In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced AUKUS – a new security partnership that will promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable. The first major initiative of AUKUS was our historic trilateral decision to support Australia acquiring conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). Together we will deliver SSN-AUKUS – a trilaterally developed submarine based on the United Kingdom’s next-generation design that incorporates technology from all three nations, including cutting edge U.S. submarine technologies. Australia and the United Kingdom will operate SSN-AUKUS as their submarine of the future. Australia and the United Kingdom will begin work to build SSN-AUKUS in their domestic shipyards within this decade.
In order to deliver conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines to Australia at the earliest possible date, we intend to pursue the following phased approach, moving through each phase based on mutual commitments from each nation:
- Beginning in 2023, Australian military and civilian personnel will embed with the U.S. Navy, the Royal Navy, and in the United States and United Kingdom submarine industrial bases to accelerate the training of Australian personnel. The United States plans to increase SSN port visits to Australia beginning in 2023, with Australian sailors joining U.S. crews for training and development; the United Kingdom will increase visits to Australia beginning in 2026.
- As early as 2027, the United States and United Kingdom plan to begin forward rotations of SSNs to Australia to accelerate the development of the Australian naval personnel, workforce, infrastructure and regulatory system necessary to establish a sovereign SSN capability.
- Starting in the early 2030s, pending Congressional approval, the United States intends to sell Australia three Virginia class submarines, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. This step will systematically grow Australia’s sovereign SSN capability and support capacity.
- In the late 2030s, the United Kingdom will deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Navy. Australia will deliver the first SSN-AUKUS built in Australia to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.
Read more here in the White House AUKUS fact sheet.
Biological Weapons Convention
The United States is a Depositary Government for the Biological Weapons and Toxin Convention (BWC), which bans the development, production and stockpiling of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. States Parties work to strengthen the Convention at annual Meeting of Experts and Meetings of States Parties, as well as review conferences taking place every five years. These meetings address all aspects of the Convention, including international cooperation and assistance in areas like disease surveillance capacity-building; developments in science and technology and the responsible conduct of the life sciences; national implementation of the Convention in laws and regulations; preparedness and response to suspicious outbreaks of infectious disease; and the institutional strengthening of the BWC. Learn more about the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA,” or “the Act”) (Pub. L. 115-44,) was enacted on August 2, 2017. The Act states that the President shall impose five or more of the sanctions described in Section 235 of the Act with respect to a person the President determines knowingly, on or after such date of enactment, engages in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation. The President delegated to the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the authority to implement Section 231 on September 29, 2017. Learn more about the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) Working Group seeks to identify ways to improve the international security environment in order to overcome obstacles to further progress on nuclear disarmament. Officials from 43 countries, representing nuclear-weapons States and non-nuclear-weapons States, as well as some not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), have participated in the CEND Working Group. The CEND Working Group Kick-off Plenary took place July 2-3, 2019 in Washington. This meeting demonstrated that an open, constructive dialogue can frame future collaborative efforts to develop practical recommendations that can enable real and sustainable progress on disarmament. Participants met for the second time at the CEND Working Group Meeting on November 20-22, 2019 at Wilton Park in the United Kingdom. At this second meeting, participants continued the dialogue established in Washington and began to lay the groundwork for translating this dialogue into action by developing Concept Notes for each of the three CEND subgroups:
- Subgroup 1: Reducing perceived incentives for states to retain, acquire, or increase their holdings of nuclear weapons and increasing incentives to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons. (Co-chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands)
- Mechanisms to bolster nonproliferation efforts and build confidence in and further advance nuclear disarmament. (Co-chaired by the Republic of Korea and the United States)
- Interim measures to reduce the risks associated with nuclear weapons. (Co-chaired by Finland and Germany)
In August 2022, President Biden signed the CHIPS Act, a U.S. federal statute enacted by the 117th United States Congress that provides billions of dollars in new funding to boost domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors in the United States.
The International Technology Security and Innovation Fund, appropriated under the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022, provides the Department of State with $500 million — $100 million per year over five years, starting in Fiscal Year 2023 — to promote the development and adoption of secure and trustworthy telecommunications networks and ensure semiconductor supply chain security and diversification. The ITSI Fund is separate and distinct from funding appropriated to the Department of Commerce and other agencies under the same Act. Read more about the CHIPS Act here.
