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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 > 2003
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
May 1, 2003

Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Provided to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference

Article VI

The United States is pleased to offer information on its policies and actions that contribute to the goals of Article VI. We believe that regular exchanges of information among NPT parties during the review process are a useful means to facilitate our discussions. This paper addresses both ongoing actions and offers clarification on certain issues.

A. U.S. Commitment to Article VI

1. The Moscow Treaty

On May 24, 2002, President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin signed the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions. Under this Treaty, the United States and Russia will reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to a level of 1,700 to 2,200 by December 31, 2012. The United States Senate unanimously approved the Treaty on March 6, 2003.

The Moscow Treaty will require a two-thirds decrease in both countries' strategic nuclear warheads by 2012. This decrease will bring their nuclear arsenals to the lowest levels in decades.

In the U.S.-Russian Joint Declaration on the New Strategic Relationship, agreed upon at the same time as the Moscow Treaty, the United States and Russia agreed to 'seek broad international support for a strategy of proactive non-proliferation, including by implementing and bolstering the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons....' The Moscow Treaty represents an important contribution toward this goal.

Following the successful completion in 2001 of reductions under START (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) from over 10,000 deployed strategic warheads to under 6,000, the Moscow Treaty represents another major step in U.S. fulfillment of its NPT Article VI obligations. In two decades, the United States and Russia will have eliminated or decommissioned more than three-quarters of their strategic nuclear warheads. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/68 of November 22, 2002, recognized that the agreed strategic reductions in the Moscow Treaty advance the NPT commitment of the United States and Russia.

The Moscow Treaty reflects a new era and a strengthened U.S.-Russian strategic partnership. Because of this partnership, it was not necessary to incorporate hundreds of pages of cumbersome rules and procedures into the Treaty. A Bilateral Implementation Commission will be established and will meet at least twice a year. The START Treaty -- which will remain in force in accordance with its terms -- will also provide a foundation for confidence regarding the strategic relationship.

Our two countries also have established a Consultative Group on Strategic Stability that will serve as a broader forum to discuss issues of strategic importance and to enhance mutual transparency. This Group is chaired by the Foreign and Defense ministers of both countries and includes other senior officials. Working Groups have already begun to meet. The discussions to date have focused on transparency in both strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, and on cooperative efforts in missile defense. We believe the activities of this Consultative Group will further strengthen openness and cooperation across a broad range of U.S.-Russian security issues.

2. Clarifying the Moscow Treaty

In 2001, the Bush administration decided to proceed with strategic nuclear reductions based on the dramatic changes taking place in the international security environment, including in our relationship with Russia. The President announced that the United States would unilaterally reduce its strategic nuclear forces to the lowest possible level consistent with our national security requirements and invited Russia to reciprocate. President Putin made a similar statement and the two leaders eventually decided to make the reductions legally binding.

Our countries took an approach that led quickly to a treaty cutting operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads deeper than anything proposed previously. In less than six months, the administration was able to accomplish what had proven impossible for almost a decade -- to agree with Russia on deep strategic nuclear reductions.

In the post-Cold War international security environment, the administration is confident that it is unnecessary to attach strict, inflexible or overly detailed requirements to strategic arms control agreements. The new mutual trust and openness in the U.S.-Russian relationship, along with the various means of inspecting and monitoring already available to both Parties, and our commitment to pursue additional transparency, will provide the necessary confidence in implementation of the Moscow Treaty.

By any measure, this Treaty is a meaningful accomplishment. It does not require the destruction of nuclear warheads; but no arms control treaty has ever done that. Some warheads removed from operational service will be stored in active status, others will be stored but disabled and not available for quick redeployment, and some will be designated for retirement and dismantling.

The absence of treaty constraints on warhead disposition allows the United States and Russia to proceed with warhead elimination in a manner that is unhindered by artificial requirements. The Moscow Treaty's flexibility regarding warhead disposition recognizes that the United States and Russia have fundamentally different stockpile maintenance practices. Key to the difference is that Russia continues to produce new warheads while the United States currently has no capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The Treaty does not preclude the redeployment of strategic warheads removed from operational service. However, the United States has no plans to do so. It does not seek to rearm. Barring unforeseen changes in the global security environment, there is no reason we would want to reverse these reductions. Still, there is a nuclear safety and reliability reason to maintain the right to redeploy. The United States has not manufactured a new nuclear weapon in more than a decade. If an operationally deployed warhead is found to be unsafe or unreliable, we must have the ability to replace it.

