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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2004

NPT Article VI

Stephen G. Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control
Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
New York City, New York
May 3, 2004


Mr. Chairman, I welcome the opportunity to address this meeting of the Preparatory Committee. Today, as in the past, the United States is consistently meeting its obligations under every element of this critical international instrument, and Article VI is no exception. President Bush and his Administration are committed to the NPT, both in word and deed.

The nuclear weapon states bear a particular responsibility under the NPT to pursue effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. For many years, NPT states looked almost exclusively to the United States and the former Soviet Union on Article VI issues. However, the end of the Cold War and the challenges of the new century have led to significant changes in the international security environment. We need to take these changes into account when looking at implementation of Article VI.

The end of the Cold War led to greater U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear matters throughout the 1990s. The new era was given expression in November 2001, when Presidents Bush and Putin issued a joint statement declaring a new relationship between their countries. This situation led to new opportunities for nuclear force reductions.

The end of the Cold War also left a huge legacy of weapons of mass destruction and related materials throughout the states of the former Soviet Union. This potentially perilous situation led the United States and many others to undertake cooperative measures to deal with the problem.

Finally, terrorism has grown to become an immediate danger to global peace and security. Some terrorist groups seek weapons of mass destruction. The possible nexus between this threat and those states in noncompliance with the NPT' presents a scenario of unimaginable horror. The potential for terrorist violence on a large scale is a major destabilizing factor in today's world and undermines disarmament goals.

Mr. Chairman, I offer this perspective at the outset to reinforce the point that progress toward nuclear disarmament is increasingly becoming a cooperative responsibility. All NPT parties have obligations under Article VI. And all should find some way to contribute, whether it is helping to fight terrorism, assisting in efforts to eliminate WMD-related materials, or taking a strong stand against those nations that seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction in violation of the NPT and international norms.

In laying out the highlights of the U.S. Article VI record, the U.S. delegation will draw your attention to the trends of the past 15 years. We will demonstrate how progress has been accelerated under the current Administration and provide specific examples of how the goals of Article VI are increasingly being advanced through the cooperation of more and more countries.

The Big Picture

Mr. Chairman, looking back over the past 15 years, it is easy to recognize the diminishing role of nuclear weapons in international security and geopolitics. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States built large strategic nuclear forces, with each side possessing at its height an arsenal of over 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads. The standoff in Europe between NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the deployment by both sides of literally thousands of nuclear weapons in support of their security interests in the region. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union left both sides with large nuclear weapon stockpiles built up over 40 years.

The immediate benefit was an end to both the nuclear arms race between the United States and the then-Soviet Union, and to the dangerous confrontation between the large armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe. The international security environment had changed for the better, allowing for a cessation of the nuclear arms race as called for in Article VI and substantial progress on the goal of nuclear disarmament.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished Delegates, the facts speak for themselves. Over the past 15 years, the United States has taken many concrete steps that promote the goals of Article VI. We have:

  • Reduced from over 10,000 deployed strategic warheads to less than 6,000 by December 5, 2001 as required by the START Treaty.
  • Eliminated nearly 90% of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons and reduced the number of types of nuclear systems in Europe from nine in 1991 to just one today.
  • Dismantled more than 13,000 nuclear weapons since 1988.
  • Not produced highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons since 1964 and halted the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons in 1988.
  • Not conducted a nuclear explosive test since 1992.
  • Removed more than 200 tons of fissile material from the military stockpile; enough material for at least 8,000 nuclear weapons.
I could go on, but the obvious conclusion for those prepared to be objective is that the United States has an impressive record of achievement toward the goals of Article VI.

Current Policies and Actions

Mr. Chairman, the Bush Administration has contributed in major ways to this record, and, indeed, has accelerated policies designed to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons. One of the first major policy initiatives by President Bush was to transform the nature of our relationship with Russia and decide to reduce unilaterally U.S. strategic nuclear warheads to the lowest level in decades. This U.S. commitment led to a similar undertaking by President Putin, and both pledges were later codified in the Moscow Treaty, which entered into force on June 1 of last year. The Treaty requires both countries to reduce to 1700-2200 strategic nuclear warheads by December 31, 2012. The Bilateral Implementation Commission established under the Treaty had its first meeting in Geneva last month.

Upon completion of the Moscow Treaty reductions in 2012, the United States will have reduced about 80% of the strategic nuclear warheads that we had deployed in 1991. Meanwhile, we already have deactivated 28 of 50 Peacekeeper ICBMs and removed four ballistic missile submarines from strategic service. For most of the 1990s, the United States and Russia struggled to negotiate, ratify and bring into force bilateral treaties designed to achieve reductions below the 6,000 warhead level of START. While those efforts ended in failure, in less than two years President Bush's approach placed both countries on the path to unprecedented reductions in strategic nuclear forces.

