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Creating The Conditions For A World Free Of Nuclear Weapons
August 27, 2010

Amb Kennedy

August 27, 2010

Remarks of Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy
Permanent Representative of the United States of America
to the Conference on Disarmament

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
World Congress
Basel, Switzerland

Thank you for the introduction. Thanks to all the organizers of the IPPNW for inviting me to take part and to our Swiss hosts for hosting this conference, as well as the many arms control negotiations and the Conference on Disarmament, where I am currently working.

I am delighted to see U.N. Undersecretary Sergio Duarte, whom I also had the honor of hearing recently at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Since this was during the Brazilian Presidency of the Conference, we were also addressed by a senior Brazilian diplomat, who it turned out was Undersecretary Duarte’s son. I was thus inspired to ask the IPPNW if I could bring my own son, Patrick, along in the hopes he might be similarly inspired to follow his parents in this business. And I am certainly grateful that he has the opportunity to be directly exposed to this example of the IPPNW’s dedication to its cause.

I am very pleased to join you for your 19th World Congress, and to be a part of this panel which includes my very distinguished colleague, Ambassador Loshchinin. I welcome this opportunity to talk to you about U.S. arms control and nonproliferation efforts, and about creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons.

In April 2009 in Prague, President Obama articulated a bold vision: to “seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons.” We are committed to this effort no matter how hard it might be, or how long it might take.

The President said that this would take patience and persistence, and he observed that it might not happen in his lifetime. He also said that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

Since that address, much work has taken place that brings us closer to achieving the President’s goal.

The New START Treaty

The most immediate task was to conclude a legally binding agreement with the Russian Federation on strategic nuclear arms reductions to replace the START Treaty, which expired in December 2009. As you recall, this goal was achieved on the anniversary of the Prague speech when Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the New START Treaty on April 8 of this year.

The new Treaty builds on the strong foundations established by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the START Treaty, and the Moscow Treaty. The negotiation of this new Treaty was guided in large part by our many years of experience in implementing those treaties. The resulting New START Treaty combines concepts from START and the Moscow Treaty. It contains a strong and comprehensive verification regime that gives us confidence that the Treaty’s limits are being met and provides for predictability, as did the original START Treaty. But the Treaty also recognizes that we are no longer in a Cold War relationship. Therefore, it follows the Moscow Treaty model of permitting each Party to determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms.

The Treaty’s central limits are: 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers; 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers; and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers. When it is fully implemented, the Treaty will result in the lowest number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads since the 1950s.

Under the new Treaty, items are counted differently from before. While the START Treaty relied on rules that attributed each type of missile with a certain number of warheads, under this Treaty each Party will provide an actual accounting of the number of reentry vehicles emplaced on its deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, with updates every six months. The other Party will have the opportunity to spot-check the declared numbers through on-site inspections.

Because neither Party carries any nuclear armaments on its bombers on a day-to-day basis, the Parties agreed to an attribution rule of one warhead per nuclear-capable heavy bomber, rather than count them with their actual number of zero.

The Treaty’s verification regime will give each Party a window into the other’s strategic forces, while also being simpler and less costly to implement than under START. There are extensive provisions that contribute to the verification of the Parties’ compliance, including notifications, data exchanges, agreed conversion and elimination procedures, inspections, demonstrations, and exhibitions. The Treaty also includes some significant innovations over the START verification regime, such as the provision of unique identifiers – a license plate, if you will- applied to each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber. These will allow the Parties to track each of these items from its production through its eventual elimination. Inspectors will have the right to read the unique identifiers during each inspection in order to confirm the accuracy of the declared data on items at the inspected facility.

The Treaty also provides for an exchange of telemetric information on up to five ballistic missile flight tests per year by each side, as agreed between the Parties. Exchanging telemetric data is not required to verify the provisions of the new Treaty, but exchanging such information is an important transparency measure that we believe will prove valuable to both sides over time.

Since May 13th, when the White House transmitted the New START Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), under the leadership of Senator John Kerry and Senator Richard Lugar, has held an intensive series of hearings ensuring a timely and thorough review of the Treaty. Other Senate committees have held additional hearings. Numerous administration officials, former government and military leaders, and representatives of non-governmental organizations have testified in support of the Treaty.

