The Future of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Regime

Anita E. Friedt
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Arms Control Association Annual Meeting, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, DC
October 20, 2014

Daryl, thank you for that introduction, and thanks to the Arms Control Association for hosting this event. Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman sends his regrets for not being able to attend today, but I am certainly glad to be pinch hitting for him.

I’d like to take a few minutes this afternoon to talk about the United States’ goals and vision for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, as well as our efforts to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. After that, I look forward to engaging with my colleagues here on the panel and answering your questions.

As Under Secretary Gottemoeller stated earlier this month at the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, the United States continues to work on all fronts towards the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. We’re pursuing—and seeking to create—opportunities to further reduce nuclear arsenals, increase confidence and transparency, and cooperate on nonproliferation.

As the Under Secretary said, reaching these goals is a long, and often difficult, process. But we press ahead, because we know that only by continuing our committed, serious work on reducing the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction can we ensure safety and security for generations to come.

The threats we face in the world today remind us all that our work on nonproliferation and disarmament is critical. The challenges to the NPT are real, but the treaty is far too important to fail or be held hostage to impractical demands or agendas that impede lasting progress. A successful Review Conference in 2015 is a priority for the United States.

The United States is committed to pursuing a responsible approach to nuclear disarmament in keeping with our NPT commitment, and I’d like to elaborate on what this means to us. In short, we seek to create and pursue opportunities with our partners to reduce nuclear arsenals, increase confidence and transparency, and cooperate on nonproliferation.

We do not have a predetermined set of steps that must be taken, in any specific order, toward nuclear disarmament. Slow progress in one area will not deter us from seeking headway in others.

Through persistent effort and a clear mandate to reduce nuclear threats, we have made real progress over the last forty years, and over the past 6 years. We have dismantled approximately 1,300 nuclear warheads since 2009. Our nuclear stockpile has dropped 85% from its Cold War peak. Through the New START Treaty, our deployed nuclear forces will drop further to levels not seen since the days of President Eisenhower.

New START is being implemented in a business-like manner, and it continues to reinforce strategic stability. The Treaty remains mutually beneficial for the security interests of the United States and Russia. President Obama has made clear our readiness to discuss further nuclear reductions with the Russian Federation, but progress requires a willing partner and a conducive strategic environment.

It is no secret there are issues on which the United States and Russia disagree. In the nuclear realm, we are urging Russia to help us preserve the mutual benefits of the INF Treaty by resolving our concerns and returning to verifiable compliance with the Treaty. We believe this Treaty remains in the interests of Russia, the United States, and our allies in Europe and Asia.

Despite our disagreements on important issues including Ukraine, we should not stop trying to move ahead in a step-by-step fashion on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament. The United States and Russia worked together to help remove and eliminate Syria’s declared chemical weapons and we are together at the negotiating table with Iran on its nuclear program. Even in the past during the tensest of moments, working together on reducing the nuclear threat has been an important area of U.S. and Russian leadership. Of course, progress towards disarmament is not just the responsibility of the United States and Russia. All states can and must contribute to the conditions for disarmament, as well as nonproliferation; they are two sides of the same coin.

In addition to our bilateral efforts, we have continued to engage in the P5 process to help advance dialogue on nuclear issues. P5 engagement is a long-term investment designed to strengthen the NPT, build trust, and create a stronger foundation to pursue steps toward our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The process has made some gains. Collectively, we reached agreement on a standard NPT Reporting Framework and submitted our first reports at this year’s NPT PrepCom; exchanged briefings on best practices implementing nuclear arms control agreements, such as inspections under New START; and committed to continue work on a P5 Glossary that will increase mutual understanding. Even as we finalize the first phase of glossary work, we are engaging with our P5 partners on how to take this effort forward, including by addressing concepts relevant to future agreements. Ongoing P5 work on critical Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) inspection techniques will help enhance that Treaty’s verification regime.

We also seek to ensure that international verification of NPT obligations remains effective and robust, and that parties uphold the integrity of the Treaty by addressing noncompliance. NPT parties should be clear on this point. IAEA safeguards benefit every party and create confidence that facilitates the fullest possible cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is of paramount importance that the IAEA continue to have the authority it needs to implement safeguards and that Member States provide the resources necessary that meet our common expectations to fulfill the Agency’s mandate.

A key priority is to promote the IAEA Additional Protocol (AP), which – combined with a comprehensive safeguards agreement – represents the accepted standard for verification that states are meeting the NPT’s safeguards requirement. We are prepared to help any state seeking assistance to implement its safeguards obligations. We will also seek consensus on the need to address treaty violations, and on recommendations to address potential abuse of the right to withdraw from the NPT.

As part of our commitment to the NPT, the United States has signed the protocols to the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaties in Africa, Central Asia, and the South Pacific, and we are working with ASEAN states and the P5 to soon sign the Protocol to the South East Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. We have been a party to the Latin America treaty protocols for many years, and would hope that the Senate would provide its advice and consent to the other treaty protocols that have been transmitted to the Senate for consideration This would be a very positive step and would be well received by all NPT parties.

I would also like to stress U.S. leadership in supporting peaceful nuclear energy with parties meeting their nonproliferation obligations. The U.S. record on promoting the availability and sharing of peaceful benefits of the atom speaks for itself. We have civil nuclear cooperation agreements in force, permitting peaceful nuclear cooperation with 46 states, Taiwan, and the IAEA. We are also pursuing agreements with additional partners.

In addition, the United States is by far the largest contributor to IAEA peaceful use programs, including about $150 million in voluntary contributions since 2010 and another $50 million toward the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI) that we helped launch. These PUI programs have addressed the sustainable development needs of over 120 Member States in areas such as human health, water resource management, food security, environmental protection, and nuclear power infrastructure development. We encourage other Member States to join us in supporting this initiative.

Another priority is encouraging new frameworks for peaceful nuclear cooperation that reduce proliferation risks, including through the IAEA fuel bank and similar assured fuel supply arrangements.

So as you can see, the United States takes this work seriously. There is much work happening, and much more to be done. As Under Secretary Gottemoeller said to our friends and colleagues from around the world in New York last week, we are under no illusions that a single solution can put an end to the threat from weapons of mass destruction. That is why we must work together – all of us – to find common ground based on a shared desire to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons. By focusing on our mutual commitments to the NPT and other international agreements, we can succeed in reaching a safer world together.