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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2002

U.S. Approaches to Nonproliferation

John S. Wolf, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Remarks to the 12th Annual International Arms Control Conference
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico
April 19, 2002

I would like to thank Sandia Laboratoriesí Dr. C. Paul Robinson [President and Laboratories Director], Dr. Roger Hagengruber [Senior Vice President, National Security Programs], Ms. Dori Ellis [Director, International Security Center], and Dr. James Brown [Organizer and Conference Chair] for organizing and supporting this conference. Nonproliferation is an international problem that can only be solved through international cooperation, so I am pleased to see representatives from some 30 countries here today. I would like to extend a special welcome to all of you.

President Bush said recently on the six-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks:

"Every nation . . . must take seriously the growing threat of terror on a catastrophic scale -- terror armed with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons . . . Some states that sponsor terror are seeking or already possess weapons of mass destruction; terrorist groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of conscience. These facts cannot be denied, and must be confronted. There is no margin for errorÖ (We) must act deliberately; inaction is not an option."

We should all be concerned by the ratcheting up in regional instability that comes from the spread of such weapons and their delivery systems. Thatís true in the Middle East; itís true in East Asia; and itís certainly most clearly true today in South Asia. Beyond those regional threats, these weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles constitute a direct threat to U.S. forces deployed around the world, as well as to our allies and friends. It is a threat we will not ignore.

After President Bush in January spoke about the "axis of evil," there was an unstinting effort in the weeks following to second guess his words and their implications. Letís be clear; the phrase describes a real phenomenon. There is cooperation among countries trying to acquire WMD. North Korea is prepared to sell missiles to any country with the money to buy them. Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction and missiles -- but it could not do it without foreign help. And itís very likely North Korea learns from the advances of its clients like Iran. Iraq is clandestinely diverting Oil for Food commodities and smuggling in components that are helping it to reconstitute its weapons and missile capabilities.

And itís not just North Korea, Iran, and Iraq; other countries also have clandestine programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. Several of the WMD wannabees now are exporting technology, making the risk they pose that much greater. This is why the President has said that halting proliferation is not one of many objectives of U.S. foreign policy; it is a central framing element.

As a practical matter, it means we, and our partners and friends, need to step forward to strengthen, broaden, and enforce the nonproliferation regimes and treaties that protect us all. The President has said countries must chose sides in this war; fence sitting isnít an option. Each of us must reconsider our cooperative activities in WMD-related areas and apply a higher standard of security for WMD products and technologies. Political accommodation, and commercial gains, ought not to trump this effort.

For over a decade, the bulk of financial support for critical nonproliferation programs around the world has been provided by the United States. Between 1992 and 2001, for example, the U.S. spent $6.2 billion on cooperative programs with the countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). During the same period the EU and EU member states spent $500 million, and Japan spent $200 million, on similar programs. All of us need to increase our efforts, and the United States is doing that. For FY 2003 alone, the Administration is requesting over $1.3 billion. The international public will find it hard to understand other countries which talk the talk, but donít walk the walk.

A myth has grown up over the last two years that this is a unilateralist administration. The facts belie that. The Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) remains the bedrock of our nonproliferation policy. We want much more effective enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). We are working to strengthen a host of multilateral export control regimes. We seek early signature of an international code of conduct against the spread of ballistic missiles. We are working bilaterally with our friends to try to halt the spread of technologies and components that would aid the development of weapons of mass destruction.

But let me be clear--we are prepared to act unilaterally to defend our interests when they are directly threatened.

Looking at some of the specifics, we see a number of key global nonproliferation challenges including:

  • securing fissile materials and stopping their production in the Former Soviet Union;stopping the spread of WMD and missiles;
  • protecting dangerous BW pathogens in the FSU and destroying CW stockpiles in Russia;
  • capping nuclear and missile proliferation in South Asia and preventing any outward leakage;
  • reinforcing international export controls, including on Iraq; and
  • strengthening the IAEA, including a global effort to ensure radiological sources are properly controlled, accounted for, and protected against misuse or theft.

Secure fissile materials and stop their production in the Former Soviet Union

The United States is pursuing a wide array of cooperative programs in Russia and the new Eurasian republics to help safeguard the large quantities of excess WMD materials, systems, and technologies. Our objective is not only to help Russia meet its arms control obligations, but also to control and dispose of excess WMD materials -- in particular excess fissile materials -- and to ensure that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile expertise does not leak to states of concern and terrorist organizations.

The United States is also now speeding up Material Protection, Control and Accounting programs. We want to reduce quantities and vulnerabilities of fissile materials, dispose of materials declared excess to defense needs, and secure material in fewer, consolidated sites. To further help prevent theft and diversion of the most proliferation-prone plutonium -- weapons-grade material -- we are working to shut permanently Russiaís three remaining production reactors. We are working with Russia and allies to institute a more cost efficient plutonium disposition program for excess stockpiles. Beyond Russia, we are working with Kazakhstan to secure 300 metric tons of spent fuel -- containing three tons of weapons grade plutonium. We have an active program to return highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from the former republics to Russia, and to convert HEU reactors to more proliferation resistant fuels.

Stop the spread of WMD and missiles

We are working actively to curb Iranís ambitious nuclear weapons program, CBW programs, and a rapidly increasing ballistic missile force. Its clandestine efforts to produce fissile material are a particular worry. No one should be under any illusion about Iranís nuclear weapons aspirations. However, it cannot achieve its goals without continued foreign help.

