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2010 NPT Review Conference
June 24, 2010


Annual NATO Conference on WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation


June 24, 2010

Remarks by the U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
Ambassador Laura Kennedy


The NPT and Disarmament

It’s a pleasure to be here today to talk about the 2010 NPT Review Conference which was the first that I attended. Frankly, I am still trying to “process” that month-long experience as we all now re-group and focus on the way ahead. The opportunity to hear from other participants in the Review Conference is invaluable and I thank the organizers for making this possible.

It is particularly fitting for an American like me to discuss this topic here in Prague. Our Czech hosts provided the platform for President Obama to set forth his vision of a world without nuclear weapons and to set out a specific agenda to move towards that goal. That “Action Plan” in fact was the point of departure for our own intensive efforts to prepare for the NPT Review Conference.

As NPT veterans know, the three main committees at the 2010 NPT Review Conference paralleled in their focus the three pillars of the NPT: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As the U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, I led our delegation’s participation in the RevCon’s Main Committee 1 on disarmament under the outstanding overall leadership of Susan Burk. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed our delegation and was heavily involved in the lead-up to the Conference as was our Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher.

All of us felt strongly that the original ‘grand bargain’ of the NPT should be reflected in a similar balance at the Review Conference, addressing all three of the NPT pillars.

We therefore approached the RevCon well aware of the importance of addressing disarmament while we sought strengthened non-proliferation provisions and recognition of the rights and responsibilities involved in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This was a major test of whether the international community i.e. the 189 member states of the NPT, could collectively agree on a road-map for nuclear disarmament by creating the conditions under which it can be achieved in a stable and secure way.

That said, we of course recognize the particular role that the U.S. and other nuclear-weapon states must play in realizing that goal. We came to the RevCon prepared to speak both to our past activities in this direction and to discuss possible future steps.

U.S. Record on Disarmament

The United States’ own commitment to disarmament is clear.

Since President Obama’s April 2009 Prague speech, we have released a new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review that reflects the President’s commitment to reduce both the numbers and the role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy.

The NPR also includes the new U.S. negative security assurance policy which removed the Cold War caveats and made compliance with nonproliferation obligations the only condition.

No one in Prague needs reminding that we signed the New START Treaty with Russia in April which reduced the number of deployed nuclear weapons to their lowest level since the 1960s.

These actions provided concrete demonstrations of our efforts to realize the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. We described them and other progress that has been made in a 60-page information paper shared with the Review Conference. We also hosted with Russia a joint briefing by our lead START negotiators and held another high-level side event in which senior officials from State, DOD and DOE discussed disarmament more generally.

Additionally, Russia introduced on behalf of the P-5 states a wide-ranging joint statement supporting and detailing disarmament steps taken individually and collectively and reaffirming P-5 commitment to many of the core nuclear nonproliferation principles embodied in the NPT. This statement also had an impact in setting the tone of the conference.

New U.S. Initiatives

We started the NPT RevCon off strong with Secretary Clinton’s opening remarks to the RevCon, in which she announced the release for the first time of the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, as well as the number of weapons we have dismantled each year since 1994.

This release of information increased the already considerable degree of transparency about the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, and was intended to serve both as an important confidence building measure, and as a response to international calls for “accountability.”

The second U.S. announcement conveyed our intention to submit to the U.S. Senate for ratification protocols to the Treaties of Rarotonga and Pelindaba, creating, respectively, the South Pacific and African nuclear-weapon-free zones. We believe that such zones, when carefully crafted and enjoying the support of all parties in the respective regions, can be instruments of international peace and security.

Ratification of these treaty protocols involves legally-binding negative security assurances not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against these states. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are the means through which we extend such legally-binding assurances; more than sixty non-nuclear-weapon states lie within these two nuclear-weapon-free zones. Tlatelolco, of course, covers another substantial group of states.

The announcement of these measures at the RevCon underscored that we were prepared to address all pillars of the NPT during the conference. Secretary Clinton further showcased our commitment to a balanced NPT by announcing a new initiative to raise an additional $100 million to support peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including a pledge of $50 million. This built on our record as the single largest contributor to the IAEA’s technical assistance programs.

U.S. Disarmament Goals

While proud of our previous disarmament achievements, and arriving at the RevCon with new initiatives in hand, we also had clear RevCon goals for Main Committee 1 in pushing forward with further steps towards disarmament.

