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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2005

U.S. Statement at the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

Stephen G. Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control
Remarks at the United Nations
New York City
May 2, 2005

Thank you, Mr. President:

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a key legal barrier against the spread of nuclear weapons and material related to the production of such weapons. That we can meet today, 35 years after the Treaty entered into force, and not count 20 or more nuclear weapon states -- as some predicted in the 1960s -- is a sign of the Treatyís success. NPT parties can be justly proud of the NPTís contribution to global security.

Nearly 190 states are now party to the Treaty, the greatest number of parties to any multilateral security agreement, save the United Nations Charter. We are pleased that so many of the states party have gathered in this great hall for the Seventh Review Conference of the NPT.

The NPT is fundamentally a treaty for mutual security. It is clear that the security of all member states depends on unstinting adherence to the Treatyís nonproliferation norms by all other parties. The Treatyís principal beneficiaries are those member states that do not possess nuclear weapons because they can be assured that their neighbors also do not possess nuclear weapons. Strict compliance with nonproliferation obligations is essential to regional stability, to forestalling nuclear arms races, and to preventing resources needed for economic development from being squandered in a destabilizing and economically unproductive pursuit of weapons.

There has been important progress in advancing the NPTís objectives. One clear success is the recent Libyan decision to abandon its clandestine nuclear weapons program, a program aided by the A. Q. Khan network. Libya should be commended for making the strategic decision to return to NPT compliance, to voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons program, and to cooperate with the IAEA and others. In doing so, it moved to end its damaging international isolation and paved the way for improved relations with the international community.

Libya has joined other states, including South Africa, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, that have wisely concluded that their security interests are best served by turning away from nuclear weapons and coming into full compliance with the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states. This demonstrates that, in a world of strong nonproliferation norms, it is never too late to make the decision to become a fully compliant NPT state. In all of these cases, including the most recent case of Libya, such a decision was amply rewarded.

We have also had success in designing new tools outside of the NPT that complement the Treaty. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is one such important new tool. First proposed by President Bush in Krakow, Poland on May 31, 2003, over 60 nations have now associated themselves with this effort against the international outlaws that traffic in deadly materials. We are pleased that the PSI was endorsed by Security Council Resolution 1540 and by the Secretary Generalís High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and we reaffirm our determination not to shrink from using this important new tool.

We cannot simply celebrate these successes, however. While these successes are important, more must be done. Today, the Treaty is facing the most serious challenge in its history due to instances of noncompliance. Although the vast majority of member states have lived up to their NPT nonproliferation obligations that constitute the Treatyís most important contribution to international peace and security, some have not.

Indeed, Mr. President, some continue to use the pretext of a peaceful nuclear program to pursue the goal of developing nuclear weapons. We must confront this challenge in order to ensure that the Treaty remains relevant. This Review Conference provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate our resolve in reaffirming our collective determination that noncompliance with the Treatyís core nonproliferation norms is a clear threat to international peace and security.

I want to take a few minutes to outline the major issues facing the NPT.

By secretly pursuing reprocessing and enrichment capabilities in order to produce nuclear weapons, North Korea violated both its safeguards obligations and its nonproliferation obligations under the NPT before announcing its intention to withdraw from the Treaty in 2003. In recent months, it has claimed to possess nuclear weapons.

For almost two decades Iran has conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons program, aided by the illicit network of A. Q. Khan. After two and a half years of investigation by the IAEA and adoption of no fewer than seven decisions by the IAEA Board of Governors calling on Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA in resolving outstanding issues with its nuclear program, many questions remain unanswered. Even today, Iran persists in not cooperating fully. Iran has made clear its determination to retain the nuclear infrastructure it secretly built in violation of its NPT safeguards obligations, and is continuing to develop its nuclear capabilities around the margins of the suspension it agreed to last November, for example, by continuing construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak, along with supporting infrastructure.

Pursuit of nuclear weapons by noncompliant states is not the only threat to the NPT. New challenges have emerged from non-state actors.

One category of problematic non-state actors consists of individuals acting in their own self-interest who have helped facilitate proliferation. For many years the A. Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network provided nuclear technology and materials -- even weapon designs -- to NPT violators through a widespread, illicit procurement network. While this network has been disbanded, we are still uncovering and repairing the damage it has wrought upon the nuclear nonproliferation regime. It is imperative that no other networks take its place.

A second category of problematic non-state actors consists of terrorist organizations who magnify the threat of proliferation by potentially placing nuclear weapons in the hands of those determined to use them. It is no secret that terrorists want to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The consequences if they succeed would be catastrophic. We must take every possible step to thwart their efforts. This means improving the security of nuclear materials, stopping illicit nuclear trafficking, strengthening safeguards, establishing and enforcing effective export controls, and acting decisively to dismantle terrorist networks everywhere.

Last year, President Bush proposed an action plan to prevent further nuclear proliferation and to address each of these needs. This plan included seven specific initiatives, including the need to criminalize proliferation-related activities. In response, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1540, which requires states to: criminalize proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery by non-state actors; enact and enforce effective export controls; and secure proliferation-sensitive equipment. This is an essential step in reducing the dangers of illicit proliferation networks and of terrorist efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

The United States continues to work with others to advance other elements of the Presidentís action plan, including:

  • Universalizing adherence to the Additional Protocol and making it a condition of nuclear supply, which will strengthen the means to verify NPT compliance;
  • Restricting the export of sensitive technologies, particularly the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology, which will close a key loophole in the NPT;
  • Creating a special safeguards committee of the IAEA Board of Governors, which will focus the attention of the Board on issues central to the purpose of the Treaty;
  • Dtrengthening the Proliferation Security Initiative to intercept and prevent illicit shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials, which is a critical adjunct to the work of the Treaty undertaken by nations acting to defeat proliferation threats; and
  • Expanding the "Global Partnership" to eliminate and secure sensitive materials, including weapons of mass destruction, which broadens U.S. and Russian efforts aimed at cooperative threat reduction.

