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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Preparatory Committee Meeting for the 2005 NPT Review Conference

John S. Wolf, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation, U.S. Representative to the Second Session of the PrepCom
Remarks to the Second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee
Geneva, Switzerland
April 28, 2003

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to appear as the Representative of the United States to this second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). I congratulate you on your selection. We appreciate deeply the effort you have made to ensure a constructive outcome for this meeting.

At the outset, I have the honor to deliver a message from the Secretary of State Colin Powell.

I begin his message:

I extend my personal best wishes to participants at the 2003 session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). We meet at a time of considerable challenge to the NPT and to international peace and security.

In recent months, one state declared its withdrawal from the Treaty. Another party admitted to construction of secret nuclear facilities. Others are procuring technologies that would enable them to produce clandestinely the fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon.

NPT Parties -- weapon states and non-weapon states alike -- must take strong action to deal with cases of noncompliance and to strengthen the Treaty's nonproliferation undertakings. We cannot allow the few who fail to meet their obligations to undermine the important work of the NPT.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be relentless in pursuing suspected cases of noncompliance. The IAEA needs our full financial and political support to do its job. Universal adoption of the IAEA Additional Protocol must remain a high priority objective.

The United States remains firmly committed to its obligations under the NPT. We are pursuing a number of avenues that promote the goal of nuclear disarmament. The Moscow Treaty and other U.S. actions are based on a desire and an intention to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons and eliminate surplus stocks of weapons-grade material.

The NPT reflects our common realization that the spread of nuclear weapons would gravely destabilize our world. An NPT to which all states adhere and fully comply would serve to protect against the prospect of regional nuclear competition and to reduce the risk of nuclear war.

The NPT can only be as strong as our will to enforce it, in spirit and in deed. We share a collective responsibility to be ever vigilant, and to take concerted action when the Treaty, our Treaty, is threatened.

Let us act promptly and effectively to meet the challenges to the NPT. By doing so, we can help ensure that it remains an effective instrument of global security.

And that is the end of the message of the Secretary of State.

The Chair this morning called for a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the health of this treaty. I agree with the Chairman. While we meet here in Geneva, home of the Conference on Disarmament, our job is broader. We need to look at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. I say this because more than ever before, proliferation is on the front page of newspapers all over the world and worry about its threat is on the minds of all of our citizens. Many observers are too quick to write the epitaph for the NPT and for our common efforts. Let me say, as the Secretary said, up front, that the United States of America rejects that view. Like the Chairman, we note the remarkable record of achievements and we congratulate and we affirm the over 180 nations which live by their Treaty commitments. For thirty-three years, we have come together to address the unique challenge of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Much has happened since this group gathered last year in New York. While we have made important progress on some aspects of the Treaty's implementation, we also face significant new problems.

The NPT's core purpose is preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It’s in the title. While the Treaty has been largely successful in this respect, irresponsible NPT parties are taking actions that pose fundamental challenges to the Treaty.

Today, each of us must make a choice. The time for business as usual is over. The time for resolute action is here. Without full compliance by all states, the security benefits of the Treaty will erode. Without strict enforcement, the international confidence that has underpinned the Treaty will dissolve, and the basis for peaceful sharing of nuclear technology will be destroyed. The world will become a far more dangerous place as more nations contemplate their future amid growing numbers of nuclear weapon states (NWS).

We must choose to strengthen our political commitment to the NPT. We must build stronger barriers against those who try to violate the Treaty’s fundamental obligations. One part of that choice requires dealing firmly with countries whose nuclear programs today pose a serious threat to the NPT. By doing so, we send a clear message to stop any other Treaty party that would seek to acquire or spread nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons technologies.

In October 2002, North Korea admitted to a secret uranium enrichment program as part of its nuclear weapons program. It is not just that this program compounded previous DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] violations of the NPT and several other international agreements. But it also happened even as my country and others were engaged in nearly a decade of good faith efforts under the Agreed Framework and other international agreements.

