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Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
October 24, 2008

United Nation Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004): 1540 Committee Renewal

(Current as of October 24, 2008)

The United States helped initiate what became United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540) in September 2003 when President Bush stated: "Today, I ask the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new antiproliferation resolution "(the) United States stands ready to help any nation draft these new laws and to assist in their enforcement." Resolution 1540 is an unprecedented initiative that holds great promise and achieved much, and the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 has an important role to play in promoting implementation of the resolution. While the scope of the resolution includes terrorist activities, it was designed to address the full-range of proliferation activity, including non-state actors providing proliferation-related services. The resolution also places requirements on UN Member States to take specific measures to criminalize activities, which can contribute to or support proliferation activities.

The United States views implementation of UNSCR 1540 as a vital element in our comprehensive and global efforts to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and to keep these deadly weapons out of the hands of terrorists. UNSCR 1540, if fully implemented, can help ensure that all states have in place appropriate laws and enforcement mechanisms to prevent WMD proliferation and hold those who engage in such behavior are accountable.

The security benefits and advantages to implementation of UNSCR 1540 are clear. In addition, the resolution advances the economic interests of nations seeking to be key global economic suppliers of goods and services, including the United States. All states should view universal implementation of UNSCR 1540 as an opportunity to improve our international security and global trade by maintaining high security standards. By taking more appropriate and effective measures to control cross-border movement of WMD-related items, each state:

  • Instills greater confidence among its trading partners that their trade will not support illicit activities;

  • Increases access to advanced technologies that such confidence allows;

  • Makes trade more secure from theft and other forms of diversion; and

  • Helps companies adopt more competitive management techniques to know their customers and to keep track of their products.

Today's resolution adoption takes us in a direction that recognizes the realities and complexities of the work required for states to fully meet the provisions of UNSCR 1540, and outlines the readiness of the UNSC to support this process. We supported a longer Committee extension with an enhanced mandate that would be reflective of issues raised by several countries benefiting from the work of UNSCR 1540. In particular, they made clear to us that a better coordinated, better funded, and more inclusive approach toward the work of the 1540 Committee was needed. The 1540 Committee, as revitalized for three years, should work with states as an effective clearinghouse (using the information it has collected from states) and then set about the work of building capacity. It is specifically for these reasons that we strongly sought ways in this new resolution for the Committee to work in a open and transparent way because we believe that doing so could be a way of assisting states in meeting their 1540 obligations and ensuring that existing assistance programs have the most widespread availability for States to access.

As an example of the importance that we place on implementation of UNSCR 1540, we are seeking broad geographic expansion of the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to address WMD threats worldwide, which will provide foreign assistance in support of the aims of UNSCR 1540. The United States has supported these implementation efforts in other countries through a variety of mechanisms, including providing funding and expertise for 1540-related conferences and outreach, providing extensive technical assistance, and providing strong endorsement for such efforts in the annual G-8 Summit statements. The U.S. provides nonproliferation-related technical assistance globally, including in the following UNSCR 1540-related subject areas: legal/regulatory; licensing; government-to-industry outreach; and enforcement. Additionally, still further UNSCR 1540-related U.S. programs designed to prohibit transfers of proliferation-sensitive materials to non-governmental actors, assist states in enacting and enforcing effective export controls, and secure proliferation sensitive materials, raise the total U.S. funding in this field to over $2 billion annually.

The 1540 Committee and its Panel of Experts have done much useful work over the past several years, as summarized in the Committee's 2008 report to the Security Council. As we move ahead, the United States looks forward to consulting with our partners and allies to capitalize on the benefits of full implementation of UNSCR 1540.



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