We have already begun reductions under the Moscow Treaty. Our 50 Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming are being retired. All 50 missiles should be deactivated within two years. As part of this process, the missiles will be disassembled. Two of a planned four Trident submarines have been removed from strategic service, with the next two scheduled for removal by October 2004. The entire B-1 bomber force is dedicated to conventional missions, and is no longer considered nuclear-capable.

These actions will leave the United States with approximately 1,100 fewer warheads in operationally deployed status by late 2007 than in May 2002. After 2007, we plan to reduce further by decreasing the number of warheads on ballistic missiles and reducing the number of operationally deployed weapons at heavy bomber bases. These plans will evolve over time.

The Moscow Treaty is a new approach for a new time. The United States believes that the deep cuts in its nuclear arsenal called for in the Moscow Treaty further demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the NPT.

3. Dismantlement

The United States has dismantled over 13,000 U.S. nuclear weapons over the past 15 years. The pace of dismantlement has slowed in recent years due in part to elimination of the backlog from retirements in the 1990s and to the complexity of some weapon dismantlements. However, the Department of Energy is seeking to accelerate dismantlement efforts already underway at the Pantex facility prior to the onset of major refurbishment work later this decade. Currently, the W56 Minuteman II warhead is being disassembled. All B-53 strategic bombs and some B-61 non-strategic bombs have been retired awaiting dismantlement.

A significant milestone was reached in January of this year when the United States finished dismantling the nuclear weapons that it pledged to dismantle under the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiative of President George H.W. Bush. The last warhead type to be disassembled under that initiative was a nuclear artillery round.

4. Fissile Material Measures

Measures related to fissile material get little public attention, but can have a substantial impact on the irreversibility of nuclear weapon reductions. They involve efforts to halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and to dispose of excess defense material, including that removed from dismantled nuclear weapons.

The United States has not produced fissile material for nuclear weapons in over a decade. The United States supports the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a multilateral Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty that would advance U.S. security. Moreover, we entered into the bilateral Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement (PPRA) with Russia in 1997 that codified the shutdown of 14 U.S. plutonium production reactors, along with 10 such reactors in Russia. Further progress was made recently on this agreement through an amendment signed in March 2003 that calls for the complete shutdown of Russia's last three plutonium production reactors and replacement of the reactors' energy production with fossil fuel sources. The United States will assist in this replacement effort. Moreover, unprecedented monitoring activities have begun under the PPRA to provide confidence that Russia will not use any weapon-grade plutonium produced after 1994 in nuclear weapons.

The United States and Russia continue cooperation toward disposing of some 700 tons of fissile material declared in excess to defense needs, including material removed from nuclear weapons. Disposing of this highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium will advance critical nonproliferation and threat reduction goals, as well as contribute to the irreversibility of the nuclear arms reduction process.

More than 170 tons of Russian HEU has been converted to non-weapons grade material for use in the United States pursuant to the 1993 U.S.-Russian agreement on the conversion of 500 tons of Russian HEU. This material comes from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons and literally represents a conversion of once deadly weapons-grade material into a form usable in civilian applications. The United States has identified 174 tons of excess U.S. HEU and is unilaterally converting this material to peaceful uses. Thus far, approximately 30 tons have been converted with another 33 tons expected to be converted by 2007.

The conversion of plutonium to a non-weapons usable form is a much more difficult and expensive process. The United States is actively pursuing implementation of the 2000 U.S.-Russian agreement that calls for each side to dispose of 34 tons of weapons plutonium into forms no longer useable in nuclear weapons. Additional excess material can be placed under this agreement by either side as the material becomes available. Among current priorities is to establish financial arrangements and related organizational mechanisms for multilateral support of Russia's disposition program, to allow the U.S. and Russian programs to go forward roughly in parallel.

The vast majority of the 700 tons of excess fissile material is subject to verification or to transparency measures pursuant to U.S.-Russian negotiated arrangements. Both sides have also worked with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to develop practical measures for IAEA verification of excess material. This 1996 Trilateral Initiative addresses novel techniques for verifying materials still in classified or sensitive forms. It also includes the development of a model verification agreement. The United States, Russia and the IAEA concluded last year that they had fulfilled the initial tasks established under this initiative.

Work is proceeding between U.S. and Russian experts on developing measurement equipment and standards.

The United States has unilaterally placed some of its excess material under IAEA safeguards. Notably, early last month the IAEA conducted its 100th inspection of DOE (Department of Energy) facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, that contain excess HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) and plutonium, respectively. The United States has 12 tons of excess plutonium and HEU under safeguards. The conversion of 63 tons of excess HEU to power reactor fuel is being done under the auspices of the IAEA.

