Andrew K. Semmel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
New York City, New York
April 29, 2004
Nuclear materials can have a split personality. On the one hand, they can be used in a wide variety of peaceful applications such as improving human health, expanding food production and improving water resource management. On the other hand, they can be used for the most destructive purposes conceived by mankind.
To ensure that nuclear materials are used solely for peaceful purposes it is essential to monitor the location and use of these materials worldwide. For many years the international community has relied on the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide essential assurance that nuclear materials remain dedicated to peaceful purposes. The diplomats of the 1960s who negotiated the NPT recognized the important need to verify the use of nuclear material globally. Article III of the NPT requires each non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA to prohibit the diversion of nuclear materials from peaceful to non-peaceful uses.
The discovery of Iraq’s major secret nuclear weapons program in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War made it clear that the safeguards system needed new capabilities to detect secret or “undeclared” nuclear activities. The IAEA and many of its member states launched a concerted effort to meet this need. Some new measures could be implemented immediately under the authority of existing comprehensive safeguards agreements. But these measures did not go far enough. Continued work culminated at a special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in May 1997 when the Board adopted the Model Additional Protocol which further strengthens the IAEA's tools for detecting clandestine activities.
The actions of a handful of NPT parties over the past several years in violating their safeguards obligations underscores the importance of these new tools. North Korea displayed its contempt for the international community when it denied repeated IAEA requests for information and access and ultimately expelled IAEA inspectors. Libya, Iran and North Korea secretly acquired centrifuge enrichment technology through an illicit marketing scheme masterminded by A.Q. Khan in Pakistan. These covert acquisitions were clearly intended to build facilities capable of producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. Each country deliberately ignored its obligations to notify the IAEA.
Iran poses a major challenge to the safeguards system. Iran has consistently failed to live up to its safeguards responsibilities. Its self-proclaimed "cooperation" with the IAEA is grudging and incomplete. Iran was the last state to agree -- just last year in 2003 -- to provide early design information on its facilities -- as called for by the IAEA Board thirteen years ago in 1991. Now we know why: for years it was secretly constructing nuclear facilities to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran has delayed IAEA inspections and used those delays to conceal evidence. As new information has come to light, Iran's official explanations of its nuclear activities have changed repeatedly. Iran finally agreed to sign and implement an Additional Protocol, but has not brought it into force. There is strong reason to question whether it is being fully implemented - as Iran claims. This pattern of resisting safeguards and changing stories provides no confidence that Iran's latest admissions give a complete picture of its nuclear activities.
Libya's recent actions offer a positive and clear contrast to Iran’s behavior. Libya also maintained a clandestine nuclear weapons program for many years. But last December, Libya decided to abandon that effort, to come back into compliance with the NPT and its safeguards agreement, and to sign and implement the Additional Protocol. Although Libya violated its NPT obligations for years, its recent cooperation in correcting those violations is exemplary and sets a powerful example for other potential violators. Libya is beginning to see the fruits of its bold actions in abandoning the pursuit of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Normal contacts between our two countries are being restored. Our bilateral relationship will continue to progress as long as Libya implements its public commitments on WMD, missiles and terrorism. Libya's example demonstrates how a state can regain a secure and respected place in the community of nations by making a genuine choice to return to compliance with its international obligations.
These examples underscore the critical role of the Additional Protocol, which establishes a new verification standard for the NPT and strengthens the IAEA's capabilities to detect and respond to noncompliance with safeguards undertakings. Implementation of the Additional Protocol increases the risk that a state will be caught in a safeguards violation and thus bolsters the NPT.
On February 11, President Bush outlined a number of steps to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, including the IAEA. He urged universal adoption of the Additional Protocol, noting that "nations that are serious about fighting proliferation will approve and implement the Additional Protocol." He called on the United States Senate to give its immediate consent to ratification of the U.S. Additional Protocol, which the Senate did on March 31. We are working to bring the Protocol into force as a matter of priority. The President also urged that signature of the Additional Protocol become a condition of nuclear supply by the end of 2005.
Efforts to expand adherence to the Additional Protocol are moving ahead. We look forward to the imminent entry-into-force of the Additional Protocols for the European Union. Thanks to efforts by the IAEA, Japan and others, the number of protocols signed and in force has increased steadily, but progress is still too slow. Forty-four NPT parties remain delinquent in the completion of their safeguards agreements and we urge them to remedy this situation promptly. The IAEA has a simplified procedure for states with no nuclear program and by completing this procedure even the smallest of nations can contribute to strengthening the NPT.
To continue to serve the international community effectively in detecting safeguards violations, the safeguards system must have strong financial, technical and political support. IAEA inspectors are responding today to unprecedented demands. Last fall, IAEA member states approved the first significant increase in the Agency’s regular budget after almost two decades of essentially zero real growth. While this puts the IAEA on a more secure financial footing, the safeguards system must continue to get the resources it needs. Preserving our global security is clearly a high priority. The IAEA inspectors who travel the world seeking signs of imminent nuclear danger provide all of us with a great service. The benefits of that service are well worth the modest price tag – a failure to meet the needs of the safeguards system would cost each of us far more than the modest budget increase approved last fall.
