Summary

  • This NYFPC briefing highlights U.S. priorities at the beginning of the 10th Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Amb. Bonnie D. Jenkins, participated in NPT review conference meetings at the United Nations from August 1-3 and showcases the Nonproliferation Treaty’s enduring role in reducing global dangers – whether by facilitating arms control, safeguarding peaceful nuclear activities, or deterring violations. 

MODERATOR:  Hi.  Good afternoon, all, and welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center for the hybrid briefing on the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  I would like to welcome our journalists who are attending in person as well as those attending on Zoom.  My name is Mahvash Siddiqui, and I’m the moderator.  This briefing is on the record.  First, I will go ahead and introduce our speaker.  And after our speaker’s remarks, we’ll go ahead and move on to question-and-answer session.  

We’re very pleased to welcome Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.  Ambassador Jenkins will discuss U.S. priorities for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, highlighting the Treaty’s enduring role in reducing global dangers whether by facilitating arms control, safeguarding peaceful nuclear activities, or deterring violations.  

And with that, it is my great pleasure today to welcome Under Secretary Bonnie Jenkins.  

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Thank you very much, and good afternoon, everyone.  It is good to see you all here today in person and virtually, especially since I understand this is the first open event here at the Foreign Press Club since COVID started.  How are you all doing?  

Before we head into questions, I wanted to say a few words about why I’m here in New York this week.  Today is the third day of the month-long NPT Review Conference, and I’m happy to say that we are off to a really good start.  My team and I have met with delegations from many countries, exchanging our views and renewing our commitment to work together towards a successful outcome.   

Many delegations have told us that President Biden and Secretary Blinken’s remarks have been well received, and that it was great to see the United States leading again on these issues.  If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now.  The United States is back, leading on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament as is evident by the President’s statement and the Secretary’s and my presence here this week.   

While here, I am meeting with allies, partners, and others talking about how we can work together to make progress on these very important issues that affect us all.  My colleague, Ambassador Adam Scheinman, the President’s special representative to the NPT, will be here with his team throughout the RevCon representing the administration and working hard to achieve a successful outcome.   

So thank you very much for joining me today.  And with that, I hand it over to you again, Mahvash. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much, Ambassador Jenkins, for your remarks.  I will now go ahead and open the floor for questions.  For the participants here, please raise your hand, and I will call on you and we will go ahead and hand you the microphone.  When you have the microphone in your hands, please go ahead and announce your name and your media outlet kindly.  And for the Zoom participants, if you have a question, please raise your virtual hand and wait for me to call on you.  When you’re called on, please enable your audio and video and please identify yourself by your full name and your outlet.  You’re also welcome to type your question in the main chat room.  So let’s go ahead and open up for questions.   

Great.  Excellent.  You first, sir.  

QUESTION:  Thank you very much, Dr. Jenkins.  Thank you, Mahvash.  My name is Ahmed Fathi of ATN News. I will start – get to the point straight ahead.  The discrepancy – or not discrepancy – the complementing between the NPT and the TPNW, which is as many countries, especially in the developing world, are citing that there – while there is a diligent work on the area of nonproliferation, there is hardly anything on the area of disarmament.   

What is the U.S. position from the TPNW, and what is the U.S. planning to – is the U.S. – I’m sorry – is the U.S. planning to reduce its nuclear stockpile whether unilaterally or within a multilateral frame?  90 percent of the nuclear warheads are between the U.S. and Russia, each possess about 6,000 nuclear warheads.  What is the actions that the Biden administration is taking in that direction?  Thank you.   

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Thank you very much for the question.  Just want to start out by saying that the U.S. has already destroyed about 80 percent of our nuclear stockpile.  And so I want to make sure that everyone understands that the U.S. remains committed to all of its obligations under the NPT including Article VI.  And so we have already in the past, and working with Russia, destroying a lot of our nuclear stockpile.  So I just want to make sure that that’s very clear.   