I need not repeat the sequence of events since that revelation or say more than how deeply regrettable it is that North Korea decided first to further violate the Treaty and then withdraw. Its withdrawal action was both cynical, in light of its long-standing breach of the Treaty, and dangerous in its impact on security in Northeast Asia. The international community is determined to see the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It is only by eliminating its nuclear weapons program that North Korea can hope to improve its international standing and obtain the cooperation it needs for economic development. If NPT withdrawal and threats to acquire nuclear weapons become the currency of international bargaining, our world will be in chaos.

While all our options remain available, we are determined to end North Korea’s threat through peaceful, diplomatic means. We met in Beijing last week for multilateral talks with China and North Korea. There were no breakthroughs, but we were able to make clear to North Korea our resolve in achieving the verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program. It is important for every country represented here to send the same message to the DPRK: abandon your nuclear weapons ambitions and return to compliance with the NPT.

Iran provides perhaps the most fundamental challenge ever faced by the NPT. This is a country that professes to be in full compliance with its safeguards obligations. It is a country that has been one of the largest beneficiaries of IAEA technical cooperation for peaceful purposes. But, as recent revelations have made all too clear, Iran has been conducting an alarming, clandestine program to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities that we believe make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program.

How many other NPT non-nuclear weapon states built an enrichment plant before their first power reactor was finished? None. What responsible country would or could commit to building a production scale plant without extensive research and development? None. How many other NPT non-nuclear weapon states with nuclear programs based solely on light water reactors have also built large-scale heavy water production plants? None. Why has Iran sought clandestinely to acquire laser enrichment technology? Iran has not answered, nor even admitted to this effort.

Recent revelations by private groups and the IAEA raise profound doubts about Iran's intentions. Despite the professions of transparency and peaceful intent, Iran is going down the same path of denial and deception that handicapped international inspections in North Korea and Iraq. We have seen the pattern of cheat and retreat before -- of begrudging compromises on process but obstinacy on real disclosure. It is hardly reassuring to us that, eleven years after it was first issued, Iran has only belatedly accepted the IAEA's 1992 call on all states to declare new facilities prior to construction. Iran was the very last state to accept this call, and then only after its new facilities were made public by others.

The IAEA, which is following up the revelations made during Director-General Elbaradei’s February visit, undoubtedly has its own extensive list of questions. Some of these may relate to small issues and others to more fundamental matters. But the answers the IAEA is seeking are critical, are critical, to determining whether Iran is in compliance with its safeguards agreement -- and therefore meeting its fundamental NPT obligations.

I want to make this clear: this is not, this is not, a bilateral issue between Iran and the United States. This is an issue between Iran and the rest of the world. Every NPT party has a stake in seeing the veil of secrecy lifted on Iran’s nuclear program. Many countries have concerns and questions about Iran’s intentions and the capabilities that must be addressed. The IAEA needs to ask the hard questions and it deserves, it needs to get complete answers. It needs to go wherever necessary to find the truth; and it needs to measure each answer against the pattern to date of denial and deception. Member states of the IAEA will need to know how Iran has responded to requests for access. Iran has repeatedly asserted that its nuclear program is “completely transparent” and that it is “fully cooperating with the IAEA.” Now is the time for Iran to provide full disclosure. IAEA members will be satisfied with nothing less than the truth. We look forward to the Director General’s comprehensive report on Iran at the June Board of Governors meeting.

Our experiences with Iraq, Iran and North Korea reveal an objective message. We must constantly be mindful that an irresponsible NPT party may use its “declared” peaceful nuclear program to mask its development or acquisition of nuclear weapons capabilities. What is presented as “compliance” may in fact not be real. Only genuine commitment, true transparency, and rigorous verification can lead to genuine confidence.

