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U/S Rose Gottemoeller’s Opening Statement at NPT PrepCom
May 1, 2014

Woman speaking in microphone behind sign reading "United States"
Under Secretary Gottemoeller speaking during the NPT PrepCom meeting in New York

Third Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

United Nations New York,
New York,
April 29, 2014

As Delivered

Mr. Chairman, I join others in congratulating you on your appointment. The United States is committed to working constructively with you and the other distinguished delegates here as we prepare for next year’s important Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Let me begin by offering this message on behalf of the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry:

“As we approach the 45th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s entry into force, let us take a moment to appreciate how remarkably well the Treaty has stood the test of time. The NPT remains the cornerstone of the global nonproliferation regime. Its three mutually reinforcing pillars constitute an essential legal barrier to the further spread of nuclear weapons, the foundation of efforts to further reduce existing nuclear arsenals, and the vehicle for promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology under appropriate safeguards.

At this final session of the Preparatory Committee before the 2015 Review Conference, the United States urges all States Parties to take stock of progress made in implementing the 2010 Action Plan, identify remaining obstacles, and work to find common ground on ways to overcome them. We look forward to reporting detailed information on our efforts to translate those actions into accomplishments.

Let me assure you that the United States is more committed than ever to pursuing full implementation of the Treaty, as well as finding comprehensive solutions to the challenges it faces, to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. There is much hard work to be done, and there are no shortcuts or easy ways out. I wish this Preparatory Committee well and offer my hope for a productive and positive session that puts us on a path to success in 2015.”

Mr. Chairman, the United States is here to work. For nearly seven decades, the international community has struggled with the profound challenge nuclear weapons pose to our security as nations and our survival as human beings. My recent trips to the Marshall Islands and Hiroshima were potent reminders of the need to persevere in confronting this challenge. It is imperative that we make sure that people remember the human impact of nuclear weapons. Indeed, it is the United States’ deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons use – including the devastating health effects – that has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most hazardous weapons.

The NPT plays a central role in our pursuit of a nuclear weapons-free world. Before the Treaty was created, many feared that the number of states with nuclear weapons would grow at an exponential rate, with incalculable risks of catastrophic nuclear confrontations.

The NPT stemmed the tide of proliferation and today, the complementary and reinforcing pillars of the Treaty bring important benefits to all NPT parties. The United States is committed to action on all fronts to strengthen the NPT. We have provided a comprehensive report as a working paper for this meeting that will illustrate our strong record of accomplishment.

Mr. Chairman, we have made significant progress on disarmament since the end of the Cold War. At its peak in 1967, the U.S. nuclear arsenal was comprised of 31,255 nuclear weapons. To paraphrase scientist Carl Sagan, we and the Soviets were waist deep in gasoline with some sixty thousand matches between us.

Three years later, the NPT entered into force. Today, I am pleased to announce that as of September 2013, the number of nuclear weapons in the active U.S. arsenal has fallen to 4,804. This newly declassified number represents an 85 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear stockpile since 1967. It is indisputable that progress toward the NPT’s disarmament goals is being made.

And our efforts continue. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – New START – with the Russian Federation is now in its fourth successful year of implementation. In 2018, when the central limits of the Treaty will be accomplished, our deployed strategic nuclear weapons will be at levels not seen since the days of President Eisenhower and Premiere Khrushchev.

We are not finished. We have just passed the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s historic speech in Prague, where he called for the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. The President reiterated these goals in Berlin in June 2013. He stated that the United States can ensure its security and that of its allies while safely pursuing further nuclear reductions with Russia of up to one-third in the deployed strategic warhead level established in the New START Treaty. The United States remains open to negotiate further reductions with Russia in all categories of nuclear weapons – including strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed.

Recent actions have significantly undermined mutual trust and that trust will take time to rebuild. Still, no one should forget that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union found it in our mutual interest to work together on reducing the nuclear threat.

In addition to bilateral efforts, the P5 have just concluded our fifth conference, hosted by China in Beijing. I would like to compliment and thank our Chinese colleagues for hosting an excellent interchange. P5 engagement is a long-term investment designed to strengthen the NPT, build trust, and create a stronger foundation to pursue steps toward our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Among other accomplishments, we achieved consensus on a P5 NPT Reporting Framework, which has guided our national reporting to the 2014 PrepCom. In keeping with our Action Plan commitments, we will release our report to NPT Parties later this morning.

The entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty remains a top priority for the United States. We are working to educate the American public on the security benefits of the Treaty, as well as the dangerous health effects of explosive nuclear testing. Of course, there is no reason for the remaining Annex 2 states to wait for the United States before completing their own ratification processes. We urge all States to provide adequate financial and political support for the completion of the CTBT verification regime and its provisional operations between now and the entry into force of the treaty.

Mr. Chairman, multilateral nonproliferation efforts are also moving ahead. The United States is working to support nuclear-weapon-free zones that advance regional security and bolster the global nonproliferation regime. We look forward to signing the protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, and to working with ASEAN toward signature of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty protocol.

We also remain committed to the goal of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction and to convening a regional conference to discuss such a zone. The recent direct engagement among states in the region is an important step forward. We urge those states to take advantage of this opportunity and to reach consensus on arrangements so that a conference can take place soon.

Even with these successes, noncompliance by a few states presents a direct challenge both to regional security and to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Countries that cheat on their commitments increase the risk of conflict and further proliferation, endangering people everywhere. It is in the interest of all parties to insist that violators return to compliance, and we are making every effort to resolve such challenges through peaceful, diplomatic means. This sentiment applies to all international security agreements and Treaties.

To protect against additional proliferation and respond to cases of non-compliance, the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency needs our full support and cooperation. As States Parties have increasingly recognized, that includes the adoption of an Additional Protocol, which bolsters regional and global security by providing a higher degree of assurance that countries are engaged solely in peaceful nuclear cooperation. Over 120 states have set a strong example by adopting Additional Protocols.

And as I speak of setting strong examples, yesterday, Ukraine held an event celebrating its historic decision twenty years ago, alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan, to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states. Ukraine’s reaffirmation of its nonproliferation obligations reminds us of its critical contribution to help move us toward a world without nuclear weapons. We strongly appreciate the clear sightedness of Ukraine on this matter.

Mr. Chairman, in support of the third pillar of the NPT, the United States will continue to promote the safe and secure uses of peaceful nuclear technologies. We are by far the largest contributor to IAEA nuclear assistance programs. We will continue this support and look to increase where we can.

Since 2010, eleven states and the European Union have joined us in providing approximately $66 million to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, which has helped more than 120 IAEA Member States worldwide. We encourage all states in a position to contribute to join us in supporting this initiative.

In closing, let us take the next two weeks to strengthen the Treaty that has brought us from a world that was in danger of having scores of nuclear weapons states to a world where we are cooperating to move toward to zero nuclear weapons. We know and can acknowledge the differences among us on issues ranging from speed of action to priorities. We cannot and should not get caught up in what divides us. We have a job to do. Let us reinvigorate our common goals as outlined in the 2010 Action Plan, build consensus around the next logical steps in our path and focus on the mechanisms for accomplishing those steps.

Mr. Chairman, the United States stands ready to do its part in preparing for a successful Review Conference in 2015.

Thank you for your attention.