And on the TPNW specifically, I just want to also say that we agree with the overall goal of the TPNW parties to reduce and – ideas for disarmament.  We agree with that.  It’s an obligation we have under the [NPT] treaty.  The concerns that we have have to do with the process of what’s in the treaty, some of our concerns about the fact that we have to look at the environment – the security environment that exists as we talk about disarmament.  So we have been disarming and we continue to be obligated to do so.  We are living up to our obligation in the treaty.  We share the goals of the NPT – of the TPNW parties about reduction of nuclear weapons.  But we just have some concerns about the [TPNW] treaty itself and also about – not just about the concerns about looking at the security environment, but also some issues about the verification regime as well, which it doesn’t really have one. 

So – but one of the things that we do want to do in the next four weeks is work with all parties to the NPT.  We want to find ways in which we can work with everyone.  We want to listen to what everyone has to say and find ways that we can have an agreed document at the end, working through some of the things that we – some of the differences of opinions that we have with countries.  We want to be very productive. 

QUESTION:  Can I have a follow-up? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yes, please. 

MODERATOR:  Absolutely.  Go ahead, but you have to speak into the mike. 

QUESTION:  What about the threshold countries?  Since now Iran, according to the director of the IAEA, is galloping towards possessing a nuclear weapon.  How does the Biden administration view the threshold countries in this regard? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Well, the NPT – the TPNW is – applies to countries who are a party to that, so I can’t really speak specifically about Iran and the TPNW.  What I can say is we, of course, are still very committed to the JCPOA and to the – having a JCPOA and being able to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in terms of JCPOA and working with all parties to the JCPOA.  But in terms of how Iran views the TPNW or another threshold state works with the TPNW, I’m not quite sure.  So they would have to speak to that because I can’t really – I don’t really – I can’t really say anything about their perspectives on that or how they relate to TPNW. 

MODERATOR:  Sir, please, go ahead and state your name and your media organization and ask your question. 

QUESTION:  Ambassador, thanks for taking part in this.  Mike Wagenheim with i24NEWS.  I’ve got two questions for you. 

Number one, you mentioned you wanted to see a successful outcome out of this Review Conference.  If you can please define what you feel would be a successful outcome.   

And the second part of the question is:  As negotiations are about to resume in Vienna on Thursday, the State Department, the Biden administration has said innumerable times we want to get Iran’s nuclear program back in the box, but really can’t offer a coherent definition as to what that means.  Can you provide some clarity as to what putting the program back in the box means at this point in time?  Thank you.  

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  So in terms of what a successful outcome, I think what we all would like to see is a consensus document.  I think that if you ask most countries – and what we’ve been hearing in statements that have been made by countries is – everyone seeks a consensus document.  But there’s also a recognition that there are challenges right now in the NPT, and so one of the keys in the next four weeks is to find exactly how we can have that consensus document when we know that there are challenges.  I think the most important thing is that countries come to the table in the next four weeks ready to find ways to be pragmatic, to work together to find ways that we can get to that successful outcome.  So that is how we would define it. 

However, I think what’s also important is what happens in these four weeks.  So, of course, the final document is what gets the most light, but these are four weeks, which is – provides an opportunity for countries to talk to each other and share ideas and thoughts about their approaches, discuss where there are differences of opinion.  Hopefully people will – countries will come to the table ready to do that.   

So what is success?  Success is a document that’s a consensus.  However, we do want to find ways that we can work with countries in the next few weeks.  There’s joint statements that we can do, other joint documents, so I really see that these four weeks are a way to really celebrate, reaffirm the NPT 50 years anniversary, look at the challenges, be honest about the challenges, be upfront about the challenges, and then find a way that we can work together to see how we go to the next 50 years. 

As for what “back in the box” means, I would defer to others like Rob Malley and others who are working on the issue exactly what that means.  I understand the question and watching and seeing what’s happening in terms of the enrichment, but how we specifically define that, I would prefer to defer to others on that.  Thanks. 

MODERATOR:  Thanks.  Now I’m going to go ahead and turn to our Zoom audience.  Alex Raufoglu, why don’t you go ahead and unmute yourself, state your full name, and your media organization, please, before asking the question. 