Some argue that, absent a formal finding of noncompliance with safeguards, that non-nuclear-weapons states have a “right” to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Article IV certainly provides for cooperation among NPT parties in pursuing peaceful nuclear programs. And many NPT parties have benefited from Article IV assistance over the life of the Treaty. But, underpinning and fundamental to this cooperation are the nonproliferation obligations in Articles II and III. These obligations require that nuclear material and facilities be used solely, solely, for peaceful purposes as set forth in the Treaty and the IAEA safeguards agreement. Nuclear commerce must not continue when there are questions, even if those questions have not yet resulted in formal findings of noncompliance. Recent history demonstrates that suppliers need to exercise far greater caution with countries of concern. Some may argue they must see the “smoking gun.” Unfortunately, the smoking gun for clandestine nuclear programs may well be the mushroom cloud above an exploding weapon.

Today, we also face another risk -- that of terrorist access to nuclear materials. The tragic lesson of September 11 is that terrorists are looking for ways to kill or injure large numbers of civilians, innocent civilians, and they are looking to create panic and economic dislocation. Nuclear and radioactive material offer terrorists a tempting means to those ends. Lest anyone think this is a problem only for the United States, or perhaps a few western countries -- think again. Remember, the economic tidal wave spawned by the September 11 terrorist actions is still, still, crashing down all across the world, causing economic losses in the trillions of dollars and misery and economic deprivation for millions all around the world. Use of a stolen nuclear weapon, or even a radiological dispersion device could cause far more extensive damage for all of us.

Many here already have spoken to the key importance of disarmament and the need to match the Treaty’s disarmament and nonproliferation obligations. And I quite agree with that. Balance, balance, is an inherent part of the Treaty. The Treaty has three pillars: nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful nuclear cooperation. But the fact is, today, the Treaty is dangerously out of balance. Disarmament continues, and in fact took a significant step forward with the signing of the Moscow Treaty. We are leading that process, and we will continue to do so. In the past 15 years, huge strides have been made in reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons. The United States has dismantled over 13,000 nuclear weapons. We have eliminated more than a dozen different types of warheads and we have reduced the number of nuclear weapons by about 60%. Under the Moscow Treaty we will cut the number of strategic weapons again by two-thirds to 1,700 to 2,200 by the year 2012. In two decades, the United States will have eliminated or decommissioned three-quarters of its strategic arsenal. We have also given up whole classes of tactical nuclear weapons, and we have withdrawn remaining stocks from almost every overseas site.

We also are making progress under the U.S.-Russia agreement that ensure excess fissile material can never be used in nuclear weapons. Over their lifetime, these agreements will contribute to the irreversibility of nuclear reductions. They will ensure that fissile material capable of manufacturing over 30,000 nuclear weapons is no longer available for such use. And that’s not all.

We are purchasing from Russia low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel that has been down-blended from hundreds of tons of highly enriched uranium, uranium from dismantled warheads. The United States and Russia have agreed to permanently dispose of 34 tons each of weapons usable plutonium.

We spend about a $1 billion a year on a variety of nonproliferation and threat reduction programs in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. And much of this effort is to reduce nuclear material stocks and secure that which remains. We, we, fostered last year’s decision by G-8 Leaders to launch a Global Partnership and commit up to $20 billion over ten years for nonproliferation assistance. The United States’ share of that $20 billion is $10 billion.

Some may debate whether this pace is fast enough -- but it is not credible to argue that we are not on a steady downward path toward the goals of Article VI.

Yet, the path for nuclear proliferation is spiraling upward. And what must we do?

IAEA safeguards play an indispensable role in the process of ensuring confidence in NPT compliance, but safeguards need further strengthening. We rely on the IAEA to safeguard peaceful nuclear programs around the world and to look for evidence of clandestine activities. It must have the resources and the resolve necessary to ensure that peaceful nuclear programs are not mere facades. The work of this unique international organization advances our collective security. We need to respond positively to the IAEA’s chronic shortfall in regular budget safeguards funding. At the same time, at the same time, we must recognize that it will take more than additional funding for the IAEA to meet its maximum verification potential under the NPT. NPT parties must recognize the dangers that exist, and they must summon the political will to support a more assertive IAEA safeguards system. More resources must be matched with strengthened enforcement.

