U.S. Emphasizes International Cooperation in Arms Control

The final delivery of low-enriched uranium fuel under the Megatons to Megawatts program arrives at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky.
The final delivery of low-enriched uranium fuel under the Megatons to Megawatts program arrives at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky.

By Sonya Weakley
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
28 January 2014

In a concerted effort to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, the United States will continue to pursue international cooperation and transparency.

In a discussion on U.S. security policy at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm on January 17, Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said the United States is taking a multipronged approach.

Among the priorities is maintaining a dialogue with Russia to find better ways to verify the weapons capabilities of each country, as well as setting an example for other countries with nuclear weapons capabilities.

As one of the five major nuclear weapons countries — along with China, France, Great Britain and Russia — the United States is committed to “continued discussions on issues related to all three pillars of [nuclear security]: nonproliferation, disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” Rose said.

The recently completed Megatons to Megawatts program signified a major step in this direction. Under a 1993 agreement, the United States purchased 500 metric tons of uranium from dismantled Russian weapons to generate electricity in U.S. commercial nuclear power plants. The last shipment arrived at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky in December 2013.

In addition, the New START treaty, effective February 5, 2011, restricts each country to numbers of nuclear warheads between 1,500 and 1,675, roughly 85 percent below Cold War levels.

The United States also is working closely with NATO to achieve significant reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons in Europe, where Russia holds greater stockpiles. NATO also is seeking greater transparency in verifying each country’s holdings.

Additional steps in the U.S. approach include negotiating a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for use in making nuclear weapons. The United States is consulting with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan and other countries to find a way to start negotiations for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

Resolving differences with Russia on verification of missile defenses remains a major U.S. objective. “Over the past 20 years, both Democratic and Republican administrations have concluded it is in our national interest to cooperate with Russia on missile defense,” Rose said.

The U.S. missile-defense system is aimed at defending the United States and its European, Middle Eastern and Asian allies against regional threats. “These are threats that are growing, and must be met,” he said. U.S. missile defenses are not designed for, or capable of, undermining the Russian or Chinese strategic deterrents, he added.

The United States cannot agree to limit its defense systems, but “we believe that cooperation and transparency can provide Russia the visibility and predictability it seeks,” Rose said.