QUESTION:  Yes.  Thank you so much, Mahvash, and thank you, Ambassador Jenkins, for briefing us today.  This is Alex Raufoglu from Azerbaijan’s independent news agency Turan.  The Secretary made it clear that Russia has been using Ukrainian power plant as a nuclear shield.  So my question is about accountability.  I realize that the Review Conference is not necessarily an enforcement mechanism, but I have to ask you:  How can you hold Russia to account?  Thank you so much.   

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  I think what’s important to understand in this situation is that this is a very fluid situation right now with the nuclear power plant, especially Zaporizhzhia.  And a thing to really focus on is the fact that right now we don’t – the IAEA does not have access to that site.  There’s concerns about safety and also safeguards.  Getting an understanding of what’s happening at that site is really the most important thing, and that situation remains right now.  So the real focus and the real question really should be how do we get access to that, because that is fundamental to all of this is making sure that we can understand what’s going on at the site, to make sure that there’s safety and there’s safeguards that we are actually implementing there.  

MODERATOR:  And – go ahead, sir.  We’ll hand you the mike.  Please go ahead and state your name and your media organization before asking.  Thank you.  

QUESTION:  My name is Yusuke Hirata, Sankei newspaper, Japan.  My question goes to the outcome document and Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the nuclear threat.  So are you going to seek outcome documents which criticize or mentions or condemns nuclear threats and nuclear power plants, namely Russia?  This is my question.  

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yeah, I think what’s going to happen is for the next four weeks, as I said, an outcome document, consensus outcome document, is important.  I think in the – we will be clear about Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, very clear about how their nuclear saber-rattling is certainly creating problems in the NPT in terms of some of the overall goals that we’re trying to achieve with the NPT.  And then it will include discussions as well on nuclear power plants and the need to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants.  So whether that will be in the final document, I can’t say because that’s going to be negotiated in the next four weeks.  But it’s surely in everyone’s attention span right now.  Particularly, we’re worried about the safety and the safeguards there.  

MODERATOR:  I’m going to go ahead and turn towards our Zoom audience, so Hyeongjoo Park, please go ahead and ask your question.  Please unmute yourself and also state your media organization, please, and your name.  

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thanks – Ambassador.  My name is Hyeongjoo Park from Voice of America.  And my question today is about nonproliferation challenge around the Korean Peninsula.  As you know, we have seen recently the develop nuclear program of North Korea while the nuclear negotiation between Washington and Pyongyang is going nowhere.   

In addition, we’re also seeing what is happening at this moment around Taiwan with the enclosing – growing concern about increasing Chinese coercion in the region.  So I think it leads South Korean people to worry about its nuclear deterrence more and more.  For example, according to the latest poll, over 70 percent of South Korean population express their support for having its own nuclear power, and it suggests that South Korea is coming to kind of a realization that it needs its own deterrence.  

And also, I heard that there is a fear that the U.S. is influenced by their argument that it you will not trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Seoul in the case of the prices.  So some South Korean people even argue that look, the AUKUS – Australia is supposed to have nuclear-powered submarine.  Why not for South Korea?  Of course, the United States reaffirm its commitment to provide in South Korea with extended deterrence, but I think the more and more people think that there is not enough in South Korea.  

So my question is, do you have any other way to address South Koreans’ growing concern about its deterrence other than reaffirming the U.S. nuclear umbrella?  Thank you.  

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Thank you for the question.  I guess the issue is – I mean, I just want to say just – the U.S. remains very committed to deterrence and extended deterrence for South Korea.  So maybe – I don’t know if we need to say it in a different way, if we need to say it in a different form.  But I just want to make sure you are aware and your colleagues and everyone in South Korea is aware that we are seriously committed to extended deterrence.  And that has not changed at all.  

So I’m not sure – I mean, there may be other ways that we can reaffirm that to make sure that the South Korean – South Koreans are confident that that is what we are doing.  But we do want to reiterate that we are committed to our extended deterrence and to that commitment to South Korea.  And also want to mention that, as you probably know, the administration has been very clear that we are open to talking to North Korea.  And basically, anywhere, anytime that they want to engage with us to talk about these issues, we are ready to do so, and of course working closely with you, your government, and Japan as well in such an effort.   

