U.S. Statement to the NPT Preparatory Committee – Cluster 2: Nonproliferation

Statement by the United States in Cluster 2: Nonproliferation
First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
Permanent Representative of the United States to the Conference on Disarmament

Vienna,
May 8, 2017

Mr. Chairman,

As we look toward the fiftieth anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is important to recall the successes we have achieved and challenges we have faced in advancing our shared nonproliferation goals.  On the positive side, adherence to the NPT is nearly universal.  Most states have joined the Treaty and the vast majority of those that did are committed to compliance with its terms.  Several of those states considered developing nuclear weapons and some took steps along that path, but they concluded that it was not in their interest to do so.  Instead, we worked together to strengthen our common security by building the nuclear nonproliferation regime.  In so doing, we also built a framework of mutual confidence that enables the fullest possible cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and a foundation on which to pursue disarmament as set forth in the Treaty.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime we built up is not a static set of rules, but a dynamic, adaptive system that responds to challenges – and that must keep on doing so.  Its continued success depends on constant vigilance and improvement.  We responded to clandestine nuclear programs by strengthening the international safeguards system and broadening export controls to cover dual-use goods and technology.  We responded to illicit procurement networks by strengthening interdiction and enforcement measures.  And we responded to the risk of nuclear terrorism by strengthening nuclear security measures.  By working to fill the gaps in the nonproliferation regime, we have helped to slow and increase the costs of proliferation and help deter it by heightening the risks of being caught.  A critical part of all these efforts has been cooperation and mutual assistance to build capacity and ensure effectiveness.

Mr. Chairman,

Here in Vienna it is fitting to draw attention to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its system of international safeguards.  The Treaty sets out the basic requirement for comprehensive safeguards, covering all nuclear material in all peaceful nuclear activities in the state.  It is up to the IAEA, in cooperation with each state, to make sure those safeguards are implemented effectively.

Unfortunately, we have learned that even the robust implementation of comprehensive safeguards is sometimes insufficient to deal with undeclared nuclear material and activities.  For the IAEA to provide assurances that states have placed all nuclear material under safeguards – as required by the Treaty – it needs the expanded information and access provided by the Additional Protocol.  This is why a comprehensive safeguards agreement, together with an Additional Protocol, should be considered the de facto verification standard for assuring compliance with the Treaty’s safeguards obligations.  I urge all NPT Parties that have not yet met the requirement to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement as soon as possible.  I also urge NPT Parties to conclude an Additional Protocol and, where applicable, the modified version of the Small Quantities Protocol.  Furthermore, those of us who are IAEA Member States have a responsibility to ensure that the Agency has the technical and financial resources and the political support it needs to carry out its safeguards mission under the Treaty.

The NPT also requires, in Article III, that exported nuclear material and equipment be placed under safeguards.  This basic export control requirement is necessary to ensure that nuclear exports remain in peaceful use and are not diverted to weapons.  But it is not sufficient to ensure that nuclear-related cooperation and trade do not contribute in other ways to the development of nuclear weapons.  The Zangger Committee and Nuclear Suppliers Group were formed over forty years ago to develop common international guidelines for nuclear export controls designed to minimize proliferation risks associated with nuclear cooperation and trade.  The control lists and guidelines have been updated periodically in response to technological change and emerging proliferation developments.  Over the years, the membership of both regimes has grown and international nonproliferation bodies and instruments have come to regard their guidelines and lists as the standard for nuclear export control. The 2010 Review Conference encouraged NPT Parties to make use of such guidelines and control lists in developing their own national export controls.

Mr. Chairman,

There have been several cases of noncompliance that put at risk the benefits we all derive from the Treaty.  It is imperative that we work together to uphold the integrity of the Treaty, to restore compliance, and to deter future violations.  We must continue to make clear that noncompliance comes at great cost and those costs will continue until violations are remedied.

The UN Security Council plays a critical role in responding to noncompliance with safeguards agreements and other NPT-related obligations.  The Security Council is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons poses a serious threat to international peace and security.  The Council has the unique and essential ability to require action, including concerted action by states to impose costs and encourage compliance by those whose noncompliance has created the threat.  States should also be ready to take action on their own to increase those costs.

We must also be prepared to address the potential for proliferation by and to non-state actors.  Starting with Resolution 1540, the Security Council required states to have in place controls to prevent non-state actors from possessing nuclear weapons or trafficking in related materials.  To help prevent acts of nuclear and radiological terrorism or sabotage, I encourage states to accede to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, to ratify the amendment to the Conventional on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and participate actively in the global nuclear security regime.  The IAEA’s nuclear security program provides essential guidance and assistance to IAEA Member States, and deserves our full support.

Mr. Chairman,

As the nuclear nonproliferation regime has evolved and adapted to respond to new threats, the measures we are all expected to put in place have expanded.  This is a challenge for all of us, but can seem particularly daunting for states with limited experience in the nuclear field.  But there is good news for states that may feel overwhelmed by these requirements.  First, the most stringent requirements for safeguards, security, and export control apply to the most advanced nuclear programs; requirements for states without significant nuclear activities can be quite modest.  Second, help is readily available, from the IAEA, the United States and others, in the form of international standards and guidance, missions to assess the needs of individual states, training and other assistance.  These assistance programs are designed to ensure that nonproliferation requirements are not an impediment to the development of responsible nuclear programs, but build confidence that helps those programs thrive.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime we have built together around the NPT has made invaluable contributions to our shared security and prosperity.  The key to its success in the past, and to preserving those benefits for future generations, is our ability to adapt to change and respond to challenges.  The most important lesson we have learned is that we can and must work together to advance these common interests.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.