Cooperative Threat Reduction
ISN’s Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR), which manages the Global Threat Reduction (GTR) program, utilizes foreign assistance to prevent proliferator states and terrorist groups from developing or acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and delivery systems that could threaten the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests abroad. These efforts include disrupting the funding, transport, and acquisition of WMD material, technology, and expertise by proliferator states such as China, DPRK, Iran, Russia, and Syria, as well as preventing WMD attacks by ISIS and other terrorist actors. Funded by the nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, demining and related programs (NADR) account, CTR programmatic lines of effort include the Biosecurity Engagement Program, Chemical Security Program, Counterproliferation Program, Iraq Program, Partnership for Nuclear Threat Reduction, and Special Projects. Learn more about Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR).
Export Control and Related Border Security Program
The Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program is the United States Government’s premier initiative to promote harmonization of national strategic trade control practices with international standards. The EXBS Program accomplishes this goal by engaging on bilateral, regional and multilateral levels with foreign governments to aid in the establishment of independent capabilities to regulate transfers of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), WMD-related items, conventional arms, and related dual-use items, and to detect, interdict, investigate, and prosecute illicit transfers of such items. The EXBS Program organizes a number of international events to bring national policymakers and technical experts together, including the International Conference on Export Controls, the Global Transshipment Seminar and the Proliferation Financing Conference. Learn more about Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS).
Fighting Nuclear Terrorism
Fighting nuclear terrorism is a continuing national security priority. To learn about our programs go to the Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction. More information about our counter nuclear smuggling unit is also available on the WMDT office page.
The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), co-chaired by the United States and the Russian Federation, is a voluntary partnership of 89 nations and six official international observer organizations that are committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. Partners have endorsed a set of core nuclear security principles across the full spectrum of nuclear terrorism deterrence, prevention, detection, and response objectives. To advance this mission, GICNT has conducted more than 100 multilateral activities, including technical experts meetings, scenario-based dialogues, workshops, seminars, tabletop and field exercises, which strengthen the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of partner nations.
For more information about GICNT, please visit GICNT.org or email GlobalInitiative@state.gov.
The International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) advances critical U.S. interests related to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, strengthening global nuclear safety and security, and promoting the peaceful applications of nuclear energy, science, and technology. Founded in 1957, the IAEA promotes “Atoms for Peace and Development” organization functions as the global focal point for supporting the safe, secure, and peaceful development and use of nuclear science and technology. Learn more about the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Multilateral Export Control Regimes
- Missile Technology Control Regime
- Nuclear Suppliers Group
- In June 2013, the Plenary in Prague, Czech Republic requested IAEA publication of changes to the Trigger List and Dual Use Control List following a three-year fundamental review of the Nuclear Suppliers Group control lists
- In June 2012, the Plenary in Seattle, Washington, invited Mexico and Serbia to participate as observers and agreed that Mexico had completed all the necessary steps for consideration of membership and that the intersessional procedure should begin to confirm consensus. The Plenary endorsed the outgoing NSG Chair’s recommendations in support of a continued active outreach program with non-member states
- In June 2011, the Plenary in Noordwijk, Netherlands approved new controls over transfers of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology
- Wassenaar Arrangement
- Plenary Meeting Approves Updated Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods, December 11, 2012, Vienna Austria
The United States imposes sanctions under various legal authorities against foreign individuals, private entities, and governments that engage in proliferation activities, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Learn more about Nonproliferation Sanctions.
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signature July 1, 1968, and entered into force on March 5, 1970. The NPT comprises legally binding nonproliferation commitments and is the basis for international cooperation on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Learn more about the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
During 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency established the Peaceful Uses Initiative to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The PUI supports implementation of Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires NPT States Parties that are in a position to do so to cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Nuclear Weapon Free Zones
Nuclear-weapon-free zones are agreements intended to provide a legally binding framework to prohibit the use, possession, or deployment of nuclear weapons in a geographically defined zone. The international community has long considered the establishment of such zones an important disarmament measure and called for their establishment to be encouraged, with the ultimate objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Article VII of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons states, “Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.”
