of the aisle as to their record and views, but regardless of our differences, I believe there are a number of things we all agree upon.  

We can all agree we face a new and more complex set of proliferation threats - the threat of terrorists getting their hands on – and or using -- nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, the danger of regional armed nuclear adversaries like North Korea and Iran using their nuclear capabilities to blackmail our partners and allies.

In response to these threats we all agree that we need a more modern and flexible nuclear enterprise and updated policies that can respond to these new threats as well as the old threats we face.

What I would say to members of the Committee is that – at the end of the day -- we may disagree on verification and compliance procedures, but we cannot disagree on the significance of the threats we face and the need to have a team in place tasked with representing our security interests at the highest levels.

This is not the time to say “no” to confirming qualified, experienced non-proliferation experts when so much is at stake in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and in negotiations with Russia -- not when we imagine the consequences of the spread of these weapons.

Having said that, since Senators Isakson and Shaheen have already made their introduction, let me introduce our other two panelists.

Frank Rose, nominated for Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance, began his career -- as I understand it -- as one of the most promising, young, Legislative Correspondents in Senator John Kerry’s office, and that promise has clearly been realized. He is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy working on arms control, defense policy, missile defense, military space policy, and conventional arms control. He has held national security staff positions in the House of Representative on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Thank you Frank, for your service to Congress and to the nation, and welcome to the Committee.

And Adam Scheinman nominated as Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation. Mr. Scheinman is Senior Advisor for Nuclear Nonproliferation in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the State Department. He has served on the White House National Security Staff, and has held many positions in government relating to Arms Control, International Security, and Nonproliferation. Thank you, Mr. Scheinman for your service and we look forward to hearing your views on the critical international security issues we face.

With that, let me turn to Senator Corker for his opening remarks."