Disarmament Verification and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Ahead

Remarks
Anita E. Friedt
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Vienna, Austria
March 20, 2015


As prepared

Thank you so much for welcoming me to your class today.

I’m Anita Friedt, and I serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

I want to thank Nikolai and Tamara for their terrific presentations. Their remarks highlight just how far we have come since the dawn of the treaty based arms control in the 1960’s. The earliest pioneers of arms control, who crafted the Limited Test Ban Treaty, were unaware of concepts such as “geospatial modeling.” Likewise, verification has also evolved through several rounds of bilateral U.S.-Russian strategic arms treaties. The earliest—the Strategic Offensive Arms Limitation Treaty—relied on “national technical means,” such as satellite imagery, to verify state compliance. Successive treaties have permitted more intrusive measures that give inspectors on-site access and access to see more things, such as counting deployed nuclear warheads.

Now we need a new generation of creative thinking to help us meet the unique verification challenges that we face in the 21st Century.

Background

Before I go further, it’s worth outlining the broader role of the Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) Bureau in advancing U.S. and international security.

As part of it duties, the AVC Bureau of the U.S. Department of State oversees the entire life cycle of arms control treaties and agreements. At the beginning of the life cycle, it negotiates new treaties such as New START which continues to thrive on its 5th year, taking care that they are effectively verifiable.

After entry into force of treaties and agreements, the AVC Bureau is responsible for carefully monitoring and assessing compliance. Aiding the United States in this pursuit are advanced tools and technologies that provide greater confidence that all parties are complying with a treaty or agreement.

Whether it’s the near 300 International Monitoring Stations of the CTBTO next door or on-site inspections conducted under New START—a strong verification regime is an indispensable ingredient to any successful arms control treaty or agreement. Expanding an inspector’s verification toolkit will create the conditions needed to reduce the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons.

The IPNDV

For its part, the United States is actively working to expand that toolkit and we are very excited at our new venture: the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament, or IPNDV. This new partnership has been launched in conjunction with over 25 countries.

The IPNDV just completed day one of its two-day kickoff meeting in Washington D.C. The Partnership draws upon the expertise of talented individuals to reach a common understanding of the challenges and constraints of future monitoring and verification activities.

The Partnership is unique in that it features both participation from nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states alike. The United States and Russia have accrued decades of verification and monitoring experience, but we certainly do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Also unique is the public-partnership we have formed with the Nuclear Threat Initiative to implement the IPNDV. We are very pleased to have a direct line to NTI’s great minds working on these issues all over the globe.

While the IPNDV is unprecedented in its scope, lessons learned from past disarmament verification initiatives will inform the development of “work streams”—or subject areas deserving of closer study.

The United States—United Kingdom Technical Cooperation Program and the United Kingdom-Norway Initiative are two such past initiatives; both grappled with how to provide confidence and transparency in a country’s declared nuclear weapons and material while, at the same time, protecting sensitive and classified information.

The verification regime of the New START Treaty provides a good basis for a discussion on how future verification challenges could be more complicated than in times past.

Under New START, the inspecting state party verifies a negative—that an item deployed on a ballistic missile, is non-nuclear as the inspected state declares. However, as we get to lower numbers, future treaties will require verifying a positive –that an object declared as a nuclear warhead is in fact a nuclear warhead. This will be complicated by the fact that warheads are not only a fraction of the size of an intercontinental missile—their internal components are closely guarded national secrets.

These challenges in verifying and monitoring nuclear weapons across their entire life cycles will require innovative solutions. And while the magnitude of our task is daunting, it’s not without precedent.

In 1976, the Group of Scientific Experts assembled to solve a seemingly unsolvable task; how can data from hundreds of seismic monitoring stations all around the world be routed to a central location?

Through international collaboration and an infusion of technical expertise, the Group of Scientific Experts influenced the creation of a verification regime that makes it near impossible for a country to elude detection through a nuclear explosives test. Today, the CBTO’s International Data Center, processes information from nearly 300 IMS stations on all seven continents. As I can personally attest having visited the International Data Center myself, it has performed up to specs.

Importance of the NPT

There is no viable alternative to practical, verifiable step-by-step disarmament. That is why we created the IPNDV – to help us make the next steps possible. Those next steps are obligation under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and one the United States continues to embrace.

Our clear commitment to disarmament is one of the key messages we will bring to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in just one month’s time.