Our critics attempt to make much of the fact that the streamlined Moscow Treaty allows for flexibility in deployment and contains no specific verification measures. This view ignores the opportunities for simplified nuclear reductions brought about by the new U.S.-Russian relationship. Moreover, there can be no argument that the President's decision to reduce U.S. forces has led to significant progress on implementation of Article VI -- progress that had not been achieved through traditional approaches to nuclear arms control tried in the 1990s. The United States and Russia continue to meet regularly, not as rigid adversaries, but as flexible partners, to discuss implementation of the Moscow Treaty and to explore additional ways to enhance transparency and predictability.

Mr. Chairman, the other major nuclear decision of the United States with positive ramifications for Article VI relates to the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. Publicity surrounding this review in 2002 led to misleading and inaccurate portrayals, some of which continue to this day. Many critics falsely charge that the United States is developing new low-yield weapons and pursuing policies that will lead to a reduction in the so-called threshold of nuclear weapons use. In fact, the contrary has happened: the United States is now pursuing policies that will reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons.

The premise of this new approach to deterrence is that the time has come to shift the emphasis away from nuclear forces to other means, including conventional forces, missile defenses, and a more responsive defense infrastructure. This represents a very significant change in the U.S. deterrence concept, and one that makes sense in the new security environment. The United States has many programs designed to implement this policy shift. For example, we are developing and deploying a missile defense system as well as developing advanced conventional weapons programs.

Consistent with our alliance commitments and defense requirements, we will continue to plan for contingencies and conceptually explore technical options that could maintain the credibility of our nuclear deterrent capability. Looking at options says nothing about what we will do. The facts are: the United States is not developing any new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons. The study of new weapons designs under current congressional funding for advanced concepts will be entirely conceptual. Furthermore, the United States has no plans to conduct a nuclear explosive test, and continues to observe its nuclear testing moratorium. We encourage other states not to test as well. These U.S. nuclear weapons policies may not be altered without a presidential decision and congressional authorization.

Finally, we note that the United States has had low-yield nuclear weapons in its stockpile for decades, and does today. A new low-yield weapon, therefore, would not lower the nuclear threshold in any way. A recommendation to use a nuclear weapon, of whatever yield, would come to the desk of any U.S. President only as a last resort on a matter of the highest concern to U.S. national security. The political leadership of the United States, now and in the future, will have a keen appreciation for the consequences of a decision to use nuclear weapons. The nuclear threshold is and will remain very high.

The United States targets no countries with its nuclear weapons. We understand that some NPT non-nuclear-weapon states continue to place great importance on security assurances. As at previous meetings of this Committee in 2002 and 2003, we affirm that there has been no change in the U.S. policy toward negative security assurances (NSA) and positive security assurances (PSA). The substantial initiatives of the P-5 in 1995 led to national declarations and the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 984. These actions reflect a strong response to the concerns of NPT non-nuclear-weapon states. Of course, these assurances are applicable only to NPT non-nuclear-weapon states in compliance with the Treaty.

At the same time, we would urge NPT parties to reflect on the huge changes that have taken place in the world and take account of the real security concerns of today. Frankly, it is clear that the risks to the NPT today come from North Korean nuclear threats, violations by NPT non-nuclear-weapon states such as Iran of their nonproliferation undertakings, terrorism, and proliferation rings run by non-state actors, much more so than from any nuclear policy of the NPT nuclear weapon states. Moreover, NPT parties are also deeply concerned about the dangers posed by nuclear weapons in South Asia. In this security environment, it is apparent that NSAs by the NPT nuclear weapon states are of diminishing importance as a possible remedy to the security concerns of NPT non-nuclear-weapon states.

Instead, our emphasis should be on strict compliance with the NPT by all states, strong export controls, programs to combat nuclear terrorism, continued pressure on North Korea and Iran, and restraint in South Asia. This security environment also highlights the importance of PSAs, which as formulated in 1968 focus on providing assistance to NPT non-nuclear-weapon states that are threatened with or the victim of aggression involving nuclear weapons. The United States is prepared to exchange views with the other nuclear weapon states on PSAs prior to the 2005 NPT Review Conference.

Cooperation Related to Arms Reductions and Disarmament

As noted earlier, the end of the Cold War and the increased threat from terrorism and rogue states has significantly increased the WMD threat and the need for broader cooperation in stemming that threat.

The United States continues to work hard to foster such cooperation through programs run by the Departments of State, Defense and Energy -- the total U.S. commitment in dollars over the past 15 years exceeds $9 billion, and now averages over $1 billion a year. For FY 2005, the Administration again asked the Congress for over $1 billion to continue these programs. Mr. Chairman, America's budget outlays for cooperative threat reduction programs reinforce the strong U.S. record on Article VI. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to dismantle missiles and WMD in the United States and Russia, while spending zero -- let me repeat -- zero dollars on the development or production of new nuclear weapons.

