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Remarks by Ambassador Kennedy at the IISS Global Strategic Review Meeting
September 12, 2010

Ambassador Kennedy

By Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy
The 8th IISS Global Strategic Review
‘Global Security Governance and the Emerging Distribution of Power’
4th Plenary Session: Strengthening the Global Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Regime

September 12, 2010
Geneva, Switzerland


Thank you for the introduction. I am honored to speak to you today on behalf of Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller who very much regrets she was unable to be with you today because of pressing business on the new START treaty at home. As a loyal IISS alum, she sends her best regards to the Institute and to all of the participants in this important conference. I welcome the opportunity to talk about strengthening the global arms control and non-proliferation regime. As you recall, President Obama presented his vision of a world without nuclear weapons in his speech in Prague in April 2009; a year and a half later, there is much to report.

Addressing you now at this hotel, which is roughly equidistant between the U.S. Mission and the Russian Mission, it is fitting to begin these remarks by focusing on the New START Treaty. The Treaty was largely negotiated in these two Missions. A/S Gottemoeller jokes that virtually the only exercise she got over those long months was that of shuttling back and forth between our two Missions.

In addition to New START, I will also touch on other elements of the President’s arms control agenda including pursuing ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. I will also comment on two existing treaties, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

New START Treaty

Before getting into the details of the New START Treaty, I would like to share A/S Gottemoeller’s update on progress in the United States toward ratification of the Treaty. As you know, the Treaty was signed by President Obama and President Medvedev on April 8. Just over a month after that, the White House transmitted the Treaty to the United States Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee and Senator Richard Lugar, the Ranking Member, held 12 hearings, featuring more than 20 witnesses. Additional hearings were held by other Committees. The administration has answered more than 900 questions about the Treaty submitted by Senators.

Senator Kerry has announced that consideration of New START will be the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s first order of business when it convenes this week. And, indeed this work is what is keeping A/S Gottemoeller engaged at home.

The New START Treaty is a continuation of the international arms control and nonproliferation framework that the United States and the former Soviet Union, later the Russian Federation, have worked hard to foster and strengthen for the last 50 years. It will provide ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, while preserving our ability to maintain the strong nuclear deterrent that remains an essential element of U.S. national security and the security of our partners and allies.

The New START Treaty’s verification regime is an effective and robust regime that will provide each Party confidence that the other is upholding its obligations. The new Treaty, along with its Protocol and Annexes, contains a detailed set of rules and procedures for verification of the New START Treaty, many of them drawn from START. Informed by our earlier experiences, we were able to make the verification regime simpler and safer to implement. The new regime reflects the current strategic situation and improved U.S.-Russian relationship since the end of the Cold War and the knowledge we gained from the 15 years of implementing START.

The New START Treaty sets the stage for engaging other nuclear powers in fulfilling the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and expanding opportunities for enhancing strategic stability.

We believe the New START Treaty deserves the same bipartisan support in the United States Senate that past arms control treaties with Russia have received. The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was approved in the Senate by a vote of 93-5; the original START Treaty was approved 93 to 6; and, the Moscow Treaty was approved 95 to 0.

The Administration will continue to work with Senators to answer all their questions in support of the advice and consent process. We believe it is in the U.S. interest to ratify and bring the New START Treaty into force as soon as possible.

By adding greater stability and transparency to the relationship between the United States and Russia – 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.

At the NPT Review Conference in May, the United States and Russia worked together, along with the other NPT nuclear weapon States Parties, and the other NPT member states, on the Review Conference’s Final Document. This document contains a number of important provisions that will advance nonproliferation efforts, and its action plan, a first at an NPT Review Conference, is an important development.


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).

U.S. ratification of the CTBT is a critical step to reaffirming the importance of the international nonproliferation regime and in reducing the role of nuclear weapons in international security. We have no incentive to make the world safer for countries to test nuclear weapons and believe the United States and all states will be safer when the test ban is ratified and entered into force.

Much has changed since the U.S. Senate declined to ratify the Treaty in 1999 particularly in regards to verifiability and stockpile reliability. In 1999, the International Monitoring System (IMS), which provides us with the capability to detect, identify, and attribute nuclear test explosions, was just a plan on paper. Today, the IMS is more than 80 percent complete and it’s already providing important data, including data on two announced nuclear tests in North Korea. In addition, the United States continues to enhance our national technical means.