Unfortunately, as you know, they have not come back to us ready to have any kind of discussions, but we remain open for that as well.  So we are still committed to South Korea for deterrence.  We are open to dialogue with North Korea on a way forward, and we very closely want to work with our allies in the region as well. 

On AUKUS, what I will say is that that’s a – kind of a unique relationship right now that we have with Australia and the UK.  But to reaffirm for those who listen and are also concerned, the U.S. and the UK and Australia all remain very committed to our nonproliferation goals, our nonproliferation obligations under the NPT, as I know that South Korea and Japan is as well.  Thank you. 

QUESTION:  If you don’t mind, may I have a follow-up question? 

MODERATOR:  Please go ahead. 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  So – if so, what’s the Biden administration stance on that stubborn demand from South Korea regarding redeployment of the tactical nuclear power in Korea?  I think – I believe there was also discussion from – also some sort of a demand regarding this from the Japanese people.  So what is the Biden administration stance on that? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yeah, I’m going to have to defer that because I don’t feel like I have all the information I need to respond confidently to that question.  So what I would like to do is get back to you on that. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Any questions on the floor?  Please go ahead, ma’am.  Please state your name and your media organization. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  I’m Kaori Yoshida from Nikkei, Japanese business newspaper.  I wanted to ask – you mentioned briefly about the outcome document.  But what specifically would you like to see in this outcome document?  And also, previously when we thought that this meeting was going to be held in January, the P5 had issued a joint statement.  We have not seen a statement like that this time around.  How do you plan to navigate the tensions growing within the P5? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Well, there’s – for obvious reasons there’s no P5 statement, but there is a P3 ministerial statement that I would encourage you to reference.  So – and there’s other P3 documents that we have come out with. 

In terms of the P5, right now for obvious reasons we don’t have a P5 dialogue because of what the situation – Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  So that’s not going forward.  However, the P5 exists and hopefully one day we will able to get back to that when Russia acts in good faith and does what we think needs to happen in terms of their invasion of Ukraine.   

The – what was the second question?  I’m sorry.   

QUESTION:  What would you like – what would the U.S. like to see in the outcome document? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  What I think we can say on that point at this moment – because we’re at the very beginning stages of the four-week process – what we would like to see is a consensus document that really acknowledges the challenges that we’re facing.  We don’t want a document that we don’t feel is going to be reflective of current situations.  However, we will – it’s a process of negotiation, it’s a process of the late nights and the weekend work that all of our colleagues and folks are going to be doing here to figure out what that document’s going to look like.  But as I said before, there are a number of challenges that we have to address, and we need to find a way that we can address those challenges and at the same time get a document that can be agreed to by everyone. 

MODERATOR:  Any – I know, sir, you had your hand up for a second.  Please go ahead and ask your question, and please state your name and media organization again.  Thank you.   

QUESTION:  Thank you again.  Ahmed Fathi, ATN News.  With regard to the final document, in 2015, there was no final document adopted.  And it was – the rumor was that it was because of the close regarding the WMD-free zone in the Middle East.  Is the U.S. willing to consider that, or that is a steadfast position that the U.S. is not going to support it in favor of Israel, who is not a member to the NPT treaty? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Well, I don’t want to get in front of what might end up in a final document.  But what I will say is that we have been working and – with countries in the region in terms of we know of the interests and the concern and desire for a Middle East weapons-free zone, and we basically – our position is we want countries in the region to be able to talk to each other and find a way that everyone could be involved in those conversations.  And so we have asked that that process move forward in that direction.  We certainly hope that it is not an issue that will be a divisive one, that will create a situation where we will not have a consensus document.  I mean, that among another – a number of other issues, as I mentioned.   

So we recognize that that was an issue in 2015; that was an issue that created some problems in terms of a final document.  And that’s why we need to work from day one, or now day three, on language for the final document so that we can make sure that we address these challenges, and that’s one of them that I’ve been talking about the challenges that exist, that we can address those challenges.   

