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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

Articles I and II: Nonproliferation

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 1, 2003

The central purpose of the NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The Treaty's nonproliferation undertakings are contained in Articles I and II, and in the safeguards obligations of Article III. IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards will be discussed later in our meeting.

The NPT has proven durable despite enormous changes in the international security environment over the past three decades. With nearly 190 parties, its reach extends into all regions of the world and across all political systems. Its broad membership reflects confidence in the Treaty as an important pillar of global security. The NPT is an important standard that new nations are expected to embrace and, of increasing importance, that all parties must honor. It is this question of compliance with the NPT that I want to stress in this overview of Articles I and II.

Article I imposes a comprehensive undertaking on the five nuclear weapon states not to transfer possession of nuclear weapons to any recipient and not in any way to assist a non-nuclear-weapon state in the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons. Fulfillment of this obligation requires comprehensive nuclear export controls and a classification system to protect sensitive nuclear weapons information. Rigorous enforcement is essential. Nuclear weapon states face a particular challenge, because their nuclear infrastructure includes many entities with direct experience in the research, development, testing and manufacture of nuclear weapons.

After 33 years, the NPT retains its near-universal appeal. Cuba became a party last November and East Timor reportedly is preparing its instrument of accession. India, Israel, and Pakistan have not joined the NPT. Israel supported the NPT at the United Nations in 1968, but due to regional security factors has declined to become a party. Pakistan has said in the past that it would join the NPT if India did. India has rejected the NPT on grounds that it differentiates between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. India and Pakistan severely undercut nuclear nonproliferation objectives in 1998 by conducting nuclear weapon tests. The United States continues to support the goal of universal NPT adherence.

Article II requires non-nuclear-weapon state parties not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. The vast majority of NPT parties have strong political commitments to nonproliferation. We applaud their rigorous adherence to the spirit and letter of their Treaty obligations. However, a small number of parties are abusing the Treaty by flagrantly, or in some cases secretly, pursuing nuclear programs that contravene the NPT's basic purpose. These countries of concern are taking steps to acquire the capability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The long-term cases of noncompliance by Iraq and by North Korea are well known. However, there have been new developments since last year.

Iraq's defiance of the NPT and of Security Council resolutions dates back more than a decade. Iraq continued its practice of deception and deceit when inspections resumed last fall following adoption of Security Council resolution 1441. We look forward to a new political leadership in Iraq that will comply fully with all its international obligations including those related to the NPT.

North Korea admitted to a covert uranium enrichment program in October 2002. In November, the IAEA Board of Governors called on North Korea to clarify reports about its enrichment program and to cooperate with the IAEA in opening all relevant facilities to IAEA inspections and safeguards. North Korea responded instead by taking a series of escalatory actions. It removed IAEA seals, disabled IAEA cameras, and expelled IAEA inspectors. On January 10, North Korea issued a statement of its intent to withdraw from the NPT. Later that month, it reactivated the five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon that had been frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program and the provocative actions it has taken present a grave threat to the region and a serious challenge to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Since it joined the NPT in 1985, North Korea's policies and practices have been repeatedly at odds with its Treaty undertakings. In February, the IAEA Board of Governors found the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] in further non-compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations and reported this finding to the UN Security Council. The Security Council met early last month to discuss this issue and expressed concern about North Korea's actions.

We remain hopeful that North Korea will reconsider its policies. North Korea must understand that the path to full participation in the community of nations and the achievement of a better quality of life for its people is through compliance with its international commitments. Every responsible NPT party should press North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, verifiably and irreversibly, and reverse its decision to leave the NPT.

The United States is doing its part to help find a diplomatic solution to this problem. However, the solution must be multilateral in conception and execution. North Korea's actions are not a bilateral issue between the United States and North Korea. Rather, they are a problem of vital concern to the entire international community. All NPT parties have a stake in preventing a nuclear-armed North Korea, upholding the global nonproliferation regime and promoting the success of the NPT.

There has been a major development elsewhere since we last met. The world has seen disturbing revelations about the advanced state of Iran's nuclear program. This information surprised the international community, including the IAEA. Even before the anticipated operation of its first nuclear power reactor at Bushehr, Iran is building a huge and vastly expensive gas centrifuge enrichment plant at Natanz. Iran's energy needs provide no economic justification for this plant. Iran is also constructing a heavy water plant at Arak while having no known reactors that use heavy water. It undertook this construction in secret. Over the period it was designing, building, and outfitting these facilities, Iran declined to respond to the IAEA's call for states to provide early design information on nuclear facilities. It also failed to negotiate and sign an Additional Protocol.

Iran's actions have shaken international confidence in its claims of peaceful intent for its nuclear program. In response to these revelations, the IAEA in August promptly sought information from Iran. However, Iran repeatedly stalled and did not allow a visit until February. At the IAEA's March Board of Governors meeting, the Director-General reported that Iran's program raised questions and concerns. We expect the IAEA is investigating fully and will soon provide a comprehensive report to its Board of Governors.

