Main Committee I: U.S. Statement
Special Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Thank you for your draft report. We welcome your efforts and serious approach to starting negotiations on a text. The U.S. delegation has reviewed the draft text for the report of Main Committee I. We would like to make some general comments regarding the draft text.
The draft includes paragraphs that are unacceptable or which we would question as well as paragraphs that may be acceptable but will require work. However, the draft also excludes topics of importance to the United States that we have raised both in our working papers and in our various statements.
Let me start with what is missing from the draft statement.
We have been clear that we believe the step-by-step approach to disarmament is the most realistic means to reaching our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Others have also expressed their support of this approach. In fact, we have demonstrated that this approach has resulted in significant reductions in nuclear forces (85 percent since the height of the Cold War and 82 percent since the entry into force of the NPT). Yet, there is no mention of the step-by-step approach in your text.
Also missing from the draft is an adequate reference to the work of the recently concluded FMCT Group of Government Experts (GGE). While the draft text “takes note of the work,” we believe that the work of the GGE should be welcomed and deserves its own paragraph. Further, the finding that the Shannon report and the mandate contained therein can serve as a suitable basis for the negotiation of an FMCT was an important contribution of the GGE and is missing from the text. It should be acknowledged.
While noting the P5’s now annual meetings, the draft does not reflect the P5’s accomplishments at those conferences. Nor does the text reflect the fact that the P5 engage in intersessional work such as the statements dealing with medical isotopes or with data quality objectives in the CTBT context.
The International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV), while a new enterprise, is not mentioned though it is a multilateral approach that includes both Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon States.
Next let me address things that do not have a place in this section or that are unacceptable.
We have said that it is our understanding of the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons that led to our negotiation of and support for the NPT and that underpins our efforts to move towards a world without nuclear weapons. However, we do not believe that the paragraphs that reference humanitarian consequences (paragraphs 23-26) have a place in the main section of the Main Committee I report. We believe that these paragraphs are best addressed in the chapeau section of the report. In any event, we would take issue with the text of these paragraphs. For example, while we may agree that there is a growing or increased awareness of the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, new research has not demonstrated to us that the risks of nuclear weapons use are greater now than we understood them to be. Indeed, the risk of nuclear use is decreasing among the NPT NWS.
Paragraphs 18 and 19 present one view regarding lowering operation readiness that we have argued is fundamentally flawed. We do not agree with the idea that lowering operational readiness contributes automatically to enhanced security and stability. As we have stated, lowering operational readiness can actually have the opposite effect. It is because we have survivable forces and that we have maximized Presidential decision time, the sole official in whom the launch authority resides, that increases security and stability.
We do not agree with the idea, expressed in paragraph 22, of a requirement to set clearly defined timelines for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The elimination of nuclear weapons cannot be mandated by a timeline but must take into account the willingness of potential partners to participate and the security conditions in the international environment. Also, as we and others have noted, disarmament efforts can take the form of unilateral, bilateral and multilateral efforts that include policy actions as well as legally-binding instruments.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the draft includes paragraphs that may be acceptable but will require work. We are ready to engage in that work.