On February 11, President Bush also proposed creating a special committee of the IAEA Board to focus intensively on safeguards and verification. The goal of this committee should be to strengthen the IAEA’s capability to enforce compliance with international nuclear nonproliferation obligations. The President also outlined a recommended change for determining the composition of the IAEA Board. Specifically, no state under investigation for safeguards violations should be allowed to serve on the Board or on the new special committee. This proposal is based on the straightforward logic that those found to be breaking the rules should not be allowed to enforce the rules.
Nuclear Export Controls
Mr. Chairman. Article III.2 of the NPT requires its parties to apply safeguards on exports of nuclear material and specialized nuclear equipment to non-nuclear weapon states. Together with Articles I and II, it establishes the principle that nuclear exports should not contribute to nuclear proliferation.
Procurement activity by states seeking nuclear weapons has been a severe test for the nuclear nonproliferation regime for more than 25 years. The Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) steadily expanded their controls over the years to meet this threat. Their actions complicated the procurement activities of aspiring proliferants, delaying and in some cases denying acquisition of key items. Yet, the spread of technology and the emergence of new suppliers present new challenges. Recent revelations show that proliferators obtained needed technology and equipment from non-state actors, non-NPT parties and from NPT party states outside the NSG. Clearly all NPT parties, whether NSG members or not, need to do more to ensure that their exports do not end up in nuclear weapons programs.
On February 11, President Bush noted the clear danger posed by the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology to states that have nuclear weapons ambitions. He proposed banning such transfers to states not already possessing full-scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants. Given recent revelations about the widespread clandestine procurement of such equipment and technology, we call on NPT parties to support such a ban. There is no need for additional states to build enrichment or reprocessing plants. The vast majority of NPT parties have not sought these facilities. Moreover, NPT parties in full compliance with the Treaty have experienced no difficulty in obtaining fuel for their reactors.
There are other steps that supplier states should take to strengthen controls on potentially dangerous nuclear technologies. “Catchall” controls would give states the authority to halt assistance to nuclear weapon or unsafeguarded nuclear activities, including items not on control lists. The NSG is poised to adopt these controls next month, which the United States strongly supports. Outreach programs to alert nuclear industry to suspicious customers are essential. Information exchange among governments on front companies and end-users can reduce the risk that transfers could end up in a nuclear weapons program. Strong domestic enforcement, including stiff penalties for violators, is necessary.
Export control policies should also reinforce safeguards norms. Past Review Conferences have endorsed the principle that nuclear cooperation should only be pursued with non-nuclear-weapon states that accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards as required under the NPT. As proposed by President Bush in February, it is time to take the next step and require signature of the Additional Protocol as a condition of nuclear supply by the end of 2005.
Finally, suppliers should agree to suspend nuclear cooperation with states found by the IAEA Board to be in non-compliance with their safeguards obligations. There is strong support among NSG members for recent U.S. and French proposals on this matter. This suspension of nuclear cooperation should remain in place unless and until the offending state takes the steps necessary to restore confidence in its nuclear program.
Nuclear Weapon Free Zones
Mr. Chairman. For more than thirty-five years there has been strong international support for completion of nuclear weapon free zone treaties. The first such treaty – the Treaty of Tlatelolco – was in force before the NPT opened for signature. This fact helps to explain the inclusion of Article VII in the NPT, which states that the NPT does not affect the right of any group of states to conclude regional nuclear weapon free zone treaties.
Treaties are in force in Latin America and the Caribbean (1968), the South Pacific (1987), and in Southeast Asia (1997). The African Treaty was signed (1996), but has not entered into force due to insufficient ratifications by regional states. A Treaty on Central Asia was concluded in 2002, but has not opened for signature. In total, these regional treaties encompass approximately 110 states in five regions.
As in the NPT, regional parties to these treaties pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons and to conclude IAEA safeguards agreements covering all their nuclear activities. The regional states also agree not to permit other states to store or deploy nuclear weapons on their territories. The treaties variously include other provisions that reinforce basic nuclear nonproliferation norms. Parties to the Southeast Asian, South Pacific, and African treaties must require full-scope IAEA safeguards on their nuclear exports. The African Treaty requires parties to apply physical protection measures that meet international standards.
Nuclear weapon free zone treaties have from one to three Protocols. The United States considers these treaties on a case-by-case basis. The United States signed and ratified both Protocols to the Latin American Treaty, completing action in 1981. As required under Protocol I, the United States completed an IAEA safeguards agreement for its territories in the region, which entered into force in 1989.
The United States signed protocols to the South Pacific and African Treaties in 1996. Consultations have continued for several years between the nuclear weapon states and the Association of Southeast Asian nations on the still unsigned Protocol to the Southeast Asian Treaty.
In September 2002 the nations of Central Asia concluded a draft nuclear weapon free zone treaty and protocol. Consultations were held at the United Nations in late 2002 between the five Central Asian states and the five nuclear weapon states. A number of issues arising from these consultations, remain to be resolved.
Mr. Chairman. The opening years of the new millennium have brought unprecedented challenges to our collective global security. No one is immune. The international safeguards system, export controls and nuclear weapon free zones are instruments of nonproliferation crafted in the past to help meet the critical need to manage nuclear materials securely. We now have an even more pressing need and a new opportunity to strengthen safeguards, to make export controls more effective and to define the future role of nuclear weapon free zones. We can make the best use of these opportunities by working closely together, and the United States looks forward to this important collaboration.
That completes my statement. Thank you Mr. Chairman.