Responsible NPT parties must look at the facts and ask whether Iran's nuclear program and policies are consistent with those of a state fully committed to its Article II obligations. These revelations underscore the high risk of engaging in nuclear cooperation with Iran. They reinforce and strengthen U.S. resolve to strongly discourage any supplier from providing nuclear-related assistance to Iran.

Iran should allow complete access to the IAEA and fully disclose all information about its nuclear programs. It should answer the questions and concerns that have been raised, and take all measures necessary to restore confidence in its nuclear program. NPT parties should press Iran to accept all strengthened safeguards measures including the Additional Protocol.

The United States is concerned that still other NPT parties may be engaged in undeclared nuclear activities. All responsible NPT parties must make clear that such behavior undermines our common security. Any country that considers nuclear weapon-related activities should be aware of the serious consequences it will face if it continues down that path.

Let me speak briefly to the question of balance in our deliberations. We understand and expect there will be considerable discussion on Article VI issues during our Preparatory Committee sessions. Indeed, much has already been said at this meeting. Nuclear disarmament is a goal of the Treaty and we should have constructive exchanges about it. However, the great majority of responsible NPT parties who value and abide by the Treaty need to recognize also the large issues at stake in actual and potential cases of noncompliance with Article II. There is a simple logic: more states with nuclear weapons means a more dangerous world. It also means that the overall NPT goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons would become even more difficult to achieve.

These risks are real and they are upon us. We cannot delay and hope that technological complexity and export controls will ultimately defeat these efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. The NPT must be more than an international norm. It must be enforced. We must insist on strict observance of the Treaty and adopt policies that will encourage compliance. This requires dealing firmly with existing violations, strengthening verification, and raising the costs of new violations. These actions will help meet the growing challenge of deterring future noncompliance.

As we move toward the third session of the Preparatory Committee, the United States would like to see more discussion of policies that will strengthen compliance. Among issues to consider are: (1) Article I implementation; (2) what constitutes a violation of Article II; (3) how to deal with low-level cheating not involving nuclear material; (4) the role of the Security Council in enforcement; and (5) how sanctions could be used to positive effect. We will discuss strengthening IAEA safeguards later in this session of the Preparatory Committee. For now, we offer some preliminary observations.

First, it is incumbent on nuclear weapon states to monitor strictly the implementation of their Article I obligations. This is particularly true for nuclear dual-use items that may be sought by non-NPT parties or NPT parties with questionable compliance records. While procurement by these countries may appear benign, it could be part of an elaborate effort to divert equipment and technology into a clandestine or undeclared nuclear weapons program. The heightened risk of nuclear terrorism is another reason for nuclear weapon states to ensure that they have the strongest possible Article I enforcement measures in place. We believe the five nuclear weapon states should consult periodically on the policies and practices necessary to enforce our Article I undertaking.

Second, NPT parties should begin to focus more attention on Article II and insist on a high standard of compliance. While there is no clear definition of what constitutes the "manufacture or acquisition" of a nuclear weapon, there are activities not involving nuclear material that could represent a clear violation. For example, a state seeking nuclear weapons could build a prototype nuclear weapon shell. Similarly, it could assemble the conventional explosive package needed for a nuclear device. Either of these activities can be done without the use of nuclear material, and thus would not be a violation of safeguards. Yet, each activity represents considerable progress toward, and is clearly directed at, the acquisition of nuclear weapons. We cannot wait until a state has actually manufactured a nuclear weapon to declare noncompliance with Article II. Rather, we need to look at the totality of a state's nuclear program, as well as the nature of the activity in question.

Third, the multilateral institutions with a role in enforcing compliance must take firm action against violators. In January 1992, the Security Council met at the level of Heads of State. The President of the Council, Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom, issued a statement on behalf of the members that dealt with the Council's responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. A portion of the statement noted the importance of the NPT and said the Council "will take appropriate measures in the case of any violations reported to them by the IAEA." All members of the Security Council must more aggressively carry out this responsibility.

Fourth, all nuclear suppliers need to be alert for suspicious activity by a recipient state and take action promptly when questions and concerns arise. It could be many years from a secret decision by an NPT party to acquire nuclear weapons until a clandestine program is uncovered and there is a formal finding by the international community of noncompliance. During that time, the future violator's civil nuclear program could be benefiting greatly from outside assistance. Even worse, the recipient of this assistance could be exploiting commercial or governmental nuclear linkages to obtain items that are diverted to its nuclear weapons program. This is a problem for all nuclear suppliers, not just the nuclear weapon states.

Finally, we must be willing to take action against those who would violate the Treaty. For example, a finding of non-compliance with safeguards by the IAEA should lead to a cutoff of assistance to the civil nuclear program of the guilty NPT party. The multilateral nuclear export control regime has recognized this principle for many years. The Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines call for consultations in the event of a violation of safeguards or of other terms of supply and possible penalties, including the termination of nuclear assistance.

Finding ways to enforce compliance with the nonproliferation provisions of the NPT is one of the central challenges we face. Let us acknowledge this challenge and enter into a serious discussion of how best to meet it.

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