In particular, we sought language that would:

  • Reaffirm the unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, while recognizing concrete disarmament actions taken by some nuclear-weapon states
  • Recognize the New START Treaty, and commit to further U.S.- Russian reductions in a follow-on treaty
  • Commit to bringing the CTBT into force at an early date, and endorse a global moratorium on testing pending its entry into force
  • Call for negotiations on an FMCT with verification, and endorse a global moratorium on fissile material production for use in nuclear weapons
  • Recognize and encourage further action for the permanent and verified disposition through peaceful use of fissile material declared excess to military needs;
  • Call for the application of the principles of verification and irreversibility in the arms control and disarmament process, as well as increased transparency in a way that promotes international stability and security
  • Recognize the role that nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties play in strengthening implementation of the NPT
  • Encourage all nuclear-weapon states to engage in the nuclear disarmament process, as appropriate
  • Recognize that all states have a responsibility to help achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

The Main Committee Work and the Formation of a Final Document

At the end of the first week of the RevCon, which was dominated by plenary statements by States Party, Main Committee 1 began its work in earnest under Chairman Chidiyausiku of Zimbabwe. Subsidiary bodies were formed early on, with Austrian Ambassador Axel Marschik appointed to chair Subsidiary Body 1 and to draft the Main Committee 1 report.

We shared with the Chair U.S. proposals for inclusion in this final report in the initial Committee meetings, as did the NAM and numerous other states. It was clear from the beginning that agreement on some issues would be highly problematic, in particular those related to a time-bound nuclear weapons convention.

In opening statements to the Committee, divisions quickly became apparent, with Iran in particular criticizing nuclear-weapon states and their disarmament record and intentions. No surprise, the U.S. was the chief target of the Iranian comments. Other states, however, welcomed the steps taken by the Obama administration, such as its shift in nuclear policy represented by the U.S. nuclear posture review. It soon became clear that many states placed particular importance on the need for legally-binding unconditional negative security assurances. There was also widespread disappointment at the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to begin FMCT negotiations.

At the beginning of the second week of the RevCon, President Cabactulan conveyed his plan that Main Committee 1 look backwards at disarmament achievements, while the Subsidiary Body would focus on an action plan moving forward. Drafts of these documents reflected the lack of consensus for the more far-reaching disarmament measures called for by some Parties, such as complete denuclearization by 2025.

The issue of a nuclear weapons convention was also heavily debated. A number of states called for timelines leading to such a convention and the prohibition of nuclear weapons. However, the United States was joined by many in recognizing that disarmament must be pursued in a step-by-step fashion, so as to ensure that it is approached in a secure and stable way. We actively consulted with many key states, including many members of the 116-strong NAM group. While calls for a time-bound nuclear weapons convention exceeded what we could accept in a final document, we were more than ready to consult with supporters of such measures to develop mutually-acceptable language.

At the end of the second week, a first draft of Main Committee 1 final language was circulated by the Chairs. We intensified our coordination with other P-5 states, fellow members of our regional group WEOG, members of the New Agenda Coalition and the NAM, both via Egypt as the NAM and NAC chair and individually.

The MC I Chair appointed three additional representatives to coordinate comments on key issue areas (my CD colleague from Brazil. Amb. Macedo Soares on security assurances, CD Japanese Ambassador Suda on CBM’s and Oslo MFA official Steffen Kongstadt on nuclear disarmament.) As states reviewed the draft document and provided comments to the Chair over the course of the third week, compromise language was emerging. Both Main Committee 1and Subsidiary Body 1 produced second and third drafts by the end of the third week of the conference. At this stage, timelines had been removed from discussion of a nuclear weapons convention, and the U.S. delegation found the draft to be quite strong

Some difficult issues remained, however, such as a specific reference to stationed forces. We had been willing to include language alluding to future reductions of strategic and non-strategic weapons (reiterating one of the “Thirteen Steps” from 2000,) but Russia refused a specific reference to NSNW, noting that it no longer considered the “Thirteen Steps” to be operative as a whole. We quickly proposed alternate language pledging the NWS to “address the question of all nuclear weapons regardless of their type or their location as an integral part of the general nuclear disarmament process.” The specific reference to “stationed forces” did not drop out until the final draft. As indicated, we were more than willing to include reference to NSNW’s but objected to any reference to “stationed” forces as a category which is not included in the NPT and which was clearly intended to cast an aura of illegitimacy over NATO. In fact, the Iranian representative repeatedly attacked NATO nuclear policy as a violation of the NPT, which I rebutted several times. Generally, my policy was to correct false statements when made initially but not to rise to the constant Iranian baiting. Our intent was to engage on substance and avoid polemics to the extent possible.

At the end of the third week, drafts were forwarded to the Plenary with the understanding that they did not command consensus within Main Committee 1. By Tuesday of the final week, a consolidated draft document had been circulated, and states began to make comments on this draft section by section. We were largely content with much of the disarmament language, and sought to balance further edits across all three pillars. However, NAM countries, in particular, continued to call for more far-ranging provisions on disarmament while we persevered in seeking strengthened non-proliferation language. Amb. Yelchenko, of course, is the expert on that area.

