On June 4, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Joan O’Hara, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President. Ms. O’Hara discussed the National Security Strategy, the upcoming summit between the U.S. and North Korea and the role of trade in foreign policy.
Joan O’Hara joined the OVP NSA as Deputy National Security Advisor in February 2017, and served as Acting National Security Advisor from September 2017 through April 2018.
Prior to joining the Administration, Joan served as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Majority Staff. As General Counsel, Joan provided legal advice to the Committee Chairman on national security matters, and played a central role in developing the Committee’s policy positions and legislative agenda. Working closely with House Leadership, Members of Congress, interagency principals, and private sector stakeholders, she shepherded bills through the legislative process from drafting to passage into law.
Before entering law, Joan enjoyed more than a decade of experience as an elite athlete and award-winning NCAA Division I Head Coach in the sport of Rowing. As a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California, Joan trained with the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team and was United States National Champion in the Single Sculls and Quadruple Sculls.
Joan holds a B.A. from Loyola University, an M.A. from San Diego State University, and a J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. She hails from Long Island, New York.
On May 22, the United States Institute of Peace’s Senior Expert on North Korea, Frank Aum and the Senior Research Fellow on Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation, Bruce Klingner discussed the available options for President Trump at a US-North Korea Summit
On Thursday, February 2nd Partnership for a Secure America held a roundtable dinner discussion for a select group of Congressional staff to discuss the results of PSA’s ongoing work with the Arms Control Association to build bipartisan engagement and restore Congressional leadership on nuclear security.
Washington, DC – Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) is pleased to announce a new grant award from the MacArthur Foundation in support of an innovative bipartisan campaign to engage Congress on evolving nuclear security challenges around the world. This will be a joint program between PSA and the Arms Control Association (ACA). The award is part of a recent collaboration between the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) and the MacArthur Foundation to reduce nuclear risk through innovative and solutions-oriented approaches.
Partnership for a Secure America was selected along with 10 other grant recipients from a pool of 83 proposals.
This project seeks to improve Congressional interest and knowledge on the issue of nuclear materials security, in response to uncertain international cooperation following the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit last year. A key goal of the initiative is to catalyze enduring bipartisan commitment to this critical, yet increasingly-overlooked global threat.
“We are honored to receive this award from the MacArthur Foundation in support of PSA’s essential bipartisan work in Washington, DC,” said Nathan Sermonis, PSA Executive Director. “Capitol Hill has a crucial role to play in the nuclear security field, and we look forward to advancing bipartisan engagement among members of Congress and staff.”
In 2016, with the Nuclear Security Summit process coming to a close, Carnegie Corporation and MacArthur recognized that the progress started through the Summits remained fragile and much work was left to be done. The two foundations made a commitment – a “gift basket” pledge, in Summit parlance – to invest up to $25 million over two years “to secure nuclear materials and reduce the threat they pose.” This funding has gone toward nongovernmental efforts that provide new ideas; create opportunities for governments, industry, and civil society to collaborate; and hold stakeholders accountable.
More information about PSA’s work in bipartisanship, foreign policy, and national security can be found on our website.
On Thursday, June 22nd Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss the growing North Korea crisis. The discussion focused on the current state of legislative activity seeking to address the crisis, and potential opportunities for collaboration on new approaches.
2017 has seen the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) test 24 individual ballistic missiles, including short range, medium range, and submarine launched varieties. This is a continuation of the pattern of aggressive missile testing commenced by Kim Jong-un in 2012. DPRK has conducted 6 nuclear test detonations since 2006; the most recent test (held in September 2017) demonstrated a yield of over 140 kilotons, and is generally agreed to confirm DPRK’s development of thermonuclear capabilities. Current projections indicate that US military assets in Guam, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are within striking distance of DPRK’s missiles, as well as Tokyo and Seoul – which together contain some 23 million citizens. In the months following this event, North Korea has performed several successful missile tests which place American cities from Los Angeles to Chicago within reach of their nuclear weapons.
