ASEAN Regional Forum 3rd Inter-sessional Meeting on Nonproliferation and Disarmament

Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Las Vegas, NV
February 23, 2011

Good morning and welcome to the Third Inter-sessional Meeting on Nonproliferation and Disarmament of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

I am pleased to see such a strong turnout of ASEAN Regional Forum participants at this third in a series of meetings focusing on the three pillars of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. I would like to thank China and Singapore for co-chairing this meeting and for hosting the two prior meetings.

The ASEAN Regional Forum is an important venue in which to discuss security issues. The process of bringing the issues of nonproliferation and disarmament to the fore within this forum began in 2007 and resulted in the first meeting taking place in Beijing in 2009 on nonproliferation. The following year, Singapore hosted the second meeting on peaceful uses of nuclear power. This year our focus is on the third pillar – disarmament – and we are very pleased to host this gathering.

It is fitting that Las Vegas was selected as the site of this meeting. From here, we are just 65 miles, or 105 kilometers, away from the Nevada National Security Site. Formerly known as the Nevada Test Site and before that the Nevada Proving Ground, this was the location established in 1951 to test U.S. nuclear weapons. Between 1951 and 1992, more than 900 tests were conducted at the site, the vast majority of which were underground tests. Since 1992, and as a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the United States has not conducted a nuclear explosive test, in keeping with our commitment to the CTBT and our moratorium on nuclear testing.

On February 5th, I had the honor of attending the ceremony in Munich where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification, which brought the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – New START – into force.

Entry into force of the Treaty and its ensuing implementation make this a particularly opportune time to discuss next steps in arms control. I recently had the opportunity to discuss next steps with some of our NATO allies and I’m pleased to have this chance to speak with many of our Asian-Pacific partners.

It was nearly two years ago, in Prague, that President Obama spoke about his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and recognized the need to create the conditions to bring about such a world, including by pursuing concrete steps on disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear security.

The Report of the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, emphasized that today, our greatest nuclear threat is no longer a large-scale nuclear exchange, but the danger that terrorists could acquire nuclear materials or, worse, a nuclear weapon. The NPR further notes that, while our nuclear arsenal has little direct relevance in deterring this threat, concerted action by the United States and Russia – and indeed, from all nuclear weapon states – to further reduce their arsenals can assist in garnering worldwide support for strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

As you know, last year was a particularly eventful year in taking steps toward achieving the President’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

In April, we released our Nuclear Posture Review, which I just mentioned, announcing that the United States will reduce not only the number of nuclear weapons in our arsenal, but also the role nuclear weapons play in our national security strategy. The NPR further went on to extend negative security assurances to all non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

Then the New START Treaty with Russia was signed on April 8th.

And later that month President Obama hosted the Nuclear Security Summit, during which approximately 50 world leaders reached a consensus that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and joined the U.S. in its call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years.

These events were quickly followed by the successful Review Conference of the NPT which, as you know, for the first time reached consensus agreement to advance all three pillars of the regime: nuclear nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the pillar we are discussing at this meeting: nuclear disarmament.

The accomplishments of the past year and entry into force of New START have created momentum for taking additional steps in nuclear arms control.

The New START Treaty responsibly limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia deploy, while allowing the United States to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent.

With entry into force of the Treaty, we have—after more than a year-long hiatus, because the START Treaty expired in December 2009— begun implementing an extensive regime of mutual monitoring and information exchange.

The New START Treaty sets the stage for further limits on and reductions in nuclear arms. As President Obama stated when he signed the New START Treaty, once the Treaty enters into force, the United States intends to pursue with Russia further reductions in strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, including non-deployed nuclear weapons.

The Nuclear Posture Review stipulated that the United States will sustain safe, secure, and effective nuclear forces so long as nuclear weapons exist. U.S. nuclear force reductions will be implemented in ways that maintain the reliability and effectiveness of our extended deterrent for allies and partners. At the same time, the NPR highlighted the importance of extending forever the 65-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons.

