FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of the United States Delegation, let me add my voice to those delegations that have congratulated you on your selection to chair this year’s important Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee meeting, and assure you of our Delegation’s full cooperation in ensuring its success. Before proceeding, I wish to read a message from U.S. President Barack Obama.
I am pleased to send my best wishes for a successful meeting to all those gathered here today.
One month ago in Prague, I reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As I said then, the United States believes that the NPT’s framework is sound: countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can have access to peaceful nuclear energy.
While we agree on this framework, we must strengthen the NPT to deal effectively with the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism. Action is needed to improve verification and compliance with the NPT and to foster the responsible and widest possible use of nuclear energy by all states.
To seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons, in Prague, I committed the United States to take a number of initial steps in this direction. Through cooperation and shared understanding, I am hopeful that we will strengthen the pillars of the NPT and restore confidence in its credibility and effectiveness.
I recognize that differences are inevitable and that NPT parties will not always view each element of the treaty in the same way. But we must define ourselves not by our differences, but by our readiness to pursue dialogue and hard work to ensure the NPT continues to make an enduring contribution to international peace and security.
Again, please accept my thanks for your hard work on building a better, more secure future and my best wishes for a successful meeting.
I would add that the United States will seek a review process that reflects a balance in emphasis on these pillars. I would now like to address each pillar in turn.
Mr. Chairman, allow me to elaborate on the concrete steps toward disarmament and the goals of the NPT’s Article VI outlined by President Obama in Prague. First, the United States and Russia will negotiate a new agreement to replace the strategic arms reduction treaty, which expires in just six months from now. The President said in Prague that: “We will seek a new agreement by the end of the year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold…. This will set the stage for further cuts, and we will seek to include all nuclear weapon states in this endeavor.”
President Obama and Russian President Medvedev have instructed that the new agreement achieve reductions lower than those in existing arms control agreements, and that the new agreement should include effective verification measures drawn from our experience in implementing START. The Presidents have directed that the talks begin immediately, and further charged their negotiators to report, by July, on their progress in working out a new agreement.
Mr. Chairman, I head the American negotiating team in my capacity as Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. My Russian counterpart and I held an initial meeting in Rome on April 24th, and we plan to reconvene in Moscow after this PrepCom concludes. I pledge my best efforts and those of the other American negotiators to meet the follow-on START goals set by Presidents Obama and Medvedev.
Mr. Chairman, President Obama confirmed in Prague that the United States will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). We will also launch a diplomatic effort to bring on board the other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force.
President Obama also said that the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons – a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. Such a treaty would not only help fulfill our NPT Article VI commitments, but it also could help avoid destabilizing arms races in regions such as South Asia and, by limiting the amount of fissile material worldwide, could facilitate the task of securing such weapons-usable materials against theft or seizure by terrorist groups.
The negotiation of a verifiable FMCT is the top U.S. priority at the Conference on Disarmament. The CD has been unable to achieve a consensus on beginning negotiations to end the production of weapons-grade materials dedicated to use in nuclear weapons for far too long, and it is time to move forward. The United States hopes that its renewed flexibility on this issue will enable negotiations to start soon in Geneva.
Pending the successful negotiation and entry into force of an FMCT, the United States reaffirms our decades-long unilateral moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. We call on all other governments, especially the other nuclear weapon states, publicly to declare or reaffirm their intention not to produce further fissile material for weapons. Similarly, until CTBT enters into force, the United States will continue our nearly two-decade long moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. We call on all other governments publicly to declare or reaffirm their intention not to test.
Turning to nonproliferation, Mr. Chairman, our Delegation would like to note how important stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is to giving the nuclear weapon states confidence that further reductions in these weapons can be made without undermining international peace and security. Partly for this reason, it is critical that NPT Parties comply fully with their Treaty obligations. To this end, as President Obama said in Prague, “we need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections.”
Much of this increase in resources and authority needs to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose system of safeguards is so vital in verifying compliance with the NPT’s nonproliferation obligations.
We must redouble our efforts to update IAEA safeguards technologies and convince those NPT Parties that have not yet done so to bring into force the comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreements required by the Treaty’s Article III. We also must pursue vigorously the universal entry into force of the Additional Protocol to safeguards agreements. Universal adherence to the NPT itself – including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – also remains a fundamental objective of the United States.
Consequences for those breaking the rules or withdrawing from the treaty without cause must also be addressed. As President Obama said in Prague, “[R]ules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons.” Our Delegation hopes that NPT Parties will consider and propose ways to work together to develop effective consequences for Treaty violators.
The Treaty’s basis will be strengthened as we pursue additional, complementary measures, including a campaign we will lead to ensure nuclear materials worldwide are adequately secured or eliminated and to ensure that international commerce in nuclear material and technology supports solely peaceful uses. Such efforts are necessary not only to prevent proliferation to states, but also to ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon, the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. To address these dangers, President Obama has announced he will convene a Global Summit on Nuclear Security to be hosted by the United States within a year.
Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
The third pillar of the NPT, Mr. Chairman, is the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Make no mistake about it: the United States fully recognizes and supports the right of all states to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy. As the President said in Prague, “No approach will succeed if it’s based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules.” Those rules, of course, include the Treaty’s nonproliferation obligations.
Since the Atoms for Peace program began in the 1950s, the United States has been a leader in global cooperation on using nuclear energy to benefit mankind. We will continue to contribute substantial resources, through the IAEA and bilaterally, to international cooperation in applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in line with the highest safety and nonproliferation standards. We are proud that we long have been the largest contributor to such cooperation, enabling states to exercise their Article IV rights.
Mr. Chairman, President Obama declared in Prague that “we must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change….” The President called for “a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation.” IAEA member states are now considering the establishment of an international fuel bank, to which the U.S. Government is contributing nearly $50 million. This fuel bank could reassure countries embarking on or expanding nuclear power programs and complying fully with their nonproliferation obligations that they could reliably purchase reactor fuel in the event of commercial supply disruption. It could also demonstrate to them that it is not necessary to pursue expensive enrichment and reprocessing facilities to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Mr. Chairman, while our most important concern at this PrepCom and at next year’s Review Conference (RevCon) is how we will act together to strengthen the Treaty, Parties also will review relevant developments from the recent past. Our Delegation takes this opportunity to reaffirm not only the critical decision by NPT Parties in 1995 to extend the Treaty indefinitely, but also the importance of other decisions taken that year, including the Resolution on the Middle East, and in 2000. While many years have passed since those decisions were taken, there remain many aspects that are still relevant to implementation of the NPT today, though we must be mindful of how much global circumstances have changed.
Mr. Chairman, I hope Parties will heed the call of President Obama by focusing not on our differences, but on cooperation and on reaching consensus on how to advance our common objectives in the Treaty pillars of nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Let us quickly settle here at the PrepCom the procedural arrangements for the RevCon, so that we can move on to pursuing these substantive objectives which are so vital to the world’s security, peace, and prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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