Forty-five years into its existence, the NPT, remains the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime. The treaty covers three mutually reinforcing pillars—disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy—and is the basis for international cooperation on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

The NPT owes its longevity to continued salience of the grand bargain: countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access nuclear energy for peaceful uses. As a result, the NPT remains an indispensable tool in the promotion of international peace and security.

When negotiations on the NPT began in the early 1960’s, President John F. Kennedy predicted that as many as 25 countries could acquire nuclear weapons before the end of the decade. It is a credit to the strength and effectiveness of the Treaty—that Kennedy’s forecast never came to pass.

This is why the United States will be working hard to help facilitate a positive NPT Review Conference in New York. Through close work and collaboration, the 2010 Review Conference was a success. By focusing on common goals and consensus, we are fully capable of repeating that success.

The United States understands that the three pillars of the NPT are not competing interests; they are mutually reinforcing—progress on one pillar advances the other two.

President Obama declared in Prague in 2009 that the United States is committed to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. The U.S. commitment to disarmament is unassailable. The President acknowledged that this goal would not happen overnight, but rather as a product of “concrete steps” towards that final end. Of course, it is important to remember how far we’ve come – the U.S. nuclear stockpile today has been slashed 85% since the 1950’s.

More than disassembly of weapons, the United States is committed to preventing the assembly of new ones. That is why we completed the most successful nonproliferation partnership in history. The “Megatons to Megawatts Program” converted 20,000 nuclear weapons worth of weapons grade HEU from Russia into low-enriched fuel for U.S. nuclear reactors. From 1993 to 2013, 10% of all U.S. electricity was produced by material once earmarked for megaton bombs.

As I discussed earlier, the maturation of the CTBTO IMS system is nothing short of incredible. In the United States, we are engaged in a serious effort to inform the public and Members of Congress of how the CTBTO verification architecture has advanced since the CTBT opened for signature two decades ago. Speaking last year from the same strip of islands from where the U.S. Castle Bravo nuclear test occurred, Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller emphasized the benefits of the Treaty—it would stop nuclear arms races in their tracks, thwart countries from testing new warhead designs, and spare future generations from health problems that can develop from nuclear testing.

We are also working to support nuclear-weapon-free zones that advance regional security and bolster the global nonproliferation regime. We were pleased to join with our P5 counterparts last May in signing the protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, and we continue to work with ASEAN toward signature of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty protocol.

Part of moving beyond the “Cold War mindset,” that President Obama referenced in Prague in 2009, is shifting the way nuclear weapons are used in U.S. national security strategy.

Last summer, the United States completed its work to de-MIRV all intercontinental missiles so they carry just one warhead a piece. When combined with our practice of open-sea targeting for sea and land based ballistic missiles and taking heavy bombers off day-to-day alert, the United States has reduced nuclear dangers.

Finally, the implementation of the New START Treaty continues in a businesslike manner by both sides despite tensions in Ukraine. By 2018, the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons will be capped at their lowest levels since Dwight Eisenhower was President in the 1950s.

During that same decade the United States and former Soviet Union were locked in an arms race. Even so, President Eisenhower recognized that the peaceful applications of the atom should be shared with all nations.

One of his most heralded achievements was his “Atoms for Peace” speech, delivered in 1953, which led to the foundation of an international organization – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – charged with the objective to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of nuclear energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.

Conclusion

The United States remains committed as ever to strengthening all three pillars of the NPT. For nearly half a century, the NPT has accomplished the mission it sought out to achieve. Today, there are fewer states that possess nuclear weapons, several have forsworn their nuclear weapon capabilities, and peaceful uses are diffuse as ever.

We realize we have more work to do, but we do not face this challenge alone. The NPT clearly states that it is incumbent upon all nations to work step by step, to realize the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Initiatives like IPNDV is just one step among many that will allow us to reach our goal.

Speaking in Hiroshima, Japan last year, Under Secretary Gottemoeller challenged college students to chart a future distinct from the past. “Your generation, born with the skills to control the new technologies that are also changing our world, will be able to choose a path away from past mistakes, past conflicts. Your generation will inherit a world of nuclear arsenals that you did not have a hand in building, but you will have the power to create a world where they can be dismantled.”

The same applies to the people in this room. Thanks again for having me, and now I’d welcome your remarks.