While negotiated nuclear reductions have to date been dominated by U.S. and Russian negotiations, advancing toward the vision of a safe, secure world without nuclear weapons will increasingly require strengthening cooperation on WMD issues of concern to both nuclear weapons and nonnuclear weapons states.

For example, the P-5 are currently engaged in a dialogue on issues relating to verification, transparency and confidence-building measures, topics on which France will host a conference later this year.

Last year, the United States released newly declassified information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. As of September 30, 2009, the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons consisted of 5,113 warheads. This constitutes an 84 percent reduction from the stockpile’s maximum in 1967 and a greater than 75 percent reduction since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition, 8,748 nuclear warheads were dismantled between 1994 and 2009. We believe that increasing the transparency of global nuclear stockpiles is important to nonproliferation efforts and to pursuing follow-on reductions.

At this conference, you will have the opportunity to consider the relationship between disarmament and nonproliferation and explore new approaches to regional and international cooperation as well.

As we look ahead to the future, I would like to turn to two areas in which we hope to make progress. The first is the urgent need to begin multilateral negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty – FMCT, and the second is our commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The need for an FMCT has been emphasized by multiple NPT Review Conferences, most recently this past May, and it was a central point in President Obama’s April 2009 Prague speech.

An FMCT is an essential and achievable step on a long path towards disarmament, and one that ARF members also can contribute to. The United States is eager to begin these discussions at the Conference on Disarmament, either in formal plenary sessions or in meetings on the margins of the CD. We are extremely disappointed that at least one state continues to block negotiations, frustrating the will of the wide majority of CD members and calling into question the CD’s standing as the world’s principal disarmament negotiating forum. But we are also not standing still. We are stepping up our bilateral and multilateral engagement on technical FMCT issues, with a view to moving the issues forward.

In this regard, I was very pleased with the technical discussions of FMCT issues that were conducted last week by members of the CD.

Although these were conducted as a side event and not formal negotiations, they were nonetheless very useful in helping to lay the necessary groundwork for commencing such negotiations.

The discussion, spanning three days, was free-flowing, with active participation of most CD members. We believe these discussions serve to further illustrate the desire to begin substantive work on an FMCT.

While useful, we understand that these discussions are also not sufficient. The goal is to negotiate. Achieving a verifiable FMCT is an essential condition for a world free of nuclear weapons. If the international community is serious about drawing down, we must constrain the ability to build up.

At the NPT Review Conference, Secretary Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

For some time, we have been doing the “homework” necessary for a successful CTBT ratification effort. Much has changed since the

U. S. Senate declined to provide its consent to ratification of the CTBT in 1999, which was in part due to Senate concerns regarding verifiability of the Treaty and stockpile reliability.

With regard to the first concern, the CTBT’s Preparatory Commission has made great progress in the last decade toward establishing the Treaty’s verification regime. Today, the International Monitoring System is more than 80 percent complete.

As for concerns with stockpile reliability, the implementation of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program has enabled our scientists to understand better how to ensure the safety and security of these weapons in the absence of nuclear explosive testing. We also committed in the Nuclear Posture Review not to develop new nuclear warheads or pursue stockpile stewardship approaches that support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.

The United States has increased its level of participation in all of the activities of the CTBTO’s Preparatory Commission, especially with respect to the Treaty’s verification regime.

Ratification of the CTBT represents an essential step on the path toward a world without nuclear weapons. We believe that the national security of the United States, and all states, will be enhanced when the test ban enters into force.

The nuclear arms control agenda is ambitious and will require enormous efforts from governments, NGOs, think tanks, academics, scientists, advocates and the global community. I am looking forward to hearing the results of the CSCAP meeting later this morning.

Each of the steps I have discussed will move us closer to President Obama’s vision of reducing – and ultimately eliminating – nuclear weapons.

As he said when he signed the New START Treaty: “this is a long-term goal, one that may not even be achieved in my lifetime. But I believed then, as I do now, that the pursuit of that goal will move us further beyond the Cold War, strengthen the global nonproliferation regime and make the United States and the world safer and more secure.”

Thank you again for being here. I look forward to having the chance to discuss with you these issues and others in greater detail.

Thank you.