The United States has historically supported NWFZs on the grounds that, when properly crafted and fully implemented, they can contribute to international peace, security and stability. They can also reinforce the NPT and the world-wide nuclear nonproliferation regime. By signing and ratifying the relevant protocols to NWFZ treaties, the five nuclear weapon states recognized by the NPT (the “P5”) give legally binding assurances to the states parties to these NWFZ treaties that they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them. These are called negative security assurances. The United States makes decisions on whether to sign these protocols on a case-by-case basis, based on the following criteria:
- the initiative for the creation of the zone should come from the States in the region concerned;
- all States whose participation is deemed important should participate;
- the zone arrangement should provide for adequate verification of compliance with its provisions;
- the establishment of the zone should not disturb existing security arrangements to the detriment of regional and international security or otherwise abridge the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense guaranteed in the Charter of the United Nations;
- the zone arrangement should effectively prohibit its Parties from developing or otherwise possessing any nuclear device for whatever purpose;
- the establishment of the zone should not affect the existing rights of its Parties under international law to grant or deny other States transit privileges within their respective land territory, internal waters, and airspace to nuclear powered and nuclear capable ships and aircraft of non-party nations, including port calls and overflights; and
- the zone arrangement should not seek to impose restrictions on the exercise of rights recognized under international law, particularly the high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight, the right of innocent passage of territorial and archipelagic seas, the right of transit passage of international straits, and the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage of archipelagic waters.
The United States and other members of the UN Disarmament Commission in 1999 adopted by consensus guidelines for the establishment of NWFZs that the UN General Assembly later endorsed. There are currently five NWFZ treaties in force:
- The Treaty of Tlatelolco covers Latin America and the Caribbean;
- The Treaty of Pelindaba covers Africa;
- The Treaty of Rarotonga covers the South Pacific;
- The Treaty of Bangkok covers Southeast Asia;
- The Treaty of Semipalatinsk covers Central Asia;
The United States has signed and ratified the relevant protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the first agreement prohibiting nuclear weapons in a populated area. The Treaty celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening for signature on February 14, 2017:
Press Statement: 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco
DipNote: Celebrating 50 Years of the Treaty of Tlatelolco
At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the United States announced it would submit the Protocols to the Treaties of Pelindaba and Rarotonga, which the United States had already signed, to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. This was done in 2011. The United States was also prepared to consult with the parties to the Treaties of Bangkok and Semipalatinsk in an effort to reach agreement that would allow it to sign those treaties’ protocols. In 2014, the United States along with other members of the P5 signed the protocol to the Treaty of Semipalatinsk, and in 2015 the United States submitted the protocol to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. Consultations on issues related to the Treaty of Bangkok are ongoing.
Proliferation Security Initiative
ISN’s Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives leads Department involvement in the Proliferation Security Initiative, through which more than 100 nations have pledged to take action to stop shipments of WMD, their delivery systems, and related items. PSI states cooperate to prevent proliferation and strengthen national capacities for action. The responsibilities entailed in the PSI include leading and/or coordinating PSI activities, bringing additional nations into the Initiative, and negotiating bilateral PSI ship-boarding agreements. States from all regions of the world have endorsed the PSI Principles of Interdiction and participate in PSI. Learn more about the Proliferation Security Initiative.
UN Security Council Resolution 1540
In April 2004, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1540, which affirms the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, by non-state actors, constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The resolution requires all UN member states to take and enforce effective measures against the proliferation of such weapons and their means of delivery to non-state actors, and to combat illicit use of related materials. These measures significantly strengthen and improve coordination of international efforts to prevent terrorists and proliferation networks from gaining access to WMD.
The United States has reported the legal measures it has put place to implement its obligations under resolution 1540. They include measures regarding nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, delivery systems, and related materials, equipment and technology. The UN has published the United States’ reports and those of 182 other countries and the European Union in the six UN languages. Experts for the UN 1540 Committee have harmonized all data of this kind provided in voluntarily submitted national reports, using a matrix of more than 300 implementation indicators. The matrices can be cross-referenced and used to measure national legal-regulatory progress towards global counterproliferation objectives. U.S. implementation of resolution 1540 reflects a “whole-of-government” approach. U.S. reports to the 1540 Committee include in-depth reporting on updates to U.S. laws, regulations and policies, and offer detailed data regarding the projects, initiatives and best practices the United States is using to protect the international community from non-state actor, including terrorists, seeking to acquire or transfer WMD-related goods and know-how. Learn more about the UN Security Council Resolution 1540.