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IAEA Safeguards, Nuclear Export Controls, and Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

Andrew K. Semmel, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Alternate U.S. Representative to the Second Session of the PrepCom
Remarks to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference
Geneva, Switzerland
May 5, 2003

IAEA Safeguards

The United States has made clear in previous remarks the absolute importance of ensuring compliance with NPT obligations. Articles I and II constitute the basic nonproliferation undertakings of the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). Article III is designed to provide confidence to the international community that non-nuclear-weapon state parties are not using nuclear material for nuclear weapons, and that all parties export nuclear material and equipment in ways consistent with NPT objectives. As such, Article III implementation plays an indispensable role toward ensuring the Treaty fulfills its nonproliferation objectives.

The vast majority of countries join the NPT because it contributes to their national security. But to do this, IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards must be strong and rigorously enforced. A lack of confidence in IAEA safeguards could also erode the willingness of states to engage in peaceful nuclear cooperation. As a result, many countries could find themselves deprived of important benefits for their economic and social development.

It's that simple. Weak safeguards could undermine the security and economic benefits of the Treaty, leading to its erosion and demise. The interests of developing and developed countries do not diverge in that respect. Effective safeguards are essential for furthering our common interest.

Another reason to support strong safeguards is based on the need for fair play and equal treatment. States that honor their obligations and gain peaceful nuclear benefits as a result have a right to insist that all NPT parties play by the same rules. A party that does not play by the rules should not be allowed to enjoy the same benefits as those who do. The IAEA safeguards system needs to be strong so that it can either discourage a state from breaking the rules or sound the alarm against those that do.

Peaceful nuclear cooperation, equal treatment, and above all, global security provide ample reasons to ensure that the IAEA safeguards system gets the support it needs. The IAEA must receive the financial resources and political support necessary to vigorously enforce the NPT. Potential violators must be deterred by the high cost of evading safeguards and the prospect of being caught. Safeguards must be so effective that they force an NPT party contemplating diversion of nuclear material or the construction of a clandestine facility to give up the effort.

The improvement of safeguards has been a major theme of the IAEA since Iraq's nuclear weapons program was discovered after the Gulf War in 1991. Yet much more needs to be done. North Korea displayed contempt for the IAEA when it brushed off requests for information on its enrichment program, and, ultimately, expelled IAEA inspectors. Iran did not extend full cooperation to the IAEA for many years, and recently the world discovered why. Iran was constructing a secret nuclear program and was clearly seeking to avoid the searching eyes of the IAEA. Despite calls from many countries, Iran still has not made a decision to sign and ratify an Additional Protocol.

This must not continue. The IAEA needs strong political support from all NPT parties in good standing. There must be real consequences for countries that block the IAEA from doing its job. The IAEA Secretariat must have the full backing of its Board of Governors and other members when it seeks information about the true nature of a nuclear program. Similarly, the IAEA safeguards staff must have no doubt that we expect them to pursue information wherever it leads and not to shrink from bringing bad news to the Board. Differences should not be "papered over".

The Additional Protocol is the IAEA's most important tool against clandestine activities. It can provide greater assurance to other countries about the peaceful nature of nuclear programs. It establishes a new standard of ensuring compliance with the NPT: one that can detect a violation or potential violation more readily than is possible under existing safeguards agreements. It allows the IAEA to focus more attention and resources on detecting undeclared nuclear activity. Implementation of the Additional Protocol will clearly strengthen the NPT.

The United States supports universal adoption of the Additional Protocol. Last May, President Bush forwarded the U.S. Additional Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. We are hopeful the U.S. Senate will hold hearings and act soon.

The IAEA and Japan have undertaken an ambitious program to encourage conclusion of these agreements. Some progress is being made. However, there are only 32 Protocols in force almost six years after the IAEA Board of Governors adopted the model agreement. The remaining NPT parties, including the United States, should exert a maximum effort to have a Protocol in force before the 2005 NPT Review Conference.

Some countries with sizable nuclear programs are holding back -- their reasons are not always clear. Those who have not negotiated an Additional Protocol should act now. Responsible members of the global nonproliferation regime need to exercise leadership and overcome promptly any remaining obstacles to concluding these agreements. NPT parties with programs that raise serious questions must be pressed to choose between their current policies and steps that would help restore confidence in their nuclear programs including acceptance of the Additional Protocol. The Additional Protocol must become the standard for NPT parties. We need to consider other ways to encourage acceptance of the Protocol. Members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger Committee should consider adoption of the Additional Protocol as a condition of nuclear supply by 2005. Advanced nuclear countries should establish programs, in coordination with the IAEA, that provide technical assistance for implementation of the Additional Protocol to countries that need it.

Last week the IAEA noted that 47 NPT parties remain delinquent in the completion of their NPT safeguards agreements. We urge them to take action promptly. For those with no nuclear programs, it may seem like a pointless exercise. Yet, it is a Treaty obligation and the IAEA has a simplified procedure for states with no nuclear program. Even the smallest of nations can take an action that contributes to strengthening the NPT.

As you know, the IAEA budget has been held to zero real growth since the mid-1980s. However, global conditions have not remained static. There has been a huge increase in IAEA safeguards responsibilities over the last ten years, but the resources to meet those demands have not kept pace.

The IAEA has proposed an increase of $21.5 million in the safeguards budget for 2004-2005. We support this increase and would urge all NPT parties to do the same. It is a prudent investment in our common security. Without this increase, the IAEA has warned that it may no longer be able to guarantee credible safeguards. As the IAEA stated to this meeting last week: "The risk is real that the ability of the Agency to discover in time evidence of a covert nuclear weapons program will erode unless the Agency receives the necessary resources."

