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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

Article VI of the NPT

J. Sherwood McGinnis, Deputy U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
Remarks to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference
Geneva, Switzerland
May 1, 2003

Over the last year, there has been considerable progress toward the goals of Article VI. The United States welcomes the opportunity to present a statement on these developments.

The Moscow Treaty

Last May, Presidents Bush and Putin signed the historic Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which calls for reductions in strategic nuclear warheads by nearly two-thirds. The preamble of that Treaty includes the following paragraph: "Mindful of their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1, 1968." I can think of no more authoritative and high level statement of the U.S. commitment to Article VI than the signature of President Bush on this Treaty.

The Moscow Treaty is the latest important step in our strategic offensive reduction process. Under the Treaty, the United States will be legally bound to reduce from approximately 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 by December 31, 2012. I am pleased to note that the United States Senate unanimously approved the Treaty earlier this year.

The Moscow Treaty marks a new era of a strengthened U.S.-Russian partnership. Our two countries also have established a Consultative Group on Strategic Stability that serves as a broader forum to discuss issues of strategic importance and to enhance mutual transparency. The heads of the United States’ and Russian delegations to this meeting forwarded a joint statement on the Moscow Treaty to participants at this session of the Preparatory Committee.

The Moscow Treaty represents a milestone in arms control.

In 2001, the new U.S. Administration decided to proceed with strategic nuclear reductions based on the dramatic changes taking place in the international security environment, including our improved relationship with Russia. The President announced that the United States would unilaterally reduce its strategic nuclear forces and invited Russia to reciprocate. President Putin made a similar statement and the two leaders eventually agreed to make these commitments legally binding.

Our countries took an approach that led quickly to a treaty that will cut U.S. strategic nuclear warheads to the lowest level in decades. In less than six months, the Administration was able to accomplish what had proven to be impossible for almost a decade -- to agree with Russia on deep strategic nuclear reductions.

The new trust and openness in the U.S.-Russian relationship, along with the various means of inspecting and monitoring already available, will provide the necessary confidence in implementation of the Moscow Treaty. It was not necessary to negotiate hundreds of pages of new verification procedures.

We have already begun further reductions since we met the START Treaty level of 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads at the end of 2001. Our 50 Peacekeeper missiles are being deactivated and four Trident submarines are being removed from strategic service. We no longer maintain an ability to return the B-1 bomber to nuclear service.

Some warheads removed from operational service will be stored in active status, others will be stored, but will be disabled and not available for quick redeployment; still others will be designated for retirement and dismantling. The United States needs to store some warheads for reasons related to nuclear safety and reliability. If a warhead on operational status is found to be unsafe or unreliable, we must have the ability to replace it.

The United States has no plans to redeploy strategic warheads removed from operational status. Barring unforeseen changes in the global security environment, there is no reason we would want to reverse these reductions.

The Treaty does not require the destruction of nuclear warheads, but then no arms control treaty ever has. However, the United States has unilaterally dismantled over 13,000 U.S. nuclear weapons over the past 15 years. Dismantling activity continues at the U.S. Pantex facility.

The Moscow Treaty is a new and bold approach for a new era. It clearly promotes implementation of the United States' nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).

Fissile Material Measures

Article VI measures related to fissile material get little public attention, but have a substantial impact on the irreversibility of nuclear reductions.

The United States has not produced fissile material for nuclear weapons in over a decade. At the Conference on Disarmament, the United States supports the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty that advances U.S. security interests. In 1997, we entered into the bilateral Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement with Russia that codifies the shutdown of 24 U.S. and Russian plutonium production reactors. Further progress was made on this agreement over the last year through an amendment signed in March 2003. It calls for the shutdown of Russia's three remaining plutonium production reactors and replacement of their energy production with fossil fuel sources.

On existing stocks of fissile material, the United States and Russia continue efforts to dispose of over 700 tons of fissile material declared excess to defense needs. More than 170 tons of Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU) has been converted for peaceful uses in the United States under the 1993 agreement that calls for the conversion of 500 tons of Russian HEU. The United States has unilaterally identified 174 tons of excess HEU, of which approximately 30 tons has been converted.

The United States is actively pursuing implementation of the U.S.-Russian agreement reached in 2000 that calls for each side to dispose of 34 tons of weapons plutonium into forms no longer useable in nuclear weapons. Our current priorities include plans to establish financial arrangements and related organizational mechanisms for multilateral support of Russia's disposition program.

