Remarks by Thomas M. Countryman
Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
at the Signing Ceremony of the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone In Central Asia, May 6, 2014
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
On behalf of the United States of America, I am very pleased to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, and to be able to do so here in New York during the Preparatory Committee meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
It is said often, and I repeat here, that the NPT is the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to pursue effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament. As the negotiators of the NPT well understood, regional nuclear weapon free zone treaties contribute greatly to these goals. This is why Article VII of the NPT explicitly ensures a role for such zones. And it is why the United States has signed the Protocols to the treaties establishing regional nuclear weapon free zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and the South Pacific, and why the United States is prepared to sign the revised Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty.
Today, we take yet another – and significant – step to advance nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament by signing the Protocol to the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty. I am very pleased to do so with our colleagues from China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom. That we are signing together signifies our collective support for the NPT and our readiness to offer assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against states in the legally binding framework of protocols to nuclear weapon free zone treaties. This is consistent with U.S. policy that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.
We also take this step in recognition of the sincere and laudable efforts made by the states of Central Asia to keep their region free of all nuclear weapons. This is a goal we most certainly share. This Treaty advances the security of all states represented in this room and wider regional and international security.
With sincere thanks and congratulations to all, this signing is a great achievement.