Thank you very much, Mr. President, and thank you, too, to Ambassador Llorenty for your presentation on the work of the Committee to implement Resolution 1540, which really was a landmark resolution in its day that has become one of the pillars of the international non-proliferation architecture.
Given ongoing and evolving threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, today’s briefing reminds us of the critical importance of fully implementing Resolution 1540 for the sake of international peace and security. The shocking use of chemical weapons in Iraq, in Malaysia, the United Kingdom, as well as the egregious and systematic use of chemical weapons in Syria, show that the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction is all too real today. Furthermore, the continued proliferation of WMDs by irresponsible actors increases the likelihood that these heinous weapons, or the capacity and knowledge to develop them, will fall into the hands of non-state actors who carry out terrorist attacks.
Given these persistent threats, the United States will continue to prioritize efforts to strengthen our counter-proliferation measures in line with our National Security Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review. Our efforts are aimed at ensuring our security and the security of the international community in order to prevent WMD proliferation by non-state actors. The full and universal implementation of Resolution 1540 is integral to achieving this goal. The United States will continue to provide strong support to a wide array of international organizations contributing to nonproliferation and provide extensive bilateral assistance to states seeking to implement their obligations under the resolution.
The United States has already provided over $4.5 million in grants to the 1540 Trust Fund, which helps encourage states to address gaps in implementation of their 1540 obligations. We also continue to invest hundreds of millions in our partner countries for cooperative threat reduction and other nonproliferation and export control-related assistance programs around the world to reduce the threat of WMDs.
We commend the Chair’s plan to hold a regional conference in Latin America next month. Improving implementation and exchanging best practices to strengthen national obligations across Latin America is very important. As a testament to our commitment to the region, we have helped fund a grant for a regional coordinator project in the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, which is now helping OAS members to develop 1540 national implementation action plans and will promote implementation of the resolution.
Turning to the many tasks that lay ahead for the Committee, it is clear that the Committee must redouble its efforts to implement its Program of Work to enhance global implementation of 1540. While we regret that it took nearly three months to adopt the program of work, we are pleased that we can finally begin moving forward again. Now is the time for the Committee to address real and evolving challenges. In particular, the United States believes the Committee should prioritize four areas in the coming weeks.
First, the Committee must meet more regularly and develop a clear strategy for achieving the many elements of its program of work. Last year after holding one formal Committee meeting, the Chair promised to convene more meetings and get the Committee back to work, and we look forward to seeing him follow through on this promise.
Second, since the Committee has selected new experts, it should now turn to initiating a formal process for appointing a Coordinator. This will also help keep the Committee on track for continued progress. We look forward to working with the incoming experts who are critical to helping the Committee carry out its very important mandate.
Third, the Committee must also seek to develop best approaches to enforcing appropriate and effective laws to implement 1540, including by developing national control lists.
And finally, in 2016, the Council adopted Resolution 2325 and said it would focus on the challenge of controlling access to transfers of technology and the evolving nature of the risks of proliferation due to rapid advances in science, technology and international commerce. We hope the Committee can take advantage of a wide array of civil society and industry resources to examine ways to combat these threats.
In closing, the United States recalls that 1540, a Chapter VII resolution, is binding on all Member States. Implementation of its provisions is not optional for any Member State. And, in particular in today’s context, we see no greater risk of chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists than an unverified and unaccounted for chemical weapons program.
For our part, the United States will continue to fully support the work of the 1540 Committee to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
I thank you very much, Mr. President.