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Statement at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference -- Cluster 2

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
Washington, DC
May 7, 2009


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In the U.S. opening statement earlier this week, I assured our fellow NPT Parties that the United States will seek a Treaty review that is balanced among its three pillars – nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

As reflected in the U.S. statement on disarmament yesterday, President Obama has made clear that the United States is ready to cooperate with all NPT Parties to accelerate progress toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. The steps the President announced will continue to implement our commitments under the Treaty’s Article VI. The President has also made clear that the United States fully supports the right of all NPT Parties in compliance with their NPT obligations to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a right recognized in Article IV. The United States will continue actively to pursue international cooperation in this area.

It should be clear to all that the United States has increased the priority it places on disarmament. It should also be clear that nuclear nonproliferation, the specific subject of this session, remains a very high priority to us. The United States urges other Parties to attach the same level of importance to this Treaty pillar. As President Obama said in his recent speech in Prague, "the threat of a global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up," because of proliferation by states and the determination of terrorists to obtain a nuclear weapon. The United States believes it is a vital imperative for NPT Parties to strengthen implementation of the nonproliferation elements of the Treaty.

The most fundamental reason for nonproliferation is stated in the Treaty’s preamble: "the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war." States are more secure when they have confidence that their neighbors do not possess and are not seeking nuclear weapons. In this circumstance, they can perceive an interest in renouncing the possession of these weapons themselves, as they do when they join the NPT. And the fewer states that have nuclear weapons, the less likely is the nightmare of nuclear war.

Furthermore, in a very significant way, nuclear nonproliferation makes the achievement of the other two pillars possible. First, today’s nuclear weapon states will not eliminate their nuclear weapons without the assurance that additional states will not obtain such weapons tomorrow. Indeed, confidence that all Parties are complying with their NPT nonproliferation obligations is essential to create the international security climate for reaching the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Second, without both adherence by NPT Parties to their nonproliferation commitments and verification provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreements required by the Treaty, the suppliers of civil nuclear energy capabilities are not likely to be confident that nuclear transfers will be used solely for peaceful purposes.

Mr. Chairman,

For these reasons, nonproliferation is in the interest of all states. But how can NPT Parties ensure that the regime of which the Treaty is the cornerstone continues to serve as a political and legal barrier to the spread of nuclear weapons? Today, nearly every state in the world is a Party to this vital Treaty. Parties must continue to encourage those that have not joined the Treaty to do so. It also is essential that the vast majority of states who are Parties fully comply with its provisions, as most do. Otherwise, the confidence necessary to strengthen the NPT further will be eroded, with dire consequences for the maintenance of international peace and security.

President Obama stated in Prague that there must be "real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules." Unfortunately, we know that some Parties – including Iran and North Korea – have broken the Treaty’s rules. NPT Parties that violate their Treaty obligations must come back into compliance. Our Delegation hopes that, during the deliberations of this PrepCom and next year’s RevCon, Parties will consider problems of compliance with the NPT’s nonproliferation obligations and agree on actions to ensure that Treaty violators face consequences for their violations.

The President also declared that "we need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections." The United States is committed to ensuring that the IAEA has the resources it needs to accomplish its mission. In particular, Parties must work together to strengthen the Agency’s safeguards system, which is the Treaty’s major tool for verifying compliance or detecting noncompliance with the NPT’s non-proliferation obligations.

The IAEA’s vital mission is expanding faster than its resources, and its safeguards responsibilities now require it to gather and assess a wide range of information to detect not only diversion of declared nuclear material, but also the presence of any undeclared nuclear activities. To assist the IAEA in this mission, the United States has launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative to help sustain the international safeguards system as it evolves to confront new challenges. We call on all IAEA Member States to join us in this endeavor.

In addition, the IAEA cannot do its job without the necessary legal authorities. It is disappointing that some NPT Parties have not yet brought into force the NPT, or "comprehensive," safeguards agreement required by Article III of the Treaty. We urge those Parties to do so as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as the Agency’s experiences in Iraq demonstrated, comprehensive safeguards agreements alone are not sufficient to detect unsafeguarded nuclear material and activities.

With that in mind, the IAEA and its Member States have adopted the Additional Protocol to safeguards agreements. The Protocol is an essential new element of the nonproliferation regime. It is critical that all Parties work together to make it universal, and we urge all states that have not done so to negotiate and bring into force an Additional Protocol as soon as possible. The U.S. Protocol entered into force on January 6 of this year, and we are working with the IAEA and U.S. industry to prepare for full implementation of its provisions.

Mr. Chairman,

the possibility that terrorists might acquire a nuclear weapon is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. The challenge of securing nuclear materials and facilities – accounting for and physically protecting them – has become an even higher priority to the international community. The United States will seek support from others to implement President Obama’s proposal for a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We seek to set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, and pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials. We plan to start by hosting a Global Summit on Nuclear Security within the next year.

In addition, last year the United States Senate gave its advice and consent on the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and we hope to ratify it soon. All states should ratify the Amendment so that it can come into force. We are also working with the IAEA and Member States to revise the Agency’s guidance document on the physical protection of nuclear material – Information Circular 225 – to implement the standard set by the Amendment to the Convention.

Another key link in the nonproliferation regime is controlling transfers of nuclear equipment, material, and technology. To help meet their NPT obligations, Parties that are nuclear suppliers have cooperated for decades to ensure that their nuclear exports remain in peaceful use. They have done so through the work of the NPT Suppliers, or Zangger Committee. We must build on these and other efforts to break up black markets, detect and intercept materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade.

Because this threat will be lasting, we should come together to turn efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism into durable international institutions. In addition, all NPT Parties should work to ensure the effective implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which calls on all UN Member states to develop and enforce appropriate legal and regulatory measures against the proliferation of WMD. The United States already is cooperating with other countries toward this goal and we encourage others to do the same.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, our Delegation would like to reiterate how important it is that NPT Parties work together to strengthen the Treaty during this PrepCom, in the run-up to and at the Review Conference, and beyond. There is no issue on which cooperation and progress is more necessary than nuclear nonproliferation. In President Obama’s words: "If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable…. We must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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