As the end of the conference approached, discussion of the action plans grew fairly contentious, with many delegations asking for significant revisions of many sections. Predictably, negotiations of the Middle East section of the document were difficult, remaining outside of the plenary until the very end. Alison Kelly did a remarkable job dealing with that issue, over which my government had labored at high-levels for months with a number of partners. It is no secret that my government was disappointed with the language on the Middle East but nonetheless joined the consensus and hailed the overall achievement of the Conference.

As language differences were smoothed over, and language on the Middle East issue emerged, the question of whether or not the document could command consensus remained open. On the final day of the conference, it was announced that the President’s document would be treated as two distinct parts: the first, looking backwards, was issued only as a submission from the President, with no formal consensus. The second piece comprised of three action plans, was adopted by consensus.

Looking Forward: The Disarmament Action Plan

The disarmament Action Plan was coordinated by the truly outstanding Axel Marschik of Austria, a model of discipline, energy and even-handedness. This plan commits all Parties to take steps compatible with the objective of a world without nuclear weapons. It goes into considerable detail as to how this objective should be pursued, emphasizing the need to apply principles of irreversibility, verifiability, and transparency.

The document notes the disarmament proposals of the UN Secretary General which included the formulation of a step-by-step process leading to general and complete disarmament, an alternative welcome to us, as well as the notion of a nuclear weapons convention. While the ultimate goal of both of these alternatives is the same, we feel that a step-by-step approach more practically and responsibly recognizes the complexity of this effort, the need to tailor individual regimes, including verification measures, to respective elements of the overall disarmament process, and the need to reflect evolving events in a way that encourages stability. We believe this to be the correct path forward and are committed to conscientiously walk that walk in the months and years ahead.

The disarmament Action Plan essentially met our goals, except for the moratorium on fissile material production for use in nuclear weapons.

This plan commits all Parties to pursue policies that are compatible with the objective of a world without nuclear weapons, including applying principles of irreversibility, verifiability, and transparency.

The plan calls on the United States and Russia to discuss follow-on measures in order to achieve deeper reductions in their arsenals beyond those called for in the New START Treaty. Both of our governments are committed to such discussions.

Moreover, the action plan calls on the P5 to engage with a view:

  • To undertake efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, strategic and non-strategic,
  • To diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in security policies, and
  • To reduce the risk of accidental use of nuclear weapons.

We look forward to discussing the modalities of such engagement with our P5 partners. It is important to recognize that P5 discussions on these topics are new and pursuing these issues in the P5 framework represents a significant development.

The action plan assigns great importance to the adoption of legally-binding negative security assurances, and calls out the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties in establishing such assurances.

Having announced our intention to ratify relevant protocols to two more of these treaties, the United States is prepared to pursue additional legally-binding obligations in this area. We are ready to work actively with other states with regard to other NWFZ’s (Central Asia and Southeast Asia).

On nuclear testing, the action plan calls on nuclear-weapon states to ratify the CTBT. The United States is currently laying the groundwork for successful ratification, but does not have a specific timetable yet.

In the meantime, we are pleased that the action plan commits Parties to refrain from nuclear weapon testing, as we ourselves have done since 1992.

The United States will continue to support the full development of the CTBT verification regime, as encouraged by the action plan.

The action plan gives particular attention to the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, calling on the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a program of work that allows FMCT negotiations to begin. We of course fully support this outcome. The RevCon document also invites the UNSYG to convene a high-level meeting in support of the CD’s work.

The United States joins other NPT Parties in their frustration with the continued inability of the CD to carry out its work. We believe that the objections of a single state should not prevent the CD from moving forward on important disarmament measures which command near-universal consensus, i.e. an FMCT.

The RevCon identified areas where the Conference on Disarmament should forge ahead with a program of work. We look forward to the CD adopting a balanced program of work, including negotiations for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, but also discussions of other core issues such as nuclear disarmament , space and negative security assurances.

Finally, the disarmament steps called for by the action plan are to be reported on by the nuclear-weapon states at the 2014 PrepCom. The U.S. has already reported on a voluntary basis on our disarmament activities for many years and will continue to do so.


We view the adoption of a final document as a solid success for the NPT and for the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime. This is only the fourth such document in the Treaty’s 40 year history; the active engagement and eventual compromises that produced this document demonstrates the continued commitment of Parties to the Treaty. This represents a “reset” of the NPT, to borrow a phrase from Secretary Clinton.

This document, and the successful Review Conference that it crowned, emerged from cooperative engagement by NPT Parties and the hard work of the RevCon President and Committee chairs. We look forward to continuing to work with our fellow Parties in other appropriate venues to carry out the commitments made at the RevCon.

In particular, I hope that the Conference on Disarmament will be able to contribute meaningfully to this agenda after years of stalemate. The Obama Administration is committed to a comprehensive program of unilateral, bilateral and multilateral efforts to deal responsibly with disarmament objectives. As part of this effort, I believe we should also examine our international arms control machinery to ensure that it is suited to the post-Cold War era and the challenges of the 21st century

Thank you very much.