All of this work represents progress toward nuclear disarmament. These measures help ensure that neither the United States nor Russia would be able to rebuild their nuclear weapon stockpiles to previously high levels. To date, the quantities of excess fissile material removed from the military stockpiles of both sides and slated for disposition are equivalent to eliminating irreversibly well over 30,000 nuclear weapons.

Pursuant to the May 2002 Moscow Summit, the United States and Russia have been looking at ways to increase the amount of excess material that could be eliminated.

4. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)

The United States has allocated over $8 billion for all nonproliferation and threat reduction assistance to states of the former Soviet Union since 1992, with about $1 billion requested for FY 2004. This represents an enormous investment in a safer world through cooperative programs designed to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

This effort includes more than 30 programs operated by the Departments of Defense, Energy and State. They provide assistance in the dismantling of bombers, missiles and launchers for the delivery of nuclear weapons; in reducing nuclear materials and infrastructure; and in increasing security for the storage in Russia of nuclear warheads and fissile material. U.S. assistance has helped eliminate almost 900 ballistic missiles, more than 100 bombers, and nearly 50 ballistic missile submarines. Security has also been upgraded at more than 60 sites in the states of the former Soviet Union where weapons-grade fissile material is stored or used. Through the science centers in Moscow and Kiev, we have also engaged former WMD scientists and engineers in civilian research projects at more than 850 institutes.

Other recent activities include the removal of HEU fuel from Serbia and the destruction of missiles in Bulgaria. We are also helping some 30 countries to establish effective export controls and border security. These programs offer training and detection and enforcement equipment. Program advisers serve overseas and directly engage foreign officials on these matters.

Since September 11, there has been a new sense of urgency in nonproliferation as nations around the world recognize the huge risk presented by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists or their state sponsors. Last June at Kananaskis, Canada, President Bush and other G-8 leaders launched the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to address this risk. They pledged to raise up to $20 billion over ten years for nonproliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism, and nuclear safety projects, initially in Russia.

Since the June Summit, the G-8 have devoted much time and attention to implement the initiative. We expect significant progress to be reported at the Evian Summit in June 2003. Other countries have been invited to participate through contributions to projects under the scope of the Partnership. Several countries have expressed strong interest and we hope others will do so. The Global Partnership builds upon the decade-long U.S. CTR program.

In the Global Partnership statement, G-8 leaders also endorsed six nonproliferation principles to prevent terrorist access to WMD. Principle six invites states to manage and dispose of excess fissile material, to eliminate chemical weapons, and to minimize stocks of dangerous biological pathogens and toxins. Fulfillment of this principle will help to reduce the threat of terrorist acquisition of these items.

B. Interaction

Based on concerns-raised by others, we offer the following views on a few issues related to Article VI. We believe this information is responsive to those delegations that commented last year on the need for more interaction among delegations on key questions.

1. Thirteen Steps

Some countries have expressed concern over what they believe to be a lack of progress on the 13 steps from the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Some of them also view these steps as a rigid framework within which all nuclear disarmament activities must take place.

We believe it is important to recognize that the step-by-step process inherent in Article VI implementation will take place amidst changes, such as in the security environment or in governmental policies. No country believed it would be possible to implement all those steps by 2005 and none believed that all NWS would make identical progress. However, what does not change is the legal undertaking in the NPT related to Article VI.

While the United States no longer supports all 13 steps, we unambiguously support Article VI and the goal of nuclear disarmament. This goal will not be reached quickly or without enormous effort by all NPT parties. It can be achieved only through a step-by-step approach. Article VI of the NPT reflects this reality and sets no timelines or specific milestones. We think it is a mistake to use strict adherence to the 13 steps as the only means by which NPT parties can fulfill their Article VI obligations. The fundamental test is whether the United States or any other state is moving in the direction set out in Article VI.

For example, one of the 13 steps calls for implementation of START II and conclusion of START III. START II/III were attempted during the 1990s, but neither was successful. The Moscow Treaty calls for reductions beyond those in START II and comparable to those for START III. And the Moscow Treaty was completed in a few months. Had we pursued a START III Treaty using the traditional approach to arms control, it could have been several years before the two sides reached agreement. The Moscow Treaty has mandated real results -- a decrease to 1,700-2,200 strategic nuclear warheads -- where the START II and START III processes had failed.