The results are amazing. Under these programs, over 1000 ballistic missiles from the former Soviet Union have been eliminated; more than 600 air-to-surface nuclear missiles have been destroyed along with 126 bombers and 27 ballistic missile submarines. More than 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads have been removed from deployment. Even as others talk about disarmament, this U.S. cooperative effort with former Soviet states continues as we meet today. In FY 2003 alone, the program destroyed nearly 130 submarine and land-based ballistic missiles -- enough delivery capability to launch thousands of Hiroshima-size bombs.

Mr. Chairman, let me be clear, the totality of this work represents enormous progress toward ensuring the irreversibility of nuclear reductions, and toward the Article VI goal of nuclear disarmament. Without this U.S. investment, there would have been significant delays in the elimination of strategic forces in the states of the former Soviet Union along with the attendant risk of theft, diversion, or accidental or unauthorized use of these forces.

The United States and Russia have also cooperated in a wide range of programs related to the security and disposition of fissile material useable in nuclear weapons. While the effort to negotiate a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty encountered obstacles at the Conference on Disarmament over the past decade, the United States and Russia were not standing still. In 1997, we concluded a bilateral agreement to ensure the permanent shutdown of both sides' 27 plutonium production reactors.

Also, over 200 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russia's military stockpile have been converted to low enriched uranium fuel for civil reactors, with more to be eliminated in this fashion. The United States has identified 174 tons of excess HEU for this purpose -- about 40 tons have been processed to date. Together, the United States and Russia have already converted into peaceful uses enough HEU to make 10,000 nuclear weapons -- another dramatic sign of irreversibility.

Both countries remain committed to implementation of the 2000 agreement under which each will dispose of 34 tons of plutonium from their military stockpiles. The Department of Energy requested over $600 million dollars in its FY 2005 budget to fund this multi-year effort, including assistance to Russia's program. Construction of the U.S. facility to fabricate the U.S. plutonium into reactor fuel is projected to start in FY 2005.

Mr. Chairman, these are hard facts that demonstrate the commitment of the United States and Russia to maintain the current halt in the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. The ages-old dream of beating swords into plowshares is occurring with this conversion of HEU and plutonium from military stockpiles.

The United States and Russia are not the only states that are engaged in disarmament and nonproliferation projects. Many others are involved in cooperative efforts. The Global Partnership, launched by G-8 leaders at the Kananaskis Summit in 2002, includes a G-8 commitment to raise up to $20 billion over ten years for nonproliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism, and nuclear safety projects. These projects are to focus initially on Russia, but with other states of the former Soviet Union and beyond in mind. The United States pledged half of the total.

Project commitments among the G-8 in the nuclear area include the dismantling of nuclear submarines, the disposition of weapons-grade plutonium from military programs, and the physical protection of nuclear material. Good progress has been made toward obtaining the necessary commitments to reach the financial goal. However, the United States considers the $20 billion a floor, not a ceiling, and is urging further contributions to meet needs worldwide.

The Global Partnership expanded last year when the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden joined as donors. On February 11, President Bush proposed that cooperation on such programs be further expanded. For this year’s G-8 Summit, the United States is seeking more donor countries, as well as a recognition that states other than Russia need assistance, including Ukraine and other former Soviet states, and countries such as Iraq and Libya.

Finally, I would like to address the general and complete disarmament obligations of Article VI. There are significant steps that can be taken to achieve progress toward that goal and in the process help to create an environment conducive to continued efforts to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. Measures that can and are being taken include limiting conventional weapons, increasing transparency on transfers of weapons including small arms, working to strengthen regional security, developing and implementing confidence-building measures, and promoting universal adherence to and full compliance with the Conventions banning chemical and biological weapons.

All NPT parties have the capacity to contribute to one or more of these undertakings. It is incumbent on all parties to approach Article VI with a broader perspective than the goal of nuclear disarmament alone. We invite NPT non-nuclear weapons states, in particular, to lay out their record in the area of general and complete disarmament.


It is indeed clear that a large and significant cooperative effort is under way throughout the world to fulfill the goals of NPT Article VI. The United States has a special role not only because of its NPT obligations, but also because of its global leadership in nonproliferation and the economic and technical resources it can bring to these collaborative efforts to eliminate WMD programs. We continue to invest large amounts of human and financial capital in this area, and believe it is money well spent. Taken together with the other numerous strides that I have outlined today, there can be no doubt that the United States is in full compliance with its Article VI obligations.

Mr. Chairman, in addition to this statement, we invite governmental representatives assembled here to acquire copies of our Article VI information paper, which also has been made available to the Secretariat.

Thank you for your attention.

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