With regard to reliability, in 1999, we had little experience in maintaining the safety and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile through sophisticated, science-based computational modeling. The successful implementation of the Stockpile Stewardship Program over the past decade has been such that our nuclear experts say that they know more about how these weapons work today than when we actively tested them.

We will need to win support of a Senate whose composition has changed significantly since 1999 and to convince those Senators who had concerns when the Treaty was last considered. 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.

Pursuing a verifiable FMCT is also part of the U.S. arms control agenda that President Obama articulated in April 2009.

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.

The NPT Review Conference action plan called on the Conference on Disarmament, where I currently work, to adopt a balanced program of work that includes mandates for negotiations on an FMCT and for “substantive discussions” on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. 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.

If efforts to start negotiations at the CD continue to stall, those countries that still wish to negotiate an FMCT will have to consider whether there are other forums – existing or ad hoc – that could serve as a venue for FMCT negotiations. As all those here are aware, the United States has shown little enthusiasm for ad hoc negotiations among like-minded states. But after well over a decade of inaction in Geneva, new approaches may be called for. It should come as no surprise that patience is running out for many states, including the United States.

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.

Looking to the High-Level Meeting and, beyond it, to the annual session of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October, it will be important for governments to build on the hard-won consensus that the NPT Review Conference achieved last May and keep our eyes on one of its prizes: the opening of FMCT negotiations. To that end, governments will have opportunities during both meetings to propose ways to end the stalemate at the CD, now exceeding a decade. The United States believes that, given the short, half-day duration of the High-Level Meeting, that gathering should limit its focus to how best to get early FMCT negotiations under way.

In contrast, the month-long First Committee session provides ample opportunity for governments to discuss not just the CD or an FMCT, but all issues pertaining to the maintenance of international peace and security. To build on the NPT consensus, the First Committee ideally will focus on issues on which there is international agreement, or on which national differences have narrowed, and not prematurely call for immediate progress on proposals, such as the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention or the convening of a special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, on which it is well known that no international consensus currently exists.

Chemical Weapons Convention

Let me turn to two existing agreements, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention; two important treaties that significantly factor into our efforts to strengthen global arms control and non-proliferation. The Chemical Weapons Convention, better known as the CWC, represents a grand agreement that all nations possessing chemical weapons will destroy them, and that these nations will never use, develop, produce, transfer or retain chemical weapons, assist anyone else in such activities or permit anyone to engage in these acts on their territory or under their jurisdiction.

The multilateral CWC is the first and only international treaty that bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction with a stringent and non-discriminatory verification regime that is equally applicable to all States Parties. To date, the States Parties of the CWC represent about 98 percent of the global population and landmass, as well as 98 percent of the worldwide chemical industry, with 188 States onboard.

The United States welcomes the success and ongoing progress under the CWC; and we intend to build on that success and work with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under the leadership of my former colleague here in Geneva, Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu from Turkey, who recently took over as the new Director General of the OPCW on July 25.

My colleagues in Washington were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the new Director and share some of our key priorities under the CWC which include: the complete and verifiable destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile, universal adherence and implementation, maintaining an effective verification regime and identifying how best to address new and emerging chemical weapons challenges that derive from advances in science and technology.

Frankly put – we must keep pace with developments in the chemical industry if the CWC is to remain viable. As the world’s chemical industry evolves, verification must evolve with it. We have to make sound recommendations that will ensure that verification keeps pace with changes in both industry and the chemical weapons threat.

To achieve this challenging endeavor, States must recognize that the chemical weapons threat goes beyond the chemicals noted in the Schedule of Chemicals listed in the Convention. To counter technological advances, as well as the risk posed by the use of toxic chemicals by non-State actors and terrorists, full implementation of Article I and VII provisions must be enforced against emerging threats.

To this end, the United States also continues to promote and encourage all States Parties to adhere to their General Obligations as Member states.

The United States strongly believes that verification facilitates both deterrence and detection of noncompliance, and is an essential component of the Convention, and part of what we consider the compliance process, which includes compliance assessments.

The United States further believes that individual State Parties can and should make compliance judgments of other individual States Parties and are urged to take seriously their role in this effort.

CWC: U.S. Destruction 2012 Deadline

One of the core obligations of the Convention is the complete destruction of chemical weapons stocks by Possessor States Parties.

