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Diplomacy in Action

NPT Cluster 2: Nonproliferation and Safeguards - U.S. Statement

Adam Scheinman, Senior Advisor, International Security and Nonproliferation
Third Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference
New York City
May 1, 2014


(As Prepared)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach to implementation of the NPT. The three NPT pillars are mutually reinforcing. The nonproliferation pillar plays a central role by strengthening the other two. Together, nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses are complementary not competing goals. We pursue each with equal vigor and in all aspects.

A strong nonproliferation regime contributes to the security conditions that make disarmament easier to achieve, and progress on disarmament helps create political conditions to strengthen the nonproliferation regime. All parties share in the mutual security that derives from a strong nonproliferation regime.

Safeguards, export controls, and other important nonproliferation measures build the mutual confidence that enables the fullest possible cooperation among parties. This in turn helps to realize the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for all parties. The robust nuclear cooperation that results demonstrates the value of a strong nonproliferation regime.

The United States remains fully committed to the Action Plan that was adopted by consensus in 2010, including those actions related to nonproliferation. A complete listing of U.S. implementation of this pillar can be found in our national report to the PrepCom.

U.S. Support for IAEA Safeguards and the Additional Protocol

Mr. Chairman, the Action Plan emphasizes the importance of compliance with IAEA safeguards, which are the established international verification mechanism under the NPT. These safeguards are essential to help ensure that nuclear activities remain in peaceful uses and that material and technology is not diverted to produce nuclear weapons. These safeguards are essential to help ensure that states are not diverting nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons. Only twelve NPT parties have yet to bring the required safeguards agreement into force. We should aim to reduce that number to zero by next year’s Review Conference, and we encourage states that have not yet done so to update any small quantities protocols.

A comprehensive safeguards agreement together with an Additional Protocol is now recognized as the strengthened safeguards standard. We have learned time and again that the IAEA needs the essential tools provided by the Additional Protocol in order to respond to possible undeclared nuclear activities and provide assurances of their absence. We should redouble efforts to make the Additional Protocol universal. Between now and the Review Conference, states that have signed the Additional Protocol should bring it into force. Those states yet to sign should start the work now to take this forward.

Some states may need assistance in implementing – or preparing to implement – those safeguards measures. The United States devotes considerable resources to this effort, and we encourage those who are in a position to help to offer their support to other states and to the IAEA. We should make sure that all interested states are aware and take advantage of such assistance.

The IAEA should seek to continuously improve the way it implements safeguards by using new technology and taking advantage of all safeguards-relevant information. In doing so the Agency must maintain its objectivity, impartiality, and the technical foundation of its work. This deserves our full financial, technical, and political support. In this regard, we note the IAEA’s development of the state-level concept (SLC), which is the next logical phase in the evolution of IAEA safeguards. We support the Agency’s efforts to transition to the SLC in order that IAEA safeguards remain both effective and efficient.

Thirty-seven years ago, the United States was the first state to establish a Member State Support Program to provide technical and financial assistance to the IAEA for safeguards. Last year alone, we provided $40 million to the IAEA to support its safeguards mission. This figure does not include significant efforts to revitalize our own technology base and work with other international partners to support IAEA safeguards. We also take great encouragement from the contributions of 20 other active Support Programs for IAEA safeguards, a concrete affirmation of the importance those states place in IAEA safeguards.

The United States remains ready to accept the same safeguards on our civil nuclear facilities and activities that non-nuclear-weapon states Parties are required to accept, both under comprehensive safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols to those agreements, subject only to a national security exclusion. We have made roughly 300 civil nuclear facilities eligible for IAEA safeguards under our “voluntary offer” safeguards agreement. We have welcomed IAEA verification of the downblending of excess U.S. highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium for use in power reactors. Each of our annual reports under the U.S. Additional Protocol since 2010 has included over 300 entries.

Nuclear Security

Mr. Chairman, in addition to the risk of nuclear proliferation by states, we need to address the risks from non-state actors, including the risks of unauthorized removal or sabotage of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials. We welcome the outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit last month in The Hague and take note of the accomplishments made through commitments made at earlier summits by a diverse group of world leaders representing 53 states and four international organizations. This concerted international action, some of which predates the Summits, has enabled 26 states plus Taiwan to rid themselves entirely of an aggregate of over five metric tons of highly enriched uranium.

But more remains to be done not only to secure and eliminate the most dangerous materials, but to promote best practices in securing nuclear and radiological material. We are pleased that two thirds of the countries participating in this year’s Summit, on the initiative of the hosts of all three Summits, pledged to implement robust measures to strengthen their nuclear security practices. As we approach the 2016 Summit, we look forward to further progress as states work to meet the additional commitments undertaken at The Hague, as well as to further progress on nuclear security actions in the three communiqués and the 2010 Action Plan.

Proliferation Challenges

Mr. Chairman, since the early 1990s, we have seen several instances of NPT Parties that failed to comply with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. Some of these cases have been resolved successfully. But other cases remain unresolved and those states stand in violation of their obligations today because they have not taken sufficient action to resolve the underlying compliance concerns. Unresolved cases of noncompliance erode confidence in the NPT as a foundation for international security and for efforts to reduce global nuclear dangers. NPT parties should continue to give utmost attention to these challenges in order to maintain and reinforce the integrity and effectiveness of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Non-compliant states or non-state actors will not hesitate to take advantage of weaknesses in the nonproliferation system. They will import critical nuclear-related equipment on the black market or traffic in dangerous materials. None of us is immune to these risks. Illicit commerce has taken advantage even of states with the strongest nonproliferation commitments, and its results affect all of us.

This underscores the need for concerted action to shore up our existing controls. We therefore encourage states in position to do so to join us in offering assistance, in export control, border security, safeguards, nuclear and radiological security; we encourage those who need assistance to avail themselves of these offers.

Strengthening the Treaty

Mr. Chairman, universality of the NPT remains our long-term objective, even as we recognize the challenges we face in pursuing that goal. This goal will not be achieved quickly, but it remains an essential element in achieving the broader vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

We welcome the heightened attention to the issue of withdrawal from the NPT. While we do not challenge the right of NPT parties to withdraw in accordance with Article X of the Treaty, nor do we seek to amend that provision in any way, we share the concerns many countries have regarding the potential for states to abuse this right.

Mr. Chairman, the United States encourages all NPT parties to do all they can to strengthen the nonproliferation pillar of the Treaty. This is urgent if we are to preserve the security benefits that derive from our shared commitment to nonproliferation and to all pillars of the NPT regime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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