And of course, TPNW is another one that you raised, and we’ve got to figure out how we address that as well. 

MODERATOR:  Great.  I’m going to go ahead and turn over to our Zoom audience.  Hye Jun Seo, could you please go ahead and unmute yourself?  Please state your full name and your media organization before asking a question.  Thank you.  

QUESTION:  Hi, my name is Hye Jun Seo.  I’m from Radio Free Asia.  I have a quick question about North Korea.  You have tweeted recently that you met with ROK Deputy Foreign Minister Ham Sang-wook and said that PSMX is providing tangible results in combating DPRK sanctions evasion.  But could you provide further explanation on this?  Because North Korea has been constantly violating the sanctions and still managed to develop their nuclear weapons.  And also on the same topic, what more could we do to bring North Korea back to the NPT and ultimately make them abandon its proliferating programs as concerns over North Korea’s seventh nuclear tests continues? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yeah, I think on the first question about the work that we do on the sanctions, I think the important thing to keep in mind is this is an ongoing process in terms of trying to – the sanctions that we have and the sanctions that – that’s violated sometimes.  But it’s an effort that we’re committed to and it’s an effort that we need to keep doing.  And so we have been successful in many of the work that we do on these issues, but the fact that we’re not a hundred percent should not be seen as – seen that it’s not working.  Not only that, we have a very good relationship with South Korea because of the ways in which we work with them on many issues, and this is also a way that we’re strengthening our bilateral – our relationship in terms of North Korean issues.  So I think there’s many factors that happened because of this relationship that we have and the many ways in which we’re working with them on many different facets.   

In terms of bringing DPRK back into the NPT, like I said, at this point they won’t even have a conversation.  So I think before we can do that, we have to at least have a conversation with them.  If they don’t want to come back on their own and we’re not able to really have a conversation with them on these issues, it does limit our abilities.  That doesn’t mean we’re giving up.  That doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep working on this.  That doesn’t mean we are not committed to denuclearization.  It just means it’s a challenge, and it’s (inaudible) challenge.  And we have to continue to find ways to deal with that and continue to push diplomacy as a way in which we can do this, and also continuing to work with our allies and partner in the region. 

MODERATOR:  Any questions on the floor?  Great, I’ll turn back to our Zoom audience.  Faiz Paracha, could you please unmute yourself?  State your full name and your media organization before asking your question.  Thank you. 

QUESTION:  Thank you, Mahvash.  This is Faiz Paracha.  I am representing Pro-Pakistani, and it’s the largest online publishing organization in Pakistan.  So Ambassador Jenkins, thank you very much.  I understand it’s been 50 years of Non-Proliferation Treaty, and only five countries are members.  What are the chances of Pakistan and India joining NPT, or are they being asked to join this treaty? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yeah, so – yeah, 50 years.  We have over 180 countries who are party to it.  We have five countries that are considered nuclear weapon states because they were nuclear weapons possessor states at the time the treaty was negotiated in the 70s.  In terms of – we would – we have a lot of exchanges with Pakistan and India in many respects on many issues.  And so while it would be great to see them a part of the treaty, of course this is a decision that they have to make in their sovereign capacity.  But we continue to work with them on many issues and have discussions and dialogue on many things, including on nuclear issues.  So this is a decision that they have to make, and of course we continue to espouse the value of the NPT, the importance of the NPT, the nuclear nonproliferation regime.  And we talk about our commitment to it and our – all the obligations within the treaty.  But ultimately, it’s a decision that they will have to make, and we can just continue to inform them about all the values of being party to the NPT.   

QUESTION:  Right, thank you. 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Thank you.   

MODERATOR:  Melissa, could you hand the mic to the gentleman on the extreme right?  Yep.  So please go ahead and state your name, sir, and your media organization, and then ask your question.  Thank you. 