The United States continues to be fully committed to its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have made and continue to make substantial progress toward the complete destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile.

As part of our continuing efforts to be transparent, the U.S. hosted earlier this month the Director-General of the OPCW at one of our chemical weapons destruction facilities. The U.S. has also hosted a number of visits by members of the OPCW Executive Council as part of its ongoing efforts to keep States Parties informed.

The United States recently completed destruction of 78 percent of its CW stockpile and is examining all options to safely accelerate destruction. We are proud of this accomplishment and continue to work hard to complete the total elimination of our stockpile as soon as possible in a manner that is safe and environmentally sound.

While 78 percent of the U.S. stockpile has been destroyed, over 40 percent of the total quantity of chemical weapons declared globally under the Convention remains. This work is difficult, dangerous and much more technically complex and time-consuming than previously envisioned but we are committed to doing our part to ensure complete destruction.

The United States is on pace to have 90 percent of its declared CW stockpile verifiably destroyed by April 2012 and continues to look for ways to accelerate destruction of the remaining 10 percent.

Biological Weapons Convention

The Obama Administration is committed to the Biological Weapons Convention. It views the forum provided by BWC meetings as the primary venue for international discussion and coordination of real-world efforts to counter bio-threats. This commitment was reinforced last December when Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher spoke before the Annual Meeting of States Parties to the BWC here in this city. She introduced the U.S. National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats, aimed at preventing biological weapons proliferation and terrorism and emphasized the critical role of the BWC in these efforts. Our strategy for countering biological threats rests upon the main principle of the BWC: that the use of biological weapons is “repugnant to the conscience of mankind.” Our approach seeks to protect against the misuse of science to develop or use biological agents to cause harm.

The work of the BWC during its inter-sessional meetings has been valuable, and we must seize the opportunity presented to us by the upcoming BWC Review Conference in 2011 to build upon these successes through a reinvigorated, comprehensive work program to promote real action to counter the biological weapons threat.

In our view, the future work under the BWC should address three critical issues:

1) Building global capacity to combat infectious disease, regardless of its cause. Although infectious disease is first and foremost a health issue, it can also have security implications. As such, the ability to respond to disease outbreaks is fundamental to preparedness for a deliberate biological attack, and may also have deterrent value. The World Health Organization plays, and should continue to play, the leading role in this arena, but the BWC can be used to complement and support other international efforts to build international surveillance, reporting, and response capabilities, particularly with respect to the 2005 International Health Regulations. We hope that the two recent conferences sponsored by the U.S. on disease surveillance and the International Health Regulations in Washington and Geneva were useful in this context.

2) Addressing the full range of today’s – and tomorrow’s – biological threats, including bioterrorism. The BWC can play an important role in supporting responsible national and international actions that help address the threat posed by non-state actors and mitigate the dual-use risks of important new developments in science and technology. Inter-sessional work to date on pathogen security, national implementation measures, and scientific professional responsibility has been an important step in this direction, but there is more to be done.

3) Building confidence in effective treaty implementation and compliance with BWC obligations. This is important to the credibility of the Convention, and to the accomplishment of its basic objectives. States Parties need to grapple with pragmatic solutions to the questions of how we promote effective implementation, how we increase confidence in each other’s actions, and how we address concerns when they occur.

The question of compliance – how to encourage it, monitor it and respond to noncompliant behavior – is a key responsibility of the bureau that A/S Gottemoeller leads at the State Department – the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation. Regrettably, we are faced with compliance concerns. The United States, together with other States Parties, wishes to identify more effective ways to increase transparency, improve confidence building measures and engage in more robust bilateral compliance discussions. A traditional verification protocol would not have achieved meaningful verification or greater security and we hope to work with other States Parties to improve our compliance “tool-kit” through other means. We want to be forward – looking and build on the successes of the past.

Additional Steps in Nuclear Arms Control

Finally, I would like to return to the topic of nuclear arms control and comment on next steps. The New START Treaty represents a transition from the previous treaty regime, developed during the Cold War, to the present day. The Obama Administration is committed to the negotiation of deeper nuclear arms reductions in the future. President Obama noted at the signing of the New START Treaty that it was just one step on a longer journey that would set the stage for further arms reductions. The preamble to the Treaty states that 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 signed the Treaty with President Medvedev, the United States will seek to include reductions in U.S. and Russian non-strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons in future discussions.

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

Thank you.