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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Comprehensive Advancement of the NPT

Rose Gottemoeller
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
Beijing, China
April 15, 2014


As prepared

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased to be here today with my colleagues Wanq Qun, Helene Duchene, Peter Jones, and Grigory Berdennikov. Thank you to the Chinese Delegation for hosting the fifth P5 Conference here in Beijing and to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA) for hosting this public event. Finally, thank you all for being here. In order for any of our efforts to work, we need your interest, your help and your support.

It is a year since our last P5 Conference and a lot has happened since last April. We have had some successes, but it has not been all good news. There are concerns about nations turning away from their arms control and nonproliferation obligations. Observing this, some are saying that the future of arms control and nonproliferation efforts look bleak and that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) itself might be doomed.

I categorically reject this line of thought.

The simple fact that we are here, in this forum, working together to solve mutual challenges is proof that, despite the challenges we face, we are all committed to mitigating the threats posed by nuclear weapons and materials.

Let’s not forget that before the NPT was created, many feared that the number of states with nuclear weapons would grow at an exponential rate, turning the globe into a circular firing squad. Despite diplomatic crises, simmering or hot conflicts and political clashes, we still managed to avert a world with scores of nuclear-armed nations. We knew what was at stake then, and we know what is at stake today.

That is why we are all doing our part to bolster and support the three pillars of the NPT. For our part, the United States is proud of our contributions on all three of these fronts.

Nonproliferation is a central focus of our efforts and I will highlight a few of those efforts today. The United States is very proud of the completion of the 1993 U.S.-Russian Federation Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Purchase Agreement, which blended down 500 tons of highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear weapons for use as fuel in U.S. nuclear power plants. It has taken more weapons-grade material out of circulation than any other bilateral or multilateral project to date and must qualify as the biggest conversion of “swords into plowshares” in human history.

The United States will continue to lead on combating the threat of nuclear terrorism and the further spread of sensitive nuclear technologies. We were very pleased with the commitments made at the 3rd Nuclear Security Summit hosted by the Dutch last month. The trends we’re seeing are very positive: the number of countries and facilities with HEU and plutonium is decreasing, security at storage sites is increasing, more countries are prepared to counter nuclear smuggling and the global nuclear security architecture is stronger. But we still need to continue our work on this front.

Another important goal that we all share is attaining a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. In close cooperation with Facilitator Jaakko Laajava, the United States, along with the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, are strongly supporting discussions among states in the region to create conditions for a successful dialogue on such a zone. We are also making progress on legally-binding protocols to nuclear weapon free zone treaties in Central and Southeast Asia.

P5+1negotiations on a comprehensive agreement with Iran are a historic opportunity, but hard work remains. The United States is also actively engaging with our partners and allies to press North Korea to live up to its denuclearization commitments and its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.

We will continue to lead efforts to ensure all member states fully comply with their NPT obligations, to ensure that there are costs for non-compliance with the Treaty, and to strengthen IAEA safeguards to account for evolving proliferation challenges.

We have spent the past year increasing our efforts to promote the safe and secure uses of peaceful nuclear technologies. We support nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source for the future, demonstrated through our 48 bilateral agreements that provide for cooperation in this area and our continuing cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

We have contributed over $32 million to the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI), which has already benefitted over 120 countries throughout the world. In addition to our contributions to the PUI, in 2013 we contributed nearly $28 million in support of other IAEA peaceful uses programs, projects, training, technical support, and fellowships. We hope these efforts will continue to grow and prosper.

On the disarmament front, the United States has properly refocused our nuclear policy for the 21st century. We recognize that the massive nuclear arsenal that we built to confront the threats of the Cold War is poorly suited for today’s security environment where our focus needs to be on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Mindful of the devastating human consequences of nuclear war, we have reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, recognizing that is in the U.S. interest, and that of all other nations, that the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.

The next steps in disarmament will require the cooperation of the Russian Federation and it is no secret that we are dealing with some challenges in our relationship. This does not mean we will stop trying to find common ground, while speaking forcefully about our concerns. No one in this room should forget that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and Russia, then the Soviet Union, found it in our mutual interest to work together on reducing the nuclear threat. Of course, as in the past, any further cooperation, agreements or treaties on reductions will only be pursued if they are in our national security interest.

As we consider arms control priorities this year or in any year, we will continue to consult closely with our allies and partners every step of the way. Their security is non-negotiable.

In the broader multilateral setting, there is an important contribution that all states could make immediately, by redoubling their support for the commencement of negotiations of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

The United States is also working to make the case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament. The United States now maintains a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal through our science-based Stockpile Stewardship program without nuclear explosive testing, which the United States halted in 1992.

We know that it has been a long time since the CTBT was on the front pages of U.S. newspapers, so we will need to put time and effort into making the case for this Treaty. Together, we can work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and explosive nuclear testing. Our answers to those questions and concerns continue to grow stronger with the proven and increasing capabilities of the Stockpile Stewardship program and the International Monitoring System. We hope that all remaining states – particularly Annex 2 States – will join us in our efforts to end nuclear explosive testing once and for all.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough that it is precisely our deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons – including the dangerous health effects of nuclear explosive testing – that has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these weapons.

I was recently in the Marshall Islands and have just come from Hiroshima. To say it was affecting is an understatement –nuclear dangers are not simply something to talk about around a conference table. We must continue to make concrete progress here and at the NPT PrepCom next month and we must never ever put the dangers that nuclear weapons pose for our fellow citizens far from our hearts and minds.

As President Obama said in Brussels last month, “we live in a world in which our ideals are going to be challenged again and again.” We must be willing to “hold firm to our principles…to back our beliefs with courage and resolve.”

The road ahead is and will continue to be rough, but by finding our common ground – our shared desire to eliminate the threats posed by nuclear weapons in a manner that ensures global security and stability – we can help each other down that road and reach a safer world together.

Thank you.

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