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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2005

Strengthening the NPT Regime: How Should We Deal with Noncompliance with the Treaty?

Jackie Sanders, Special Representative of the President for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Remarks to the Seminar on the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Toward the 2005 Review Conference
Tokyo, Japan
February 7, 2005

I note the first question listed under our topic this morning, which I was asked to address: How should we deal with noncompliance with the Treaty? I commend the organizers of this seminar for including this topic: there is no more important issue and no more important challenge facing us as NPT [Nonproliferation Treaty] states parties today.

Our decisions about how we will deal with noncompliance will determine whether the NPT continues to serve as a bedrock of global security and stability. If the NPT is to help us achieve the promise of a safer and more secure world, one in which all parties can enjoy access to the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology, we must not only speak out against noncompliance with the Treaty's nonproliferation obligations but also respond effectively to noncompliance. Only by taking such a proactive approach can we hope to return today's violators to compliance and deter tomorrow's violators. We must also work to strengthen the regime in order to prevent future noncompliance. But, any new measures will have little deterrent value if we collectively are unwilling to enforce existing measures. If we fail to use the tools now available to us to respond to noncompliance, violators will -- rightly -- conclude that they have no need to fear that the international community will hold them to their obligations.

As the RevCon [Review Conference] looks back at the last five years it cannot ignore the gravity of the challenge posed by non-nuclear-weapon state noncompliance with NPT nonproliferation obligations. In the past five years, the whole world has learned about the extensive, covert Libyan, Iranian, and DPRK nuclear weapons programs. These covert nuclear weapons programs began well before the last review conference, and two of them -- in Iran and the DPRK -- continue today.

Parties cannot ignore the gravity of the threat that this noncompliance presents to the Treaty and to the individual and collective security of its parties. The necessary first step in dealing with noncompliance is for all states to acknowledge the gravity of this threat and to affirm all parties' responsibility for holding violators accountable for their actions.

Consequences for noncompliance may include political, economic, or other actions taken by international organizations and states parties, individually or collectively.

With regard to the RevCon, it should condemn noncompliance and call on parties to impose measures against countries that violate the NPT's nonproliferation obligations, including a halt to any and all assistance to their nuclear programs. Additionally, the RevCon can endorse action by parties, through appropriate means, to halt any offending party's use of nuclear material and equipment acquired or produced in relation to a violation of the NPT's nonproliferation undertakings. Furthermore, the RevCon can call on states to require that those items be eliminated or, if imported, returned the original supplier.

Additionally, the RevCon can identify measures to help to deter future noncompliance. At PrepCom III, the United States tabled a working paper that contained recommendations for ways to put in place measures to help deter future noncompliance. These recommendations continue to reflect our priorities in this regard. Many of them, in fact, stem from the initiatives President Bush announced last February.

There is one set of recommendations that I would like to highlight briefly: those pertaining to Article II. It is time that parties use the RevCon to take a close look at Article II. NPT parties should insist on a high standard of compliance with Article II and should consider what constitutes a violation of Article II. It is dangerous and foolish to wait until a non-nuclear-weapon state has finished assembling a nuclear weapon -- or until unassailable proof of weaponization work has been disclosed -- to cry foul and enforce Article II's prohibitions. By then it would be too late. An international community that cares about nonproliferation must learn to recognize the warning signs. There are activities that can demonstrate a purpose to acquire nuclear weapons, including the pursuit of clandestine programs for reprocessing and enrichment, and which thus make clear an Article II violation.

In our view, the RevCon should note that the totality of the circumstances surrounding certain nuclear and nuclear-related activities in a non-nuclear-weapon state can provide sufficient information to allow states parties to reach a determination of an Article II violation. Activities such as clandestine efforts to acquire fuel cycle facilities of direct relevance to nuclear weapons; failure to report such activities or facilities to the IAEA where required; the pursuit of enrichment or reprocessing capabilities that are economically unnecessary or even irrational if for peaceful purposes; or the use of denial and deception tactics to conceal such activities from the international community are indicative of a violation of Article II. In our everyday lives, reasonable people routinely make important decisions based upon inferences drawn from highly suspicious circumstances. Reasonable nations must do no less.

Parties cannot ignore the threat posed by noncompliance, nor can they ignore their responsibility for addressing it. A nonproliferation treaty that allows non-nuclear-weapon states to develop nuclear weapons -- in other words, to proliferate -- is a treaty that is in trouble. The 2005 RevCon offers parties the opportunity to face this challenge head-on. For the viability of the NPT, we cannot squander this opportunity.

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