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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2004

Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Statement to the 2004 Nuclear Suppliers Group Plenary Meeting
Goteborg, Sweden
May 27, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by expressing the appreciation of the United States Government to the Government of Sweden for hosting this year’s Plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). I would also like to congratulate Mr. Ekwell for his accession to Chairman of the NSG for the next year. My government looks forward to working with you.

On February 11, 2004, President Bush personally called on the NSG to do more to strengthen the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, which demonstrates the importance we place on the effectiveness and worth of the organization. The NSG must make every effort to identify and plug loopholes in the nonproliferation regime and continue its efforts to educating non-member countries on their responsibilities in preventing nuclear proliferation.

The availability of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing equipment and technology has substantially increased the risk of nuclear proliferation, by making fissile material or the means to make it available to those states seeking to pursue clandestine weapons programs. Four NPT parties -- Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea -- violated the NPT over the past 15 years in their efforts to acquire and to establish secret enrichment or reprocessing capabilities. It is clear that the recently revealed proliferation network of A.Q. Khan has done great damage to the global nonproliferation regime and poses a threat to the security of all states gathered here today. In fact, there is a crisis of NPT noncompliance and the challenge before us is to devise ways to ensure full compliance with the Treaty's nonproliferation objectives.

The United States is committed to a strong and effective nuclear nonproliferation regime. We believe all NSG Participating Governments share this commitment. Nonetheless, the time for business as usual is over. We cannot allow an irresponsible handful of nations not living up to their Treaty commitments to undermine the NPT. Without full compliance by all NPT members, confidence in the NPT as a nonproliferation instrument will erode. Such erosion would result in a world with an ever-growing number of states possessing nuclear weapons or emboldened to seek them, giving terrorists and rogue states expanded opportunities to access sensitive nuclear technology. In such a world the risk of catastrophic attacks against civilized nations would be unacceptable.

To address this serious problem, President Bush made a number of proposals in his February 11 speech to the National Defense University to strengthen nonproliferation efforts across the board. He proposed expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative to deal with proliferation networks as well as interdiction of illicit transfers, passing the UN Security Council resolution to criminalize proliferation, expanding the Global Partnership against weapons and materials of mass destruction, and a series of proposals aimed at strengthening compliance with the obligations we all undertook when we subscribed to the NPT.

The President specifically referred to the Nuclear Suppliers Group in his proposal to close the loophole that allowed states such as Iran and North Korea to pursue production of fissile material for nuclear weapons under the cover of peaceful nuclear development, by limiting transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technology to those states that now possess them. Recognizing the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear technology, the President encouraged suppliers to find ways to ensure fuel supply to those states renouncing interest in enrichment and reprocessing. The President also called for adoption of the Additional Protocol as a condition of supply to non-nuclear weapon states, and we are pleased by the strong support within the NSG for that proposal. Since February, the G-8 countries have been addressing these proposals, and they will be discussed by the G-8 leaders when they meet in two weeks at Sea Island, Georgia.

In connection with the President's proposals for strengthening the governance structures of the IAEA, the U.S. has proposed that NSG Participating Governments suspend nuclear cooperation with states found to be in non-compliance with their safeguards obligations. We are pleased by the broad support for that proposal, including the submission of a similar proposal by France.

Proliferators must not be allowed to cynically manipulate the NPT to acquire the material and infrastructure necessary for manufacturing illegal weapons. The international community, NSG members and non-members alike, must work together to cut off avenues for sensitive trade that are exploited by proliferators and their procurement agents. The international aspect of this obligation and responsibility is made very clear by UN Security Council Resolution 1540 which implemented a proposal made by President Bush last fall to require states to take additional steps to cut off sensitive trade by enacting laws that criminalize proliferation, establish effective export controls, and secure sensitive materials.

The central bargain of NPT Article IV is that if non-nuclear weapon states renounce the pursuit of nuclear weapons, they have the right of access to peaceful nuclear technology. This right, however, is conditioned by the obligations in Articles I and II of the Treaty. If a non-nuclear weapon state party seeks to acquire nuclear weapons, it fails to conform with Article II and thus forfeits its right to assistance in the development of peaceful nuclear energy. Rigorous verification measures are needed to ensure Article II compliance. All non-nuclear weapon state parties to the NPT must have comprehensive laws and regulations in force to ensure compliance with their obligation not to seek or receive assistance in development of nuclear weapons. Moreover, we believe that non-nuclear weapon states also share responsibility regarding the Article I requirement not to assist others to acquire nuclear weapons -- this is why effective export controls are essential for all states, not only for those with developed nuclear industries. This is clearly demonstrated by the recent revelations regarding the evasion of export controls by the A.Q. Khan black market network.

The United States is willing to work with nations that need to set up more effective export controls. NSG outreach programs have done excellent work in assisting non-member countries to develop and enhance their export controls. But nations must also be willing and able to enforce those controls. Enforcement and penalties for violations are particularly critical. I commend Germany for its proposed amendment to the Guidelines to confirm the importance of effective controls on the part of recipient nations and the NSG for its support of that proposal.

Closing loopholes in the NPT and strengthening the NSG Guidelines are not issues that should divide NSG Participating Governments between "haves" and "have nots." We can do this in a way that does not deprive NPT parties that are fully compliant with their obligations under the NPT of the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology. No compliant NPT party today currently plans to establish a new enrichment or reprocessing capability. Thus, adoption by the NSG of stringent measures on enrichment and reprocessing transfers need not require any changes in policy by compliant NPT parties.

Historically, NSG Participating Governments have stepped up to their responsibilities in addressing proliferation issues. In the early 1990's, the NSG responded to the revelations of Saddam Hussein’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons through acquisition of dual-use equipment by creating the Dual-Use Regime. At the same time the NSG raised the standards for Nuclear Trigger List transfers by requiring comprehensive (full-scope) IAEA safeguards as a condition of supply. In the mid-1990's the NSG responded to continuing proliferation concerns by adoption of the Non-Proliferation Principle and controls over nuclear technology. After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the NSG amended the Guidelines to address the threat of nuclear terrorism. These examples attest to the ability of NSG Participating Governments to recognize and address real threats to the nonproliferation regime. As President Bush said, “There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated. Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action. Every civilized nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”

The President's initiatives aim to take the necessary steps to prevent this scenario by correcting weaknesses in the current regime which are being exploited by states not abiding by their NPT commitments. I urge your full support of these initiatives. We must be mindful of our responsibilities as suppliers to do all in our power to support all of the principles embodied in the NPT and the global nonproliferation regime. In conclusion Mr. Chairman, there is a roadmap before us on what we need to accomplish. We have a number of important proposals under consideration for the strengthening of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. We have the ability and must have the will to accomplish the task before us in support of the NPT and global security. I am confident that by working together we can succeed in meeting the new challenges that confront us.

I thank you for this opportunity to provide my government's views on this most important issue.

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