What’s New in US Nuclear Policy?

US optimistic on its goal for a world free of nuclear weapons

Still working on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism around the world, the United States of America today revealed new updates and new steps to seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

In his remarks at The Future of U.S. Nuclear Policy in Washington DC, Deputy Assistant Secretary Frank A. Rose

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Arms Control says the US has taken steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy.

“We are not developing new nuclear weapons or pursuing new nuclear missions.” – Mr. Rose

A Trident II SLBM launched from a Royal Navy Vanguard class ballistic missile submarine.

The US reiterates its commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations.

The US clearly states that it is in the U.S. interest and that of all other nations that the nearly 68-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.

New updates on US nonproliferation activities

Mr. Rose also provides an update on our work, which the President laid out four years ago in Prague.

Reaffirmin that the aspiration is not easy nor is it likely to happen in his lifetime, still, over the last four years the US has succeeded in moving closer to this goal.

Mr. Rose indicates that in 2010, the Administration concluded a Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, which outlines the President’s agenda for reducing nuclear dangers, as well as advancing the broader security interests of the United States and its allies.

“As the NPR states nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats facing the United States.” – Mr. Rose

He says the traditional concept of nuclear deterrence and the idea that a country would not initiate a nuclear war for fear of nuclear retaliation does not apply to terrorists.

He adds that concerted action by the United States and Russia a'” and indeed, by all nuclear weapon states to reduce their arsenals is key to garnering support from partners around the world for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

According to Mr. Rose, by the end of 2013, it is expected that the 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement to be completed, under which 500 MT of highly enriched uranium or HEU from dismantled Russian weapons will have been converted into low-enriched uranium or LEU to fuel U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.

He notes over 472 MT (equivalent to approximately 18,900 nuclear warheads) has been downblended and sent to the United States so far.

In the United States, 374 MT of U.S. HEU has been declared excess to nuclear weapons; most of the remainder will be downblended or used as fuel in naval or research reactors, he noted.

In 2011, the United States and Russia brought into force the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement and its 2006 and 2010 protocols, which requires each side to dispose of 34 MT of weapon-grade plutonium enough in total for about 17,000 nuclear weapons and thus permanently remove this material from military programs.

In addition, Russia has also been an essential partner in the U.S. Global Threat Reduction Initiative efforts to convert research reactors from HEU to LEU and repatriate those reactors’ HEU to the country of origin.

The efforts have now converted or verified the shutdown of over 75 research and test reactors, and repatriated to the United States or to Russia over 3,000 kg of HEU for secure storage, downblending and disposition.

US reveals new steps for its non-proliferation activities

According to Mr. Rose, the Obama administration continues to believe that the next step in nuclear arms reductions should be pursued on a bilateral basis.

The 1962 Sedan nuclear test formed a crater 100 m (330 ft) deep with a diameter of about 390 m (1,300 ft), as a means of investigating the possibilities of using peaceful nuclear explosions for largescale earth moving.

He says the United States and Russia still possess the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world.

With that in mind, both countries have a great example in the New START Treaty.

New START implementation is going well

Mr. Rose says the New START, now in its third year, is going well.

When New START is fully implemented, the United States and the Russian Federation will each have no more than 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads which the lowest levels since the 1950s.

Going forward with Russia

The United States has made it clear that it is committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons, including the pursuit of a future agreement with Russia to address all categories of nuclear weapons strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed.

To this end, both countries are engaged in a bilateral dialogue to promote strategic stability and increase transparency on a reciprocal basis with the Russian Federation.

US consulting with its NATO allies as well

Mr. Rose also notes that Obama administration is consulting with Allies to lay the groundwork for future negotiations.

He says NATO has already dramatically reduced its holdings of, and reliance on, nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.

NATO is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for nonstrategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia, taking into account the greater Russian stockpiles of nonstrategic nuclear weapons stationed in the Euro-Atlantic area, Mr. Rose stated.

Further initiatives

Mr. Rose notes there are still further initiatives that are part of this Administration’s nuclear agenda.

He says the United States is revitalizing an international effort to advance a new multilateral treaty to verifiably ban the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.

A Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty or FMCT would for the first time put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade fissile material needed to create nuclear weapons, he said.

“Beginning multilateral negotiations on the FMCT is a priority objective for the United States and for the vast majority of states.” – Mr. Rose

The US has been working to initiate such negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Mr. Rose indicates an overwhelming majority of nations support the immediate commencement of FMCT negotiations.

The United States is consulting with China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, as well as others, to find a way to commencing negotiation of an FMCT.

Addressing the question of Missile Defense

Mr. Rose narrates that thirty years ago at the height of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan saw virtue in cooperating with Moscow on Missile Defense.

Amid differences on this issue, the US remains convinced that missile defense cooperation between the United States and Russia (and between NATO and Russia) is in the national security interests of all countries involved.

“For that reason, missile defense cooperation with Russia remains a priority for the President.” – Mr. Rose

He underlines that U.S. missile defense efforts are focused on defending our homeland as well as our European, Middle Eastern, and Asian allies and partners against ballistic missile threats coming from Iran and North Korea.

He says these are threats that are growing, and must be met.

US Missile defense is not designed to undermine Russi and China

Mr. Rose stresses in meeting those threats, it is important to note that U.S. missile defenses are not designed for, or capable of, undermining the Russian or Chinese strategic deterrents.

“For its part, Russia has been insistent on legally binding guarantees that our missile defenses will not threaten its strategic deterrent.” – Mr. Rose

He points out that they believe that the best way for Russia to see that U.S. and NATO missile defenses in Europe do not undermine its strategic deterrent would be for it to cooperate with us.

In addition to making all of us safer, cooperation would send a strong message to proliferators that the United States, NATO, and Russia are working together to counter proliferation.

With regard to China, the United States welcomes the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about missile defense and other security issues of strategic importance.

US optimistic on its goal

To paraphrase President Kennedy, whose speech 50 years ago at American University launched the NPT process, US will succeed on its goal by moving forward step by step, confident and unafraid.

Mr. Rose highlighted that positive change is hard to accomplish. However, the world needs the energy and expertise to extend the debate beyond college campuses if they are to move safely and securely to a world without nuclear weapons.

NPT relevant before and today

The US asserts the grand bargain of the NPT set an enduring standard that is as relevant today as it was at the Treaty’s inception.

Despite past successes, there are very pressing challenges all around and on the horizon.

Most critically, US has grave concerns about the actions of a few countries.

US says 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.

US says these transgressions threaten international security and undermine confidence in the nonproliferation regime, she added.

How US plans to address the threats?

On the nonproliferation front, the main priority is and will remain addressing compliance challenges.

US says 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.

US indicates that 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.

Securing nuclear weapons from terrorists

Aanother 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, the US 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.

The US has been working closely with Russia over the past year to continue cooperation under an updated legal framework that reflects their maturing bilateral partnership and allows them to build on the achievements made under the expiring CTR agreement.

The US is working hard to continue U.S.-Russian cooperation in nonproliferation and arms control.

Arms Control Priorities

Reagarding the disarmament agenda, there have been successes on both the bilateral and multilateral fronts.

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.

The US is now exploring what a future agreement with Russia might look like and how to include all categories of nuclear weapons – strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed.

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 implementation of the Treaty, now underway for three 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.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.