QUESTION:  Sure.  Again, it’s Mike Wagenheim with i24NEWS.  You mentioned a hopeful regional approach utilizing your allies and diplomacy is to pull North Korea back into a conversation.  The U.S. has not yet re-engaged with Syria, another problematic nuclear country, but regional allies are starting to re-engage with Syria again.  Is there possibly a similar approach in that avenue? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  I am not sure what the thinking is on that particular issue.  What I will say is it’s an issue that is on our minds.  That is one of the things we have to talk about and think about the next four weeks in terms of the language and what shows up on – regarding the NPT final document.  But we are engaging, of course, many countries in the region, and whether we take that approach, I will have to wait and see.  So — 

QUESTION:  Thank you.   

MODERATOR:  Great, I’m going to go ahead and turn to our Zoom audience again.  Miya Tanaka, could you please unmute yourself, state your name and your media organization, and ask the question, please?  Miya, go ahead.  I think that’s probably a microphone issue with Miya.  Any other questions on the floor? 

Great.  So we’ve received a few pre-submitted questions.  Under Secretary Jenkins, I’m going to go ahead and ask on behalf of those people.  So this is a question from Asahi Shimbun from Japan, and the question verbatim is:  “Can you please clarify the U.S.’s position on the TPNW?  And also do you think anything related to the TPNW should be included in the final documents?” 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Yeah, this relates to the earlier question on the TPNW.  I think I’ve pretty much answered that for the most part in terms of our concerns, our agreement with the underlying goal of the countries who are party to the TPNW, but just a difference in terms of how we see the process.  I mean, the best way to say it is a difference in how we see the process for disarmament and the fact that we have to take into account the security environment in which we’re in, but that we have reduced 88 percent of our nuclear stockpile.  So, yeah.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you for that.  Any additional questions on the floor?  Any – yes, ma’am, go ahead, please.  State your name and your media organization. 

QUESTION:  Hi.  Kaori Yoshida from Nikkei again.  I was wondering if you could elaborate – you mentioned that in the outcome document you wanted the challenges to be included.  You mentioned the TPNW and the Middle East nuclear-free zone.  Are there any other challenges that you would specifically like to see? 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Well, I think we talked about a number of other ones.  We talked Iran, we talked Syria; DPRK, like we’ve mentioned.  So these are challenges that are – we’re dealing with in terms of the NPT, and at a time where it’s the 50th anniversary, we have a chance to look at where we are and what does the future bring and how do we deal with these issues.  So how they are reflected – in what way – in the final document is yet to be seen.  What I – the only thing I will – the only thing I will say is we just want a final document, a consensus document that’s reflective of the challenges that we have today.   

And, of course, our wonderful negotiators in the next few weeks will figure out exactly how these things are reflected in a final document – in what way and what might be in, what might be out.  We just want a final document that’s going to reaffirm the NPT, reaffirm the importance of it to the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and to show that we have been – we are ready to tackle the next 50 years and that we have – we have made some major achievements, though we have some challenges.  And then the specifics within that in terms of how we deal with the challenges is yet to be discussed. 

MODERATOR:  Any other questions on the floor?  I’m going to go ahead and turn to Alan Bulkaty on Zoom.  Please, Alan, go ahead and state your name and your media organization before asking your question. 

QUESTION:  Thank you so much for making the time for us.  My name is Alan Bulkaty.  I’m a correspondent of RIA Novosti news agency.  Madam Jenkins, I have two short questions, please.  First, what hinders the world to become fully free of nuclear weapons, on your opinion? 

And the second, please:  Following up on the statement by President Biden, when the U.S. will resume the strategic dialogue with Russia to discuss the successor agreement for New START Treaty?  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Okay, so what’s hindering us from becoming a world free of nuclear weapons?  As I said, we are making progress toward that.  The two largest nuclear weapon possessor states have been reducing their nuclear stockpiles.  This is a process that we’ve been doing for several years.  We hope to have another treaty that you referenced, the New START Treaty, which is going to be expiring in 2026.  We want to get back to the table and start having dialogue with Russia as soon as they begin to act in good faith regarding their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  We don’t have a specific time when that’s going to happen, but that’s the parameter which we’re looking at at this point, so we don’t have anything more on that point. 