We need to take the next big step by substantially increasing the political momentum behind the Additional Protocol. In May of last year, President Bush transmitted the U.S.-IAEA Additional Protocol to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. In doing so, the President made clear his support for universal adoption of the Additional Protocol.

Since we met last year, there has been some progress globally in acceptance of the Additional Protocol. But the pace should intensify. Some states with significant nuclear programs have yet to bring a Protocol before the Board. The 2005 NPT Review Conference offers a target date for action. All NPT parties, including my government, should exert a maximum effort to have a Protocol in force in 2005.

Sustained and rapid progress over the next two years in completing both Protocols and the 48 NPT safeguards agreements that are not yet in force would represent a solid achievement in support of the NPT and global security. Even NPT parties with no civil nuclear programs can contribute. Every safeguards agreement and Protocol that is concluded reinforces the fabric of the NPT and assists the IAEA in verifying that nuclear programs are genuinely peaceful.

There is a task for members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and for the Zangger Committee as well. They should continue to search for ways to ensure that items under their control do not find their way into nuclear weapon programs. Information sharing among NSG states is critical to this goal. But members must act on this information by recognizing the increased risk of diversion and they must act to deny nuclear-related items to states of concern. We applaud the recent action by the NSG to address the threat of terrorism. These supplier groups can provide a boost to the Additional Protocol by adopting it as a condition of supply, perhaps by 2005.

And strong national export controls are essential to enforcing the goals of the NSG and the NPT. There should be severe penalties for those who violate the law. And supplier governments must have authority to stop items not on the control lists. We should consider incorporating the concept of “catch-all” controls as an explicit NSG requirement. We all need to reflect on the fact, on the fact, that North Korea and Iran obtained proven enrichment technologies largely undetected, even though, even though, suppliers increased their scrutiny of enrichment transactions more than a decade ago.

The ongoing effort to amend the Physical Protection Convention will strengthen international standards for protecting nuclear material and facilities used for peaceful purposes. A resolution adopted at last fall’s IAEA General Conference noted with concern the lack of progress and called for the early completion of negotiations on an amendment. The drafting group convened by the IAEA Director-General completed its work in March without reaching a consensus. It is time, it is time, for parties to set aside political agendas and to realize our common goal. The need for an amended Convention is as critical as ever.

International cooperation in securing and regulating radioactive sources was given a boost last month at a conference in Vienna co-sponsored by Russia and the United States. And more than 120 countries joined the call for stronger national and international security over radioactive sources, especially the kind that can be used in “dirty bombs.” Among the key recommendations were the need for national plans, national plans, to manage sources throughout their lifetime, as well as to locate, recover and secure high-risk radioactive sources. This is not an issue on which interests of developed and developing countries differ. Virtually no state is immune from the risk posed by these sources. Here is another opportunity for us to work together. The U.S. will be active in helping.

There are many opportunities for every state to make a difference in achieving nuclear nonproliferation objectives. It starts with robust support for the NPT. But declaratory statements must be backed up with political resolve to confront those who undermine nuclear nonproliferation and to take direct action to strengthen the barriers against possible future offenders. There must be serious consequences for those who violate their NPT commitments.

U.S. support for the goal of universal NPT adherence remains undiminished. We do not support any change to the NPT that would accord a different status to states currently outside the Treaty. The 2000 NPT Review Conference recognized that universality would depend, would depend, on successful efforts to enhance regional security in areas of tension such as the Middle East and South Asia. We continue to recognize the validity of the goal of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and we are committed to helping the parties of the Middle East to achieve peace.

In closing, let me reinforce that the NPT is more important today than ever before. As we prepare for the 2005 Conference, we should recognize the new proliferation challenges we face and attach a higher priority to strengthening the Treaty. The vast majority of parties, parties in this room, honor their obligations. Yet, the Treaty’s value to future generations depends on what we do to preserve the Treaty as an effective instrument against the spread of nuclear weapons. I am confident that working together with strong resolve we can ensure the NPT and other multilateral approaches continue to play a critical role in the fight against the security threats of the 21st century.

Thank you.

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