Introductory Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Plenary
Tuesday, August 19, 10:00 a.m.
Mr. President, Acting Secretary General, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
If I may, let me first thank Ambassadors Woolcott and Gallegos for their service at the Conference on Disarmament and wish them well in their future endeavors.
I am delighted to join you here as we work to advance the important agenda of the Conference on Disarmament. As this is my first opportunity to address the Conference, I would like to commend the efforts of the 2014 Presidencies for their dedication and skill in fostering substantive discussions on all CD agenda items under the Schedule of Activities, even as efforts continue to achieve consensus on a Program of Work. In this connection, I am very pleased to congratulate you Mr. President, on your assumption of the important duties of the CD Presidency, and I wish to assure you and Acting Secretary General Moeller of my delegation’s full support.
Since its inception this Conference has achieved historic agreements that have made the world a much safer place. While progress in the CD has not always been as steady as we would want to see, its cumulative outputs have been indispensable. Mindful of this legacy, my delegation is strongly committed to working with others to enable the CD to make further, substantial contributions to international security. Pending agreement on a Program of Work with a negotiating mandate, the United States believes that the informal substantive discussions the Conference has conducted this year have provided a useful elaboration of views and helped to keep the CD ready to conduct negotiations. The in-depth nature of these discussions demonstrates the CD has the capacity to work; as an institution and as professionals, it is clear we can engage constructively when enabled to do so. While we do not discount the challenges associated with getting the CD back to substantive work, we believe it important to maintain high expectations regarding what the Conference can and should deliver.
In approaching the CD’s core agenda items, my delegation is guided by the U.S. commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, as outlined by President Obama in Prague five years ago and reaffirmed by the President in Berlin last year. As President Obama emphasized, this goal will not be reached quickly – “perhaps not in my lifetime,” in his words. It will take patience and persistence. Step-by-step, practical multilateral efforts are an essential part of this process in which the CD has a valuable role to play. In that context, the U.S. priority at the CD continues to be the negotiation of a treaty banning the further production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT), consistent with the Shannon Report and the mandate contained therein. An FMCT would end the production of weapons-grade fissile material needed to create nuclear weapons in the states where it is still on-going, cap stockpiles worldwide, and provide the basis for future reductions in nuclear arsenals. It is with a view to promoting the prospects for negotiations of an FMCT in the CD that the United States has engaged actively in our discussions under the Schedule of Activities and also in the meetings of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on FMCT. While we are convinced that an FMCT can and should be the CD’s next major contribution to international security, we do not discount the importance of other core issues on the CD´s agenda. The United States remains willing to engage in substantive discussions of those issues, and we have taken practical steps to advance each of these issues.
I join this body following recent assignments addressing U.S. cooperation with the European Union and U.S. engagement in international organizations in Vienna, including the IAEA and CTBTO. These previous assignments have reinforced my profound appreciation for the vital importance of multilateral cooperation – not least with regard to nonproliferation, disarmament, and arms control. It is against this backdrop that I join colleagues here today with a clear-eyed perspective on the challenges and the opportunities ahead.
Thank you, Mr. President.