But like I said, as I said about the TPNW, what holds us back is – we have the desire, we have the vision, but we have to also deal with the security environment which we’re living in.  And we also have to look at the fact that we don’t want – there’s other countries that are actually developing more weapons.  So we are in a position now where there’s a desire, I know on the U.S. part and other parts, to get to that goal of a world free without nuclear weapons, but it has to take into account the security environments which we’re in.  And we have to keep working on it in that process and keep our eye on the ball but recognize that we have to take into account current situations. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Ambassador Jenkins.  Pearl Matibe, go ahead and please unmute yourself and ask your question.  Please also state your media organization.  Thank you. 

QUESTION:  Thank you very much and good afternoon, Ambassador Jenkins.  It’s a pleasure to speak to you again.  My question is regarding Africa and nuclear power.  So I’m wondering firstly, on Uganda, have you been following Foreign Minister Lavrov’s visit to Uganda, where he did meet with President Museveni, and the discussion of possible collaboration with Russia?  Uganda is asking for nuclear capability and to start – they’re looking to get their first nuclear power plant.   

And also separately, Iran has reportedly applied to the BRICS to join China, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, and the other countries.  Are you monitoring that situation for any possible nuclear development trends in that area?  So I’m really interested to find out your views on these two things. 

MODERATOR:  Hello.  Could you also state your media organization kindly?  Thank you. 

She’s with 98.7 South Africa, yeah.   

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Okay; all right.  Thank you for the question.  Yeah, I mean, we are following Russia’s discussions about nuclear power around the world and in Africa, been following also China’s interest in promoting nuclear power.  The one thing I will say about that is we always have had a little concern about some of this work because one of the things that we have been promoting strongly in the U.S. is that nuclear power be nonproliferation – abide by nonproliferation principles, safety, and security.  And we’ve had concerns about countries that – not with countries, but with some of the work in nuclear power that Russia and China has been engaging in.   

And so we’ve had concerns about that for a while, and so it is concerning to us when we are hearing about Russia and China engaging countries on nuclear power issues, because we also want to make sure that what’s being done is going to be focusing and be nonproliferation as paramount, and also safety and security.  So just short, I’ll say we are following it.  Of course, these are decisions that countries make on their own as sovereign countries about who they want to engage with. 

But like I said, we are following it, and we also are looking to engage countries as well on some of the things that we’re interested in.  So I think I’ll just leave it at that. 

MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.  Any additional questions on the floor?  Great.  So there is one more question that was pre-submitted by a journalist from Iran International.  Her name is Samira Gharaei.  And essentially, it is: “Are there any concerns at the moment about any violation of the NPT committed by Iran?  If yes, will USA take the matter to its hand or will trust IAEA to resolve the issue?” 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  I think I’ll just – on this point, I’ll just say we just – we have expressed concerns about Iran.  That’s in our compliance report.  So we have had concerns about Iran and NPT obligations.  The IAEA, as you know, performs a job of safety and security safeguards.  They had a very important role in the JCPOA in terms of being able to be on the ground, to be able to do inspections – actually, more intrusive inspections than they’ve had in any other country.  So the IAEA plays an important role in doing that and will continue to play that role.  Hopefully if we have another JCPOA, things will be discussed.  There’s still safeguard issues that are of concern regarding what’s been happening in Iran.  So yes, the JC – the IAEA plays an important role in that in terms of the future and currently in what they do.  So, yeah.  

MODERATOR:  Well, if there are no other questions on the floor or in Zoom, I’m going to go ahead and conclude this meeting – this briefing, rather.  Thank you so much, everyone.  On behalf of the New York Foreign Press Center, I’d like to thank Under Secretary Bonnie Jenkins for being with us.  I really appreciate you enlightening us.  Today’s briefing was on the record.  I will share a transcript with any – everyone who is participating today, and it will also be posted on our website, fpc.state.gov.   

Thank you all and have a wonderful day. 

AMBASSADOR JENKINS:  Thank you, everyone.  

U.S. Department of State

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