This is another challenge that we need to meet. There are always competing needs for scarce resources, but global security and the integrity of the NPT must be given the high priority that they deserve and require. IAEA inspectors travel the world on behalf of NPT parties, looking for information that could give us an indication of imminent danger. The value of that service has no price tag -- but a failure to meet the IAEA's safeguards needs will surely cost each of us more than the relatively modest increase the Director General has proposed. Each of us needs to find the extra funds to meet the increase in our budget assessments that would occur as a result. This issue is too important for politics as usual.

But money alone will not bring the increased security we seek. The strength of the NPT and IAEA rests with the determination of their members to stop nuclear proliferation by ensuring strict compliance, thorough verification, and aggressive enforcement. The leadership and safeguards staff of the IAEA should have no doubt that we, as responsible NPT parties, expect them to carry out their duties with a similar commitment.

Nuclear Export Controls

Article 111.2 requires NPT parties to ensure the application of safeguards on exports of nuclear material and specialized nuclear equipment to non-nuclear-weapon states. It establishes the principle that NPT parties should ensure their nuclear exports do not in any way contribute to nuclear proliferation. This responsibility must be enforced vigorously.

For the last 25 years, procurement activity by states seeking nuclear weapons has proven to be a severe test for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Both the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group have steadily expanded their controls to meet the growing threat. However, more concerted efforts are needed. Over the past few months it has become clear that Iran and North Korea, two NPT parties seeking nuclear weapons, have nonetheless successfully obtained centrifuge enrichment technology. It seems clear that foreign assistance was involved at some point in each of these countries' programs.

Members of both export control groups are consulting about steps that could be taken to tighten controls. In the meantime, we support the distribution of "watch lists" to all supplier states as a means to help block further procurement of nuclear weapons-related items by North Korea, Iran, or others.

Catch-all controls are essential and should be vigorously enforced. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) should consider adding the concept of "catch-all" to its requirements. Supplier states should ensure they have adequate outreach programs to alert nuclear industry to suspicious customers. Information exchange among governments on front companies and end-users can reduce the risk that transfers would end up in a nuclear weapons program. Strong domestic enforcement, including stiff penalties for violators, would help. In fashioning stronger national controls, supplier governments must also consider whether special measures are needed to counter terrorist attempts to seize nuclear material.

Other export control policies that can help strengthen the NPT include consideration of banning transfers of nuclear-related dual-use items to NPT parties under suspicion. Certainly, these countries should not benefit from assistance to their civil nuclear programs. Such cooperation leads to benefits they do not deserve and provides a means to hide sensitive transfers with direct application to nuclear weapons.

It is no longer acceptable for countries whose nuclear programs are at variance with a peaceful nuclear program to receive foreign nuclear assistance. NPT supplier states can make a significant contribution to NPT enforcement by denying all nuclear-related commerce to such countries unless and until they take the steps necessary to restore confidence in their nuclear programs.

Moreover, it should be a standard condition of nuclear supply that any violation of the NPT would lead to a suspension of civilian nuclear assistance to the state committing the offense. The NSG Guidelines address this question, but the Zangger Committee could do so, and national policies should be adopted as well. If the offender is cooperative and verifiably remedies the violation, resumption of the assistance could be considered. But some understanding should be adopted that enforces one of the most basic principles of the NPT -- the benefits go only to those who play by the rules, and not to those who flaunt the rules.

Similarly, non-NPT parties should not be eligible for significant nuclear benefits. The Nuclear Suppliers Group requirement for full-scope safeguards in non-nuclear-weapon states implements that principle. Virtually all NSG members have reinforced that position in recent years. The NSG is looking at ways to implement that provision with more transparency.

Nuclear Weapon Free Zones

Let me comment briefly on nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) treaties. For more than 35 years there has been strong international support for completion of NWFZ treaties. Article VII of the NPT makes clear that the NPT does not affect the right of any group of states to conclude these treaties.

NWFZ treaties go beyond the NPT by prohibiting the deployment or storage of nuclear weapons by any state in the territories of regional parties to the NWFZ Treaty. NWFZ treaties also have from one to three Protocols, one of which includes an obligation for the five nuclear weapon states not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against parties to the treaties. There also is a protocol for states outside the region with territories in the region. Under this protocol, the state agrees to apply the provisions of the treaty to such territories.

The 1967 Latin American Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty predated the NPT. In the wake of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, this Treaty signified the desire of states in the region to establish a denuclearized zone. The United States signed and ratified both Protocols to the Treaty, completing action in 1981. Other NWFZ treaties in force are the 1985 South Pacific Treaty and the 1995 Southeast Asian Treaty. The United States signed protocols to the South Pacific Treaty in 1996. Consultations have continued for several years between the nuclear weapon states and the Association of Southeast Asian nations on the still unsigned Protocol to the Southeast Asian Treaty.

In 1996, the states of Africa realized a long-sought goal by completing a NWFZ treaty along with three Protocols. The United States signed these Protocols in 1996. The African Treaty is not in force, as the required number of ratifications has not been achieved. The United States has not ratified the Protocols to the South Pacific and African Treaties.

In September 2002 the nations of Central Asia concluded a draft NWFZ treaty and protocol. In October and December of last year, meetings were held at the United Nations between the five Central Asian states and the five nuclear weapon states. These meetings led to several comments and questions from some of the nuclear weapon states. We anticipate there will be further discussions in the coming months.

In total, these NWFZ treaties encompass approximately 110 states in five regions. The end of the Cold War provided impetus to these treaties as three of the five have been concluded within just the past eight years.

That completes my statement.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


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