2. Diminished Role of Nuclear Weapons

The new nuclear policy adopted by President Bush is specifically directed toward a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The United States adopted a new strategic posture with three elements: offensive systems (nuclear and non-nuclear), active and passive defense systems, and a revitalized defense infrastructure.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's transmittal letter to the Congress last year for the Nuclear Posture Review makes clear that this "New Triad" will reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons for deterrence through modernization of conventional forces, the addition of missile defenses, and other measures. This approach means that the United States will no longer be as heavily dependent on nuclear forces for deterrence as it was during the Cold War.

This represents a very significant change. It is based on the realization that the Cold War is over and the international security environment is very different than it was before the breakup of the Soviet Union. New threats today, particularly from state sponsors of terrorism, require new approaches. Some of these threats may not be deterred by our traditional Cold War posture -- and thus the need for a new range of capabilities.

The Department of Defense has not identified any requirements for new nuclear weapons. We have not produced a nuclear warhead in over a decade. Certainly, cost and feasibility studies related to possible nuclear modernization are undertaken. Such studies, however, in no way represent a decision to proceed with development of a new warhead.

Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell have stated publicly that there has been no change in U.S. nuclear declaratory policy and that the United States has not lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use. Indeed, by strengthening non-nuclear forces, specifically in the area of high-accuracy and precision strike, we will be able to hold targets at risk with an advanced conventional system that heretofore required a nuclear weapon. The result is an increase in the threshold for nuclear use. There has been no change in U.S. negative security assurance policy. In addition, the United States does not target any country on a day-to-day basis.

While the United States will not pursue ratification of the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), we continue to support the current moratorium on nuclear testing. The United States has not conducted a nuclear explosive test since 1992. We also support the establishment of the International Monitoring System for detecting nuclear tests.

Proposals exist to decrease the time that it would take to resume nuclear testing, were that ever to be necessary. But that fact says nothing about the likelihood of a nuclear test. Nor does it relate to the development of a new nuclear weapon.

The current test readiness would be more than adequate for that purpose. For the foreseeable future, we believe that the stockpile stewardship program can ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile, and that no nuclear tests will be required.

All states examine possible future threats, do contingency planning, and study ways to respond to new threats. Such activities are necessary to protect national security. The United States is no exception. However, published reports that studies or contingency planning may be ongoing do not in any way represent a change in policy. Nuclear policies, in particular, are decided at the highest levels of any U.S. administration.

Since the nuclear age began, all U.S. Presidents have demonstrated prudence with regard to nuclear weapons. The United States has an unparalleled conventional capability to defend our security. President Bush's policies are further reducing the extent to which we need to rely on nuclear weapons.

3. Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

A third concern is the view that Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons (NSNW) should be a priority and be subject to legally binding agreements.

The United States and NATO long ago decided that reductions in NSNW were appropriate. Over the past decade, the United States eliminated all but one of its nuclear delivery systems from Europe. Overall reductions in the number of U.S. NSNW have reached nearly 90 percent. The Army, Marine Corps, and surface and air components of the Navy have been denuclearized. The only remaining U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe -- air delivered bombs -- have been greatly reduced. This progress in NSNW reductions comes from unilateral action.

NATO's nuclear-capable delivery aircraft used to be able to launch in minutes. That readiness time has been lengthened to months. NATO has considerably reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons.

In recent years, the United States has looked at the prospect of formal arms control treaties on NSNW and concluded that such an approach is not possible. The nature of these weapons and their delivery systems make it far more difficult to have confidence in treaty implementation than is the case for strategic systems. Delivery systems for NSNW are often dual-use, i.e. for conventional and nuclear roles, which makes it very difficult to have confidence that they have been retired from a nuclear role.

The United States is committed, however, to the pursuit of transparency related to NSNW. The issue has been raised with Russia in the bilateral consultative group established at last year's Moscow summit. The NATO-Russia Council is also discussing confidence-building measures related to NSNW.


The preamble of the Moscow Treaty notes that the United States and Russia are "mindful of their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1,1968." President Bush's signature on this Treaty provides a clear demonstration at the highest level of the commitment of the United States to its Article VI undertakings.

This paper has provided some details of U.S. actions that implement Article VI. Moreover, we have tried to clarify some issues where there is a potential for misunderstanding of U.S. policy. It is clear from the foregoing that the United States is prepared not only to take measures that reduce reliance on its own nuclear weapons, but also to assist others in concrete efforts to move toward Article VI goals. We continue to expend enormous resources and effort to reduce the risk to all nations from weapons of mass destruction. The totality of these efforts represents a solid record of achievement in implementation of Article VI.

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