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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Fact Sheets > 2001
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
September 1, 2001

Missile Defense and Nonproliferation

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their missile delivery systems pose a direct and serious threat to the national security of the United States, our friends, forces, and allies. President Bush has made clear that we must have a comprehensive strategy to counter this complex and dangerous challenge. This strategy must include strengthening nonproliferation measures (prevention), more robust counterproliferation capabilities (protection), and a new concept for deterring contemporary threats, relying more on defenses and less on offensive nuclear forces.

U.S. Nonproliferation Efforts

Our nonproliferation efforts seek to prevent or slow the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their missile delivery systems. We are working to impede WMD and missile development programs existing in key countries and regions of concern such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and South Asia and to halt transfers of missiles and missile related items from countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea. There are four elements of our nonproliferation strategy:

Persuade or induce proliferating governments to change course.

  • Engage directly and indirectly with countries of concern to urge them to constrain, halt or reverse proliferation. This includes renewed engagement with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs, working through the UN to induce Iraq to accept international inspections, and efforts to persuade India and Pakistan to constrain their nuclear and missile competition. 
  • Use positive and negative incentives to demonstrate to proliferators there are benefits to observing nonproliferation norms and costs for disregarding them.

Deny proliferators the supply of equipment, material, or technology from abroad.

  • Work with other governments to monitor and stop foreign shipments of sensitive WMD and missile-related technologies to countries and programs of concern.
  • Press countries like North Korea, Russia and China to behave more responsibly, and assist others to upgrade their export controls.
  • Craft a United Nations control mechanism to deny Iraq sensitive goods while permitting the Iraqi people to receive the civilian goods they need.
  • Cut off outside assistance to Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
  • Reinforce the Missile Technology Control Regime and other suppliers’ nonproliferation arrangements, to create rules that member countries and others use to guide their export behavior.
  • Impose sanctions, when warranted, on countries and specific entities that assist proliferators, to deter would-be suppliers.

Use U.S. threat reduction programs to secure or eliminate WMD and missile capabilities left over from the Cold War.

  • Pursue programs in the New Independent States (NIS) -- especially Russia -- to help them meet their arms control obligations, and to control and dispose of the massive quantities of WMD and missile materials there.
  • Ensure former Soviet WMD and missile expertise does not leak out of Russia and the NIS to rogue states.

Strengthen existing international nonproliferation treaties, promote new ones that meet U.S. interests, and upgrade the means of verifying them.

  • Support formal treaties such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) that set the international "rules of the road" on possession, deployment or transfer of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
  • Strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) nuclear inspection system.
  • Press others to bring into force upgraded IAEA safeguards designed to detect Iraq-style clandestine nuclear activities.
  • Seek to break the international logjam that is blocking negotiation of a treaty to end the production of unsafeguarded nuclear weapons material.

Nonproliferation and Missile Defense

Nonproliferation, deterrence, and missile defense are complementary parts of our overall strategy:

Nonproliferation reduces the threat missile defenses are designed to counter.

  • The threat posed by WMD and missile proliferation is the driving force behind our desire for missile defense. To the extent this threat is reduced by other means, the magnitude of the threat that must be dealt with by missile defenses also declines.

Missile defense weakens the incentive to develop, test, produce, and deploy missiles.

  • Rogue states such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea are less likely to invest in missiles as a weapon of choice if they know they will face effective defenses.

Missile defense does not mean that we are giving up on deterrence.

  • Missile defense strengthens deterrence and keeps rogue states from being able to blackmail the United States, its friends or allies by threatening a missile attack.

 For more on nonproliferation, see http://www.state.gov/t/np

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