Sixty-Ninth UNGA First Committee Thematic Discussion on Regional Disarmament and Security
Reflecting our enduring interest in promoting international peace and prosperity, the United States is strongly committed to strengthening partnerships and cooperation with regional and other inter-governmental organizations. Working with our regional partners, we have seen the fruits of our labors in regions that have enjoyed almost unparalleled periods of peace, prosperity and stability. Years of experience have affirmed that nonproliferation and disarmament initiatives at the global and regional levels are mutually reinforcing. As we all know, effective global norms and instruments are implemented at regional, sub-regional and national levels. At the same time, these efforts can build momentum towards initiatives at the global level.
Mr. Chairman, the United States sees great value in collaborative approaches across the whole spectrum of nonproliferation and arms control initiatives, including conventional arms, biosecurity, and nuclear security. For example, in East Asia, the regional nonproliferation and disarmament architecture has steadily developed and increasingly matured to address the challenges to the global regime. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) just finished its second round of Inter-Sessional Meetings on Nonproliferation and Disarmament focusing on each of the three Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) pillars. These meetings have led to periodic workshops in the ARF offering opportunities for concrete cooperation on diverse nonproliferation topics such as UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 implementation, nuclear forensics best practices, and biosafety and biosecurity. In addition, the East Asia Summit (EAS) has emerged as a premier forum for discussing regional security and nonproliferation issues, and these issues were featured in multiple workshops devoted to building national capacity and establishing and strengthening regional cooperation.
In the western hemisphere, the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States are working together using workshops and exercises to enhance their bio-incident readiness and response capabilities. These activities serve as a bridge to strengthen coordination between government officials and representatives from a number of agencies involved with emergency response. As a result of the success and benefits of the OAS and the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), the program is expected to expand throughout the region, where Member States have specifically requested further assistance in drafting and/or reviewing their national emergency response plans related to bioterrorism.
Developing partnerships between regions and international organizations is also key to moving ahead. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and many Member States deserve a great deal of praise for ongoing efforts to coordinate the application of nuclear techniques to address many development challenges at the regional level, including through the corresponding regional organizations such as ARCAL in Latin America and AFRA in Africa. The United States is proud to continue its strong support for these activities, and has provided roughly $188 million in voluntary contributions since 2010. This includes over $50 million, exceeding our initial pledge to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative that we helped launch just four years ago. We are major supporters of nuclear safety and security through cooperation with the IAEA and with partners in every region of the world, leading efforts to promote high standards for safety and security both in established and emerging nuclear programs.
Mr. Chairman, Parties to the NPT have a common interest in strengthening all three of its pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation, and access to the peaceful uses of the atom. It is important that nuclear-weapon-states (NWS) and non-nuclear-weapon-states (NNWS) see nonproliferation and disarmament not as competing goals but as mutually reinforcing efforts toward the common goal of reducing nuclear threats. All states benefit from these efforts, and we have a common obligation to continue making progress in that direction, step-by-step. In this regard, achieving a successful NPT Review Conference (RevCon) is a priority for the United States. We will work with any and all parties interested in advancing realistic, achievable objectives.
Mr. Chairman, we know from history that strong partnerships take sustained effort. We still have challenges. Many delegations have mentioned proliferation crises in the Middle East and Northeast Asia. It is important that we seek to ensure that parties uphold the integrity of the Treaty by addressing noncompliance. IAEA safeguards benefit the security of every Party and create confidence that enables the fullest possible cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Together, we should ensure that the IAEA has the authority and resources needed to implement safeguards that meet our common expectations.
The United States continues to place high importance on the maintenance of the security structure all of us have worked to develop in Europe after the Cold War. Russia’s deliberate and repeated violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine has undermined security in Europe and beyond. The Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document 2011 on confidence-and security-building measures provided some transparency about military activities in Ukraine and western Russia, reflecting the importance of continued implementation and modernization of these agreements. But Russia’s failure to respond meaningfully to legitimate inquiries under Vienna Document provisions has undermined their effectiveness. While arms control agreements cannot substitute for adherence to international law and responsible behavior in the international community, in the face of today’s security challenges, we and NATO Allies and key partners are committed to finding a way forward to preserve, strengthen, and modernize conventional arms control, based on key principles and commitments. NATO Allies have also joined with us in calling on Russia to preserve the viability of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty through ensuring full and verifiable compliance.
Mr. Chairman, the United States is committed to working to bring parties together for the goal of a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone – and we will continue working intensively to convene the Conference as soon as the arrangements can be agreed by the regional parties. There is no substitute for direct dialogue among the states in the region. The conference cannot be imposed by the conveners or facilitator; rather, it must be the regional states themselves that agree on the key points. We remain optimistic that such consensus can be achieved. In every state in the Middle East, there are diplomats who possess vision, creativity and determination, and we will not stop our efforts to work with them in pursuit of this goal.
Mr. Chairman, as we face global challenges together, we should not forget that relationships and interconnections shape our collective work and activities, and we can make real progress. We commend the many regional efforts by states to demonstrate their commitment to all three of the NPT’s pillars, including through establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the South Pacific. These nuclear-weapon-free zones enhance global and regional peace and security, strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, contribute to the goal of nuclear disarmament, and facilitate regional cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The United States recognizes the important role that we and the other NPT nuclear-weapon states can play by signing and ratifying the relevant treaty protocols, and extending negative security assurances. On May 6 this year, the United States signed the Protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (CANWFZ); previously we signed protocols for nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) in Africa and the South Pacific and had ratified the protocols of the NWFZ in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States is committed to this process and looks forward to signing the Protocol to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) as soon as possible. More broadly, the United States has in place a declaratory policy that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-states that are Party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.
Also, consistent with our shared objective of a world free of nuclear weapons, we continue to work toward the goal of seeing South Asia become free of nuclear weapons. To further this goal, the United States has regular ongoing senior level dialogues with officials in the region which cover a range of issues including nonproliferation, disarmament, and regional stability.
Mr. Chairman, as noted in our previous statements, the United States is firmly committed to fulfilling our obligations and working with the international community to take the next steps. The NPT is greater than the sum of its parts, and remains the essential foundation for our common nonproliferation and disarmament goals. Strengthening all aspects of its implementation is critically important. We hope others will approach the 2015 RevCon in this light and focus on agendas that can command consensus.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.