The vast majority of the excess 700 tons is subject to transparency measures pursuant to U.S.-Russian negotiated arrangements. Both sides have also worked with the IAEA to develop practical measures for IAEA verification of excess material. This work has been carried out through the Trilateral Initiative, which reached a milestone last September when the parties concluded they had fulfilled their initial task to examine relevant technical, legal and financial issues. The United States has voluntarily placed some of its excess material under IAEA safeguards. Earlier this month the IAEA conducted its 100th inspection of excess material at U.S. facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.

This work represents steady and significant 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 U.S. and Russian military stockpiles slated for disposition could be used to manufacture more than 30,000 nuclear weapons.

Cooperative Threat Reduction

In addition to the Moscow Treaty and limits on fissile material, the United States has been engaged for more than ten years in a massive cooperative program with the states of the former Soviet Union to address the nonproliferation threat posed by the Cold War legacy of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs. The United States has allocated over $8 billion for these programs, with about $1 billion requested for FY 2004.

This program has helped to eliminate around 900 ballistic missiles, over 100 bombers and nearly 50 ballistic submarines. It has helped to redirect thousands of scientists formerly involved in WMD programs into sustained civilian programs. It has assisted in upgrading the security of hundreds of tons of weapons-useable fissile material. This represents an enormous investment for a safer world.

Mr. Chairman, since September 11 there has been a new sense of urgency in nonproliferation. 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, President Bush and other G-8 leaders launched the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, a bold new effort to address this risk to civilized nations. They pledged up to $20 billion over 10 years to fund nonproliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety projects. The G-8 have devoted much time and effort to implement this initiative over the past year.

In the Global Partnership statement, G-8 leaders endorsed six nonproliferation principles to prevent terrorist access to WMD, and the material required to produce them. One principle 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 these six principles would make it more difficult for terrorists to threaten us all with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

When fully implemented, the Global Partnership will make a significant contribution toward the goals of Article VI.


Before concluding, we would like to clarify U.S. policy toward a few issues that arise frequently in Article VI discussions.

First, many have cited the “13 steps” from the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference as the only framework for implementation of nuclear disarmament.

It is important to recognize that the step-by-step process inherent in Article VI implementation will take place amidst changes. The security environment can change as can governments and governmental policy. We made clear last year that the United States no longer supports all 13 steps. However, we unambiguously continue to support Article VI and the goal of nuclear disarmament. This goal will not be reached quickly or without enormous effort by all NPT parties. Article VI reflects this reality and sets no timelines or 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. It is also important not to confuse the political consensus reflected by the 2000 Final Document with the legally-binding obligations of the Treaty itself. The fundamental test is whether the United States, or any other party, is moving in the direction set out in Article VI. As this statement makes clear, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

A second issue worth clarifying is U.S. nuclear policy. The policy adopted last year by President Bush calls for a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The "New Triad" will reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons for deterrence through the strengthening of conventional forces, the addition of missile defenses, and other measures. We are not developing new nuclear weapons. The United States has no current requirement for a new nuclear warhead. The United States has not lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use. There is no change in U.S. negative security assurance policy. The Administration continues to maintain its current moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. Senior Administration officials have reaffirmed these positions many times in the face of mistaken media reports. We regret that some NPT parties raise questions about U.S. nuclear policies on the basis of erroneous reports and without checking the facts.

A third issue is the increased attention by some to non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW), including proposals for legally-binding agreements covering these weapons.

The United States and NATO long ago decided to implement significant reductions in NSNW. Over the past decade, the United States has eliminated all but one of its nuclear delivery systems from Europe. The number of U.S. NSNW has been cut by nearly 90%. This significant progress in NSNW reductions comes from unilateral action.

Over the last few years, the United States has looked at the prospect of further arms control treaties on NSNW. We concluded that such an approach is not possible. The nature of the remaining NSNW and their delivery systems makes it far more difficult to have confidence in treaty implementation than is the case for strategic systems. For example, delivery systems are often dual-use, making it very difficult to verify their removal from a nuclear role. The United States is committed to the pursuit of transparency related to NSNW. We have discussed this issue 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 information in this statement demonstrates our commitment to the NPT and our desire to be fully transparent on Article VI. Today, we are also releasing a fact sheet and a more detailed information paper on Article VI. The United States is fully meeting its obligations under Article VI.

Our position has not changed on the proposals related to "reporting" under Article VI or under other parts of the Treaty. We oppose any attempt to define or require reporting by nuclear weapon states or others. However, we have long believed that providing information on NPT implementation on a voluntary basis, which we continue to do, is an essential part of the NPT review process. We understand this issue will continue to be considered as we move forward toward the 2005 Review Conference.

We look forward to further exchanges on Article VI matters as the review process continues through its final two years.

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