Although most of these activities call for action outside the formal framework of the NPT, they are grounded on the norms and principles of nuclear nonproliferation laid down by the Treaty. If adopted, they will each answer directly real threats to the vitality of the Treaty. Accordingly, we hope the deliberations at this Conference will lend political support to these initiatives, and we encourage all states participating in this Conference to join us in supporting these steps.

U.S. support for the NPT extends far beyond our determined efforts to reinforce the Treatyís core nonproliferation norms. The benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation comprise an important element of the NPT. Through substantial funding and technical cooperation, the United States fully supports peaceful nuclear development in many states, bilaterally and through the IAEA. But the language of Article IV is explicit and unambiguous: states asserting their right to receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear development must be in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations under Articles I and II of the NPT. No state in violation of Articles I or II should receive the benefits of Article IV. All nuclear assistance to such a state, bilaterally or through the IAEA, should cease. Again, we hope the deliberations at this Review Conference will endorse this proposition.

Which brings us back to the compliance challenges of North Korea and Iran. On North Korea, we are attempting to bring together the regional players in the Six-Party Talks to convince Pyongyang that its only viable option is to negotiate an end to its nuclear ambitions. We have tabled a proposal that addresses the Northís stated concerns and also provides for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korean nuclear programs.

As to Iran, Britain, France, and Germany, with our support, are seeking to reach a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, a solution that given the history of clandestine nuclear weapons work in that country, must include permanent cessation of Iranís enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activity. Iran must provide such objective and verifiable guarantees in order to demonstrate that it is not using a purportedly peaceful nuclear program to hide a nuclear weapons program or to conduct additional clandestine nuclear work elsewhere in the country.

Handling the proliferation challenges we face requires a robust IAEA safeguards system that not only helps to protect our common security against nuclear proliferation, but also builds confidence that peaceful nuclear development is not being abused. Safeguards are therefore essential to facilitating peaceful nuclear programs. As President Bush stated last year, "we must ensure the IAEA has all the tools it needs to fulfill its essential mandate." Making the Additional Protocol the verification standard and establishing a special safeguards committee of the IAEA Board of Governors are two key ways to strengthen international safeguards and provide the IAEA with much needed support and access.

An effective, transparent export control regime also helps build confidence among states that assistance provided for peaceful nuclear development will not be diverted to illegal weapons purposes. Yet, recent developments and revelations are troubling. The spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology poses a particularly dangerous risk. Collectively, we need to address urgently the very real security implications of the further spread of these technologies. Some countries, such as Iran, are seeking these facilities, either secretly or with explanations that cannot withstand scrutiny. We dare not look the other way. As President Bush has proposed, tighter controls should be adopted on enrichment and reprocessing technologies. We must close the loopholes in the Treaty that allow the unnecessary spread of such technologies. This can be accomplished without compromising truly peaceful nuclear programs, and in a manner which ensures that NPT parties that have no such facilities and are in full compliance with the Treaty are able to acquire nuclear fuel at a reasonable price.

The United States remains fully committed to fulfilling our obligations under Article VI. Since the last review conference the United States and the Russian Federation concluded our implementation of START I reductions, and signed and brought into force the Moscow Treaty of 2002. Under the Moscow Treaty, we have agreed to reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200, about a third of the 2002 levels, and less than a quarter of the level at the end of the Cold War. When this Treaty is fully implemented by the end of 2012, the United States will have reduced the number of strategic nuclear warheads it had deployed in 1990 by about 80%. In addition, we have reduced our non-strategic nuclear weapons by 90% since the end of the Cold War, dismantling over 3,000 such weapons pursuant to the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991 and 1992. We have also reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our deterrence strategy and are cutting our nuclear stockpile almost in half, to the lowest level in decades.

Mr. President and fellow delegates, we have eliminated thousands of nuclear weapons, eliminated an entire class of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, taken B-1 bombers out of nuclear service, reduced the number of ballistic missile submarines, drastically reduced our nuclear weapons-related domestic infrastructure, and are now eliminating our most modern and sophisticated land-based ballistic missile. We have also spent billions of dollars, through programs such as Nunn-Lugar, to help other countries control and eliminate their nuclear materials. We are proud to have played a leading role in reducing nuclear arsenals.

More can be done, of course. For example, we have called upon the Conference on Disarmament to initiate negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). We believe that an FMCT would help to promote nuclear nonproliferation by establishing the universal norm that no state should produce fissile material for weapons. For its part, the United States ceased production of fissile material for weapons purposes nearly two decades ago. Today we reiterate the call we issued last year at the Conference on Disarmament for all nations committed to the FMCT to join us in declaring a moratorium on fissile material production for weapons purposes until a binding FMCT has been concluded and entered into force.

We intend to provide much more detailed information about the steps we have taken in accordance with Article VI at a later point during this Conference. The full record will leave no doubt about the commitment of the United States to fulfillment of its Article VI obligations.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the NPT is a critical tool in the global struggle against proliferation. The United States remains committed to universal adherence to the NPT, and we hope that countries still outside will join the Treaty, which they can do only as non-nuclear weapon states. However, we must remain mindful that the Treaty will not continue to advance our security in the future if we do not successfully confront the current proliferation challenges. Our common obligation is clear. This Conference offers us the opportunity to expand our understanding of these critical challenges and to seek common ground on ways to respond. In the interest of world peace and security, let us work together to preserve and strengthen the NPT. Thank you, Mr. President.

Released on May 3, 2005

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