Remarks by Ambassador Kennedy at the Middle Powers Initiative Conference

From Aspiration to Reality: Nuclear Disarmament After the Non- Proliferation Review Conference
Panel of the Nuclear Weapons States: Fulfillment of Previous and New Commitments

Remarks by Ambassador Laura Kennedy
US Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Geneva, September 15, 2010

Thank you, Senator. It’s a great pleasure to be here. We all know how much lies ahead of us on the road forward in terms of nuclear disarmament. I’ve been fortunate to have had a long and interesting career but it is a special honor to represent a President who feels so strongly about these issues, who has elevated disarmament, nuclear security, and non-proliferation to the very top of his agenda. He charted a very bold and comprehensive way forward in his seminal speech in Prague in 2009. I guess that’s about 15 months ago, and I think indeed much has been accomplished since then; we eagerly have reached out to work, not just with of course the other nuclear weapons states as defined by the NPT, but indeed the entire international community. This is a President who believes in international engagement and in multilateral organizations. We are all cognizant that this is a very complicated and long term process as my colleague Ambassador Eric Danon very eloquently and incisively has just described.

The commitment’s there, the record’s there, and we’re building on it. START of course, will bring down, for example, our warheads 84 percent. As you know, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is poised to vote on Thursday before bringing the treaty to the Senate as a whole for ratification. The President and Secretary of State have said that they want to get this done by the end of the year, and I think we’re on track. We were delighted, of course, that START was signed here in Geneva—negotiated, during many long seven-day work weeks and months here in Geneva. In addition to START and Security Council Resolution 1887, there is the Nuclear Security Security Summit with 47 states, and the success of the NPT Review Conference. In that regard, I am honored and pleased to see the President of the NPT Review Conference, Amabassador Libran Cabactulan here . He played an absolutely pivotal role at that month-long endeavor, which was quite an achievement in terms of coming up with an action plan of no fewer than 64 steps, including a conference on Middle East issues in 2012.

The CTBT was mentioned earlier. We’re committed to its ratification.

The FMCT has been part of the President’s Prague agenda since he enunciated it in 2009, and all of us here have been working hard in the Conference on Disarmament to get an agreed program of work that would allow us to start negotiations on that, and indeed tackle the whole range of core issues. As we all know, that has not happened. I think Ambassador Danon talked about the fact that when it’s the will of the Permanent five, it will happen. I would put it in a different way. I would say that absolutely, yes, the five nuclear weapons states have indeed subscribed to the goal of negotiating an FMCT. I would also talk about the international community, though. Again, going back to the work that Ambassador Cabactulan did with all of us iat the NPT Review Conference in New York, there were 189 nations there, 189 nations endorsed again, the necessity of starting an FMCT negotiation. So, I would say that there is indeed a massive international commitment in favor of negotiating an FMCT. The issue is, we believe, that the FMCT is the next logical step on the way towards global zero.

A nuclear weapons convention was mentioned, something indeed that I think is worthy of discussion. I noted its inclusion in the brief of the Middle Power Initiative. A convention is going to be a huge endeavor. We do not believe that the situation is ready now to start a negotiation on that. We think that would be a distraction from the step-by-step work that needs to be done, but certainly, it is worth discussing because the ramifications are so huge. We are actually at a stage where we are talking about zero, getting down to zero. Going from 100 warheads to zero is going to be the most complex thing that we have ever undertaken. So, even now on an FMCT, people say “Oh, that’s no big deal. The P-5 are already not producing this stuff.” However, verification of a legally binding prduction ban alone, I can tell you, will be a huge and complex endeavor. Just look at START, which is a relatively simple and straight-forward treaty that is built on decades and decades of experience. This took 11 months of work on teams, which I think probably hit about a maximum of 70 team members on our side, working occasionally 7 day work weeks at the height of negotiations and that was just for a relatively straightforward treaty. So, the work is huge and it is complex. For example, we need to think about how deterrence will work when you get down, to say, 500 warheads. So, is absolutely vital that governments and groups like yours are thinking about these difficult issues

We believe very much in a step-by-step approach of different frameworks that will complement each other: the CTBT, the FMCT, bilateral negotiations. Eric (Ambassador Danon) talked about the fact that up to now, nuclear reductions had either been done unilaterally or bilaterally. That’s true. I would say, on the other hand, there’s a lot the P-5 collectively can do even at this early stage. For example, at the NPT Review Conference, the P-5 put out a Joint Communiqué, in which we mentioned the conference in London that was held awhile back where the P-5 met and talked about things like transparency and confidence building. In other words, we are addressing some of the first steps you need to think about when you look down the road. So, I’d say that in a way, thinking about this is definitely going on.

Negative security assurances is another area where we are moving forward. Just look at what the U.S. administration has done in this area. There was a huge, massive, intensive review done on our nuclear posture, which yielded a big step forward in terms of revising our doctrines. Secretary Clinton announced our intention to move forward with ratification for two regional nuclear weapons free zones and our desire to engage on two others. Transparency is a principle that we believe in very much. Recently, as you know, we revealed our stockpile numbers and data.

We are looking towards the high-level meeting that the Secretary General is having in New York to address the CD. We very much appreciate the attention that this Secretary General and his High Representative, the very distinguished Sergio Duarte, have spent thinking about the importance of arms control for the international community. So, we very much welcome the fact that he is setting aside a day of his very valuable time in such an intense period in New York to talk about the Conference on Disarmament. The fact that it’s been stuck for all these years—this institution just sticks out when there is so much dynamism and so much that has been happening elsewhere. We don’t have any expectations that five hours of discussions are going to yield some magic bullet, but we appreciate very much the effort the Secretary General is putting into this and highlighting the issues because a way has to be found to move negotiations forward, and ideally, that should be in the CD. It’s an organization with lots of great talent at hand and it’s got the key stakeholders there. It is the world’s only standing multilateral arms control body. But if FMCT talks can’t be done there, for reasons we all know , if it’s stuck, then we for one will simply look for other ways to get it done. Ideally we would like to see the Conference on Disarmament move forward, not only on negotiating FMCT, but again tackling all those core issues that we are certainly eager and willing to engage on. Thank you very much.