Committed to creating a world free from nuclear weapons, the United States of America today outlined the Obama Administration’s second term priorities for arms aontrol and nonproliferation.
In her remarks in Geneva, Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security says it was just over 50 years ago that tension brought on by the Cuban Missile Crisis threatened to turn the Cold War hot.
“To say that things have changed dramatically since October 1962 is an understatement.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
She adds it was just six years later that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was in force.
NPT relevant before and today
According to Ms. Gottemoeller, the grand bargain of the NPT set an enduring standard that is as relevant today as it was at the Treaty’s inception.
She notes despite past successes, there are very pressing challenges all around us and on the horizon.
Most critically, she says US has grave concerns about the actions of a few countries.
She indicates North Korea, Iran and Syria have failed to live up to their NPT obligations and have failed to take the steps necessary to rectify these violations.
The United States is gravely concerned about all of these issues, Ms. Gottemoller said.
These transgressions threaten international security and undermine confidence in the nonproliferation regime, she added.
“These cases also stand directly in the way of our shared disarmament goals.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
How US plans to address the threats?
On the nonproliferation front, Ms. Gottemoeller says the main priority is and will remain addressing compliance challenges.
She notes NPT rules must be binding and there must be consequences for those who break them.
US is also helping to push for universal adherence to the IAEA safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols.
“We have made excellent progress over the past few years, but we must continue to press for more countries to bring the Additional Protocols into force.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
US goal: Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
Ms. Gottemoeller says an important goal it shares with the international community is the achievement of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
The United States stands ready to help facilitate discussions among states in the region at the proposed Helsinki conference, she pointed out.
“The United States continues to fully support this goal.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
However, she explains that the mandate for a zone can only come from within the region; it cannot be imposed from outside or without the consent of all concerned states.
Securing nuclear weapons from terrorists
According to Ms. Gottemoeller, another immediate concern is securing vulnerable nuclear materials in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists.
Under President Obama’s direction, the US has held two Nuclear Security Summits, with a third to take place in The Hague next year.
In anticipation of the Hague Summit in 2014, we will continue to build on pledges that are resulting in more material secured, removed and eliminated, she cited.
The United States is also working to update the legal framework for cooperative threat reduction (CTR) activities with the Russian Federation, Ms. Gottemoeller added.
The US has been working closely with Russia over the past year to continue cooperation under an updated legal framework that reflects our maturing bilateral partnership and allows us to build on the achievements made under the expiring CTR agreement.
“Like President Obama said, “missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we’re putting a bygone era behind us.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
The US is working hard to continue U.S.-Russian cooperation in nonproliferation and arms control.
Arms Control Priorities
According to Ms. Gottemoeller, regarding the disarmament agenda, there have been successes on both the bilateral and multilateral fronts.
She says the United States is committed to a step-by-step process to reduce the overall numbers of nuclear weapons.
The second anniversary of the New START Treaty’s entry into force has just passed, she said.
The US is now exploring what a future agreement with Russia might look like and how to include all categories of nuclear weapons a'” strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed.
Entry into force of Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a top priority
Ms. Gottemoeller says beyond bilateral treaties, ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a top priority for the United States.
As stated in the April 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review: “Ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
She notes an in-force CTBT benefits all nations.
In addition, the US also remains committed to launching negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT).
She explains that an FMCT is a logical and absolutely essential next step in the path towards global nuclear disarmament.
The Conference on Disarmament (CD) remains the US preferred venue for negotiating an FMCT, since it includes every major nuclear-capable state and operates by consensus.
Taking advantage of the new tool
Ms. Gottemoeller says the road ahead can seem daunting, but they can now take advantage of some new tools.
She says rhe United States is and has always been committed to innovation and the arms control and nonproliferation arenas are no exception.
“To respond to the challenges we face, we are thinking about creative ways to use technologies including open source technologies to tackle long-standing verification and monitoring problems.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
Ms. Gottemoller hopes that other states will join the US in this endeavor.
“As I said, we have come a long way since the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we still have a long way to go. We just have to keep moving forward step by step.” – Ms. Gottemoeller
US Working on Prevention of Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism
Committed to making the world a safer place to live, the United States of America is working on prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
One of US effort to stop arm proliferation is to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist.
On nuclear terrorism
The traditional concept of nuclear deterrence – the idea that a country would not initiate a nuclear war for fear of nuclear retaliation – does not apply to terrorists.
The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, rightly emphasized that today, our greatest nuclear threat is no longer a large-scale nuclear exchange, but the danger that terrorists could acquire nuclear materials or, worse, a nuclear weapon.
The NPR further notes that, while US nuclear arsenal has little direct relevance in deterring this threat, concerted action by the United States and Russia and indeed, by all nuclear weapon states to reduce their arsenals can assist in garnering support from partners around the world for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Part of the concerted effort is also by securing nuclear materials worldwide to make it harder for terrorists to acquire nuclear materials.
In addition to working on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the US has taken steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy.
Nuclear Reductions Must be pursued on bilateral basis: Russia and US collaborate for nonproliferation
The Administration continues to believe that the next step in nuclear arms reductions should be pursued on a bilateral basis.
The United States and Russia still possess the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world.
The implementation of the Treaty, now underway for two years, is going well.
The Treaty’s Bilateral Consultative Commission has met five times and resolved important Treaty implementation issues.
The United States and Russia have exchanged over 3,600 notifications on the numbers, locations, and movements of our strategic forces.
Over 70 Treaty on-site inspections have been completed so far, and other verification measures, enable each side to maintain confidence in the validity of that data.
The United States believes that it has a moral responsibility to lead and act now, in cooperation with the members of this Council and the international community, to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.