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Rose Gottemoeller in Kazakhstan at Nuclear-Free World Forum
October 14, 2011

U.S. Department of State
Remarks by Rose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

Astana, Kazakhstan
October 13, 2011

Forum for a Nuclear-Free World

First of all, I would like to thank our gracious hosts. It is such a pleasure to be back in Kazakhstan. Your warmth and hospitality always make visits here so memorable. I made my first trip here back in 1976, as part of one of the first U.S. cultural exchanges to Soviet Kazakhstan. It was a beautiful golden October in the city of apples — Almaty. Even though it was 35 years ago, I still remember those delicious apples.

The United States and the Republic of Kazakhstan are both committed to the worthy goal of creating the conditions for a nuclear-free world. We both know that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is central to leading the world toward a diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.

As you heard in President Obama’s statement, the U.S. extends its congratulations to Kazakhstan on the twentieth anniversary of the permanent closure of the Soviet nuclear test site located at Semipalatinsk.

This anniversary is a clear reminder that we need to end explosive nuclear testing once and for all. In order to do this, we must ensure that the CTBT enters into force and is universally enforced.

With a global ban on nuclear explosive tests, states interested in pursuing or advancing their nuclear weapons programs would have to either risk deploying weapons uncertain of their effectiveness or face international condemnation and possible sanctions for conducting nuclear tests.

As President Obama has said, the United States is committed to securing ratification of the CTBT, and we are currently engaging with the United States Senate and the American public on the merits of the Treaty.

Concerns about the verifiability of the Treaty and the continuing safety and reliability of the Unites States’ nuclear deterrent derailed the U.S. ratification process in 1999. Today, with those concerns mitigated we have a much stronger case to make in support of ratification.

Great progress was made toward establishing the Treaty’s verification regime in the last decade. Today, the International Monitoring System (IMS) is roughly 85 percent complete and when fully completed, there will be IMS facilities in 89 countries spanning the globe. The Treaty’s robust verification regime, supplemented by the national technical means capabilities of Member States, will make it extremely difficult for any state to conduct militarily significant explosive nuclear tests that escape detection.

Further, the extensive surveillance methods and computational modeling developed under the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program over the past 15 years have allowed our nuclear experts to understand how nuclear weapons work and the effects of aging better than when explosive nuclear testing was conducted. The United States can maintain a safe and effective nuclear deterrent without conducting explosive nuclear tests.

As we move forward with our ratification process, we call on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to conduct explosive nuclear tests. We also ask that the remaining Annex 2 States join us in moving forward toward ratification.

It is in this remaining march towards entry into force that we will need Kazakhstan’s aid and leadership on this issue. Together we can engage audiences at the government and non-governmental level – we can reach mothers, fathers, students, retirees, government workers, factory workers and farmers. Since explosive nuclear testing affects us all, the goal should be to have people talking about the CTBT in their legislatures and around their kitchen tables. Leading by example, Kazakhstan and the United States can build the momentum needed to bring the CTBT into force.

At the United Nations Article XIV Conference last month, Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher said “we do not expect that the path remaining to entry into force will be traveled quickly or easily … but move ahead we will, because we know that the CTBT will benefit the security of the United States and that of the world.”

I know that is a sentiment that Kazakhstan shares and I hope our nations can continue to work together as we move toward our ultimate goal of a world free from the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. Again, thank you for inviting me and for the opportunity to speak.