Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
Mr. Chairman, the United States recognizes the importance of security assurances to states that have forsworn nuclear weapons and that abide by their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. We would like to summarize once again the U.S. commitment to providing such assurances.
The United States released its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010, after completing a comprehensive assessment of U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, strategy, and force posture. One result of that assessment was that the United States strengthened its long-standing negative security assurance associated with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in several ways.
Specifically, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review declared that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT.
Even for states not eligible for this assurance, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review made clear that the United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or our allies and partners. It is in the U.S. interest and that of all nations that the nearly 68-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.
At their 2012 Chicago Summit, NATO Allies acknowledged the importance of the negative security assurances offered by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The Allies further recognized the value that these statements can have in seeking to discourage nuclear proliferation.
Mr. Chairman, the United States also supports well-crafted nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) that are vigorously enforced and developed in accordance with the guidelines adopted by the United Nations Disarmament Commission. We are a Party to both Protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, one of which provides a legally-binding negative security assurance. In recent years, the United States has worked toward extending legally binding negative security assurances by pursuing ratification of protocols to a number of other nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. The United States has signed the Protocols to the African and South Pacific NWFZs, and the Obama Administration sent those Protocols to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent. The nuclear-weapon States (or “P5”) and ASEAN have negotiated a revised Protocol to the Southeast Asia NWFZ (SEANWFZ) Treaty that resolved outstanding differences, and we hope that the Protocol signing can take place soon. The United States also remains committed to consulting with the Central Asia NWFZ (CANWFZ) Parties to reach an agreement that would allow the P5 to sign the Protocol to that treaty. A longer term goal is achievement of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. The United States supports the goal of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction and remains committed to working actively with the facilitator, co-conveners and all states in the region, to create the conditions for a successful Helsinki Conference, an issue we will address further under Cluster II. Allow me to note that consistent with the UN Disarmament Commission guidelines, the mandate for any zone cannot be imposed from outside or without the consent of all concerned states.
Mr. Chairman, in closing, we recognize that NPT States that forgo nuclear weapons and are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations have a legitimate interest in not being subject to nuclear threats or attacks. The strengthened U.S. negative security assurance announced in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, together with our support of nuclear-weapon-free zones, demonstrates an enduring commitment on the part of the United States to providing such negative security assurances. At the same time, it underscores the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT and affirming the responsibility we all share to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.