Thank you Mr. President for your presence here today and for convening this important debate. And thank you, Deputy Secretary Eliasson, for your informative briefing.
My government is pleased to join in commemorating the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and in adopting a Presidential Statement regarding our continued commitment to the goals of that landmark measure.
Over the past year, we have been reminded of the horror that can result when weapons of mass destruction are used. Resolution 1540 was designed to minimize that possibility through concerted international action to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological arms and their means of delivery, especially to non-state actors, including terrorists.
In 2004, working with many of you, my government crafted a resolution specifying some two hundred technical and legal obligations every state should undertake to make proliferation riskier for those who attempt it and easier to detect and stop when they do.
Since Resolution 1540 was adopted, the 1540 Committee has identified hundreds of additional measures States on every continent have taken to prohibit WMD proliferation activities, secure sensitive related materials, and combat illicit trafficking of such items in response to the obligations the resolution created. Fifteen international organizations and almost four dozen countries, including my own, have registered as “assistance providers.” When a country, in order to meet its obligations, requests help, we are prepared to provide it. Regional groups – such as the AU, EU, OAS, and OSCE have incorporated elements of the resolution into their mandates and daily work.
Nonproliferation has also become a major goal for civil society. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked last week, the resolution has become a “key component of the global security architecture.”
Accordingly, I commend the efforts of the Council’s 1540 Committee including its current and highly effective chair, the Republic of Korea. Since its creation, the committee has done an excellent job of coordinating the global effort to implement this vital resolution.
Looking ahead, we know that there remains much more that we can and must do. Stopping the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is not one of those fields where a “pretty good” record is enough. The potential consequences of failure anywhere and at any time could be catastrophic.
Recognizing this challenge, President Obama established the Nuclear Security Summit process. During the third Summit in March in the Hague, over 30 countries produced a joint statement calling for full global implementation of the nuclear security elements of Resolution 1540 prior to the Council’s next comprehensive review in 2016, a welcome sign that global vigilance is high and that we are determined to work cooperatively to protect our citizens.
The imperative now is to continue moving forward with the tasks outlined a decade ago. Each state must identify its own vulnerabilities and gaps in implementation. Each must develop a plan for next steps based on a clear sense of priorities for action. Any state that lacks the capacity to take needed measures should request help. States and organizations that are in the position to assist should do so. Everyone involved should be open to sharing useful information on a timely basis.
The United States is committed to doing its part. As shown in its most recent report to the 1540 Committee, my government meets or exceeds international standards in implementing all of its obligations. The report documents dozens of measures taken since 2004 that are designed to implement the resolution’s goals.
On the financial side, the United States has contributed $4.5 million to the UN trust fund to support Resolution 1540. This is in addition to numerous bilateral aid projects. We have also emphasized the importance of helping states to draft effective laws to criminalize and prosecute activities that enable proliferation to take place. We are pleased that the 1540 Committee has begun working with parliamentarians, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to organize this assistance.
Mr. President, the widespread availability of information is a defining characteristic of our age. There are many benefits to this, but one of the dangers is that people who wish to inflict great harm on others have access to the knowledge that would allow them to do so. This is especially the case with respect to biological agents which are often able to reproduce themselves, meaning that a proliferator need only acquire a small amount of a pathogen to pose a large risk. For this reason, my government proposes that special emphasis be placed on improving the design of national and global approaches to the problem of bio-security, and one way to do so is to promote the Global Health Security Agenda.
We recognize that terrorists and other proliferators will employ new technologies and methods to gain access to prohibited materials and to avoid detection in transporting and possibly using them. In response, we cannot afford to be complacent. A security system that was adequate five years ago may not be sufficient now; and today’s good system may be obsolete within a few years.
In closing, Mr. President, I emphasize the global nature of the threat addressed by Resolution 1540. This includes chemical weapons of the type so ruthlessly deployed against civilians in Syria; toxins sent through the mail in the United States; the complicity of some governments in proliferation, including that of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and the knowledge that terrorist and militant groups in many parts of the world have actively sought to acquire the means to produce WMD. With this threat always before us, we must proceed with renewed vigor to implement Resolution 1540 fully, cooperatively, and urgently. Thank you.
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