These national security experts and military leaders understand how vital this Treaty is to ensuring transparency and stability between the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We remain confident that the New START Treaty will receive bipartisan approval by the United States Senate this year.

However, this Treaty is not just about Washington and Moscow. By adding greater stability and transparency to the relationship between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, and by demonstrating that we are living up to our obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), we enhance our credibility to convince other governments to help strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and confront proliferators.

Indeed, the United States and Russia worked together, along with the other NPT nuclear-weapon states parties, to achieve a successful NPT Review Conference this past May. The Review Conference’s Final Document contains a number of important provisions that will help to advance nonproliferation efforts, including strengthening NPT compliance. Its action plan, the first of its kind agreed at an NPT Review Conference, is a particularly important development.


Speaking at the NPT Review Conference, Secretary of State Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. commitments to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to support early multilateral negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament (CD).

As pointed out in the Administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report, U.S. ratification of the CTBT is central to leading other nuclear weapon states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.

Securing advice and consent to ratifying the CTBT will not be an easy task, but we will work closely with the Senate and key stakeholders to achieve this goal. When the Senate declined to ratify the Treaty in 1999, there were two major concerns: verifiability and stockpile reliability. On the first issue, at that time, the International Monitoring System (IMS), which provides us with the capability to detect, identify, and attribute nuclear test explosions, was merely a plan on paper. Now, the IMS is over 80% complete and providing data, including data on the two nuclear tests in North Korea.

On reliability, in 1999, we had little experience in maintaining the safety and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile through sophisticated science-based computational modeling. However, the successful implementation of the Stockpile Stewardship Program has been such that our nuclear experts say that they know more about how these weapons work today than they did when we actively tested them. So I think that, in both of these areas, we will be able to make a strong case in support of ratification.

We also will need to win support of a Senate that has changed significantly since 1999. Our outreach on verification and reliability seeks to convince those Senators who had concerns when the Treaty was last addressed. Just as important, we must engage with the large number of Senators who will be considering the CTBT for the first time. The Administration has commissioned a number of reports, including a National Academy of Sciences report on the CTBT that should be completed in early fall. These documents and others will inform the Senate’s assessment of the CTBT and our ability to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal, as the Senate undertakes consideration of this important treaty.

Finally, U.S. ratification of the CTBT will strengthen our efforts to achieve ratification by the remaining states needed for the Treaty to enter into force.

As I mentioned, pursuing a verifiable FMCT is also part of the U.S. arms control agenda that President Obama articulated in April 2009. This has occupied much of my attention since arriving in Geneva in March.

If the international community is serious about drawing down nuclear weapons, we must constrain the ability to build up. We strongly support getting negotiations started on a verifiable FMCT, which is widely recognized as the next logical step in multilateral nuclear disarmament, and one that is necessary to establish the conditions necessary to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

The NPT Review Conference action plan called on the CD to adopt a balanced program of work that includes a mandate for negotiations on an FMCT. Unfortunately, the CD remains unable to agree on a work program that would allow FMCT negotiations to proceed. We are under no illusions that such a treaty can be concluded quickly; it is for this reason that we cannot afford further delay in getting started.

To focus international attention on the continuing deadlock at the CD, UN Secretary-General Ban will convene a High-Level Meeting of UN member states on September 24 in New York City that will permit all governments, including those which are not represented in the CD, to discuss ways to break the diplomatic impasse on an FMCT. The United States supports this initiative, and will continue to support international efforts to identify a way forward for FMCT negotiations to begin early next year in Geneva.


In the area of transparency, the Western democracies are leading by example. Prior to the NPT Review Conference, France had made public information regarding its nuclear weapons stockpile. At the opening of the Review Conference, the United States released newly declassified information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. The U.S. stockpile of 5,113 nuclear weapons as of September 30, 2009, is 84 percent smaller than the stockpile’s maximum size in 1967.

The United Kingdom subsequently revealed its stockpile numbers. The United States encourages all nuclear weapons states, including China and Russia, to declassify the total size of their nuclear weapons stockpiles and the number of weapons dismantled as we look to pursue further reductions of nuclear weapons in a multilateral framework.

Increasing transparency of global nuclear stockpiles is important to nonproliferation efforts. Greater transparency will facilitate follow-on negotiations, after the ratification and entry into force of the New START Treaty, to control and reduce all nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, strategic and non-strategic.

The Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last April, where President Obama worked with 49 other world leaders, made significant progress in reaffirming and expanding various countries’ pledges to take steps to secure all vulnerable nuclear material within four years and reiterated shared commitments to prevent nuclear terrorism. We also continue to work with Russia and other interested countries to develop a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, so that countries can have access to peaceful nuclear power without increasing the risks of proliferation. We very much support efforts by the IAEA to get an international fuel bank up and running in Angarsk, Russia. In addition, it remains a US goal to obtain IAEA Board of Governors approval for a fuel bank owned and operated by the IAEA to provide an additional measure of assured fuel supply.

Additional Steps in Nuclear Arms Control

I now would like to talk a little about the next steps in nuclear arms control. The New START Treaty represents a transition from the previous treaty regime developed during the Cold War, to the modern era. The Administration is committed to negotiation of deeper, even more meaningful nuclear arms reductions in the future. On signing the Treaty, President Obama noted that it was just one step on a longer journey that would set the stage for further arms reductions. As stated in the preamble to the Treaty, we see the New START Treaty as providing new impetus to the step-by-step process of reducing and limiting nuclear arms, with a view to expanding this process in the future to a multilateral approach. As President Obama confirmed in Prague when he and President Medvedev signed the Treaty, the United States will seek to include reductions in U.S. and Russian non-strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons in future discussions.

We also will pursue high-level dialogues with both Russia and China, aimed at fostering more stable, resilient, and transparent strategic relationships, helping to build confidence, and creating the conditions for further nuclear arms reductions on a multilateral basis in the future.

Deeper reductions that include non-deployed and tactical nuclear weapons will introduce new challenges. Maintaining stability and verifiability may require new approaches and new technologies. This is something that we hope to explore with the other nuclear weapon states in the future.

We have a structure for strengthening the U.S.-Russian partnership – the U.S./Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, which is overseen by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov. One of the Commission’s working groups is on Arms Control and International Security; it is chaired by Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher and her Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. We are interested in using this working group to discuss how to strengthen strategic stability, including approaches to future negotiations, and how to develop an ever more transparent strategic relationship.

At their meeting in June in Washington, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed to pursue further discussions on potential ways to promote strategic stability and a more transparent strategic relationship. We are continuing to work on establishing a mechanism for exchanging early warning data on missile and space launches. The United States and the Russian Federation also are committed to work with our NATO partners, and other European states, to strengthen and modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe for the 21st Century.

The United States also is interested in engaging with Russia on the further transparency of fissionable material, on warhead control, and on technical issues of verification, compliance, and implementation. The negotiation of New START uncovered areas where technological progress warrants additional bilateral work, such as improving radiation detection equipment that can identify and count nuclear warheads without revealing classified design information.

Finally, we also continue to work with other nations to secure and eliminate excess stocks of proliferation-sensitive nuclear materials worldwide. Joint activities with Russia are being conducted to promote the safe use of civilian nuclear power and the U.S. is working towards the entry into force of the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

An example of a successful approach is the Megatons to Megawatts Program, which is a commercially financed government and industry partnership in which weapons-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads is being down-blended into low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel for American nuclear power plants. Today, half the nuclear-generated electricity in the United States (and about 10 percent of our total electricity) comes from down-blended Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU) acquired through the U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement. This program has blended down, or is in the process of blending down, 500 tons of weapons-origin HEU, which included down-blending 17.4 tons of HEU to create a fuel reserve to provide fuel supply assurances to partner countries. As of June 30, 2010, a total of 391 metric tons of bomb-grade HEU has been recycled into 11,288 metric tons of LEU. That is the equivalent of 15,633 nuclear warheads eliminated.


I would like to conclude with a note about the advocacy role played by organizations such as yours. For 30 years, you have worked to create a more peaceful and secure world free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. Although we live in a different world from when the IPPNW was established in 1980, and the threats that we face are different from those of the past, we must continue to remain focused on what each and every one of us can do to make the world safer today and for future generations.

The last year-and-a-half has seen a tremendous amount of attention paid to the issues on which you advocate. I encourage you to keep working to have your voices heard in the 60-plus countries which you represent. What you do is making a difference, and it is helping to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Thank you.