Washington, DC – Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) Advisory Board members William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense, and Richard Lugar, former Senator (R-IN), recently spoke at the Hoover Institution on the future of North Korea, suggesting proposals on how to approach the North Korean threat. The PSA Advisory Board members joined Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar and Director of Japan Studies at AEI, on the bipartisan panel. The panelists agreed that Kim Jong Un is a rational and successful leader who will not attack unprovoked. They also suggested that this rationality will allow the United States to take a diplomatic approach to North Korea. Diplomacy requires cooperation between South Korea, Japan, Russia, and, most importantly, China, which will be the greatest challenge in this approach.
First, the panelists discussed the Kim regime, agreeing on Kim’s rationality and success as a leader. Perry, specifically, warned against calling Kim Jong Un ‘crazy’ and ‘irrational.’ Michael Auslin supported this claim, noting Kim’s successes in stabilizing the economy, developing new technology and weaponry, and securing the future of the regime more so than in the past. The panelists agreed that Kim’s main objective is to secure his regime’s power, which indicates that Kim is rational and understands that an unprovoked attack would be suicidal for both his regime and North Korea.
Coming to a consensus on the rationality of the Kim regime, the panelists noted that the current conditions are ideal for a diplomatic strategy. Perry noted that military action can no longer eliminate the nuclear program due to mobile missiles and secrecy within the country. He suggested that the President should appoint a special envoy to meet with North Korea, but proposed that the ideal diplomatic package must include China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Lugar suggested that the first steps in reaching diplomatic negotiations should be weakening the regime through economic means and helping North Korean citizens become better informed, noting that a better informed public would open up opportunities to work together in ways different from diplomatic negotiations. When questioned about Dennis Rodman’s role in diplomacy, Lugar joked that Rodman’s unlikely friendship could be considered this era’s ‘ping-pong diplomacy.’
The panelists agreed that one of the greatest challenges with diplomacy would be finding common ground with the various countries in the region, specifically China. Lugar compared the challenging nature of future negotiations with the Kim regime to negotiations in the past between the United States and the Soviet Union. Auslin highlighted that the United States must work harder to understand the different goals, perspectives, and capabilities of the different countries, but suggested that they can likely find common ground on nuclear nonproliferation. Perry, however, warned that the influence of the United States may be weakening as a result of our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as it will allow China to take on a more dominant role within the region.
On March 22nd, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an experts briefing on how the IAEA can enhance its activities in Nuclear Security and Technical Cooperation. Speakers included David Waller, Former Deputy Director General, IAEA and James Casterton, Former Director, International Safeguards Division, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This off-the-record briefing focused on the findings of a recent report coordinated by PSA and conducted by former ambassadors to and senior officials of the IAEA reflecting their analysis and diverse views of the world’s deadliest materials, future scenarios, and policy recommendations.
We believe that nuclear issues did not lose their relevance when the Cold War ended. Families no longer construct fallout shelters in their backyards, but the United States still grapples with the challenges of protecting nuclear material and facilities from terrorists, and preventing more states from joining the nuclear club.
Although officials with nuclear–related experience from the Cold War remain in government and think tanks, they are retiring at a growing rate, and millennials will eventually replace them. We at PSA worry that millennials are insufficiently focused on or fully conversant with nuclear issues. Based on conversations with experts inside government and out, we know we are not alone. While other global security challenges may seem more pressing, all Americans must remain mindful that more than 15,000 nuclear weapons remain around the world, most of them more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Grappling with these challenges will be a task for all generations, but we need to address them now. To encourage Americans, and particularly millennials, to think more about these security issues, we are proud to announce the release of our newest video “15,000 Ways to End the World”. Please enjoy watching it, and pass it along to your peers, colleagues, friends, and family.
This video, made with the generous support of Outrider Foundation, is one tool to help achieve a better-informed America, and alert the millennial generation to be cognizant of important national security issues.
Over the coming weeks, PSA will populate this space with more resources that you can use to learn more about nuclear policy issues.