In 1997, China agreed to curtail nuclear cooperation with Iran. That principled stance is of great international significance. We hope for the same effort by Russia. We have had an active, but regrettably so far, inconclusive dialogue with Russia on this issue. Enlisting the full cooperation of the Russian Government in countering Iranís WMD efforts would lead to significant enhancements in the new long term partnership Presidents Bush and Putin envisioned during meetings last year in Washington and Crawford.

There are concerns beyond these from Libya to North Korea. In particular, we seek an end to North Korean missile exports, and prompt implementation of the Agreed Framework. The DPRKís delay in working with the IAEA to meet the Frameworkís requirements is of serious concern. But, itís not just so-called rogue states that have military relationships with North Korea -- our friends need to know that such ties necessarily weigh in the balance of how far their bilateral security ties with us can develop under such circumstances.

We are disappointed too that we have not to date seen successful implementation of our bilateral agreement with China on limiting export of ballistic missiles and missile technology. Implementing that agreement would give a real boost to the cooperation envisioned by Presidents Bush and Jiang during the Presidentís trip to Beijing earlier this year.

Secure dangerous BW pathogens in the FSU and destroy CW stockpiles in Russia

Another priority is securing dangerous biological pathogens in Russia the former Soviet republics and resuming assistance to destroy chemical weapon stockpiles in Russia. We are concerned about the rate at which Russia, among others, is moving to comply with its obligations under the BWC and CWC. We need to find common ground on this issue.

We are committed to the scientist redirection programs. Let me express my thanks to the many Sandia scientists who have participated in projects and activities at the science centers in Moscow and Kiev. Your contributions are important.

In addition, we are discussing with allies an updated package to impede BW terrorism worldwide. It focuses on improved domestic regulations, storage and handling of pathogens nationally and in international trade.

Stop nuclear and missile proliferation in and from South Asia

I spoke earlier about how WMD is regionally destabilizing. Nowhere is this more evident than in South Asia, where one million troops face off on the India-Pakistan border. The presence of WMD and missiles in the region has dramatically increased the danger of miscalculation during times of crisis. Certainly there is the greater risk of weapons diversion when weapons are deployed outside primary storage places.

It is unclear whether Pakistan and India have yet drawn the right conclusions from this crisis about the danger their WMD and missiles pose in the region and to the world. We hope that confidence-building measures like keeping weapons and delivery systems separated, halting fissile material production, and restraining nuclear and missile programs can be implemented. Tightened export controls are also vital to ensure that India and Pakistan do not become a source for sensitive materials and technology

Strengthen export controls, including on Iraq

All efforts to secure existing WMD-related items will be futile if we are not able to cut off the flow of arms and sensitive WMD/missile technologies through strengthened export control.

We urgently need to strengthen the administration and effective enforcement of export controls on a multilateral basis. Without broad cooperation among export and transit countries, sensitive dual-use items and technologies cannot be effectively controlled. Foreign purchasers denied a critical item by one country could purchase the item from another country that does not control its exports as stringently. Adherence to the guidelines and control lists of the multilateral export control regimes is vital to the success of our nonproliferation efforts. In this respect, there needs to be a more rigorous gut check than many apply -- merely because countries havenít been caught violating e.g., IAEA safeguards or their commitments under the CWC and BWC, is not sufficient grounds to justify sales of sensitive technologies to known proliferators. There is no room for commercial expediency where national, and international, security is at risk. For our part we hope soon to have a new law on administering sensitive exports. We are working in a variety of countries, especially in Central Asia, to help countries improve their laws, regulations, and administration.

Strengthening and enforcement of export controls is particularly important in the case of Iraq. We are working in the UN Security Council to develop UN means to deny Iraq the wherewithal to reconstitute its WMD, missile, and conventional weapons programs. This system will free up trade in goods for purely civilian use, but reinforce controls on militarily useful items. We expect a resolution embracing the new system to be voted in the Council this month.

 Strengthen the IAEA

Mindful of the worldís near miss with Iraq and North Korea, and new risks from countries like Iran and ostensibly civil programs in countries like Libya, we must improve and fund effective safeguards on nuclear power users and strengthen the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to ferret out covert weapons efforts. The Additional Safeguards Protocol sets an important new nonproliferation norm that every country should accept. The U.S. will soon be submitting its Protocol to the Senate for ratification.

But carrying out new tasks requires more resources. We need to ensure that the IAEA gets the financial, technical, and political support that it needs. This will be particularly important in the critical work the Agency needs to perform vis a vis North Korea. Itís important also that we give more substantial financial and technical help to the IAEA to strengthen and expand IAEAís programs for the worldwide protection of nuclear materials, radioactive sources, and nuclear facilities against acts of terrorism.


September 11 has given a new sense of urgency to a danger that we all have been concerned about for some time, and in that sense out of tragedy has come an opportunity for the international community to lock arms and work together to defeat the threat we all face from the expansion of mass weapons and missiles. Itís fatuous to rationalize that because the threat is not immediate today, because todayís generation of proliferantsí missiles wonít strike us, that we can delay action. The scope of the September tragedy underscores the importance of taking vigorous action -- now --to end the possibility that terrorist groups or rogue states could launch even more devastating attacks in the future. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is an urgent and profound threat to the security of all states and requires urgent action.

The United States appreciates the cooperation and assistance the world community has shown in the campaign against the Al Qaeda perpetrators of the September 11 attack and the Taliban regime that abetted the terrorists. But destroying Al Qaeda will not end the threats to world security. We need to build on todayís cooperation to move forward in strengthening nonproliferation efforts across the board. We have had clear warning of the enormous danger posed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Repeating again President Bushís injunction -- "there is not margin for error. We will be deliberate, but inaction is not an option."

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